Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Omnipresent Technology

Recently I went to Vermont with my 9-year old son for a Father/Son weekend.  It's a great opportunity to spend some quality time with him one on one.  A faith-based adventure, I've gone the past 8 years or so with a group that ranges anywhere from 10 to 25 Dads and their sons.  It's cold in late January, but the creature comforts of home are quickly forgotten once the activities start... I was looking forward to leaving technology behind for a couple days, or so I thought...

The trip started innocently enough, as we were picked up by a friend of mine and his two sons.  My friend was driving a Ford Flex, a car I wasn't familiar with but quickly found loaded with gadgetry.  The first toy I noticed was the factory navigation system.  There was also a DVD entertainment system with a nice drop down screen for movie viewing.  The Sony audio system delivered 700 watts of surround sound through 10 speakers, with a Bluetooth connection which one of the boys demonstrated when he fired up his Dad's iPhone and the game sounds came roaring through the sound system... yep, we were leaving technology behind for a couple days...

We arrived at our rustic location in the town of Randolph late Friday evening, and all of us (38 in total) recognized sleep was needed to handle the long activity-filled day ahead... a veteran of these trips, I also knew earplugs were needed to fall asleep with the amount of snoring that usually goes on... well, I forgot my earplugs but I did have my iPhone with a set of earphones... now, if I can get a 3G signal I'll be able to fire up Pandora, or better yet, an interesting talk show or podcast on FlyCast... the signal was a bit shaky, so I settled for the iPod functionality in shuffle mode... a little Tchaikovsky and I was off to sleep in no time...

The first activity Saturday morning was a hike... given it was about 5 degrees, we figured we'd walk until someone froze, then we'd turn around.  First one of the Dad's took some photos of the group with a very slick digital camera (there's that technology thing again)... then it was off on the hike.  It was a wonderful sun and little wind so it wasn't bad at all.  Next it was off to the nearby college where we had an arrangement for an all-you-can-eat brunch.  From there it was to a nearby ski slope, which we used for sledding.  Then it was back to the house & barn to thaw out for a bit...  then some touch football, then back to the college for swimming and basketball... it was one activity after another... no more technology, no more stress, just a great weekend of fun with my 3rd son, some new and old friends, and their sons...

The evening was welcomed as the Dads were worn out and the boys wanted to wind down... we gathered for prayer before dinner, and then it was meal time without any phones ringing or a TV on... ok, once or twice I checked to see who was texting me about UConn's upset victory over Texas, but that's it... then it was time for a bonfire... we were truly relaxing...

The bonfire was the highlight for me... not a cloud in the sky.  No wind.  Dry, crackling wood.  Great conversation.  It was perfect.  It was bitter cold but the fire was plenty hot.  Now the boys were dropping off one by one as well as most of the Dads... a cigar was called for (ok, maybe two)... this was perfect.  But you knew it couldn't be avoided... it was time for another gadget, as one of the Dad's pulled out his new Android phone and gave us a demonstration of it's capabilities, firing up the app Google Sky ... before I knew it we were exploring the stars above us, and for once we knew just what we were looking at...

Ah, technology... some times you just can't get away from it.