Posts Tagged ‘Technology’
Sorry for the week off. I didn’t intend it.
After landing back at JFK airport last Monday, the 13th, my brother was waiting outside terminal 2D in his white Volvo, illegally parked in a “no standing” zone, naturally. My friends Morgan and Charles came for the ride, and we somehow managed to pack all of our luggage into the trunk. One piece- Morgan’s huge North Face- sat on Charles and her laps in the backseat. And we were off, to the Belt Parkway, on our way home. I can’t believe I have been here for a week already- my time with the J19 in Istanbul feels as though it were ages ago.
The following morning I had to take my computer to Apple (again) for more repairs. I suppose my technological stumbling blocks serve as nice bookends for my time abroad with the Dialogue of Civilizations program. A few moments ago, a week after dropping off my precious slab of metal, the doorbell rang. I hurriedly bounced up the steps and saw the purple shirt through the glass panes of the front door: FedEx was at my doorstep with my laptop, fully repaired.
I signed for the package and (gently) tore open the box. It felt like Christmas in June. Under some foam lining and more foam lining, my laptop rested, neatly tucked away. Instinctively, I turned it on right away. I feel like I have been so disconnected without it. After traveling with it by my side for more than five weeks, one week at home with no outlet felt like eternity. And it felt so wrong. I haven’t been able to really check my email and, more importantly, to blog. I have missed it here, but I’m happy to be back now.
More to come later, off to a job interview now! (Wish me luck)
Note: This blog post was written on May 22.
Some people – tourists, to be exact – will walk through life, fingers attached to a camera with a fanny pack permanently around their waist. I try to approach life and my travels differently. Ever since my mother’s camera was stolen out of our luggage on a family trip many years ago, I have felt that pictures, videos, cameras – all these things can come and go. What will always remain are the memories.
On May 19, I along with my peers journeyed 2 hours south of Amman to Petra on our big, yellow Shariyah bus. Petra, an archeological and historic city which dates back to . The historical site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” and was featured in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which filmed on site in .
Evidence suggests that settlements had begun in and around Petra in the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (1550-1292 BC.) It is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. The city was built on the slopes of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah(Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of “the 40 places you have to see before you die” and after visiting the ancient city, I completely and wholeheartedly agree. The hike was exhausting, the rocks and sand blistering hot, the sun blinding, but the sight unforgettable. Never before have I felt so accomplished as I did today, when I hiked up nearly 2,000 steps to the site highlight, the monastery. It was carved into a mountainside by the ancient inhabitants and controlled by various empires throughout history. The city itself, as a whole, was largely guarded against any attacks by the mountains surrounding it. The initial entrance into Petra is a long and winding dirt, cobblestone road through the mountains, which tower over the entranceway and seem to reach the clouds. Trees grow, distorted, out of the mountainside.
These images, which will be with me forever, should be seen by all. I was lucky enough to see these things at 21, but I noticed that many of the tourists were much older, most over the age of 50. How am I so fortunate to see such sights and wonders at such a young age? And at such an early stage in my world travels and my journalistic career? I guess I can thank Northeastern University for the opportunity. And, of course, my own intuition. Something told me, way back in November when I applied, that this was a trip not to be missed.
After reaching the top of the site, and viewing what seemed like all of Jordan from the peak, I sat with my peers Geoff Edgers, Rob Sansone, Erin, Ally, Jessica and Michele, we began the descent down the steps.
The sun was hotter on the return to modern civilization. The local Jordanians, who have set up tents to sell merchandise, jewelry, and other memorabilia, were relentless in their attempts to sell us their products. Some of us succumbed to their taunts and hopeful eyes. I, myself, purchased a hand-carved camel and a stone turtle. I will never forget this day, and the pople with whom this adventure was shared. I love the J19. Petra, I will never forget you.
In the early hours of Thursday, May 5, I sat in a room that, just a few short hours prior, was my own. Room 512 in White Hall, where I had lived since August 2010, is now a hollow shell once again. It’s now an emptier room than I became accustomed to throughout the semester, with walls bare all around me, save just one poster: the Manhattan skyline, backlit by a purple and blue sunset. I don’t like the emptiness. The stark room had me feeling very cold, and very alone. Just a week ago, this whole building was bustling with freshman celebrating the end of their first year of college. People would come and go through the halls and up and down the stairwells, in and out of my doorway. Music and laughter filled all the halls. Now, everyone has gone back home, wherever that may be, and White Hall was slowly being shut down for the summer months.
