There’s Still Time

I wanted to love it, and I occasionally did almost enjoy it.  It had its moments.  Just not enough of them.  It was a blockbuster digital art show presented by the Mori Art Museum called Tokyo Lab Boundless.  It is state of the art of digital technology.  Tickets were scarce, but I got one.  I waited in line to enter as my anticipation built, while knowing instinctually that I might not like the manipulated world that awaited us.

How to describe the encounter?  It was an encounter, because the visual overload was close to overwhelming. Visualize many large overlapping spaces contained within a huge hangar. Within the hangar are rooms with different visual displays, mostly relating to nature.  Rooms ultimately morph into other rooms and the spaces purposely become “boundless,” constantly moving, shifting and reappearing. Hints of eternity?

Envision being in a space where every surface is covered with some of the following in a digital rendering; flowers of all kinds and shapes, a waterfall room where people lounged on a large rock as a digital waterfall cascaded over them.  Butterflies flitted and birds flew, thousands of straight strings of l.e.d. lights  changing colors were the Ultimate Christmas Display in my opinion, alluring and transfixing. At the top of a long flight of stairs waited a room with hundreds of suspended  lantern lamps changing colors as well.

Most of the projections were symbols of the natural world. The images covered every surface including ceilings, floors and visitors.  MIrrors added to the illusion of infinite space.IMG_1092

The spaces were crowded. Optimally, I would have liked being the only visitor. Disorientation was part of the experience, but after a while, looking for a way out of this manipulated world became a distraction as well.  There were moments when I thought “how cool, or how beautiful” but they did not outweigh the discomfort I felt at this whole idea.

With our planet in the throes of seemingly unstoppable and accelerated climate change, was this display the way of the future?  An idealized manipulated version of what was the natural world? Is this what will remain when nature collapses?  Just memories lacking the realness of texture of scent of birth and decay?

Was I the only one to interpret the dark side of this extravaganza?  Maybe to most visitors, this would be a more than acceptable substitute for the real thing.  Just as some climate deniers are suggesting we could all move to another planet?

Suddenly I wanted to be released.  Not so easy to find an exit though the endless rooms. I had to first find a worker who slipped me out of an unmarked back door, after I was insistent about wanting to leave.

Relief!  Light!  A genuine, living, glorious flower presented itself.  There’s still time. There’s still time. There’s still time.

The Quiet Lives of Old Photographs

The photographs of my life huddle together in the darkness, secure in a bedroom cabinet. They now lead quiet lives, disturbed only occasionally. They once brought only pleasure to me and upon inspection, wonder. Now going through them brings a quotient of sadness too. The scale began to tip about 10 or 15 years ago. Their nearby presence exerts an energy that often tempts me to pay them a visit, but one that I usually resist. It’s a bottomless journey, that once begun leads down a road that’s too nostalgic. It invariably leads to sad emotions that I’d prefer to not indulge. It does show a rich lifetime of family times, travel, holidays and joyful events. The photos allow me to visit people who were once an important part of my life, now no longer available for one reason or another or sometimes for no reason I can state.  They just faded away.

Were my eyebrows really once that full and dark? Gazing at a photo of myself holding my infant children in my arms, I can still feel my daughter’s softness and inhale her sweet baby scent. Those sacred pleasures vanished too quickly. Pangs of times passed too quickly and unconsciously.  Another photo yields a glance of smiling faces at a school graduation. That was long ago, when there were more beginnings and a door closed meant that another door would soon be opening.

home from college, visiting my Dad

Yesterday, I uncovered a long-lost photo of my mother in her 20’s with a man other than my father. She and her gentleman friend looked very happy. I remembered her telling me many years ago that this man was her boyfriend before she met my father. They were close to engagement. And then they weren’t. The road not taken, but still present in my stash of snapshots. Does the gentleman still have a photo of my mom that his children puzzle over?

There are so many photos! My short-term attempts at organization have always run out of steam. I can never throw out enough of them to even make a small dent in their number.  Now they lay, slightly deteriorating by the day, in boxes, albums, and stacks. They give testament to a life and youth gone by. They recall young children, departed relatives, exciting trips to Europe and Japan, important birthdays, a long-lost pet. I want to bring them to life, if only for a brief visit.

The gang in Brooklyn on Halloween Eve, many moons ago!
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A gorgeous early summer day near Stockholm.

I almost gasp when looking at photos of a long-ago party at my house, celebrating the visit of Doug Elkins Dance Company in 1998. Everyone was sooo young and so drunk.

Just Married, saying goodbye to parents as we head out for the honeymoon.  1963!

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ranch 2000
New Year’s Eve 1999

I found a photo of my mother with her arms around two of my daughters, probably taken 40 years ago. They all looked relaxed and happy. This photo brought me joy because my mother hated to have her picture taken, consequently, I have few photos of her where she seems happy and looks the way I want to remember her. She died of Alzheimer’s so my last memories of her are painful to recall. This photo helped me make her real and healthy again. The image is now on my desk and in my heart.

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My favorite look (for many years)

Thousands of digital photos sit right under my fingertips at my computer’s keyboard. They’re so easily accessible, and visited more frequently. They’re available for immediate recall and better organized.  I imagine that my grandchildren will have no boxes of photos to store.

Once again there came the time to put these memory capsules back in their cupboard.  After writing about them this time, I lovingly put them away, and even managed to feel happy.

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meeting the final grandchild!

Becoming Angry and Nasty too

A few days ago, I was unable to update my credit card number in my United Airlines Mileage Plus account. An older number appeared on the screen when I booked my flight, but there was no obvious way to get into my account online to bring it up to date.

