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July 31, 2007

"Read to Your Child"

FATHER AND DAUGHTER DURING NAP TIME

Summer of 2007

As a teacher, I have my summers off.

To be more specific, my last day of work was June 15th and my next day will be August 15th (not including one college class I taught Tuesdays and Thursday evenings for six weeks). I will have had eight and a half weeks off. What a gift! What a blessing for my family!

This summer I have been incredibly blessed to have had plenty of time to spend lazy afternoons with my baby daughter, Julia. This - and only this - has allowed me to get to know her moods, her body language, her hunger signs, hints of fatigue, etc. I have changed many diapers, and for the past three weeks I have been in charge of the late morning and early afternoon feedings. I have shared many laughs with my daughter and endured many temper tantrums. Only time could have purchased this understanding of my daughter. I have had the time.

My grandfather - and to a lesser extent, my father - would never have spent so much time being essentially an assistant mommy. I am quite sure, in fact, my grandfather never changed a diaper in his life. (He had four children.) "This," my father informs me, "was the way it was: the sex roles were very clearly defined." (My grandfather was born in 1898.) I was born in the days when fathers were banned from the delivery room when their children came into the world, and my father would not want it any differently: no way he is going to watch a baby crown and see all the blood and hear the screaming. "I am happy waiting in the cellar of the hospital for the end result," my father says. On the other hand, I would be highly offended and aggrieved to be ejected from the delivery room: I would sue if kept away from witnessing and participating in the birth of my daughter. As I was present at her conception, I want to be there as she births. Watching my daughter emerge from the womb was one of the best moments of my life so far. It was pure magic: like watching the sun come up.

So sex roles can change from generation to generation.

But I also think that, if you really want your child to obey and listen to you, there has to be that intense familiarity. I have seen some children whose very busy and very affluent parents saw them relatively seldom, and they were basically raised by a Guatemalan nanny or some other paid surrogate. This is dangerous tactic, for later in life I have seen such children reject their parents. Their parents are almost like strangers. “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do? Where were you when I was seven? On another business trip - that's where!” The kid has a point. Maybe the health of the family required fewer business trips and less annual income and more time and attention invested between parents and children.

So when Julia questions where I am coming from as a parent, she will know it was myself and her mother who changed her dirty diapers, took her to soccer practice, taught her to ride a bike, wiped her mouth after rice pudding feedings, attended back to school night, held her at night after bad dreams, and read to her from earliest infancy. Julia is our daughter; it is our job. Others will help and we will gladly accept their help, but it is our responsibility. It is our daughter. No passing the buck.

Yes, Julia will learn how to read first from her parents, and only secondarily from her teachers.

But here I have encountered a difficulty. Iit is strange to read out loud to a four month old child, and I have discovered I am not good at it. I take in hand the children’s classic “Goodnight Moon” and read it in two minutes flat. Our baby paid not one iota of attention to me or the book. My wife showed me how you have to stop at each page and point things out to the baby and engage her attentions that way. Even though an English teacher, I am no good at reading in that fashion. So I have let me wife read to little Julia, and I await the time when she can actually understand English. It seems silly to read otherwise. Luckily, my wife is an elementary school teacher and she excels in the hyper-enthusiastic baby voice, the point and direct mode of picture books and babies. “Look at the red fire truck over here!” It just feels silly. (I can pick up the slack when Julia gets older.)

But they claim that just hearing the parent’s voice and sensing the rhythm and cadence of the written word is beneficial for infants. By being “bathed” in the human language, they learn as if by osmosis. This makes sense. And Julia’s ability to appreciate language and skillfully manage it ranks up there with as one of the highest priorities in our parenting. I began to re-think my attitude about not reading to Julia. Rhythm and cadence are huge in human language, and I would want Julia imbibing it in large doses along with mother’s milk, if I could at all help it.

So I have a new policy. Maria can continue to read “Goodbye Moon” and “Where Is Baby's Belly Button?” with Julia, and I will read John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” Line after line of iambic pentameter will do just the trick for cadence and rhythm. What fun! “Paradise Lost” is about the closest we get in melodic English to chanting Homer's "Iliad" in the original Greek around a camp fire in the third century BC.

So between my wife and I we should cover all the bases, the yin and yang of family reading that should result in balance, happiness, and success.

How blessed we are in having the time, money, and desire to raise our daughter (hopefully) well. How lucky we are to have a healthy and happy baby - hardly a day passes when my wife and I don't tell each other this, and mean it!

