Sunday, February 24, 2008

In Nevada, almost in Utah

This area could be described as Mormons in the desert. We're right on the Nevada/Utah border. There's lots of obvious Mormon influence but its still very definitely desert. Yesterday we drove to the northern edge of Lake Mead to see some museum devoted to dead indians who used to live in dirt houses. Most of their houses are under Lake Mead now so apparently there was a big scramble to record the history before the area was flooded. The ones that aren't under Lake Mead have mostly been bulldozed - they were dirt houses after all. The museum made a big deal about how the houses had "evolved" from 300 AD to - can't remember - maybe about the 1600's. Essentially they started pushing dirt up around the edges to make a nest and eventually the dirt "walls" got higher and someone had the great idea to throw a couple of sticks over the top. Along the way one of the women no doubt said "honey, that wall looks so gross with just stones and dirt everywhere - why don't you smear some mud around on it and we'll call it adobe". They did some pretty good pottery though and some really intricate basket weaving.

It hasn't been real warm here but it gets better in the afternoons. Its generally cloudy and cool in the morning but still 1000% better than what I had to put up with while I was in SK and AB. We're not really looking forward to going back into the deep freeze but are resigned to it. We won't go back to Nipawin - southern Alberta shouldn't be too bad and eventually the rest of the west will warm up.

Sunday Morning is on and they are talking about some dude in the Federal Gummit who has issued guidelines for the use of Blackberries. About time. And apparently its not just the gummit - some leading businesses are finally taking a stand as well. I am amazed by people who feel they have to instantly respond to a cell phone or email message. How did we ever function prior to these devices? The woman who was working the IDEA booth with me at the CAAR convention was tethered to and controlled by her Crackberry. She was horrified when I told her that I didn't see any need for instant response to the demands of such a device. I think the people who feel the need to respond instantly believe that the device somehow validates their worth. Its like they are proving -- to themselves? to me? to their staff or boss? -- just how indispensable they are. I don't buy it.

I've carried a cell phone as long as anyone I know. I was an early adopter of the combined PDA/cell phone. One of the most important features of any such device is the mute button or silent ring. When we lived in the house I didn't feel the need to answer the phone immediately every time it rang. Just because somebody wanted to talk to me at some particular moment in time didn't necessarily mean that I wanted to talk to them at that time, particularly once we had voice mail or answering machines. When my phone moved into my pocket I didn't feel any more need to answer it immediately. It sounds as though a few enlightened businesses are starting to adopt my attitude. (one more reason to like Stephen Harper, by the way - apparently he has banned Blackberries in cabinet and caucus meetings)

What they aren't talking about enough, in my opinion, is the horrendous misunderstandings that result from misinterpretted emails. I can't count the times I have listened to someone tell me a tale of woe about how so and so doesn't understand the situation and you can clearly see that from this string of emails. So pick up the damn phone and solve the problem. People use email to avoid personal contact. Email in business is a great way to confirm specifics or to share joint written material that requires collaborative input - its a really poor way to communicate.

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