I saw the sun breaking through the darkness of the night. The beads of water on my window screen catch the earliest signs of daylight, and the sky is slowly brightening over campus. Over the course of that Thursday, I packed up all my things – blue and green coffee mugs, a bookshelf, three lamps,
a lot of way too many clothes, books, school work from the past two semesters – into boxes and shopping bags (and garbage bags; thanks for forgetting my suitcase, dad.) I left Boston with my father and his girlfriend, Barbara. Before all that, though, my computer decided to crash and burn around 6 a.m. just as I finished sealing the last box full of my stuff. Well, at first, it wasn’t a big deal. I figured the battery died and I forgot to plug in the power cord as usual. So, I proceeded to do so, and let it sit for a few moments so that it could catch its breath, so to speak. The boxes were all stacked neatly on top of one another along the red wall that I will miss so much, and my refrigerator was unplugged and defrosting. My bed was no longer a comfortable sanctuary, since I had to throw my sheets and pillowcases in with my final load of laundry before ultimately packing them… somewhere. I can figure it out where exactly as I unpack, I won’t worry about it now.
There was nothing left to do but wait. Waiting. Waiting. I tried again to turn on the computer. NOTHIN’ but a black screen. The computer won’t even turn on at this point, and I begin to freak out just a little bit. Ok, a lot. I was panicked. Just under a week until I take off for an adventure that I can’t wait for, and the most important thing on my “DO NOT FORGET TO PACK” list is not working. Really now? I couldn’t help but think that my computer had just been run into the ground over the course of finals week, during which it was used extensively. But, then again, I also thought the technology gods were playing a joke on me. After I paced my room staring angrily at the blank laptop, trying to will it back to life, I went down five flights of steps and into the Residential Life staff office of my building. From there, I made an appointment with the Apple Genius Bar on Boylston Street. I tried to stay calm. “They will be able to fix it,” I kept saying to myself.
Now that I had an appointment with the Macbook gurus over at Apple, I went and took one last trip to the Marino Center, which is Northeastern’s beautiful gym, for one last workout in the Hub. One last shower in White Hall. And thank goodness, because I will not miss those communal bathrooms one bit. Ok, maybe a little bit. It is nice not having to worry about ever cleaning the bathroom. After my wash, it is finally late enough (or early enough? I find time a funny thing to keep track of, especially when I don’t sleep…) for me to get one final breakfast meal at the International Village dining hall. At 7:30 a.m. I walk into a mostly empty dining hall, where I order an omelette with spinach, tomatoes, onions and green peppers. I popped two slices of whole wheat bread into the toaster, and fill up a nice tall glass of orange juice. I was sort of hungry, but really, though, I was trying to make myself forget about my potentially huge laptop problem. And what better method than to drown out the worry with some delicious food. And the food was delicious, as it usually is.