JULIA, SEEMINGLY NOT VERY INTERESTED:

"What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men."

July 27, 2007

The Stages of One's Life

"THE GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF THE GREAT!"


"There was nothing I was not up for teaching...boundless energy and ambition!"

THE PRODUCTIVE DECADE OF ONE'S THIRTIES

I used to tell myself I was one of those relatively few people who loved their jobs.

For me teaching was more vocation than job, and the boundary between what I did at work for pay and did at home for pleasure was very blurred, if it even existed at all. I spent my free summers as a teacher working on American history curriculum and developing what I hoped would be innovative, exciting, and challenging assignments for my students. I read books for pleasure on Lincoln, Jefferson, and the. Roosevelts – but these helped me at work, of course. When not actively thinking about lesson plans and the larger curriculum, other teaching ideas and strategies marinated in my subconscious for later use upon their ripening. I stayed abreast of new digital technologies and envisioned how I could adapt them to further student learning. Yes, all this was my job, but I did it also because I enjoyed it.

Was it work? Or was it for fun? It was hard to say. As Thomas Merton put it:

“A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live... When we are not living up to our true vocation, thought deadens our life, or substitutes itself for life, or gives in to life so that our life drowns out our thinking and stifles the voice of conscience. When we find our true vocation - thought and life are one.”

To say I worked almost all the time would not be an overstatement. A student once called me at 10:00 p.m. on a weekday evening at work, hoping to leave a message on my answering machine; her intention was to leave a message for me to receive the next morning and was incredulous when I, rather than the machine, answered the phone. “Mr. Geib! What are you doing in your classroom at this time of night?!?”she exclaimed.

My focus on my teaching was intense, and the best analogy I can think of is a classic samurai sword honed to an unstoppably sharp edge. I felt there was no student I could not teach -- and no subject so difficult I couldn’t successfully impart it, if a student gave me half a chance. As a teacher I felt “empowered,” to use that clichéd word. I was young enough to have all the energy in the world and but had been teaching long enough to know what I was doing. But it was the energy I brought to the job that drove my ambition: there was almost no teaching task that I would not have been taken on, no challenge I would have spurned. I was in my thirties, you see.

I earned awards for teaching (resume), pioneered Advanced Placement classes, and became an adjunct professor who helped other teachers teach better. I earned a sterling reputation among students out in the quad during lunch, and with their parents – the only reputation that really mattered as a teacher, in my opinion. Your reputation is everything as a teacher, and your reputation is what you make of it. This I learned on the job.

All the time I told myself I would be happy living like this until the end. According to the story I told myself, I would teach until one day at an advanced age I dropped dead in my classroom in front of my students. Why retire when you enjoy so much what you do? Why not die while you are doing what you enjoy? Another plus side of engaging one’s job so totally is this: the days they flew by at warp speed! If a job you hate creeps by in painful suspense with a glimpse at the clock on the wall every five minutes, the opposite is equally true: each year teaching seemed to pass by more speedily than the preceding one – “the years shall run like rabbits.” So ran the narrative of my life I told myself.

I was as exhausted (emotionally and physically) by the job as always, but I had learned to endure it better. The job had long since crowded out many earlier interests (and even some friendships), and the basis of my life had become: I was a teacher and a good one. (I later wondered at the wisdom of this trade off, but it seemed it has to be this way.) It was around this time that my entires on my personal webpage dwindled almost to nothing, and one might wonder if I had given up on the World Wide Web. Actually, I made more websites and Internet materials than ever but almost all of it was behind a password protected school site. I was more active than I had ever been in my life. It was just that little of it had to do with me or my personal life or beliefs. It was all about teaching and work.

“The good is the enemy of the great,” I would tell myself (explanation). I wanted to excel in teaching, not only do well. I wanted to break boundaries; my ambition was boundless.

But something changed. I have gotten tired.

Not so tired I could not work hard, grant you. But tired in the way that one era of your life naturally comes to an end in its own time, and another starts. I suspect these life eras have natural beginnings and endings, the timing of which can have a life of its own. It is not always within our control, and wise man knows how to ride a wave when it goes well and when to get off when it is otherwise.

