The most boring Saturday in a long while almost brought me to break a pact with myself to no longer log on to the internet one day of the week.

I chose Saturday this week and as the day progressed, the clock slowly ticked away the seconds of nothing to do. Organizing my desk lasted a whole 10 minutes. Sweeping the floor, another 10. Walking the dog. Watching a Seinfeld rerun. Making the bed. Tick. Tick. Tick.

The combination of a rumbling tummy and a craving for something sweet turned out to be the trick to undo my boredom. I shall bake!

A lasagna, a few trays of cookies and a fruit crisp later… time was flying and the computer still off. I’m no Betty Crocker, but a few rounds of whipping up goodies in the kitchen warmed up the house, my mood and certainly made my husband happy when he came home. The fruit crisp turning out to be a cinch to make and very tasty.

So take the time to log off and bake something for yourself this week, or for your neighbors, family, roommates…

Try my recipe below if you can’t think of anything better:

FRUIT CRISP*

Filling:
3 peeled, cored and cubed pears
3 peeled, cored and cubed apples (fuji or gala type apples)
½ c. dried cherries
1 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. honey
1 ½ tbsp. lemon juice

Crisp:
1/3 c. brown sugar (can be a bit more, can be a bit less depending on your sweet tolerance)
½ c. flour
¾ c. quick cooking oats
¼ c. finely chopped walnuts
¾ c. butter
Pinch of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190C). Mix the filling together and lay out in an 8 in. (20×4 cm.) baking pan. Mix the crisp ingredients together and loosely lay on top of the fruit (doesn’t need to cover it completely). Bake for 45 minutes or until top part is crispy!

*make with whatever fruits are in season and for the less health conscious, plop some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top.

Logging out now…

 

It isn’t a stretch to assume that many of the people who want to limit their connectivity might be the same people who are concerned about privacy online as well. Part of what getting offline does is bring us back to who we are as people without a gadget in our hand or sitting before us. What lack of privacy online does is creates avenues for companies to influence who we are by picking out what music we might like or books we might want to read based on some computer algorithm. Feeling the need to log out could be related to wanting to log out of the person that Google or Facebook think you are.  

So when surfing the Internet recently I started noticing eerily pointed information about friends of mine liking this or that relative to the site I was visiting. I can’t say I’m really interested in what so-and-so who “friended” me on facebook that I haven’t spoken to since 1991 thinks about where I’m surfing the web and what I’m buying or reading online today.

How in the world did they get that information about who my facebook connections are and why are they telling me what they like? Sure enough, I was recently alerted to a mysterious setting that had been automatically enabled in my facebook Account.

It is a privacy setting that has been around since April of this year called “Instant Personalization” which shares data with non-Facebook websites and is automatically set to “enable.”

I guess I’ve been snoozing on this one, but slowly facebook has been adding more and more sites to its list of web sites it shares data with. Obviously among them ones that I have been using lately.

Ummm… excuse me, but Mr. CEO Zuckerberg at Facebook, please don’t go enabling things without asking me first. I’m sure your brilliant programming skills could have come up with a way to ask me before green lighting the whole lot of us to share info we don’t want to share!

Here are a few random links with more thoughts on the whole thing:
Facebook Must Make “Instant Personalization” Opt-In Immediately
Facebook Expands Instant Personalization with Rotten Tomatoes
Disable Facebook’s “Instant Personalization”

So, if like me, you missed the hullabaloo over this, here are directions to protect your privacy (not to mention individuality). I wonder if Google has similar settings where I can stop sharing the info I write in my e-mails?

Logging out now.

For years now I’ve opted out of the so-called Soduko craze (or is it no longer a craze and so very five years ago?).

People on the train or plane are always sketching out numbers and filling in those neat little squares to make what? I never really knew. Maybe it’s my fear of math.

In an effort to take on more internet-free activities I started working on the newspaper’s daily Soduko puzzles… meaning just the beginning of the week for those beginner folks that still struggle on the “easy” level.

I found a decent web site among many out there where you can download and print them out by level to get more practice: www.sudoku-puzzles.net. Plenty of people out there post daily puzzles: www.dailysudoku.com and tips too: www.sudokuessentials.com

Seems a legitimate internet-free hobby for life with many, many variations (calculated at 6,670,903,752,021,072,936,960 possible grids for a 9×9 square) and certainly plenty of levels that I and many of us mere mortals will never get too.

There is something extremely satisfying about coming around that final stretch and realizing you’ve worked it out – all the numbers are in their place. There IS order in the world.

So no need to worry, there will always be Sudoku puzzles and weekends waiting for you to sit down and do them.

Get your fine selves offline and soduko’ing!

Logging out now.

