Friday, April 28, 2006

technology and me revisited

Some people have a green thumb with technology. Or a metallic one. Or maybe they just have some supernatural “technology-obey-me” powers. Like my father, who looks at a broken gadget, and scares the busted device into working. Well, he's an exceptional, though. He can classify and declassify drill bits in his sleep, while I probably would have to spend all day looking for sites like this (Drill-Bits), just so I can figure out what to get to screw a family picture on the wall.

Cause honestly, people like me are a menace to every technological breakthrough humanity has ever accomplished.


When normal people’s monitors break, they show signs of faulty colours, dead pixels, poor contrast, messed up pictures. Or maybe the screen remains blank altogether. You know, normal problems.

Mine went up in smoke. Literally. One minute I’m typing happily away and next there is hissing noise, and a burning smell. Add to that my great technological know-how, a crying baby and me being all-alone in the house, and you can probably picture the utter state of panic.

It actually took me a while to set out on my search for a new monitor. Somehow the fact that this supposedly great friend of mine is a lethal weapon of destruction has held me back from running out to get a new one.

But, I’m proud to announce that I have conquered the fear, and am now a proud owner of a whole new monitor. An LCD one. Though I am secretly longing for my old-fashioned one, cause it was just sooo much better (when it worked). Just staring at this one gets my eyes blurry. But I’ll just have to get used to that. Cause there is no way I am going back to a CRT. One almost-fire is enough for me.

PS: And just to prove that I do have a damaging effect on technology – I once burned my office computer. Yes. You guessed it. Smoke streamed out from the case. Maybe I should stick to good old counting beads.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

the wonders of modern technology

My dear old DVD player has decided to call it quits. No smoke, nor fire, no funny error messages. It just went blank. Precisely on the day that my library finally delivered the movie I’ve been waiting for for two months.

Naturally, I immediately set out to purchase a new DVD. Happy, happy, joy, joy! Now I could get all the important fancy features I’ve always wanted!

Unlike normal people, who look for reliability first, my most important criteria is that it plays obscure file formats (of which I have an alarming collection on my computer). And that it plays all regions, because I’m a very international girl.

So, after lots of asking and running around, the winner was found and brought home.

Oh, the stress of the testing stage:

A foreign DVD of unidentified origin – check.
A disc with self-burned obscure file formats – check.
Some sort of mp3 musical compilation – check.

There was just one thing it couldn’t handle. A REGULAR, NORMAL, STORE-BOUGHT COPY OF FORREST GUMP!

I guess, given all the USB connections, file types, and regional accessibility the manufacturers took into account, they were bound to forget something. Like the fact that sometimes people still want to watch a good old mainstream DVD!

Go figure.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

from russia with love

It is ironic, but my parents find me too Canadian, while my husband finds me too Russian. I guess once an immigrant, always an immigrant. I’m probably always going to have a double identity.

For a period of time it wasn’t really surfacing too much. Life in school and university, and even at work, revolves around a predictable path that hardly leaves time to ponder its meaning.

But once my child was born, all of a sudden my past became important. Surprisingly even to myself (and even more so to my husband, who luckily adapted), I realized that it IS very important to me that my kid knows my language, my culture and the history of where I’m from. Images of me being old, gray and forgetting English floated in my mind. He needs to learn Russian, if only to understand what poor old mommy is mumbling. But more so to know who he is.

You need to know where you come from, to figure out where you’re going.

Being a Russian in North America is unique. Years of Cold War have hardly created a positive perception, even less so an accurate one. I’m constantly amazed by the misinformation on what communist Russia was like.

First of all, I’m stating it for the record: I do not approve the communist ideology or totalitarian regimes in general. But not everything about Russia was bad and ugly. I can’t help remembering certain aspects fondly. For example, Russia had reasonably good medicine. At least I remember that when I was a kid and had a fever, the doctor came to see me. For free. My parent’s didn’t have to take a sick child to a clinic and then wait for hours to be admitted. After freaking out over my kid’s fever, I can truly appreciate that for what it’s worth.

In the time since I’ve left, I have heard the most bizarre misconceptions. From “did you have –insert domestic appliance here, such as TV or a fridge- there?” (Of course not. We had no technology. We sent a man to space on a horse.) To “is it true there is no food in Russia, and you had to line up for hours for stale bread?” Funny, I don’t remember ever having stale bread. In fact, the only bread I do remember, is freshly baked and still warm. The discovery of week-old sliced bread in a plastic bag came only upon my arrival overseas.

See, having a double identity is fun. People open up to you with comments so absurd, you’d never come across them otherwise. And that’s an experience I feel I owe to my kid.

Though, given the multicultural background he is, “double” is a major understatement.