If those warnings were not enough, I have had some warning signs from my physical health. My firstborn was born in March and I endured the hectic AP cramming season at work combined with a second job one evening per week as professor with a screaming baby waiting for me at home. For the first time in my life, I had a red tinge to my eyes as I rarely slept. (On occasion I would sleep in my classroom through lunch with the students pounding on the door to let them in; my head was slumped on my desk with drool off the corner of my mouth.) I had some serious trouble with my throat by the end of the year, as well as some other relatively serious and maybe chronic health issues. As of this writing, they are still with me.

I am 40 years old. And I am a bit tired.

In ways large and small amplified over a dozen years, I can see that this rate of life will kill me. It will not kill me in two or five more years, but in ten or twenty it will. A permanent sleep deficit and neglect of health through overwork is the nick that accumulated over decades will run you down. But there is the “calling.” The god of teaching posed to me the following questions: “Will you dedicate your all to your students?” comes the hypothetical question. The answer would have been, “Yes!” “Will you work seventy hours a week to do your job as it should be done?” Yes. “Will you sacrifice everything?” Yes. Family time? Yes. Your health? Yes.

No longer.

I no longer wish to die teaching in my classroom, passionately waving my arms and raving about Walt Whitman when that big heart attack arrives. My commitment to my students is as strong as ever, and it is accompanied by those numerous accretions of real life that taken together makes one a "veteran instructor." But have I lost that "edge"?

My youth lasted about twenty-five or so years before I went to work in earnest, and I have been working for some fifteen years. I am in that stage of raising a family and being productive. But perhaps I have reached the top of that upward hill, and I begin to discern in the distance a time where I can start the next stage of my life.

9TH GRADE PRESENTATION:

Back in early 2000 there was nothing I was not up for teaching...boundless energy and ambition!

July 25, 2007

Family Bliss


"Both parents then showered crying baby Julia with kisses and loving words..."

A Morning to Remember Forever

Today baby Julia had her usual morning feeding at 9:00 a.m. She fed for some thirty minutes and then played and cooed for another hour or so, watching the world around her and reaching out for her toys. Eventually Julia grew tired, then overtired, and started to fuss and cry, as she found it hard to settle down, self-soothe, and to get the sleep her mind and body craved. (This is of the many, many skills Julia is working on at four months of age!) This is Julia's routine, more or less, repeated several times per day: feed, play, sleep, awake -- feed, play, sleep, awake, etc.

Finally, Maria grew tired of Julia's prolonged fussing, proving the verity of Ralph Waldo Emerson's assertion that "there was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep." Maria went to Julia's room and lifted her out of her crib and brought her to where husband Richard was still lying sleepily in bed. Maria laid down and with Julia belly-down on top of her and "shhhhhhed!" the baby and urged her to "sleep already!" As usual during "tummy time," Julia began to cry even louder than before. Mommy and daddy did not enjoy the piercing, insistent cries.

Maria then turned over slightly and let Julia softly slide down onto the bed in the space between mommy and daddy; both parents quickly showered crying baby Julia with kisses and loving words; and within thirty seconds Julia fell fast asleep, parents following almost immediately. The three slept soundly for a full hour. They laid absolutely still in a close cuddle of love in the parent's bed.

Mommy and daddy woke up first. About twenty minutes later they saw their baby Julia slowly awake, refreshed and full of smiles. You gotta love lazy, unhurried summer mornings! Still in bed at noon! The decadence!

It will be the many such mornings and afternoons of cuddling and naps, of baby toys and play mats, the bottle-feeding and rice pudding meals, and the neighborhood walks with stroller that I will remember of the summer of 2007 -- this precious time never to be repeated -- back when Julia was still a tiny baby.

Precious. Precious.

How lucky Maria and I are!

BABY JULIA STILL ASLEEP AFTER PARENTS AWAKE FROM NAP

"You gotta love lazy, unhurried summer mornings!"

July 23, 2007

Our President and His Polyps


"The president is in good health," Bush spokesman Tony Snow said Monday, July 23, 2007. "There is no reason for alarm."

WHY?

Last Saturday I read that President Bush underwent anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy, whereupon Vice President Cheney officially was in charge of the Executive Branch for a few hours.

I was also informed that during the operation doctors found and removed five growths – known as “polyps” - from Bush’s colon. Doctors would later examine the polyps for signs of cancer, although it appeared that none was present. President Bush would be scheduled to have another routine colonoscopy in three years.

This, believe it or not, was the leading story on CNN’s website last Saturday morning. I read the story not long after I woke up.

