Planets Will Guide The Peace.

sagittariusI had to get a new smartphone. My last one was more than three years old. Wait a minute. Why did I have to get a new smartphone? The one I had was only three years old. I’ve eaten cheese that was older than that. After a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth and screaming “FORGET IT! I’M TAKING IT BACK!” at least twenty-seven times before we even got home and a sleepless night and a lot of frustration with trying to transfer most of my data I finally accepted my new smartphone. Mostly. I still wonder who the idiot was who thought putting the headphone jack on the bottom was a good idea, which I realize is a change Apple made not long after I got my previous smartphone and which, three years later, is still one of the stupidest ideas ever, but that’s another story.

Let me be blunt: I hate changing technology because I think 99.999999999% of upgrades are completely unnecessary and while I’m not a violent person the fact that technologically oriented people all seem to believe that new or different automatically equals better makes me want to punch something. And it doesn’t help that when I’ve talked to tech-types about this I feel like I’m talking to a character from Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano.

If it weren’t for the people, the god-damn people’ said Finnerty, ‘always getting tangled up in the machinery. If it weren’t for them, the world would be an engineer’s paradise.

A lot of my frustration was what I lost. The songs I’d downloaded were gone. Well, not gone, really, but needed to be downloaded again because they’d been put back in “the cloud”. Songs I’d added from CDs–soon to be an obsolete technology, if it isn’t already, because it’s so darn old–would need to be reloaded. Podcasts I’d been saving to listen to were gone. And several of my favorite apps simply don’t exist anymore. I had to hunt around and find new ones to replace them. One of my favorite astronomy apps is gone but I found a new one called SkyView that’s free–my favorite price–and, much as I hate to admit it, is actually much, much cooler than the old one. I was playing around with it on the bus and had some idea of where we were in relation to Mercury, Venus, and the constellation Sagittarius, still below the horizon.

The bus and all the riders and all of us were–and are–travelling in space. Being able to see where we are in relation to some of our closest neighbors, and some very distant ones–stars so distant we’re really only seeing them as they appeared long before humans even appeared on this planet–gave me some perspective.

In the book Centauri Dreams Paul Gilster goes over a lot of possible scenarios for reaching Alpha Centauri and other nearby stars. It’s pretty daunting. Our closest stellar neighbor is more than four light years away so even if we could get a probe there it would still take more than four years for the data to get back to us. It seems unlikely we’ll get there in my lifetime. Our nearest planetary neighbors are much more within reach—and if you count unmanned probes we’ve been able to get at least near all of them.

I could have put the SkyView app on my old phone, but I didn’t know it was there. I didn’t think to go looking for it until I got a new phone. It helped me make peace with my new phone, and I can accept that sometimes technological change is a good thing.

Just don’t get me started on how stupid it is that the power cords have changed.

As a bonus here’s a picture of the moon and Aquarius over my house. It was actually a crescent moon but SkyView superimposes a picture of a full moon, in case you don’t know what that sickle-shaped thing in the sky is.

moonandaquariusmoon

 

10 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    Let me be blunt: (1) inconveniences due to frequent changes in technology often make me want to punch something and (2) I love this post.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s so reassuring to know I’m not the only one troubled by inconveniences due to frequent–and might I add unnecessary–changes in technology. I do love technology, but it’s maddening how the changes seem designed for the convenience of the engineers rather than the users.

      Reply
  2. Gina W.

    I like how Aquarius is kneeing the moon like it’s a soccer ball. Neat. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I didn’t even notice that–I was too focused on how much water is spilling out over the moon. Although I think the really cool thing is that it shows me the constellation even when the stars aren’t visible. Yeah, sometimes when I’m playing with the app I just point it at the ceiling and see stuff I might be able to see if I were under a very dark open sky.

      Reply
  3. Jay

    I hate replacing my stuff too. I had to get a new phone recently, and a new laptop even more recently, and a new new laptop just this week because my previous new laptop didn’t have a DVD player in it, and I didn’t even know I had to check because the last time I bought a laptop (TWO freakin years ago!) they were standard and now they are the exception – so yes, beware your CDs. 😉

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Oh great, my laptop (which I call “Emily” after Emily Dickinson, but that’s another story) is a couple of years old and is holding up well but I know it’s going to go eventually. I was talking to a guy who said he realized, with horror, that he wouldn’t be able to pass on his music collection to his kids.
      That’s something to think about. The more we change formats the easier it is to lose things.

      Reply
  4. Kristine @MumRevised

    I have never much cared for the constellations except in grade 11 science when it counted towards my grade. This app does look cool and congrats on the new phone. Where do we send the shower gifts?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The first time my mother pointed out a constellation to me–the Big Dipper–I didn’t realize they were made up of stars. She said, “There’s the spoon and there’s the handle” and I thought, “What the hell is she talking about? All I see are stars.” Once I figured it out I thought it was pretty cool. It’s even better when you’re with people who don’t know any constellations and you can just make ’em up. “That’s Flatulus, and that’s Duodenum.”

      Reply
  5. Spoken Like A True Nut

    Why? WHY did they put the headphone jack on the bottom? It drives me up the wall. My poor phone has to travel everywhere upside down now.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Some people claim the headphone jack on the bottom makes perfect sense because they say they always put their phone in their pocket upside down. Those people are liars who don’t want to admit they stood in line outside the Apple store for three days to buy something that stupid.
      Although it’s become kind of self-fulfilling. Yeah, we all carry our phones upside down now because we have to.

      Reply

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