Undermining our focus…


Try as I might to strike a balance between populist hi-tech and my brand of admitted low-tech, along comes news that bursts my bubble.

Like this headline in Tuesday’s Charlotte Observer: “Plugged in, but not engaged.”

In short, scientists say we cannot process the constant deluge that pours through the information portals.  It seems our “ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.”  Even die-hard multi-taskers who profess their gadgetry makes them more productive have, on the contrary, even higher thresholds of trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information.  Hence, they feel still more stress.  Even for those moments addicts are removed from their electronic lifelines, the inability to stay on point persists.

Little wonder we bite off more than we can chew.  People consumed three times as much daily information in 2008 as they did in 1960.  Then there is our compulsive nature.  Today’s workers check email nearly 37 times per hour.  The findings are damning.

All this is a bit of salve for me.  Already, my mental processors have formed the backbone of Friday’s letter to my parents.  Topics – their health, the concern of family members, etc. – have been proposed, then mulled over to be accepted or discarded.  Paragraphs are constructed, reconstructed and then rearranged.  All of this is absent of distractions that are not of my own making.  Rather than my attention becoming diverted or otherwise undermined, my focus on this single page remains relatively intact.

——————-

Today is Wednesday, and given the spate of recent sorry events, here is a letter to Ellen and Reid from happier times.

February 28

Reid and EB:

“Flurries”, they said.  It’ll only be “flurries.”  Yeah, well let me tell you if I end up shoveling 4”-6” of “flurries”, this will be on red-hot da-da.   The snow is falling and it’s falling hard.

By the time you receive this, however, we will be into the widely acknowledged and all-important psychological start of spring.  In theory, that is.

Remember the book we read over and over and over to you guys when you were tiny tots: the terrible-awful-no good-very bad day?  This is one of those days.  In fact, it surpassed terrible before we reached 9:00 a.m. and abutted up against very bad a few minutes before noon.  The title of my new column was already registered by another party (hmmm, by a New Yorker just days after I leaked the name of the column) and now I’ve got to arrive at other names and go through all the legal diatribes – not to mention legal costs – associated therein.  And the New Yorkers won’t return my calls.  No one returns my calls, not even Grandma and Grandpa.  That’s how bad it’s gotten.

Actually, this is just a continuation of the back luck/misfortune/generalized woe that started last week.  You know all about us missing our flight to San Francisco.  It was all my fault.  I thought – swore – that my ticket said 2:00 departure.  Then, when your mom discovered at 11:45 as we stood in the kitchen that it was actually wheels up at 11:45 and not 2:00, I swore again.  Loudly and often.  What a monumental goof-up.  Totally my bad.  Believe me, it was one quiet car ride to the airport.  Instead of getting there early for a nice dinner and walking tour, we went stand-by on separate planes and arrived at separate times.  The moral of the story: look at your tickets.

Once we got there, it didn’t get a heck of a lot better.  We had virtually no walking around time, and I blew $450 on a round of golf at the Olympic Club – greens fee, rental car, caddie (plus tip) – that I though would be comped.  “A fool and his money are soon parted,” I always say.  Look no further for living proof.

We did have one adventure.  It was a dinner theatre show called Teatro Zizzanno.  Hard to describe, but it was a combination meal-vaudeville-musical review at some funky spot down on one of the piers.  We laughed out loud almost the whole time.  The talent from singers to jugglers to performers was really good.

But we got back in good order on Friday without any further difficulties.  But I wish we could’ve stayed through the weekend so we could’ve at least seen the sights.

With spring break on the horizon, you guys better get your acts together in terms of rides home and the like.  Any and all of your friends are welcome to stay here on the way through town.  After my $450 golf junket, I’m staying here.

Ciao.  Adieu.  Adios.  Ta-ta.  See ya.  You get the picture.

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