Sunday, November 30, 2008

Samsung Omnia 910 Handheld Heaven

I’ve had a tough time with my laptop addiction since going back to a part-time office job.

For a few years I’ve heard about the CrackBerries so I thought I should get one. Since the Storm was building on the horizon, I waited for its release. What a disappointment since it was recalled for software problems before the release date and the touch screen keyboard was impossibly small (which has been an ongoing BlackBerry problem). However, once I played with the touch screens in the store, I couldn’t tolerate the mouse-like BlackBerry. The world had changed and I wasn’t going back.

What’s a poor girl to do if she’s not willing to give up her Verizon coverage in the Washington DC Metro system? I’d have to forgo a new phone until technology improved and ignore all the iphone people. My husband found out that he could upgrade his phone and my sixth-grade son could be added to our plan now with a free phone. I could change my mind at any time in the future without a problem.

Fellow blogger Jennifer Deseo at the Silver Spring Penguin told me that the Samsung Omnia 910 was due to be released and it had wifi (which the Storm does not). [If you live in Montgomery County, MD, you should be reading the Penguin.] Friends, Tim and Heather, happened to be in the Verizon store to get a free phone for their sixth grader and they pointed out the Omnia after I mentioned it. Heather bought one. Still on the fence, we set up our plan without upgrading my phone. At the last possible moment, I threw all caution to the wind and bought the Omnia.

When it comes to new technology, my philosophy is to let everyone else pay the expensive prices and work out the bugs. This was a major change in my consumer profile, but the Omnia 910 is as close to a laptop in my pocket as I could get.

As an event planner, my Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are my up-to-the-minute memory. The ability to update on-the-go was a major plus for the Omnia, which has the Office Suite: Excel, Word, and Powerpoint mobile. The Omnia has a small stylus dangling from its side for working on these documents. If you don’t have razor sharp fingernails like me, you will have an easier time with it. Since I never had a Palm, I was working out my stylus envy.

You can visit the Samsung website and watch cool videos that explain all the features of the Omnia. No program is more than two screen touches away. Zooming in and out is as easy as tapping the screen twice. The camera and video is 5 pixels which is as good as my current camera, so I won’t have to take it with me when blogging anymore.

As a blogger, I have full access to gmail, google maps, google calendar and other features which I don’t use. You can use to write and add a picture or video to a blog, but not your own. Google will create a new blog and you have to get home and post it to your blog on the laptop. At least some of the work can be done in the field but I haven’t tried it yet.

The touch screen keyboard is big enough for my fingers and has a vibrate setting that helps with typing. Of course, the screen orientation has a motion detector. There’s video and picture messaging and the ability to visually see your voice mail without going into your account. You can watch tv and movies, as well as listen to the radio. When web browsing, five tabs can be open at one time and the device is geared toward keeping you in touch with all your social networking sites. There’s music, weather, and metric conversions. You can take notes during a phone conversation. This morning it fit in my tiny little jacket pocket.

Since I’m a klutz , I’ve already dropped my Omnia three times without a problem. My old cell was a Samsung and honestly, I think you could play baseball with it.

Most of a night’s sleep was lost playing with the Omnia and I still haven’t figured out everything it can do. As close as I could get to sleeping with it under my pillow, the darn thing woke me up when it was fully charged. Unfortunately, the battery ran low after about seven hours. For me, that’s not long enough, so we’ll have to see how it goes this week.

No matter, life's been upgraded.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"The Family Unit Must Remain Together"

Last summer, I took my sons to the amusement park. The boys are almost the same height so an amusement park trip would be fine with one parent. We could easily stay together. Although I’ve been a full-time mom for eleven years and have done just about everything possible, I’d never ventured to an amusement park with them alone.

Twenty years ago when my husband and I started dating, we had the reputation of doing everything together. When we were married, we couldn’t understand all the couples that split up errands on the weekends. Grocery shopping and all those other tasks were never fun, but when we were together it didn’t matter. We were together.

During the summer months we always visit amusement parks as a family, sometimes camping exclusively for this purpose. But for the first time, I was in an amusement park without my husband. Both my sons will jump on any ride, no matter how treacherous. We went on the swings but then hit the two big wooden roller coasters. Then we changed to bathing suits and threw ourselves down the water slides. Laughing and teasing, we enjoyed every part of the park and were happy to be together.

Although enjoying the thrills, a part of me was missing. The four person water slide would have been faster without that empty seat, not to mention I couldn’t carry the giant tube without help from a fine young man in the group behind us. The roller coaster seat next to me was empty all the time. The experience felt slightly lonely.