I promise this isn’t a plug for the new and unusual owner of the New Jersey Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov. The Russian billionaire businessman caught my attention in a rerun of 60 Minutes highlighting the high life of this playboy and his new NBA role stateside.

What was remarkable to me was what he said about computers. “I don’t use a computer. We have too much information and it’s really impossible to filter it.” His desk was a mess of papers with no piece of machinery in site. My kind of billionaire.

The New York Post reported he doesn’t have a cell phone and writes his own letters. Granted he probably pays people to use computers, dial phone numbers and brush his teeth for him… it still left an impression on me.

If a Russian billionaire in the 21st Century can be so “retro” and logged off (all the time), well then so can I (once in awhile). This is probably just about the only thing we have in common, but I’ll at least be taking his lead on this.

I promise when I become a billionaire, I will do the same.

Logging out now.

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I was home all day yesterday with the spouse at work on the weekend, twiddling my thumbs searching for bad romantic comedies on television when the book I am currently reading (a real book made of paper) started glaring at me and so did the computer screen.

So, do I break my internet-free Saturday rule to send a few e-mails or aimlessly cruise the Web? Or, do I work on finishing up a book that isn’t that good but not bad enough to give up on? I thought of this blog and thought of my poor ol’ brain and picked up the book. Went outside, grabbed a chair and sat in the shade – a nice sunny 75F day didn’t hurt.

It was definitely the right idea. I think I started the work week more refreshed and less apprehensive about flipping on the hard drive yet again to start a day of work.

Don’t give up on books my friends!

Logging out now.

So the main idea with starting this blog was for me to encourage others and myself to get offline more often. And in doing so, take up more activities that are internet-free.

So…My first activity: Write a letter. With a pen. And a piece of paper. I went digging for some stationary and a nice pen, wiped the dust off both and sat down to scrawl something out.

Having decided that my sister would be the beneficiary of such an act I quickly realized that writing a letter would mean skipping over anything immediate, because she’ll know about it anyway by the time she gets the letter. The result: a relatively emotional account of my current feelings and life situation. A blurb to her on Facebook just wouldn’t have inspired me to write in such a way. Nor would it have exercised some majorly underused muscles in my right hand.

I have to admit that there is something more intimate and of course literally, more slow about letter writing. The time it takes to write the words down gives me more brain time to formulate what to write next. And that I am writing it in my own handwriting makes it more personal to the individual on the receiving end, not to mention there is something physically important here too… I am taking something in my hand and mailing it so it will rest in another person’s hands and somehow we are sharing something together in that way as well.

Maybe my sister and I will make a habit of this… 21st century pen pals. Now to find a stamp.

Logging out now…

Apparently, a business dictionary would call someone like me a laggard. A what? Yes, a “laggard”: the minority group (roughly 16% of the population), which is the last group to try or adopt a new product. It consists largely of seniors, and those with low socioeconomic status. Laggards use friends and neighbors as information sources, dislike change, and accept new things only when forced to. Well, if that is my audience, so much for hoping this blog will be a success.

Oddly enough, I’m none of those things – not poor, not old, not opposed to change – in fact I love change and new things. So what’s the deal? People like me probably fall into a group just before that 16%: minority group that hates their cell phone and adopts new products because if they don’t they’re friends won’t contact them anymore.

I guess I move  just a little bit slower than the lot of you.

Logging out now…


Frustration!

I think it was when I was suckered into joining Facebook that I began to really feel like I needed to write down how I was feeling and express my frustration with too much technology, too many gadgets and too much computer in my life. The relentless push forward to go faster and faster and faster somehow triggers the feeling in me that I just need to slow down.

Facebook seems to have evolved into what was once the cell phone – where without it, social and professional lives can suffer. I guess even an e-mail invitation doesn’t suffice so much anymore, just post it on facebook. Sociologists might call me a “late adoptor” while its all those “early adoptors” that push the markets, demand and eventually people like me to adopt just to stay afloat. I’m not “tech-tarded,” as a friend of mine calls the technologically challenged, rather I’m just more interested in living in my environment, in the REAL world,  not through gadgets or whatever version of myself I create on the internet.

As a person who came of age along with the Internet, I’m no stranger to, nor a hater of the World Wide Web. But it does make me nuts sometimes. Watching CNN is no longer watching news … it’s watching reporters tell you every three seconds to check out their Twitter feed, join a Facebook group, submit a question, send a photo, etc. What’s with all the viewer engagement? How about engage me with super star reporting?

That said, seemingly with no choice anyway but to join the masses in at least some way, I figure it is still important to keep touch with our fellow humans through interaction, friendships, family relationships and a plethora of non-Internet activities (many activities of which I plan to pursue and report on to “keep it real” in this blog).  My intention is to encourage others to do the same, to log off and slow down.

Logging out now…