After the Fact: Challenging technology

Whenever anything, and I mean ANYTHING, runs amok with my computer, I call Albert.  He thinks I’m half-crazy and totally inept, but he’ll patiently talk me through all possible solutions until the magic returns. It always pays to do business with the hometown merchant: can you call your internet provider and get the kind of service I get from Amigo.Net? Now, if only I could get the same attention from Netflix instead of waiting 47 minutes (in off-peak time) to get even a recorded message.

Our household was without electricity for almost two hours the other day and you’d have thought the world was coming to an end. No electricity meant no hot shower for Torrey. Patience was bereft without her usual large-screen entertainments (and school was dismissed for the day when the power left the building) but Chris found lots of things to do. She washed dishes, dusted shelves and (pointlessly) windowsills. Chris is of a “read a book or go outdoors to play” generation, one of the last of the “fading breed.” Nowadays, if kids are outdoors, they’re sitting on a step with some hand-held device that plays games with them. They don’t move much.

It’s a good thing that schools do not allow cell phones or other like toys else recess would be wasted time. I drive past Bill Metz Elementary School pretty often and see whole bunches of kids running, jumping, playing basketball or tether ball, all seeming to be having a lot of fun. It may be the only time they actually PLAY together. And we worry about childhood obesity? A lot of that could be resolved, I think, by taking away electronic devices of all sorts and telling your kids to “go outdoors to play!”  They’d be lost at first, but kids are amazingly creative and adaptable: they’d soon pick up on fun things to do. They might even discover IMAGINATION!

While she doesn’t always go outdoors to do it, Patience has discovered clay! She can and does sculpt the most amazing figures: I have several small sculptures she’s made for me including a hedgehog with teeny little spikes. Art is as natural as breathing to children: they only give it up when someone tells them they can’t do it! If no supplies are ready, kids will use mud (or flower buds: Patience and her friend Autumn have made an entire ballet troop using hollyhocks.)

Though I counseled them to NOT go into education, some of my former students are now teachers here, there and everywhere. A couple are even in Valley schools. And they are amazing! Laura Rivera was an A+ student in my art class, so it’s no surprise that her students come back years after to see her and play, once again, in her Alamosa elementary school classroom. They’re always doing something really fun in Laura’s class. And Michelle Trujillo (another unbelievably talented student) finds time after a full day of chasing little people to paint with her own little guy (who is already enthralled with art!) Am I pleased with these two young women? You betcha! They are the reward I get for spending those years teaching art and being “just the art teacher!”

I’m sure I’ll get arguments, but most of the computer-generated art, to me, doesn’t show much more talent than Jackson Pollock’s paint dribbles. They say a monkey, given a typewriter (or computer?) could eventually write “Hamlet” or some other notable literary masterpiece. I’m reasonably sure the same monkey could churn out dozens of contemporary art works in less time. Not to demean the school or to tell the budding artists at ASU that some of the product featured on their art department post cards is “schlock,” but, well, it’s nothing I’d buy. But, then, I haven’t sold that many of my paintings either, maybe because I haven’t made time to paint very many lately. Or maybe I should be figuring out how to do computer graphics. It would give me an excuse to call Albert a lot more often.

He’d love that: it would give him a topic for conversation at the dinner table.