Work, Life, Tech Balance

Today I finally did it. I misplaced my smartphone and I was lost in space without it. My family found great amusement in the fact, but I did not. I first discovered Biggie (the name of my iPhone6 Plus) missing when I dropped by Starbucks for an oatmeal and latte. Standing in line, I reached into my pocket to retrieve my device and my hand emerged covered in lint sans phone. Panicked, I dashed to my car thinking I left Biggie sitting on the seat with the doors unlocked only to find that the phone was not there. Then I remembered that, in my impetuous exit, I left the phone charging on my nightstand next to the bed. I grieved. Boy did I grieve.

Me and Biggie
Me and Biggie

I struggled to scrape together enough cash from the car to afford an oatmeal (no latte) and knowing that I had a $23 balance on my Starbucks app sent me into a momentary depression. I wanted that  grande triple-shot Cinnamon Dolce latte.

The thought of traversing the entire day without my phone delivered chills up and down my spine; while the thought of challenging my family’s proclamation that I am addicted to my phone gave me the energy and the courage to head to the office with Biggie left at home.

Friends…it was a rough day. When I wasn’t working on my office computer or handwriting notes, my hands were confused. They seemed to wander aimlessly to my pockets or rested on my head, hips and chin. You see, I love my phone. Not in a weird object sexuality disorder kind of way. It’s a far different situation than the dude caught on video sticking his pecker into the exhaust pipe of his car. No my friends; my phone keeps me connected and aids in being productive. I talk to it and it to me. It is my window on the world.

I nearly missed an appointment because I wasn’t near my computer to receive the appointment reminder. During that appointment, I was concerned that I couldn’t be reached by the office or my family. Most of my communication during the day is via text message or Face Time.

I had no mobile access to Face Book, Twitter, Instagram or any other network. I couldn’t  even take a selfie. I grew concerned that Biggie was cold and alone. I worried that I was ruining the battery life by having it charging all day.

“This is silly”, I thought. So I capitulated and proceeded to take my daily walk across campus; soak in some sun and enjoy my lunch break outdoors. My wife Angela constantly says that I am “missing out on the world.” I paused on the Syracuse University Quad and took a seat on a bench next to Hendricks Chapel. There I sat in the world…bored to death. No news to read. No messages to respond to. No pictures to take. No status updates. My attempts to connect to the world around me were futile. I saw a squirrel carrying some nesting material. Ok…cute. I watched people walking across the Quad. Some snapped pictures of campus art and iconic buildings while others multitasked walking and texting. And others simply talked on their phones. I was the only one on the Quad without a phone. A colleague approached and asked, “Why do you look so vexed”?  Was it that apparent? I told her about Biggie and, in return, received a rather pathetic look. One of pity and bewilderment.

After work, the loss was noticeable in the car. No bluetooth connection phone. No bluetooth connection audio. A lonely commute.

I arrive at the gym and it it immediately dawns on me that I have no music for my workout. Unable to tune out the world around me, I was force to listen to the  bone-headed conversations of gym rats and, what’s worse, forced to listen to the local classic rock station being piped in on the YMCA’s audio system. Just not in the mood for Judas Priest.

Once home and reunited with Biggie, I was greeted with several missed calls, messages, notifications and reminders. It was if the entire day had passed me by.

I deny that I am tech addicted. There is an article a day written about detoxing from tech, tech addiction as a sign of depression, the ills of being tethered to tech, and other nonsensical b.s..  I see it as a necessary and essential part of being connected to my ever expanding digital world and an important tool in managing my work day. With my pocket computer, I can set the temperature in my home, check my retirement savings, send a kiss-face emoticon to my wife, manage my company’s social media, and check the latest political headlines in just a matter of minutes. Do I need better balance between work, life and technology? Probably.  But it’s not so bad when I can seamlessly attend to them all with one device.

Tonight, I’ll give Biggie a nice screen cleaning and put him to bed early. It’s been a rough day for the both of us.

Empty Nesting in Paradise 

With one child out of the house and the other at a 3 week residential camp, my wife, Angela, and I decided to give the empty nest a spin around the block. 

We put the dogs in boarding (not our favorite thing to do), packed our bags and headed to the sunny Carribean. The islands of Turks and Caicos to be exact. 

The flight from Syracuse to New York’s JFK was short and uneventful, albeit very early. You can imagine how early we had to get up to catch a 5:32 AM flight.   The flight from JFK to Providenciales was full if kids and a bit noisy. No problem because paradise awaits on the other end. 

We selected the Seven Stars Resort as our temporary abode. 


Seven Stars has spacious suites, two restaurants, a heated salt water pool, and lovely grounds with spectacular views of the ocean. 

A snorkeling excursion and a trip to Iguana Island was in order. These mini monsters moved in packs, waiting for tourist to drop some junk food. Naughty humans.

Favorite place to eat off property was Grace’s Cottage. A quaint little restaurant nestled among plush tropical foliage. The Safron Seafood Risotto was out of this world. Angela also enjoyed her sea bass. The chocolate soufflé was killer. A must-try if you plan to visit. 

The empty nester thing was pretty cool even if was just a dry run. Good bonding time and an opportunity to define who we are as a single couple. 


The Hate That Hate Produced

Confederate FlagI know that it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but the subjects that have been on my mind were just too painful and too depressing to address. Only now am I able to mentally process the events of the last few weeks in a way that allows me to see through the fog of anger and hate.

The truculent killing of black American church goers by Dylann Roof can be credited with the decline of my own humanity. And this shames me a great deal. I cannot remember the last time I was filled with such hate. Those that know me know that I am not a turn-the-other-cheek kind of guy and I am devoid of forgiveness. My hate is omnipresent and directed at no one person or group of people in particular. I just feel hate. At the moment, my cup is overflowing with darkness and I am less human today than I was on June 16, 2015, the day before the shooting.

I refuse to include a picture of Roof in this post as I can’t bare to look at him. A palpable evil rises off of him like a lifting fog. Physically, his face reflects a dullness reminiscent of a lead-paint baby and a hopelessness that is beyond my comprehension. I can’t imagine what those eyes saw as he snuffed out the lives of God-fearing people celebrating life and love at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Did he see Susie Jackson’s 87 years unfold before him as he let loose the bullets? In that moment, did he hear any of 74 year-old Daniel Simmons sermons? Could he see visions of a 23 year-old Clementa C. Pinkney being sworn into service as the youngest African American elected as a South Carolina State legislator? Would he have pulled the trigger if he had known these people?

Weeks after the shooting, we find ourselves encircling a red herring in the form of a flag. This country is obsessed with symbolism and is lazy when it comes to addressing root cause. Businesses, politicians and major organizations call for the removal of the Confederate flag from shelves and flag poles citing its representation of hate and bigotry. People and businesses scurry with alacrity to disassociate themselves from Donald Trump for bigoted statements made in announcing his candidacy for POTUS. Same sex marriage is ruled legal in all states by the highest court in the land. And amid this national Kumbaya moment, black churches (6 as of this writing) have burned down to the frames and foundation in subsequent weeks. If the flag comes down  en masse tomorrow, the hate in people’s hearts will continue.

I don’t have any answers to this deeply complicated and nuanced issue. I have to concentrate on surviving a world in which you can be shot dead worshiping a god. A world where you can be robbed of due process. Where you can be cheated out of watching your child grow to his/her full potential. A world that, at times, asks for far more than it gives. For the moment, what spark of light left in me will be focused on eliminating the hate that hate produced.