Is nothing sacred anymore? Is this not a classic case of “too much information”? Do we have a right to know all this intimate medical information about our president?

I read the story and felt uneasy about this glimpse into George Bush’s colon. I feel akin to how I felt with Bill Clinton when I had to hear about his sex life in the Oval Office (“cigars,” “stains on blue dress”). But at least then Clinton was reckless enough in messing around with a girl-woman young enough to be his daughter behind his wife’s back. Such activity is sensational enough to be newsworthy. But why report in such detail on the status of Bush’s colon during a routine medical exam?

Does the 24 hour media machine just need to feed its insatiable appetite for new and sensational news that can capture viewer’s attention before they skit off to Youtube or some video game?

OUCH!

President Bush and Chief of Staff Josh Bolten walk together with the President's dog, Barney, at Camp David, Saturday, July 21, 2007 after the president's colonoscopy.

July 12, 2007

An Afternoon at the Zoo


Wife and daughter at the entrance to the Santa Barbara Zoo

AN UNEXPECTED PLEASURE

Today I did something I haven’t done in some 25 years: I went to the zoo.

I went with wife Maria and daughter Julia to the Santa Barbara Zoo, to be exact. And I had a great time, much to my surprise.

Young adults – those in their twenties and early thirties – don’t have much occasion to go the zoo, and so it was with me. I search back through the mists of time and seem to remember my last such visit was to the San Diego Zoo in the early 1980s. I was 13 at the time and haven't been back since. I had absolutely no desire to go to the zoo while in college or building a career. I wanted to travel or meet girls. I wanted to read this or that famous book, or make my personal webpage. I had “adult” concerns and interests. I had a career and responsibilities. The zoo, on the other hand, is for kids who are impressed by what they have never seen before: a hairy tarantula spider, a quick-footed lemur, a majestic bald eagle.

Predictably, the zoo was stuffed full of shorts-wearing 7-year olds enthusiastically pointing and gawking at animals to their parents who hovered near. I saw kids encounter swimming penguins, full-maned African lions, poisonous frogs, hyperactive chimpanzees, long-toothed crocodiles, and tall, skinny giraffes. It brought back memories of my own childhood in zoos where you gape at the animal and then read the accompanying placard that tells you where that animal lives, what he eats, and how he lives. “Oh brave new world that has such [things] in it!” The zoo is equal parts educational and entertaining -- the awe and wonder that a child feels at staring a poisonous cobra in the eye from across the glass partition, or in looking at a mountain lion in a cage and envisioning yourself confronting it in the wild. For a spell, I was that kid thinking those thoughts today.

But like most of the other adults I encountered at the Santa Barbara Zoo, I was there because of my child. Truth be told, none of these the animals impressed Julia today, as she is only four months old. Julia was pretty much along for the ride. I was there for Julia and Maria, and for the unhurried summer afternoon our family could enjoy while at the zoo. That is reason enough.

When we were dating Maria and I once visited Disneyland on an all-day date. But after two or three hours in the park, we both admitted we were ready to leave. Disneyland just did have much to offer us as adults. That is normal. But I cannot wait for the day when Julia is old enough to appreciate and enjoy her first trip to Disneyland – at that age when a child quakes in front of the gate to enter the “magical kingdom.” Similarly, I will look forward to the San Diego Zoo. I will look forward to seeing Julia dance ballet in the "Nutcracker Suite." I will look forward to seeing those events through her eyes.

How nice it is – even relatively late in life – to be paterfamilias. I never daydreamed about family life or fatherhood, or expected it to be so rich. As it was so unsought, so it is the more special. For a man who lives much in his head, it is good food for the heart.


Daughter Julia unimpressed with the penguins.

July 02, 2007

Before I Die...

10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I DIE

My step-sister Kimberely asked me to identify twenty things I wanted to do before I died. I decided to think up ten but could not get past eight. I did, however, come up with a lot that I had already done or did not wish to do.

Here is the list:

Read all the major Jane Austen novels, as well as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Little Women with my daughter when she is a pre-teen. I have always had difficulty with these tomes of feminine literature, but to plow through them with my daughter could be a shared joy. I look forward to it!

Retire someplace outside of California. Enjoy the autumn and winter of my life somewhere other than a place with a Third World dynamic of huge numbers of uneducated poor, a few filthy rich, and no middle class.

Give my daughter away at the altar... ...on the day of her wedding.

