Fancy, new electronic gadgets in moderation are a good thing

This week my son called me on his cell phone via Skype.  I had been going through my files looking for old letters, that is, the carbons of old letters that I sent in the early 90s from Costa Rica to the U.S.  I actually had brought with me a word processor which lasted a short time.  Computers were too expensive for me at the time.  When I called my family or friends in the States, it cost well over a dollar a minute.  My calls were few and far between.  For the most part, my contact was via the correo and U.S. mail delivery. My first apartment had no TV. The second had a TV with local channels.

If I wanted to make a phone call, I, like other Ticos and expats, waited in line at one of the banks of phones located in many parts of the cities and throughout Costa Rica.  My apartment phone made only in-country calls.

However, I tended to do one thing at a time. My memory was pretty good, and my desk was uncluttered. My bookcases were filled and I would occasionally just pull a book out to read a passage or two and think about it.  My hometown in the United States was miles and memories away.

Now I Skype both of my children, my friends and the rest of my family.  We talk sometimes for hours.  I can even see them and am able to say, “My how you’ve grown!”  I can call my friend Nina in Norway for pennies.  Our emails are instantaneous, and I can keep in touch with friends I have never met, or seldom see through the social network.  Both of my TV sets get cable and the network channels in the U.S., BBC, and C-span.  I can even read newspapers like online.  I am awash in news.

Some of my wiser friends just don’t turn on their TV’s. Deepak Chopra keeps telling me to go without it for a week and my health problems will go away. I even have a cell phone which I never remember to turn on. My memory is not so great now, but I have Google to tell me what I have forgotten or never knew.

And finally, I now have a Kindle and can download the classics that I love, often for free, as well as new books.  And I have been able to put my own book, “Butterfly in the City” available on Amazon, both as a hard copy and an e-book.

The price for the latter is $4 in the U.S. and $6 in other countries.  Another book, “Costa Rica Kaleidoscope” by the Bards of Paradise, to which I contributed, is also available on Kindle for $10. It has some great articles on the history, culture and people of Costa Rica. You can sample both books online. (In case you are not sure, yes, this is a blatant plug for these books.)

However there is a reason.  Saturday once again begins the Enamorate de su ciudad. (“Fall in love with your city”  See yesterday’s for details).  The streets of San José will be filled with happy people, and the parks brimming with things to do and see from art and dancing to yoga.  My Butterfly book has a lot about the city of San José and is a good primer of where to go and what to see.  An important part of walking in the city is looking into store windows, observing the passersby, enjoying the bustle, and taking a few steps from the busy sidewalks to enjoy the parks that mark the city.  Please don’t be texting or talking on your cell phone at the same time, or all is lost —.and so may you be.   I actually heard a sales pitch recently for one of the new iPhones that claimed you could text and watch a movie at the same time.

Please don’t do that.

Just this week I saw on C-span that San Jose, California, where I lived before moving here, is one of the fastest growing and safest cities in the United States, as well as becoming one of the greenest.  I learned, from clicking on a blog, Justin J. that like San José, Costa Rica, parts of San Jose, California, are great for walking, too.

It makes me proud to be a Josefina twice over.

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