Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Thank you, technology

Despite some of the drawbacks of communicating on the Internet and in emails, I am so grateful for them both. You don't really understand what kind of paperwork is involved in moving until you consider all the magazines, books and publishing checks that could be rerouted and maybe not arrive at all. It used to be such a chore, and filling out the form from the post office helped a little, but it doesn't help with changing information on subscriptions, or what to do with all the labels stored up for future use from charitable organizations wanting money. I have a drawer full, a big drawer full. But the post office now exacts a charge, although it is only one dollar, to change the address on line.

That's a lot of money when you figure in how many people move on a daily basis nationwide who have computers and want to simplify things by making changes online -- and yet they are raising the price of stamps again, as if the two cents last year wasn't enough, now they want another penny. This is getting ridiculous. They should learn to spend less money and save more instead of dinging the consumer again and again and again. No wonder more people use email than snail mail. If Scotty could beam my online purchases directly to me and save having to deal with delivery companies and the post office. Talk about reducing the carbon footprint, although I'm sure someone will figure out how that is depleting the ozone or adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere so Al Gore can pick up another Nobel prize for wagging the dog. I digress.

People are talking about minimizing the individual carbon footprint and I do my part. I get most of my bills by email and pay online so there is no paperwork, and yet the phone and utility company continue to send me notices by mail. At least I could change my address by phone or online with both of those. I did my share. Of course they will send me a confirmation by snail mail even though they also sent one by email. Government mentality.

I also changed all of my subscriptions, at least the ones I could remember, online and that saved a lot of time and effort. I'm good to go and go I shall very soon now. The only paperwork I expect from those changes are the magazines going to the new address without being routed through the post office to be forwarded and risk ending up in a plastic bag with an "I'm sorry we ruined destroyed damaged your [fill in the blank]" message printed right on the bag.

Not to fret too much. There was good news last night, and again this morning, but it was followed, as always, by bad news. The picture I sent the magazine to go along with the detailed and very personal questionnaire I filled out is insufficient for publication. It's not 300 dpi (dots per inch) and it's too small and resizing it is not possible. I can size it down but not make it bigger without losing even more resolution. There are two options left for me now. I can either find someone to take a picture of me with my digital camera and end up as I usually do looking more hideous than I truly am or I can spring for a professional digital photo that I can send out whenever another picture is needed, and I've been asked several times today for pictures to go with upcoming books. What happened to the words being sufficient?

I called around and found several local photographers who will do the job but not for less than $250 if I want to have the pictures on a CD or by email. I don't understand why it costs so much. There's a little touching up to do, but that is a minimal charge of $9-17.50, depending on which photographer I choose, but why does photograph that exists in binary code and can be saved to a CD that costs less than a dollar cost more than a package of photos that have been printed and sized and come in different sizes? Technology should reduce the cost not increase it, especially since there is no darkroom time and no chemicals to buy and use and no paper and hardly any time at all to develop the film since it isn't developed. At least I can take it off my taxes as a business expense and this writing business is getting expensive indeed.

I'm not complaining about the writing just the circus maximus that now attends the creation of stories and articles, etc. and the need for the public to see a face with the words. I doubt that Shakespeare or Plato or Aristotle or Guy de Maupassant or even Poe would have lasted in this image crazy time in which we live. On the other hand, Washington Irving would have loved it, especially since he sat for so many portraits, although fewer in his later years.

I told Beanie about my situation and she said, "I know. I don't like having my picture taken either." Beanie is a petite little thing of 43 years who still looks like a 12-year-old boy when her hair is up and she's wearing ball cap. Not everyone, no matter who they are, likes to have their likeness preserved for eternity -- or at least as long as someone remembers how to use the fragile technology we've created. I'd offer to let them use my skull to create a likeness when I'm gone, but the skull will be ash, along with the rest of me, when I depart this particular physical form. Oh, well, I have about a month to save or earn enough money to pay for the digital rendering of my head and shoulders and I hope someone knows how to use Photoshop. If I'm going to pay that much I want my skin tone like blush on a peach, my eyes luminous, my mouth like a ripe plum and my cheekbones sharp enough to cut marble.

That is all. Disperse.

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