There followed a considerable search on my part to speak to a real live caring person to help me correct the error. It began like this:

ONLINE:

Search united.com
Hi, View Account Sign Out
Skip navigation
Reservations Travel information Deals & offers MileagePlus®
Contact us
Commonly asked questions
Before you call, we recommend checking our FAQs and Helpful Information page or seeing if your question is answered here. (DECIDEDLY NON-HELPFUL)

How do I change my ticket?
How do I change my seat assignment?
What is United’s refund policy?
Contact information
Select a topic to find out how to contact the right team for assistance.

If you are calling from outside of the U.S. and Canada, please view international contact options.

Flight reservations
MileagePlus® Service Center
United products and services
Damaged, delayed or lost baggage, and lost items
For information relating to: baggage liability, reporting lost articles, damage to checked baggage or missing items from checked baggage, initiating a baggage claim and tracking the progress on an existing inquiry

Phone number 1-281-821-3526
Phone number 1-800-335-2247 (Toll-free if you are calling from the U.S. and Canada; Service is available in English and Spanish only) AT LAST!
Phone number 001-866-563-3244
Phone number Country access code + 800-33-55-2247 (Toll-free if you are calling from Asia Pacific and Europe)

Refunds
Customer Care
Cargo and animal transportation
Company information
If you have a disability, you can call United’s 24-hour Accessibility Desk within the United States or Canada, or from elsewhere call the United Customer Contact Center and ask to be connected to the Accessibility Desk.

 

For reasons not apparent, United Airlines makes it challenging to reach the person to person step. The customer is initially diverted to irrelevant pages to see if anything presented there might possibly help them. Maybe they knew from experience that a human to human connection between two humans halfway across the world could be fraught with problems, even if it did save the company some money.  I guess they save hiring more people by diverting as many customers as possible to an online solution.

After I finally connected with someone, I could not have dreamed up a more ridiculous and irritating interaction. It might have led a person less in control of their behavior than myself to violence.

I was connected to a man somewhere across the globe who promised to help me if I would just answer a few “security” questions.
I could feel myself resisting, but I’d gotten this far and I didn’t want to let go. I figured they’d want my mother’s maiden name and the name of my first beloved dog. No way.

Out of Nowhere

pizza

He:  “What is your favorite pizza topping?

Me: “You’re kidding, right? ”  I asked him, my mind boggled by the fact that this was an actual security question.

He:  “No, Ma’am,” he matter of factly replied, finding no humor in my question.  This man had a job to do and whether or not it made any sense, he was not to be moved from following his instructions.

Me:  “That’s a ridiculous question,” I answered matter of factly as well, trying to match his even temperament but feeling my anger rise. I was sure I was stating the obvious.  “I have no favorite pizza topping nor did I ever tell anyone at your organization what the answer to that question would be!” Besides, I NEVER answered your so-called security questions.

Me still in disbelief:  “Are you just making up the questions?”

He:  “I’m sorry , Ma’am. Would you like to try another one?”

Me:  “It better not be as bullshit as your first question,” I responded tartly. “Is there some other more sensible way to do this transaction?”

“He:  I’m sorry Ma’am. You must answer the questions. Maybe the next question would ask me the name of my hometown. I hung in there.

spaceship

He:  “WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO TRAVEL?” he now wanted to know.

Me:  “BY SPACESHIP? ” I queried. My anger had risen to a new high.  My smart – ass self was my only defense.

Me:  “Let me talk to your manager, please, I insisted, thinking this was the only solution and would quickly fix things.

He:  “The manager must ask you the same questions,” he assured me.

Me:  “THIS IS TOTAL BULL SHIT!!” I now shouted into the phone, any attempt at maintaining a semblance of politeness was now completely out of reach for me.

I’d reached my limit.  I’d already spent about a half an hour on this little exercise.  I had to terminate this exchange asap.
I slammed down the phone, not enjoying any satisfaction.  I had failed.

I went back online to the UAL website. There, buried under a stash of irrelevant information, I finally found a link to change the digits required for updating my card.

How have things gotten to this low point? How about a customer achieving security from inanity?

gr-r-r-r-r-r.

how are we doing?

Danger.

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Definition: A small amount of knowledge about a topic can make people falsely believe they are experts on that topic.

My apologies to any of my readers who recently may have tried to find my posts on my WordPress website.

I’m struggling through an awkward attempt with a new WordPress theme (for me) that promised to update the look and feel of my blog.  I’d gotten bored with my original look.   Please bear with me. The demonstration made it look easy.  Just like professional figure skating.

A little knowledge had convinced me that I could handle any challenges with the help of the WordPress theme’s “happiness engineers.”  They’re a cheerful enough group of helpers, but I eventually tired of them.  Yesterday  I came to know a particular HE better than my husband, since he and I spent most of the past two days glued to our screens, texting each other non-stop as he gamely tried to help me with my chosen theme. After hours of trial and a lot of error,  I finally told him I thought it was hopeless.  He quickly agreed.  I was sure he’d give me an argument, but he actually agreed immediately to give me a refund.  That was a big relief, but where to go now?

There is no going back to the old theme now since I don’t remember its name and there are hundreds of them. I’m pushing on, trying to keep my appetite for the new and sexy looking themes under control this time!  My HE recommended that I go to the beginner’s choice of themes. I humbly agreed.

I’ve been trying one out in the last few hours.  It’s not perfect, but it’s not chaos either, so I think I’ll settle.

To whomever it’s applicable, thank you for your patience while I dallied in tech overload land.

To be honest, the design will be a work in progress for a while. I might soon decide to try another one. I might find someone to help me!  Thankfully, I’ve got the blogging part figured out, but the design elements are still not all that I want them to be!  I will promise not to let the design elements stop me from blogging because that would completely defeat the purpose.  Once again, thanks for your patience.  I want you to stay nearby.

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