Bicycle from New York City to Los Angeles. Truly it will be an adventure!

Bicycle down from San Francisco to Laguna Beach. Perhaps as a warm-up for cross-country trip.

Enjoy a romantic trip with Maria to Italy. The Amalfi Coast and a vespa!

See Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri die violent deaths. Hopefully at the hands of their coreligionists, if not the U.S. Government.

Make games out of memorizing famous poems with Julia... ...as a routine part of her childhood.

I enjoyed making up this list which took much reflection to come up with, although I have no immediate plans to expire.

Good times!


July 01, 2007

The New iPhone: Worth the Hype?


Steve Jobs wants you to buy his new iPhone!

The new Apple iPhone went on sale this morning, and customers camped out to be the first in line to buy one.

I do not understand this. Someone please help me to understand. Why is this such a big deal? I cannot see it.

As I can discern it, the iPhone is a combination iPod, cell phone, with moderate email and Web browsing capacity. For about $1,000 and locking oneself into a year cell phone agreement, one can have all this in one portable device.

I already have a cell phone, video iPod player, and Internet capable computer(s). My cell phone I rarely use and pretty much loathe, neglecting it except for family emergencies and the like. Yet once a month or so I absolutely need it, almost always to contact my wife on the road or for some crisis or other. In these moments, my cell phone justifies its expense. Yet more often my cell phone lies neglected. Last month I checked my cell phone voice mail and found messages two months old - this is not atypical. But I am listed in the phone book. I am not hard to find.

I also have an iPod which serves as background music for my baby and when cooking with my wife. I have only used the ear buds twice on plane trips and almost always use my iPod when hooked up to external speakers in the house. I wish I used my iPod more often as I have my entire music collection on it, but I rarely have time to just sit and listen to music. So far it plays a minor role in my life.

I have computers I use for work and home, and I spend a large chunk of my day working on them. I really don’t need MORE access to computers or the Internet. My wife already complains I spend too much time in front of the computer.

My mother-in-law recently described to me her new laptop computer with DSL broadband, but claimed it did not mean much to her. She put it thusly: “I don’t have a connection with my computer like you do.” But I really don’t have a strong connection to my computer. I more from system to system and don’t care much about my computer at the time, as long as it is fast and stable. On the other hand, the content I create with my computer means everything to me! It has made my career and led to direct and substantial income. It has given me enormous satisfaction and sense of fulfillment. I used my personal computer, for example, to communicate these words to you, gentle reader.

Perhaps this fact explains it best: I care little when I swap out an older computer for a newer and better one, although I am pleased to have a faster, more efficient workstation. What is absolutely crucial when I upgrade is to transfer the gigabytes of proprietary content which took me decades to author and compile from the old system to the new. The computer and hardware itself means little; what I can do with the computer means everything. If my current computer system were to crash, I would be annoyed at having to reformat hard drives, install operating system and drivers, and re-load software applications. Tedious work over several hours. But if somehow all my work and personal files that cost me the larger part of my life to create – the webpages, photos, diary entries, video, work plans, email, lesson plans, student work, assignments and online projects, blogs, etc – were to be lost, it would be nothing short of disastrous! My life would suffer a grievous blow. That is no exaggeration.

Around 2001 I began to sleep poorly at night with the knowledge that years of my data were not backed up off my work computer. What if there were a fire at work? What if a burglar broke into my classroom in the middle of the night and stole my computer? I finally bought an external drive and backed up all my work files, a ritual I religiously perform twice per year. I scrupulously keep my backed files in several locations, and I sleep better this way. The chances of three or four different backups all being destroyed are very slim.

My ex-student Caroline saw her hard disk crash last year, and I was appalled to hear she had not backed her data up and lost everything she had written in high school. I have all my papers from high school through college, as well as every email I’ve ever written, to name just a portion of my digital history – and this is important to me in a way that the current brand of operating system or cpu speed is not.

My mother-in-law does not understand this, and neither does my father. It is beyond them; they are from a different generation. They think I tinker with computers for the sake of tinkering with them. That is not the case. The computer for me is but a new tool towards an old goal: knowing myself, making sense of the world, serving my students better, having my public say on events, and trying to live well and do something with my life before I die.

Over decades this has taken many of my best hours and energies each day. I have no apologies for this.

