Sunday, March 18, 2012

As I consider joining the Amish, Sophie builds a robot


Last week my 7 year old niece Sophie and her first grade class were given a project; using items from around their homes, they were to each build a robot.

I thought Sophia did a fine job here (the kid was thrilled because hers was the only one in her class that could actually speak, heh heh) and I also thought the ‘mini-Slinky’ arms and ‘snack pack Pringle chips’ feet were the perfect touches.  It even has a working calculator on it’s back—might as well make this thing useful!  

I couldn’t help but be reminded of a similar project I had to do when I was her age—our class was building a prehistoric exhibit and we were each instructed to build a dinosaur.   (I remember most of the kids used Play-Doh or modeling clay, but one boy in our class arrived that morning with his father & a life-size pterodactyl made from paper mache, hanging from wires, which made the rest of us kids look at our own concoctions with some mild disgust.)   ANYWAY, that was shortly after the Mesozoic Era, in 1968.  Nothing like these 21st century kids today.

I suppose I’ve been feeling a little sensitive to technology lately, as I recently purchased a new laptop and have been going thru an annoying learning curve.  (Dammit I miss that Windows Vista Photo Editor!)   Even the new keyboard (with the ‘soft-touch keys’) is cramping my style. And don’t even get me started on the LED backlit screen (it’s like staring at a light bulb while you type). 

Around the same time that I got this infernal contraption, I watched a 2 hour special on PBS “American Experience” about the Amish.  It’s nothing that I didn’t already know or haven’t seen before (well, I did take for granted that all Amish were farmers, which was the case until 1950 or so, now only half of them own farms; the rest work as tradesmen or in factories).  But listening to them talk about their way of life, as we’re shown images of horse-drawn buggies, kitchen woodstoves and clotheslines hanging with the morning wash, I couldn’t help but feel a yearning for their simpler way of life; oh I know it’s a harder existence, but is the gizmo-laden one we have now really such an easier one?


I bet the new ipad is the last thing on these ladies minds!  But then again, they’re a bit limited in what they can wear, read or listen to; and I’m not too keen on the fact that the menfolk have to sport those Abraham Lincoln-type beards either


Well, as I sit here silently cursing this new Toshiba keyboard (the space-bar is only 3/4 the size of my old one and everything is half an inch to the left and I KNOW, we should all have such problems) I guess I’ll take a break and see if I have something I can pop in the microwave.  Weren’t we supposed to have robots by now that do the cooking for us?