Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Technology Gadgets at My House

While the rest of the world was playing with their new iPhones (what's new, exactly?) and iPads, Florida Power and Light installed a new electric meter at our house. Now we can see exactly how much power we're using, minute by minute, measured either in kilowats or voltage (I think).

I find it mildly interesting, I must confess. My spouse spent several days reconnecting with his young scientist self. He measured the output of all the electric-using parts of our house. The biggest electricity gulper? The AC, of course. The second largest? Our dryer, which is almost 20 years old, so no surprise (but I really thought it would be the television). We are now thinking about ways to sun dry our clothes without installing a permanent clothesline. I'm inclined towards several drying racks. For half the year or more, we have daytime temps in the 80's, so it's really goofy to use the dryer as much as we do.

The other technology gadget that's changing our lives is the new recycling system. The collector weighs our recycling, and we get points per pound. We can then go online to see how many pounds we've collected, and thus, how much energy we've saved: in terms of trees, in terms of kilowat hours, in terms of several kinds of measurement. This would be enough motivation, but we also get to trade in our points for prizes: grocery store coupons (so far, we've saved $6), magazine subscriptions, that kind of thing.

We've been recycling for a long time, even when it wasn't convenient, when we had to take the recycling to a collection center and sort it. So I'm surprised by how much more motivated I am to recycle when it's being charted this way. I'm bringing recycling home from work--amazing how much paper my work week generates. Sure, I could put it in the recycling bins at work, but I'm not convinced that garbage makes it to the recycling destination, and besides, there are points I could be getting!

Yes, I'm that woman, bringing refuse from work.

I'm pleased with the progress we've made in terms of living lightly. We throw out very little food, and I'm always looking for ways to reduce packaging. We compost our food scraps. We eat the leftovers. We're always trying to keep the thermostat at an energy efficient level. We've replaced the windows and made the doors more weathertight.

However, I'm astonished at how much these two new technology gizmos have inspired us to try to do better. It makes me wonder if there are technology gizmos that could make me more inspired in other areas of my life.

I suspect that if I wrote down the hours I spent on my art (any art, choose one), that I'd be astonished at how much time I waste, and I'd probably work on wasting less.

If only there was a way to make it more automated. I know that I could probably get some kind of gizmo that would be only too happy to keep track of data for me--but I'd still have to type it in, which means it would only be slightly more efficient than writing things out by hand.

And then I think about my quest for efficiency and that intersection with art and creativity. Why am I so obsessed with making the most/best use of my time when I sit down to write a poem or to paint or to craft things with textiles?

Probably because I feel like there's never enough time. Maybe my time would be better spent by changing that inner tape. Instead of fretting about Time's winged chariot always, always, always hurrying near (thank you Andrew Marvell), I should tell myself, "You have all the time in the world."

Since I was little, I've worried about not living up to my full potential--I've always wondered if I could be doing more to be the best Kristin I can be. Maybe I should relax a bit more about that.

I'm the kind of woman who, if she solved the world's hunger issues so that no one was going to bed with an empty stomach, why, I'd say, "Well, that's very nice, but there's all these landmines that are maiming and killing people. What are you going to do about that, Kristin?"

For me, a gizmo that took accurate measurements might be a useful reminder of all that I do get done. Or it might be a way for me to beat myself up with more accuracy.

Clearly, I have some self-improvement work to do--work at self-acceptance, at not flogging myself to always do/be more.

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