Around 8:15, I left International Village and walked back through Ruggles Station to White Hall. Campus is such a different place in the interim period between semesters. A few short days pass, and all of a sudden everyone is gone. Campus was like a ghost town that morning. As 9 a.m. approaches, I packed up my laptop and began to head to Boylston Street. Even the city seemed more tame, more empty. The sunlight was being overtaken by massive gray clouds, but alas, it never rained. At the Genius Bar, Rob, the technician, takes a look at my Macbook. He’s very tall and quiet, and strangely reminded me of Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame. After about 10 minutes of looking over the computer and turning it upside down a few times, Rob looks up at me with a look that I read as, “you’re fucked.” After a few seconds of silent eye contact, I blurted out, “So, what’s the diagnosis?? Can it be fixed in less than a week?” It was the logic board. It had, according to Rob, burnt out. GREAT! GRAND! JUST WHAT I WANT TO HEAR. Rob tells me that all power and function of the Macbook runs through the logic board, and so the computer will need to be sent out to Apple or kept in-house and taken apart. All of the connections will need to be removed, and the logic board will need to be replaced. WONDERFUL, that sounds simple and painless. (Please, note the sarcasm.) I ask Rob how long a process like that takes, to which his reponse is “usually one week.” :0
That is not acceptable. Normally I’d be fine with one week. What’s another week, anyway? But this was not a normal week. This was my final week in the states, and my final day in Boston, before I take off for Amman, Jordan with my peers on May 11. I asked Rob if it could be fixed that same day, to which he laughed in response. Thanks guy, that made me feel a lot better about this. I took my laptop with Rob’s diagnostic notes attached and sadly packed the useless pile of metal into my bag. I quickly made another Genius Bar appointment from one of the many Macs in the store, this time in New York. From there, I trek back to White Hall where I see my father and his girlfriend, sitting in the black minivan and waiting for me. After a brief hello and kisses, we began loading the car. My dad freaked out. “All this shit, it won’t fit.” This guy needs to relax. I don’t know what it is, or why, but he ALWAYS freaks out. Over nothing. “You rented a minivan, dude, it’s all going to fit,” is what I would like to say. But instead, I just keep my mouth shut and nod along. I have found that letting him ramble without interruption or response is sometimes the only way to respond. Five or six trips up and down the elevator later, the back of the minivan looks like a perfectly executed game of tetris. Well, minus the part about the filled-in lines at the bottom disappearing…
I took one last walk through campus with my good friend Jennifer as the sun breaks through the clouds once again. It was noon, and the sun was getting hot. (When I get to Amman, ‘hot’ will take on a whole new meaning.) We strolled down Huntington Avenue so that she could feed her parking meter, and we laughed at the absurdity of only receiving 12 mintues per quarter. Thanks, Boston. Jennifer and I hug. She will be a graduate of Northeastern by this time tomorrow, and come September I will have one less friend here. I feel sad knowing this, but I also am so happy for her. She worked her ass off this past semester, and got herself a job lined up with a commodities trading firm for right after graduation. She will leave Boston, and me, and head back home to Stamford, Connecticut. As we approach the corner of Huntington Avenue and Forsyth Street once again, we say our final goodbyes and go our separate ways, her blonde hair fluttering in the wind. I’ll miss her, a lot. Of that, I am certain. But I’m also certain that this is not truly goodbye, for I will see her blue-green eyes again.
5 hours later, I arrived at my home in New York, and it took nearly as long to unpack. I’m not quite sure how, but every year when I return from Northeastern I am astonished at how much crap I have. After high school, I lived in one room. And so did all of my stuff. Now, I come back after my third full year at Northeastern, and I can barely put things away in that room. My closet and drawers at home are already filled with t-shirts and such that I felt weren’t worthy of coming to university with me. Somehow, I managed to accumulate clutter at school, because all that I brought home this year is certainly more than I brought with me back in August 2010.
So, the mini-van is empty once again, and I rushed off to Roosevelt Field mall, where I had my second Genius Bar appointment of the day. I arrived at the mall in record time and spoke with Ray, another Apple Genius. He informed me that, after inspection, it appeared Rob’s initial diagnosis was correct. Sh#t. Ray told me that it would take up to a week to fix the logic board. F*ck. Now, I tried to remain calm, but the possibility of not having my laptop with me on this trip terrified me. I left the Apple store with my tail between my legs and a heavy weight on my shoulders; what would I do if they couldn’t fix it in time?
Well, 12 short hours later, I recieved a voicemail from Mike at the Apple store. He called toinform me that my laptop was ready to be picked up at my earliest convenience. Let me tell you, that guy made my day! I borrowed my brother’s Volvo and drove on over to the mall and picked up my Macbook. It felt as though I was reunited with a long-lost love. With my silver baby back in my possession, I drove home grinning from ear to ear.