Recently, my best friend lost his partner of 23 years in a terrible, unusual accident. He called me that morning when the police told him to call someone. It reminded me of September 11th when people jumped out of the World Trade Center holding hands. Everyone started to think about who they would hold hands with to jump. Who would you call if you found your spouse dead? Who’s going to hold your hand? I was one of many that showed up that day and the experience was a nightmare, a horror.

I felt guilty for going home to my husband.

At the amusement park I missed my husband in a small way, knowing that my friend feels this way about every single moment of the day without relief. I knew that my family would be together for our regular evening dinner, but my friend’s loss never ends. I feel his pain because we have been so close. He’s always the one I call when I feel down. He never fails to put my situations in perspective and cut to the chase about the other people in my life.

So I understand the pain of his loss. I even feel it but I can’t fix it. He has to reinvent his family with his son. A new life needs to be created.

This fall our oldest nephew went to college. His dad and I always keep up with each other and share the news. They cried when he left. I tried to console him by emphasizing what a wonderful job they had done with their son. He’s a remarkable young man who I admire. He’s a caring person who learned sign language and has a full scholarship to college – tuition, room and board. The change in their family is just so large.

Although I’m thick in the middle of my family with a young child who can’t be left alone, I know there are changes coming. Not yet, but soon. Even now the oldest one has all day and weekend commitments and the younger one goes to sleepovers .The family unit is not together all the time like it used to be. I’m thankful for the times we are.

I’m also thankful for the friends who dropped everything to be with me when I needed them this year, and most of all, I’m thankful for the strength we give each other to get through life’s changes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Can I Stop the Stumble?

As I've mentioned, I fell the first time I tried to ride the motorcycle across the parking lot. When it came time for my riding exam on the course, my nerves were starting to get the best of me. With this article in mind, I stamped my nice, new black leather boots on the parking lot, and kicked it into high gear.

In high school calculus, they gave us an exam to determine our problem solving ability. It did not cover material from the class. We all knew the score did not count. When it was over and our graded papers were coming back, the teacher hesitated next to my desk, holding my paper. He had read about this, but had never seen such a clear example.

I had the first five answers correct, then hit one I couldn’t do, which led to the next few wrong. Then I found one that was easy and had success on the next few, until I found one I didn’t know again. Without exception, the results were groupings of right and wrong answers. With concern on his face, my teacher advised me to be aware of this tendency to get rattled by wrong answers.

He had put a weight around my neck with no hope of removing it. All I could think about was all those wrong answers.

I call this my “stumble”. The “stumble” occurs when the results don’t matter, the outcome is celebrated, and the situation is beyond my control. These days, I still grapple with it. I “stumble” and can’t seem to get my balance for a while afterwards.

Although not always as obvious as a black-and-white test on a piece of paper, the stumble surfaces in other ways. Last year I didn’t read the agenda. Just before the meeting started, I discovered I was responsible for more than an hour of it. To add to my grief, I couldn’t find my file. I winged it from memory -- but my entire week was put off balance. I felt inadequate for days, as if everything was slipping through my fingers. All my encounters seemed bad.

For the last month, I have been co-hosting an internet radio show about local happenings. During two of the shows my connection filled with static and caused problems. Each time I could dial back in to the show without a problem, but I wasn’t at my best. Feeling frustrated and filled with mistakes, I didn’t perform well. After each show, it takes me days to regain my footing.

I always notice people who can just shrug things off with a “no big deal” attitude. How do they do that? How do you not care that you made a mistake?

In my high school calculus test, I immediately lost confidence, thinking that I wasn’t as smart as the other kids. This is really what magnified and set off my failure. During the no-agenda meeting, I knew I was the best person to organize the event but I wasn’t perfect. Although I had confidence, it didn’t go exactly right. Is it a loss of confidence or a desire for perfectionism that causes me to stumble?

Educators are aware of this effect. I must not be the only one who struggles with it. How does a person recover from the little calamities in life? Distance from the incident often helps, but when it’s happening you don’t have any distance. The effects can be stopped with reason over time, but in order for me to function well, there needs to be an immediate fix. The goal is to let things slide and not feel dreadful. Being aware of the stumble problem helps, but how do we run upright during the short sprints and keep going?

We won’t make changes until we fail and know that we have something to change. Change takes commitment, dedication, and energy. In this case, all three need to occur on the spot. Lately I have been mentally forcing myself to put the problem away, as if in a box, but often I still don’t perform well because I feel bad. Feelings are not as easy to turn off and they only get worse in that box.

So I’ve decided I need to picture myself in boots, with Nancy Sinatra singing “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” I mentally put my foot down and try to shrug it off. Since it’s all in my head, I might as well have the luxury of sturdy, stylish boots. Hopefully, this will speed up time and help me feel better. Whether it works or not, the important part is recognizing the situation and finding a personal way to improve.

Step by step.