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18 March 2010

my whatzit

so, my trip down to tampa was more sociable than usual. what seems like eons ago, i was working in trinidad, and i’d taken a book about how to make people like you, or how to start conversations or meet people or something like that. i don't remember much about the book except that the author used several really weird terms like "have sticky eyes" and "have a whatzit". the one thing i took away from the book is the "have a whatzit" to start conversations. that was easy for me because i like gadgets.

on the flight from pittsburgh to DC, i was seated next to a middle-aged woman who noticed my kindle DX. i was testing the DX because in the "portait" position, it shows an entire page and also what page you are on out of how many the book has. when you turn the kindle to the "landscape" position, the text turns accordingly, but it also sizes up the font. for some reason this does not change the page count (i determined that you have to use the joystick to scroll down the page in this position). the lady next to me noticed my experiment and asked how i liked it. i told her it was good, but no backlighting. she told me she was looking for an e-reader for an elderly friend of hers who wanted to learn calculus and figured and ebook would be the best way. i don't know why i didn't go further into why an elderly man would want to learn calculus. my excuse will be that i was nervous that i was having to converse with someone without prior preparation. i let her check it out, she apologized several times about interrupting, but i had no problem with it. i learned she works for a company that organizes clinical trials for HIV/AIDS treatments, and they are showing some promise in, not a cure, but a drug that makes it more difficult to transmit. fancy. as our conversation was reaching it's natural end (because i'm still learning how to do this whole talking to people thing), the pilot made the announcement that we were about to land and all electronic devices had to be switched off. that, i told her, was another drawback of the e-reader. she apologized again that i didn't get to read very much at all, but i re-asserted that it was no problem, and that i enjoyed the conversation.

on my connecting flight from DC to tampa, i was seated in the middle. from the way the guy to my left was glued to his blackberry, i figured he was a business type. he had on slacks, collared shirt, and had a clean haircut. i thought the lady to my right was just a crotchety old ethnic grandma. she seemed inconvenienced when she realized there would be a big man sitting next to her. once we were at cruising altitude, i whipped out the kindle to try to get some reading done. it didn't take very long at all before the lady to my right asked if you could change the font size on the kindle. i'm pretty sure you can, though i wasn't able to figure out where while trying to show her the functions that i DID know how to operate. i mentioned how it was very convenient for me since i travel a lot, and that it was much easier to carry 400 books on this than in a steamer trunk. the man to my left asked what i did, so i elaborated a bit. in trying to fit in with you humans, i then tried to bounce the question back, asking what he was doing in DC. i found out that he was there for an interview at a new church, and he actually lives in tampa. after some brief shit-chat, we found out that the lady to my right was a principal in england. she splits her time between london, where her husband works, and sarasota, where they are snowbirds. they got into a conversation about separation of church and state (he believes it should be, she experienced the opposite being in england, there is no such thing). he was concerned about the downfall of morality and traditional values. he spoke of how dysfunctional families breed dysfunctional families, so soon we would be exponentially out of control as a society. i tried to bite my tongue through most of this. i shouldn't try to be confrontational AND sociable. that's just too much on one plate. apparently, the pastor started out as an engineer in college and then found (lost?) his way to god, so he went to seminary. somehow it was thrashed out that i was an atheist, so he wanted to pick my brain. at least that's what he said. while i was curious about what a pastor does when it's not sunday, what does a church interview entail, and how can seminary last so long when there's really only one book, it seemed to me that he just wanted to know where i went astray, what caused me to lost faith so young, etc. he wanted to re-convert me rather than actually converse. it wasn't abrasive by any means, just disappointing. the first half of the trip, i thought he was kind of a normal person, open to new ideas, but then he fell into the same religious role i'd expected in the first place. we briefly talked about evolution and "irreducible complexity" and there having to be a maker. i hadn't expected to get into a theological debate, so i was a bit scattered, though sufficient, in my defense of what i think is right, but i got my point across.

before we knew it, the flight was over and we decided to introduce ourselves (somehow, i always do that backwards). i'd met ThePastorJohn and ThePrincipalDoris. his wife and four kids were waiting to pick him up, she was driving down to sarasota, and i was going to rent a car to get me to my hotel and my next assignment.

and all these things happened because of my "whatzit".

oh, and on a completely unrelated point, florida drivers are fukking nuts. they can't drive for shite, they speed, tailgate, and cut people off all willy nilly. you guys suck, really.

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Blogger themom said...

excellent socializing skills - so far. baby steps. I'm so proud that the pastor did not convert you to cult status. LOL

11:39 AM, March 19, 2010  
Blogger swedish chef dave said...


glad your learning to do things and all because of the Kindle, it'll be a dating tool sometime soon, i bet there is an App for the Iphone called "whatzit" dating, i love to chat to folks on the plane, on my way back from Oz last year in Nov, i was sat next to a groovy old gal maybe 80, who left sterling in Scotland 50 years ago to work in Papua New Guniea with her husband and ended up in Perth 40 years ago, and she still had all her old friends in Sterling, she was amazing, anyway, jenny is doing good, and I am worn out, I am working harder here than on site, got my horn removed finally, they cut it open and dug it out, without anesthetic honestly. glad they are keeping you working and happy with your kindle, perhaps a year or two in the USA will be good for the soul.
Dave in the slightly warmer spanish mountains

11:39 AM, March 20, 2010  
OpenID jerseyquaker said...

Like this post. Do you recall my tantrum emails during 01-6 when I was down in FL? I WENT off on FL drivers. HAHA!

2:26 AM, March 22, 2010  

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