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The Dark Side of digital time wasting

Lost : one incomplete Death Star.

I have lost my Tiny Death Star. I’ve been working hard on adding levels for Emperor Palpatine since December, and tonight my 75% complete moon-sized battle station disappeared off my phone.

My first thought: “All my hard work is lost!”

My second thought: “Did I just call playing a mobile game ‘hard work’? ”

My third thought: “How am I going to fill my in-between-time?”


I rarely do just one thing at a time, and Tiny Death Star made it worse. I was playing my game in typical situations – waiting for a friend, train or download. I never knew how much of this ‘in-between-time’ I had! I discovered a magic side street of time that I could skip down to play with Darth Vader.

Last week, on the train to work I was doing all of the following at once:

  • Playing Tiny Death Star on my phone.
  • Watching downloaded TV on husband’s phone. (We have one earbud each, and it’s so romantic.)
  • Reading the newspaper of the passenger next to me.
  • Sending text messages.

Ridiculous. This blog is about finding a balance between digital and ‘real’, however my reality is getting digitised faster than I can process.

I didn’t choose to lose my Death Star, but I’m quite relieved. I’m turning away from the Dark Side of digital time wasting, and re-joining the Rebel Alliance of reality.

Here endeth the Star Wars references. 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

How Star Wars took over my life. I used to like Star Wars quite a lot. As a young-ish urban childless New Media professional, basic Star Wars knowledge was mandatory.  We all spoke fondly of the original films, and bitched about the betrayal of the prequels.

I give up. I keep giving up. I have THIS MUCH to do each day. (Imagine me holding an over-sized hand-knitted cushion.) I have THIS MUCH time each day. (Imagine me holding a medium box of assorted supermarket chocolates.)

I give up

I keep giving up.

I have THIS MUCH to do each day. (Imagine me holding an over-sized hand-knitted cushion.)

I have THIS MUCH time each day. (Imagine me holding a medium box of assorted supermarket chocolates.)

I started working full-time again this year, so my not-at-work time is precious. The less time I have, the more closely I evaluate how I spend it.

Here are things that I‘ve given up this year:

  • Facebook. In January, I wrote about why I left Facebook.
  • Buying clothes. I stopped buying clothes in June, and I intend to keep it up until the end of the 2013. I like what I already have, and am now enjoying my existing clothes. (I do miss my hunting and gathering on ASOS a tiny weeny bit.)
  • Watching TV. I will plonk myself on the sofa, glance at whatever husband is watching, and 3.5 minutes later get distracted. A book, or a pile of washing or an email will beckon. The last complete thing I watched was ‘The White Queen’ (BBC historical soap opera / costume drama). I am grazing in the wide open plains of middle-aged TV.
  • Following Australian news. Australian politics makes me feel sad. Lots of seething white men in bright white shirts shouting about refugees.
  • Regular Twittering. I’m sort of binge eating on Twitter. Nothing for days, then I stuff myself on an information buffet.

 Maybe you should give ‘giving up’ a go?

A good night in

It’s been a good night in

Husband is away, so I’ve had some great nights in at home. I have been surrounded by: 

  • Hand, foot, cuticle and nail potions
  • All the remote controls and phones in the house (some now with very supple heels and strong nails…)
  • Endless singing and talent TV shows
  • A selection of remaining Easter chocolate and party bag sweets
  • All the cushions.

I’m not really alone as the kids are asleep upstairs.

I love going to tuck the kids in before I go to bed. I re-arrange their duvets over disordered limbs and dense breathing. They smell clean.

They’re still and complete and quietly humming with life. Like small people-shaped batteries, furiously recharging themselves on dreams of zombies, rainbow flowers, vanilla fudge and high-speed trains.

Or maybe that’s what I’ll be dreaming of, after a little too much chocolate and cuticle conditioner. 

Good night. 

Multi-tasking – doing lots of things not very well

I have dinner in the oven, and I’m breathing, as I write this blog. Is that multi-tasking? I’ve got Facebook and Twitter open too (but I promise I’m not looking at them). Am I being super-duper efficient?

When I was a project manager, I organised lots of tasks, wrangled resources and constantly communicated to stakeholders. Those important people holding those stakes liked to see that I was Across Everything. All the time.

