Tech, Get Off My Lawn!

Having come of age during the typewriter era, I still think of every keystroke as a disfiguring slap of an iron mallet against fresh leaves. A sheet of typing paper appears a miracle in itself – how do they get them so thin? I can’t even slice a radish.

So, to me anyway, a fresh and creamy sheet of paper is like Mother Nature’s cheek. It is symbolic of so much else, I am protective of it. I hate to see it treated poorly or with general disregard.

That’s one of the reasons I hate this snail mail my late wife keeps getting — computer-generated donation requests from charities, particularly cancer charities, the disease that killed her.

“It’s not too late to help…” the City of Hope tells her.

Yeah, sorry. It kinda is.

My late wife also still gets notes from the giant pet store chain, pitching supplements and flea shampoos. They also send notes to our beagle, Koa, addressing him on a chatty, first-name basis.

Too late there as well. Koa died two years ago.

I suppose this isn’t them, it’s me. My expectations are always too high. I expect God to be reasonable; I expect strangers to hold doors; I expect restaurant servers – and paramedics — to hurry a little.

Often, those things don’t happen. Is that on them or on me? Probably me. I’m an imperfect pinecone. I want bike seats to be softer, harvest moons to be fuller, Trader Joe’s Sriracha to have a little more ooooooomfff.

Perhaps I need to let whimsy and incompetence prevail once in a while, especially in this vacuous and troubling digital age.

True story (I tell it all the time): Cervantes once took a civil service job with the Spanish Armada, messed up the money, went to prison, and got a really great book out of it.

Point is, Mikey Cervantes knew how to exploit a hard, disfiguring slap of fate. He knew that even when you fail, you sometimes win.

OK digital age, I’m changing my mind about you. In fact, I love you. I love your eyes, your teeth, your giggle. You have no soul, no heart. Otherwise, tech, you’re perfect.

But one last request. I don’t want tickets in my phone. I want a paper ticket — to a ballgame, a movie, a flight to Paris.

Mock me, go ahead. But I want something in my hand after paying $3,200 for the Paris flight, so if I don’t have email access at the gate, or my battery runs low again – it’s always low again – I can still go to Paris.

Cumulatively, I’ve spent 14 years waiting for Word documents to open. If my TV works, it’s a surprise.

Don’t tell me how great tech is when nothing works.

Gone are the days when you turn something on – a movie, a song — and it fires right up. Too often, stuff doesn’t connect, or an enabling device “can’t be found.” Then comes the error code, which mean nothing to nobody.

Lately, my music app connects to the car speaker even when I don’t want it to. Why? I don’t know. I don’t try to stop it though. If I try to stop it, I will upset some delicate balance in the universe – the flow of protons between Earth and infinity — and suddenly I won’t get any music from my phone, or my car won’t start, or the air bag will explode.

By the way, remember when calling someone a geek was an insult?

Still is.

Because all this is engineered by clammy little nerds who never got the girl, who can’t kick a football or shoot whiskey or make eye contact. 

These Dilberts design the overpriced devices for each other. It’s easy for them because it’s all they do all day, click around and around, write some code, watch some porn, click around some more, which is what they do in lieu of talking to women.

In part, I blame women. If they just talked to geeky little men once in a while! (Beware: Many geeky men are writers. They’re even worse!).

But I digress….

Another thing I don’t get: The Cloud. All my photos automatically go into “The Cloud,” and I have no idea how to get them back. I gaze up at the sky. I think I see them sometimes. I just can’t get to them.

All I know about The Cloud is that I can buy more storage for so much per month. I don’t want additional storage. I don’t even want all my photos going to The Cloud. Honestly, my photos suck.

So I don’t need more Cloud space. Know what I need? More room in my sock drawer.

Know what else I need? A printer that works. So I can print my tickets.

Meanwhile, it was almost an accident how I learned to scan stuff from my phone. No kidding, the athletic director at the high school showed me (thanks Carrie!).

Here’s how you scan stuff from an iPhone:

  1. Open Notes
  2. Create a new file
  3. Click the camera icon at the bottom
  4. Choose “Scan Documents”

Boom, that’s it! See, I’m pretty techie. I know stuff, despite my constant state of befuddlement … despite a brain made of ice cream and Milk Duds.

I just need to fight the urge to give up on all this crud, no matter how bad it becomes.

Are you with me? Yeah? Sure, you are.

Please join me at the YMCA’s annual Prayer Breakfast Oct. 15 in La Canada, where I’ll share more valuable tech tips and life-affirming stories from my new book with wild bear specialist Steve Searles. For info, call (818) 583-4731, or email

11 thoughts on “Tech, Get Off My Lawn!

  1. I am right there with you, Chris. As far as I am concerned, nothing techy invented since the mid-1900’s has done anything to truly enhance our lives. If God would grant me one wish, it would be a tie between eliminating guns and social media. Paper books still rule! Is your new one available now for purchase?

  2. Sounds as if a trip to Paris may be in the works. It is a bit banal but still true that Paris is always a good idea.

  3. I put on one of my late father’s coats a few years ago and found the ticket for the last UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl that we attended together in his pocket. I still tear up remembering even finding that precious memory when I needed it most.

  4. One of the oblique and possibly strange things I’ve done is spend years preparing for, then early on doing circuit, logic, and ultimately system design; and teaching in a graduate school of Engineering. And I have done a fair measure of coding, meaning writing software to cause my designs to do things needed and wanted.; and I am with you all the way! Until technology is as seamless in Its understanding and response as a knowledgeable other person could be, it is deficient, often hellishly so. Artificial intelligence is just that, though now feverishly active trying to mimic the human spirit. There is a whole field of technical transport called Human Factors Engineering, and it is breezily ignored, especially in software design, in the interest of getting superior competitive functionality quickly to market—(ie) making money. Monkeys talking to monkeys is still gibberish if your not a monkey, and even then it may be suspect. Thanks for the shortcut tip on document scan. Then, there are the scanning apps….and, for instance, this &&))&@87765 text editor screwing up my writing.

  5. Couldn’t agree with you more on the paper tickets.

    I didn’t know you once had a beagle. They are the sweetest souls on earth. We just lost our senior beagle a week ago and the house is empty without him.

  6. I empathize with you completely, Chris, and I’m a (female) nerd. No one’s lining up to kiss me either…

  7. How about the slower lines to get into outdoor events when the sun shining on the screen makes it hard to impossible for the beedle-de-beep thingie to read the bar code?

  8. Great article Chris. We’ve all been there. When I die it will be “death by password” Who ever invented that one?

  9. I am so excited that I have successfully implemented the Notes Scanning tool and it is fabulous! Used it twice today and way better than using our HP printer scanner than never works for me properly and I default to my husband to do scans.
    I now have scanning independence and had to share my thanks on your important information!

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