Archive for August, 2010

Just your typical Sunday best…

The mean screen

Lately, I can’t watch TV, log on to my laptop or read the news via my phone without seeing another article about the dangers of screen time. It seems the technology I acquired to make my life easier and more enjoyable is in fact wreaking havoc on my family, my productivity, my sleep and now, even my brain as a whole, as this article from the New York Times asserts:

“…people use phones and other electronic devices to get work done — and as a reliable antidote to boredom.

Cellphones, which in the last few years have become full-fledged computers with high-speed Internet connections, let people relieve the tedium of exercising, the grocery store line, stoplights or lulls in the dinner conversation.

The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.”

I don’t disagree, as I struggle to remember details like my office phone number on a daily basis. I’m not sure if my penchant for amusing myself with apps like Facebook and NPR News is to blame, but I’m willing to admit I’m pretty darn dependent on my phone. How am I supposed to make due without the device that keeps me so connected?

Thing is, it’s quite possible it keeps me connected to the wrong thing. It’s not the reported effect on my brain or on my ability to fall asleep at night that bugs me the most when I hear warnings about screen time—it’s that my kids want to take their Hello Kitty play phone to the park.

I do try to leave my phone in my bag when I get home at night, and I never (okay, rarely) answer texts during dinner. But, in a world of immediate access to so many forms of communication, there’s an implied rule that response should also be immediate. When I leave email unattended for any length of time, my anxiety creeps up.

But really, what’s THAT important?

Working in PR affords me a convenient excuse to have my phone constantly at hand in case I receive a reporter call. And you know what? That happened today. A Sunday. At 1 pm. The reporter—from the student newspaper—was calling on a deadline, wondering if I could possibly do an on camera interview this afternoon. (Um, no.) So, really, that probably could have waited another 16 hours or so.

If work can wait—which before iPhones and Blackberries, it most certainly did—why is there this need for constant connectivity? And why do we choose that over added brainpower, sleep-filled nights and family relationships?

The real question then becomes, how do you cut yourself off?

No, seriously, that was not rhetorical.

TELL ME HOW.

Overheard

Ava, upon noting one of the first extended periods of silence in our house since 2005: “Hey, where’d all that quiet come from?”

Ava Fix

Pioneering banana bread

I am always on the lookout for fun, new recipes. I rarely use the same recipe twice, but I keep coming back to my tried and true banana bread recipe from the pages of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It’s not sexy, but it is surefire. Still, there must be something more exciting out there…

Enter the Pioneer Woman. My mother-in-law loves her cookbook, and I’ll admit to losing more than a few minutes in her blog every now and then. Last time I was searching for a banana bread recipe, I cam across hers. I like the idea of sour cream, and I love the Bundt pan. The recipe made a batch of bread and muffins big enough to share–also a plus.

And, they were good…

But next time, I’ll go back to the seemingly pedestrian recipe from the plaid-covered cookbook. It might be simple, but sometimes simplicity is hard to beat.

Overheard

Olivia: “Those dinosaurs, they scare me! I don’t like those dinosaurs.”

Mom: “Liv, dinosaurs are extinct.”

Olivia: “Yeah, it STINKS when those dinosaurs scare me! Dragons, too…”

Easy appetizers

Last weekend, I was searching for an appetizer that would showcase garden cherry tomatoes. I found this recipe for Ricotta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes on Crostini on Martha Stewart.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I didn’t have smoked ricotta on hand, nor did I have the time to wait for it to arrive from the recommended online gourmet grocer, but a splash of liquid smoke seemed to the do the job. This dish is simple but inspired, and I think this might be one of my new favorite recipes.