Saturday, December 20, 2003

Holidays at Home

The semester has wound down, life is getting a little less chaotic, and, finally, the holidays are approaching with blazing speed, or are already here, depending on which of the variety of December holidays you celebrate (that is, if you do celebrate one of these)!

This year, instead of heading off to visit family, as I did last year (Christmas in CA, New Year's here at home, and then a post-New-Year thaw in the Bahamas), I'm more or less staying put in glorious, frozen Minnesota. While I'll miss seeing all the family, and will also miss the warmth of Southern CA and Nassau, being here at home has certain distinct advantages, such as the own bed/vehicle/computer advantage, the not-living-out-of-a-suitcase advantage, and the familiar-turf advantage. Of course, there are disadvantages as well, such as having to decide which New Year's party to go to and, if deciding to attend multiple, in which order.

For the first time in three years, we will be hosting family for Christmas instead of vice-versa. My dad arrives on Christmas Eve and will return to L.A. on the 29th. The overall experience should be interesting, especially as I am to teach my gadget-obsessed yet completely computer-illiterate retiree dad how to use the shiny new 14" iBook he had me purchase for him. Lesson plan for day 1: turning the computer on and off. Seriously, when I visited him at his office shortly before his retirement, he hadn't gotten even that far with the ancient, orange-monochrome-CRT-screened behemoth in his office. The fear of pushing the wrong buttons and hurting the machine had definitely taken hold of him (funny, though: this is a way of interacting with technologies that is more characteristic of women than of men, who tend to plunge right in and learn through experimentation and experience).

Thank the powers that be that I have experience as a trainer and as a teacher, though not specifically with computers. We shall see if six days is sufficient to get him surfing the 'net, emailing, and producing simple word-processed documents. He eventually wants to get into digital photography, but I think that will have to wait until a later date. For intensive training course part 1, the three objectives listed above will have to suffice. There's a lot that falls under those three subject-headings, including, potentially, how to use Instant Messenger and how to set up online access to bank account and bill pay services. Maybe we'll get him set up with a freebie webpage, too, but only if objectives 1-3 are met. Don't want to overload the poor dad.

It strikes me as somewhat strange that my generally early-adopter dad has been so behind the curve in taking up home computing, when he was so on the ball with the purchase and use of the VCR, the microwave oven, and the cellular phone (although, granted, he lost the manuals for his cellphones shortly after their purchase, and so still relies on a paper address book, since entering contacts into the high-tech phone he has is, for some reason, a skill that eludes him). Perhaps I should revisit Edward Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation and related literature to see if I can discern the potential reasons.

Other holiday plans include taking in the Holidazzle Parade, hopefully seeing Oliver at Ordway (but I need to buy tickets!), Christmas Day dinner and socializing with one of Eric's coworkers and her family, a tour (probably by car, given my dad's chronic Southern Californian's aversion to temperatures below 40) of the University of Minnesota campuses, a Christmas lights drive, and maybe a visit to the Mall of Americas – without which no trip to the Twin Cities would be complete. Hopefully those activities will fill up six days. I'm completely open to suggestions, however: if you've got 'em, let me have 'em!

- posted by laurie @ 12/20/2003 12:54:00 PM
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