I used to think I was an ace multi-tasker, but now I’m not so sure…


Multi-tasking that I do well

Watch television AND sew stuff AND listen to husband debrief about work. Easy – it’s my wife-work.

Attend my daughter’s first school Christmas play AND have a vomiting flu. This is how it goes: watch adorable children in charming play; discreetly dash off to vomit in school toilets; smoothly slide back in to my seat to applaud.

Make breakfast for kids AND pack school lunch AND fill in school forms AND check homework. It feels as if I’ve achieved so much by 9.00 am!


Multi-tasking that I don’t do well

Driving AND talking on the phone. I have never learnt this essential modern life skill. I can’t imagine how people send text messages whilst they’re driving. Many years ago, I was equally amazed by boyfriend-who-is-now-my-husband rolling his own cigarettes in the car whilst steering with his knees.

Reading email AND checking a mobile AND talking to a colleague AND filling in a spreadsheet AND discreetly updating Facebook AND being on hold with IT helpdesk AND drinking very hot coffee. It may look impressive, but I’m really doing all of these tasks quite averagely.

Eating on the sofa AND watching yet another bloody cooking show on TV. No matter what I’ve made myself to eat, my tastebuds get all disappointed if I’m watching a TV chef make truffled starfish and chestnut kebabs.

The long and winding path to photo album happiness

I saw a little boy peering through a digital camera at a park bench. He was taking many pictures at very close range, possibly quite artistic ones in an abstract way. Grandma bustled over, saying: “Stop wasting the film, William!” The mother sipped her coffee and sighed: “It’s OK mum, it’s DIGITAL. It doesn’t use film.”

Years ago, I reluctantly gave up on film when it became too expensive to develop. However, I still try to keep my photo albums of printed photos (almost) current. It is a slow and sometimes tedious process of sifting and sorting and procrastinating …

1. Take far too many pictures. Download them to computer.
2. Import photos in to Adobe Photoshop Elements. Wait a few days for Paul to tag them (location, people, event etc). Leave them for a while.
3. When ‘print photos’ has been on my list of things to do for many weeks, I start doing the first photo cull. Delete the following:
• any shots where I look confused, odd and/or old
• the 20 extra shots of the same scene that we took ‘just in case the first one didn’t work out’
• any photos where the kids had runny noses, strange bruises or too much blue icing on their faces.
Then I get bored.
4. A few weeks later, go back and realise that we still have too many photos. Delete even more photos of the kids looking cute. We have lots of those already.
5. Finally upload the limited selection to Flikr. This is our online backup of hi-res files.
6. Then transfer from Flikr to Snapfish for printing. Feel a bit worried when I see that the shopping cart has $80 of photos to print. Make a cup of tea.
7. Delete more photos from shopping cart. Make the order and wait for pictures.
8. A few days later, pictures arrive. I flick through them and leave them on the shelf next to the photo albums. Some time passes.
9. I put the pictures in chronological order, and then slot them in to the photo album. I write in dates pictures were taken and some locations. Hooray – the photo albums are up to date. (NB: Since step 1 above, we have taken many many more pictures… sigh …)
10. A few months later, upload some to Facebook.

Is it worth it?

Brought to you by the InterWeb – your face is as big as my bed

I love you so much that I made your face my duvet cover – see personalised bedding! I can imagine a charming picture of hubby as the duvet and a lovely child on each pillow.

Is life better if it’s on a screen?

Yesterday we went in to the city to take a look at the Chinese New Year celebrations. We found ourselves at a rather damp market, watching ‘cultural performances’ of varying quality. The troupe of little girls in gold and pink sequins performing cute military-style arm gestures was adorable. The women doing Chinese Salsa were less impressive. How can you possibly combine Latin passion with Chinese distaste for public display of emotion?

The kids were fascinated by the costumes and dancing. However, instead of watching the real, live actual people on stage, they kept gravitating towards the huge screen showing the same performance. They were standing in front of the stage, beneath the camera that was filming the performance, watching the screen… Why is the screen always more compelling than the stage?

We go to restaurants with televisions more often than is fashionable. I am both relieved that there will be something to keep the kids sitting still, and offended that they find the screen more interesting than me.

Brought to you by the InterWeb – Chinese salsa

I Googled ‘Chinese salsa’ and came up with this story on page 3 of the results: Chinese company makes soy sauce from human hair. If it’s on Google, it must be true.