Is the pen becoming obsolete?

Pen

I sit here typing on my computer wondering when the pen will become obsolete. Is the pen being phased out like the typewriter? Or a watch? With computers, smart phones, ipads, and Kindles, do you ever need a pen any more? What about paper? At least with paper you can type something on the computer and then print it. We send letters via e-mail and sign contracts electronically, so why would we still need to use a pen?

Dare I admit that I actually enjoy writing with a pen? Even worse, I like writing cursive with a pen. My boyfriend still has no idea how to read my cursive so all my journal entries are safe from him. He always thinks I am writing about him (as if I had the time). I would have the time, but I don’t have a watch. I love to write cursive in my college-ruled notebook with no computer or phone in sight. Is it possible that I am single-handedly keeping all the pen and paper companies in business? For some reason the physical experience of handwriting is different from typing on a computer. I know words still end up on the page, but there is a difference in how the brain works in each process and how the words come out. When I am typing I can write 90 words a minute. When I handwrite the words glide onto the paper much slower. Writing slow is not a bad thing when you want to think.

Maybe instead of wondering about pens going obsolete, I need to look in the mirror. Am I next? I may be going obsolete because I still cook in an oven (not a microwave) and I prefer french pressed or Turkish coffee instead of coffee from one of those fancy coffee machines. I am talking about those machines that can make coffee, fold my laundry and wash my car. I am not sure they do windows though. At least I am still good for something.

Another reason I became concerned with my obsolescence is that I recently discovered that my ability to concentrate on one task for long periods of time is disappearing. Hold on. I need to go put the laundry in the dryer. Sorry, back now. What was I saying? Oh, yes, I was talking about concentration. Sorry again, just one moment. I need to heat water for coffee now. Yes, back again. Where was I? Concentration is the problem. Actually the problem isn’t me. It is society’s inability to focus that is becoming the problem. Is a society with people who don’t have the ability to concentrate on tasks for long periods of time a good thing? Who will do research or design the next i-device? Who will be the heart surgeon? Can you tell I am worried about society going in a direction that is not necessarily good? I feel like life is moving too fast and there isn’t time to relax. No time to concentrate or focus. One might call it information overload. We get on-line and find ourselves bouncing around from e-mails to Facebook to an article about killer bees. How can we do this with such ease? Or do we? Is this hurting us in ways we don’t realize? Are we becoming dependent on information being thrown at us instead of sitting down and creating something or just plain thinking?

As I type this blog on my MacBook Air I wonder if I should grab the pen and paper sitting on the table next to me? Can I be more creative through the process of writing with a pen instead of using technology?  For now, the pen and paper industry is still safe because I love to sit outside or in a coffee shop and write with my Papermate Profile Elite pen on college ruled notebook paper. Maybe the ability to write cursive with a pen on my computer is just around the corner with one of these note taking applications. I can only hope that even if the pen goes obsolete, that thinking won’t.

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Fun-day Monday

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Having the day off today was nice. The weekend was busy, but a nice kind of busy. I was able to escape from work more this weekend than I have in the last few months. I enjoyed getting time to totally focus on something besides work. A regular 2-day weekend just doesn’t seem like enough time off. A 3-day weekend is just slightly better. What I really needed was a full 2 weeks, but that is not always feasible.

The extra time this weekend allowed me to clear my mind to establish new norms in my thinking. Sometimes ‘getting away from it all’ is less about physically getting away and more about mentally getting away. Trying something new or unusual brings your mind to a place where it can focus. This weekend’s escapes included a hike at McDowell Mountain Park, a birthday party at the Phoenix Zoo, and lunch on the patio at Chelsea’s Kitchen. What I realized today, is that there is always more work for us to focus on, but not always more time to enjoy family. Maybe it is time to put focus and emphasis on things that do not always include work?

What did you do this weekend for your mental escape? Did you get to spend the time with your family?

A student of mentoring

Mentoring is another form of education.

Have you ever helped someone solve a problem? Or talked over a personal or business challenge? Did you make the other person think? How was it to listen to another person’s problems and help guide them to a solution without telling them specifically what to do? I wonder if we all have within ourselves the capacity to mentor?

As I have entered what I call mid-career , it appears that there are as many coworkers younger than me as there are older than me, which suddenly puts me in a position to teach more and learn less. I don’t want to be the guy that says, “We have always done it this way”, but I hope what I can share is a lesson learned or two. Occasionally ‘that guy’ with his statements about how things didn’t work a certain way, will turn out to be right. Sharing an experience does not always have to be about the right way but instead, something to think about.

I like the idea that we can all learn from each other (my Utopia) but there are some people who feel they have nothing more to learn (I don’t associate with those people, at least not by choice). I am questioning now, what makes a learning culture? How can someone educate or mentor me? How do you learn? By making your own mistakes, hearing a story, or reading a book? I usually make a mistake which I wish I could have learned about from a book. In the end though at least I have a story I can use to help someone else learn (assuming they didn’t already make the same mistake or they were not unable to learn from a book either). At least my mistakes are productive. What better way to learn? Maybe I am my own best mentor? How are you learning (or mentoring) today?