All of these events took place over the course of a week. It was, in fact, my final week in New York. As I post this, my journey to Amman, Jordan is less than 24 hours away. My bags are packed, for the most part, and I have said many farewells. I will miss this place and these people, but I cannot wait to see these new places and digest the cultures of Jordan and Turkey. What the future holds, no one knows, but I know that it is promising. As the sun comes up over the horizon, I realize that it is my last day in the states. Tomorrow at this same time, I will be seated on Delta Airlines on my way. Let the adventure begin…
Well, here I am, on a new website with a new account and all the good stuff that comes along with it: another username and password to keep track of, more emails flooding into my inbox, and another bookmarked web address. In this age of new technology and constant, almost instant, updates, I find it difficult to keep up with all of it. First there was email, and what a concept that was. I used to think, “Will people really stop sending letters and notes to friends and family and start typing to each other? Will people sit staring at a screen to read someones email? No way!” Turns out I
missed the mark was way off, as email has evolved into a vital form of communication, both personally and, perhaps even moreso, professionally.
As I sit here, exploring this new realm of internet space- this thing called the blogosphere- in preparation for my first taste of international reporting in Jordan and Turkey in the coming months of May and June, I wonder: is this really the future? Has our society come to individuals sitting, mostly alone, and staring at computer screens? Even in public spaces, where folks formerly spoke to one another and conversed, maybe even with a stranger, the most common sight nowadays is a sea of individuals, each one minding his or her own business; one business man sending out an email; another following the stock market up and down; a schoolgirl with headphones in, contemplating what she’ll listen to next. Is the internet destroying our interpersonal and societal skills? These skills that have taken ages to develop? From the day we are born, we make sounds, and eventually those become mutually understood sounds, sometimes called words. Now, it seems, the only sounds are those of footsteps and the clickity-clack of a keyboard, or the button-pressing someone typing a text message from their cell phone instead of, oh, I don’t know, calling someone from it.
It is for these reasons, among others, I sometimes wished we still lived in a simpler world, where things weren’t so… strange. I think technology is great, don’t get me wrong, and has assisted humans in ways I can’t even comprehend, but perhaps it is also a disservice. As I look ahead to the coming weeks, when I will be traveling around a Middle Eastern, third-world nation, I eagerly await the lack of a cell phone. Sure, I will still have my laptop and camera with me in order to publish my adventures along the way and share all that I am learning with all of you. But, it will mostly be packed away in a hotel room or bag some place- well, the laptop, that is. The camera will be attached to my hand, unless I come across some food, in which case I may pause to photograph it before continuing to indulge in what I can only imagine will be delicious Jordanian delicacies. My point is, I’m really excited to not have a cell phone with me all the time. Here, home in the states, it’s unacceptable to go about my daily life without it. My dad will get angry if he calls and I don’t answer, as will my aunts. Friends will give me grief (endlessly) for failing to answer a text message. My brother will leave
obnoxiously long, (mostly) entertaining voicemails.
It is just the way of our society today. We live in and for each moment and expect our life to be available at every moment. Thinking about this obsession we all seem to have for instant gratification, I long for the days when I would travel on a bus to school and walk to and from the bus stop with a group of friends. Now, I can’t see myself those groups of high schoolers strolling down the street after the bell rings, but not because they are no longer there. It isn’t that at all. It’s the way they walk, now. Back in the late 1990’s and first decade of the 21st century, my friends and I would share tales of our day and talk about the people we met, the things we learned. We would shoot the breeze, make plans for the evening or coming weekend, we would laugh. Now, as I watch these 16 and 17 year olds “hanging out,” I get the feeling that they’re confused and think they are alone in their rooms. No one speaks. Each one is occupied by their own cell phone, iPad, iPod or other new-age, portable device. I bet some of them spend time with their friends not speaking to anyone and tapping away on some device I haven’t even heard of yet! And this from a 21 year old university student living in a bustling urban environment. I don’t hide under a rock or avoid the new technology, because I believe in the pending war between humanity and the machines we’ve created (a la the Matrix.) That is, of course, unless we kill each other before our technological advances reach such heights that they will pose a threat to us.
So, in closing this first blog post, I’ll say that I can’t wait to be in Jordan, where I hope I’ll see fewer people on cell phones, a more cohesive and communal society, and an amazing new world. I truly believe that this trip will be incredible and eye-opening experience, and I look forward to sharing it with 18 soon-to-be friends and colleagues, 3 professors, and a multitude of unknown acquaintances.