April 14, 2006

Speed of replies…

Posted in FountainPens, Pipes, Rants, Work at 5:31 pm by a11en

Have you noticed that our lives are now so sped up and connectivity is so great that most people require replies within a half-day if not faster? If they don’t receive one, they assume either (1) you’re dead or (2) you don’t care about them at all and are ignoring them. Thank God we don’t live in the fountain-pen and parchment days of old, eh? Hell, it took months to get replies back and forth across the ocean. Today, we can control a robot in Austrailia in less than 30 seconds. So, every communication becomes critical. “Why didn’t you write yesterday afternoon?” [Perhaps because I was fulfilling other duties which were required? Not everything needs to be about *you* (or *me* for that matter).]

Interestingly, we now no longer worry about proper grammar, handwriting, or appropriate discourse. We have lost the homage paid to the reader and the politeness which used to prevail in the handwritten note days. I’m the first to admit that I can type way way faster than I can write. As well, I am constantly bereated for my poor script. I hope to correct this in the coming years. We’ll see how that goes. πŸ˜‰ But, today’s world thrives with notes back and forth over e-mail that can be lost in the blink of an eye, and trust placed in systems which constantly loose our data. [Just yesterday I had to explain to a prof. how a slew of grades inputted into the “fandangled” new online grade-book system got lost over the course of 24 hours. Thank God for backups kept by yourself in safe places, eh?] Now, I don’t want to go backwards, but perhaps a mixture of both would be appropriate? What would happen if a pinch went off in our towns? That’s one reason that the internet world has been the focus of so much attack in the recent past. Don’t kid yourself, if we don’t strengthen our networks and have backups, we’ll have trouble. Ham Radio operators (I am one) have been for years relaying messages back and forth for various reasons (contests, or communications from our troops home) by word of mouth across the country; as well many operate on emergency power for fun. We have a huge network of communication which can be tapped at any moment the alarm is called… all built on the backbone of amateur radio operators who do this just for fun. Many of them realize that they may easily become a critical path for communication in emergencies; in towns that are storm-ravaged, they often do.

So, my point? Life sometimes is slow. Things take time. Today’s world is hell-bent on making things faster. In many industries, time=money. But, often, in the pursuit of speed, we loose quality[2][3]. We no longer expend our time to write to our friends in our own hand (certainly not with a pen you had to fill with ink yourself), or communicate with them via old-world means (voice communications over land-line). I’ve found that in general, with each stage of disconnection in communication (Face to face, voice to voice, letter to letter, e-mail to e-mail), there is an increase in possible misunderstanding and frustration which can arise from the lack of inflection in the voice, or lack of pen-speed on the paper, etc. This is why emoticons are so prevalent in our online writing. It’s our only way of smiling these days.

As a pipe-smoker, I’m quite familiar with those who want it fast and now. They’re my cigarette smoking brothers and sisters. They need their fix, and their only interest is that. A pipe-smoker on the other hand may take up to 1 hour to finish a pipe (and sometimes longer). The selection of the tobacco (and drink/coffee/tea on the side) to suit your current taste, the selection of the pipe to suit the tobacco, the packing and lighting to ensure a good smoke through the bowl and finally the slow and relaxed deliberate enjoyment of the flavor of the fine tobacco during the enjoyment of a good book, or contemplation of those great men who have influenced your life. That is the way of the epicurean; not the fixated now-focused person. Those who doubt me, pick up a pipe (every-day last-forever pipes are generally in the $100 range… those who have money to blow, you can spend $3,000…), learn about the types and regions of tobacco manufacture and their extreme variation of flavor (cigar smokers, you are missing out here), and learn about the pursuit and art of pipe-smoking. [To my brothers and sisters who enjoy their tobacco in any form, I offer my hand in the fight against those who would remove our liberties for the pursuit of extreme protectionism built on the backs of pure fabrication.]

Things seem to take 5x as long for me, as for someone else. Whether it’s researching some minutea in my research work that I didn’t learn because I switched fields, or doing something abnormal with my data because it’s the more appropriate way to analyze it (2D -v- 3D fitting functions), I seem to take longer with everything. This generally comes back to bite me in the butt later on. Fun, eh? πŸ™‚ Oh well. I fear this is my fate. Couple this with severe procrastination (ADD?) and you have a mix of problems. So, I’ll watch over my focus, try to speed myself up to cope with the interest in fast -v- good, and we’ll see if we can’t pump out some serious work this month. [Don’t let the above fool you, often my work is just good enough, and should be better. The horror is that it would take much longer!]

My thought to summarize- ask yourself if perhaps a written letter to a friend or loved-one may not be a nice thing to do for them in this day and age of easily deleted emoticon-laden e-mails. Oh, don’t worry it may take a bit of time. Hell, write it twice to make sure you know what you want to say. I guarantee you it will make a big impression. My Love just informed me that my little notes I sometimes slip into her lunch-bag often get left there on purpose for days and days because they make her smile. πŸ™‚

Oh, and those who haven’t tried out a fountain-pen: please get one and create a bit of joy in your writing by hand again… you’ll thank me for it. [The frugal should look into the Lamy Safari and it’s siblings for an excellent bang-for-the-buck pen. Be sure you get the converter so you can fill it with your own ink. Of which I strongly suggest you try Noodler’s– Tardiff’s inks are pushing the envelope on fountain-pen ink in a world gone mad with the lack of touching the pen to the page… archival quality, pH neutral inks, hell, he even makes an invisible ink…] (BTW, isn’t paper a renewable resource? A few of my students kill me, because they attempt to write on a single side of a single sheet of paper… then they claim they’re doing it for the ecosystem. Well, my liberal use of red-ink is for the advancement of your internal ecosystem. πŸ˜‰ )

Earworm: “This Place Is A Prison” performed by The Postal Service from the album Give Up

Just found this post by Jason, a kind fellow who liked some of my insane ramblings… don’t lump him into guilt by association here, friends. He has an excellent post put up a few days ago entitled: “The Professionalism of Communication” which touches a bit on the subject matter above. Excellent thoughts, Jason!

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