But do I want to be permanently plugged in? 24/7? No. I need some hours when I am unavailable and have only myself and my thoughts for company. There is an important space in my life where I don’t want to know the latest news or what waits in my email box. I want to remain removed from the tidal wave of information that the Internet washes over me on seemingly an hourly basis. I want quiet. I want stillness. I want to check in to the status of my life – my happiness, sadness, restlessness, anxiety – without electronic distractions. I wish the clarity only silence confers.

I have read with some interest and more curiosity about the BlackBerry personal computing devices. Supposedly, owners call them “CrackBerries” because they are so addicting. Users get BlackBerry thumb” from so much typing on its tiny keyboard. If their service goes down, users suffer “BlackBerry withdrawal.” Is it really so important that BlackBerry owners have ubiquitous and instantaneous electronic connection with the world? How many people really need to be accessible all the time? My friend’s email responses from his BlackBerry come with the following tagline: “Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless.” But he is a police lieutenant and SWAT team member for his department, and so maybe it is important that he be in contact NOW and get back to you in 45 seconds. But I suspect very few of us need this kind of connectivity all the time. How much of the BlackBerry scene is about appearing important to never be out of touch with the office? How many persons bring their BlackBerrys with them on vacation, to the theater, into the gym, to church? I have read of BlackBerry addicts who check their email on them even at the dinner table with their families. The technology drives its use, not any true human need. Disconnecting, even temporarily, becomes hard to do.

I suspect what is happening is that people want this kind of access because they can have it. It is another of the “newest and coolest thing” that one just “must have.” There are persons who feel incomplete or strange without their BlackBerry and a connection to the never-ending pulse of the wired world. Even when at home, they are never “unplugged.” They are, in essence, never “off duty.” Is this an electronic leash that allows employers to extend the workspace from the office to the home?

After a long day of teaching I answer student emails at night from home in a voluntary act of generosity, as I see it; students are often surprised to receive replies five minutes after sending a question. I can see many other teachers (especially the teacher union firebrands) shaking their head in disapprobation. “Your working day ends at 3:30 p.m.? Why are you working for free at night? It is not in our contract!” But I figure if I expect my students to work hard in the evenings on homework (which I do), I should be willing to work as hard as them. A teacher is the leader in the classroom, and leaders should lead from the front: don’t ask anyone to do what you aren’t willing to do yourself. In my opinion, any teacher who asks students to devote more hours to a class at night and on weekends than they are willing to give is a hypocrite. “Well, I have a family!” some teacher might complain to me. Well, students have families, too. One 4th grade teacher recently told my wife, “After 3:30 p.m. I am a mom, not a teacher. I don’t work evenings.” It need not be an either/or situation between family and work, but if you won’t work evenings don’t ask students to do so, either.

I do work nights. Students often email me after class hours basic questions about homework and grades. They explain special situations (personal illness, travel plans, family crises, etc.) or query me about future units or exams. I often write the same to them. I write one formal email to all my students after class lets out for the day, detailing what I would like them to do at length and explaining my thinking in the homework assignment. It helps to cover all the bases that cannot be covered in the craziness and chaos of the classroom, with so many students, only one teacher, so much to cover, and limited time. I do this and grade papers and develop new lessons in the evenings. I check my email sporadically. There is usually student email awaiting me. I answer it.

But I will not get into the IM conversations my students endlessly engage in. And I am not going to receive telephone calls at home about homework. An extended conversation such as this can wait for the next day in school, I tell students.

So there is a fine line.

I try to define the limits of my connectivity. There is my job and hobbies and intellectual pursuits, many of them involving at least peripherally technology. Then there is my time going on long bike rides and coming to understand certain truths about myself and my life through the pain of prolonged physical exertion. There is the moment of sitting down to start reading of the many books from the stack next to my bed I wish to read, many of whom I have waited months and even years to read. Then there is my beautiful wife and precious daughter (“my girls!”) and our lives together, and there is my rejuvenating personal time all alone with my thoughts. There are my good friends, so many of whom I have known since I was in middle school.

In a world where this “unplugged” time seems to be shrinking more and more, where communications technology drives our impatience, I plan to hold firm to the technology-free portion of my life. I will carefully endeavor to use technology to serve human happiness and fulfillment, and not vice versa. I control the technology. It doesn’t control me.

So will someone please tell me why I want an iPhone? Why do so many need a BlackBerry?

Am I missing something?


One of the first iPhone buyers leaves the store on Fifth Avenue in New York as Apple Store emplyees cheer on June 30, 2007.