Tuesday 21 February 2017

MY Hi-Tech Holiday

🎅😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂Holidays aren't what they used to be.. When I was a boy growing up in Dublin, on rare occasions our family got to 'go on holiday'. That meant we would go to a seaside resort named Bray that we frequently visited on day trips. Bray was precisely thirteen miles from Dublin and we usually went there by steam locomotive. There were twelve station stops between Dublin and Bray, as the puffing, streaming, whistling engine started and stopped and as far as we were concerned we could have been traversing the planet. My excitement at going there for about one week far exceeded the blase reaction of many of the kids I know nowadays who have circumnavigated the world. Strangely enough, I think we also learned more about life and human interaction roaming around Bray, than our modern counterparts learn from roaming around the world with their well trained organizers showing them only what they want them to see and brainwashing them as they see fit, when they have time to look up from the smart phone.  I say that because we were part of what was going on in Bray in a way today's kidditourists could never be. But that's another story for another day. What I want to dwell on today is the changed nature of what we used to call a holiday. (No-one ever called it a vacation in those days.). The erstwhile concept of a holiday was to get away from it all for a well earned break from all stresses and bustle of everyday life. To leave work, phone calls and all the pretty irritations behind. No one expected to hear from you apart from perhaps a postcard and assumed was that all was well, unless they heard otherwise. One 📧📧📧📧📧📧📧📧📧ad ones escape for a couple of weeks and came back refteshed and ready to take over running the world for another year. Alas, things have greatly changed. The connected world and all of its labour saving devices demands that everyone be connected one hundred percent percent of the time. Thus has the modern labour saving world generated a whole series of new labour categories in order to perpetuate itself. Usually, we drive down to South Carolina but since we were going quite a bit  decided to fly. Although I consider myself moderately efficient in dealing with everyday technology, I certainly am not a sophisticated user once I get beyond the limited hardware and software I am accustomed to use. Not having embarked on an international flight for some time, it was very evident things had greatly changed. First off, as I am  the least sophisticated travelers among that you preprint your boarding pass. That seemed simple enough and when it didn't happen after several tries, I finally realized it was twenty five hours before my flight and the service is only available within twenty four hours of take off. I came back to my computer an hour later and completed the mission without any further problem. The London, Ontario to Toronto flight went smoothly enough though on arrival, the distance to departure gate, schlepping everything but the checked case seemed endless and the convenience of a wheeling cart was prohibited by the fact that you can't take them on the moving side walks. . Eventually we do get to the security clearance lineup and after my beautiful bride made it clear to the security officer that she had no intention of taking her shoes off as directed because she was over eighty and on her last trip she was informed that exonerated her, we got through. Her day was made by the security guy yelling to his colleague, "Hey. This lady is over eighty. Sure doesn't look it." . Meanwhile, I had submissively removed my shoes and was putting them back on. Next we shuffled our way to passport control where a series of complicated monitors challanged us to insert our passports, right way up and to answer a multiple choice battery of questions. Unfortunately, I hit one of the wrong buttons,, which resulted in a security officer racing over and starting the whole process from scratch. The whole process resulted in the machine spitting out a slip of paper with my passport number and a copy of my passport photo. My wife went through the process a little more easily. We shuffled on with the crowd a few feet more and hand over the printouts and our passports to the custom and emigration officer, who kept the printout. I still haven't figured out why I can get in my car and drive across the border by just flashing my passport and having a brief word with the customs and immigration officer usually without even getting out of my car. The three and a quarter hour flight was pleasant enough apart from the fact that even the customary pack of peanuts or crackers are no longer dispensed with the soft drink. Let me take just a minute to remind you what it used to be like. When I used to fly frequently between Regina and Toronto, usually coach class, as economy was called in those days. The was no limitation on the number of pieces of luggage one could check, or if there was neither I nor anyone I knew ever reached it. As soon as the plane was in the air, the stewardess wheeled the beverage cart down the aisle dispensing complimentary liquor or soft drinks and a packet of almonds or cashews to the travelers. By the time that was consumed, the stewardess would traverse the cabin with the meal menu. There was always a choice: steak, chicken or fish. Mind you, if you were too far back the steak was usually gone ! In addition, there was complimentary Red or white wine to accompany your choice. Anyway;, after an uneventful flight and arrival in Fort Myers, we picked up our car, ("pick up any car in your category, sir, and just drive out!"). It was an easy drive to Naples and we got in at about 10th.30pm, with only a little difficulty in finding our actual condo. After schlepping our luggage up to our third floor condo, (it took us several days to find that there is an elevator), we were really pleased with the digs. Then we decided to have a nice cup of tea and something to eat. No water from any of the faucets. We we hungry and thirsty and getting just a tiny bit irritable. So we piled back into the car and began our food odessey. now apart from a few downtown nightspot, Naples tools up the sidewalks at about nine-thirty. Everywhere locally was closing up and we were just preparing to give up, when we spotted Pelican Larry's. We parked and breezed in. It was a noisy, lively place and I guess we were about thirty five years older than the oldest there. We bellied up to the bar and sat next to a young fellow who seemed to be enjoying his supper and a bottle of beer. He greeted us cordially. "So how is your hamburger?" I inquired. "Very good," said he, with a Southern accent. We ordered our hamburger and a pint of beer, that I sorely needed by that time. We chatted with our neighbor and the barman. He was from Kentucky and moved to Naples to escape from the cold. We regaled him with stories of Canadian winters and he was suitably impressed by our stories of thirty below cold snaps. Our hamburgers were good and I was feeling adequately refreshed after my hamburger and beer. We decided to take a bathroom break since we had no running water. By now it was about one thirty am and as we bid farewell to our new friend he told me how cool we were and how the guys and gals at the bar were surprised because they didn't often see folks of our age, but we fit right in and he hoped we would come again. As soon as we got back to the condo we tried the water again with the same results. "We will have to phone a plumber first thing in the morning," I said as we settled down to sleep, still grumbling about not being able to flush the toilet etc. We bought some water in the pub so at least we weren't going to die of dehydration. I feel into a deep sleep and woke up after about an hour having been stroke by a bolt of common sense. "what," I asked myself, "was the last thing I did before taking off on this vacation?" If you guessed turn off the water at the mains, you were right. So I prowled around until I found main water feed and three was the tap waiting to be turned back to the on position. The reassuring sound of the rush of water and the filing of the toilet tanks were comforting enough to let me go back to sleep. We awoke to all the conveniences of the modern home and I rushed off an email to the condo owner who I had texted the previous night to assure him that all was well.📧 After breakfast I decided to call the family to let them know we had settled in nicely. I picked up my cell phone. No connection to any provider. Fortunately the condo has a wifi router so I managed to contact David who put me through all the paces to no avail. No land line in the condo. My provider, previously called WIND has been bought out by Shaw communications. Before I had time to contact them they sent an email saying they would be hooked up with AT&T the next day. Irene's old cheapo phone was unsuitable so they Fedexed is a loaner which arrived two days later. The three Samsung Smart TVs turned out to be another hi-tech challenge. Fortunately Century Links maintains a 24/7contractual arrangement, so if they can't talk you through the problems they'll send a technician out. Fortunately, after about an hour talk through we got everything functioning satisfactorily, although I'm still learning. The washing  machine has over 30 settings! Soon we will be starting the home trip. I hope it's simpler!