In the July 2017 The Smithsonian magazine, there’s a very interesting article, From Ptolemy to GPS, the Brief History of Maps, about the history of maps, written by Clive Thompson. The article begins by relating some recent incidents of mishaps attributed to hapless drivers mindlessly following inaccurate GPS directions while driving. Thompson writes:
“You can laugh, but many of us have stopped paying attention to the world around us because we are too intent on following directions. Some observers worry that this represents a new and dangerous shift in our style of navigation. Scientists since the 1940s have argued we normally possess an internal compass, “a map-like representation within the ‘black box’ of the nervous system,” as geographer Rob Kitchin puts it. It’s how we know where we are in our neighborhoods, our cities, the world.
Is it possible that today’s global positioning systems and smartphones are affecting our basic ability to navigate? Will technology alter forever how we get around?”
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/brief-history-maps-180963685/#GwdJLeK41bIuW2jo.99
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The article is definitely worth a read and I don’t have the answer to whether our “smart” computer technology is making us dumber or more inattentive, but it sure does make us lazier and more inclined to take short-cuts. A year or two after we had our first home computer, I lectured my kids for their insistence on checking the weather online in order to decide on their apparel for the day or whether to wear a coat heading to the bus stop in the morning. I told them to step outside and see how cold it was or to look at the sky and they could see if it was likely to rain. They scoffed at that, telling me how the weather report relied on “expert” meteorologists and besides, who wanted to walk outside, when they could find out more “accurate” information online.
I prefer to look at the sky or look at the leaves on trees, which can speak volumes about impending storms or even how the birds act, as my first barometric reading, so to speak.
One thing I have noticed with my use of computers for almost all of my writing is that my spelling has become atrocious without spellcheck and now with beginning my “gratitude” journal, my handwriting is beyond terrible and it felt very awkward holding a pen for more than a few minutes at a time.
One of the first books I learned to read was a small children’s book my grandmother gave me, as part of my Christmas gifts for Christmas in 1964. I was 4 years old:
I think I was around 7 or 8 when the cover started coming loose and I took some of my mother’s bandage tape and taped it back together. I remember this, because my mother told me that wasn’t a good tape to use to repair a book. I kept that book all these years and I came across it recently, sorting through some old paper stuff in my decluttering efforts. Perhaps, I will attempt a better repair job. The prayer at the top of this post is one of my favorite prayers in this book. I remember loving this prayer as a child.
It is a prayer about gratitude.
That brings me to my ugly, dollar store journal, that is now my “gratitude” journal. Why I picked the ugliest journal to start a journal is part of how I always worry about messing things up, so I didn’t want to begin “journaling” in my nicest journal, in case I messed it up. It’s the same reason I keep many very nice things and don’t use them, because they might get ruined. The same applies to many of my sewing and craft supplies, where I purchased fabric I loved or a craft item I thought was wonderful, but then I put off using it, because I was afraid I would waste it on a project that turned out crappy or that I might mess it up. So, I have many lovely things awaiting the perfect project or for me to feel that my crafting/sewing skills will do justice to them.
“Junk journals” might be the perfect project for me. My first junk journal turned out nicer than I expected. Now, with this gratitude journal, where I’m starting with junk, if I mess up this ugly dollar journal – so what! And besides it’s just for me to write in, look at and read.
From the time I was around 9 or 10, I began cutting out pictures and stories from old magazines, like Highlights for Children, that I wanted to keep. I had folders and an old shoe box for my clipped items. By the time I was a teenager, I still had folders and I had boxes that I had decoupaged clipped pictures or old, pretty wrapping paper onto, making them pretty, but still functional.
After gluing some pictures in the altered composition books for my granddaughters, the other night, as I was trying to think of what to write in my “gratitude” journal, I decided to cut out pictures from some old magazines to glue into my journal. I always try to make everything perfectly straight and agonize over perfect color combinations, perfect page layouts and if the overall arrangement is perfect. As I started gluing in pictures, I decided not to stress over it and just glue in some pictures.
I started with just a picture or two on the two-page spread of the journal, but the next night I decided to do some collages of pictures and I started with this one, with the very crooked edges on the left side:
Then I decided to do collages inside the front and back covers:
Usually when I think of collage art work, I think of those edgy artists, who paint bold sweeps of colors and combine dismembered body parts into odd new arrangements or who have some giant eye somewhere in the picture peering at you. I lack artistic ability, so mine is just gluing in pictures I like, with a glue stick.
I had done the porch page on Monday or Tuesday night , then yesterday I found the words, “The Porch: The soul of the house lies just up the front steps”, in another old, Southern Living magazine and knew it had to go on this page.
Funny how something like gluing in pictures from some old magazines made me realize how grateful I am to have grown up poor, in a large family, in the mountains of PA. The front porch of our house was where I spent hours in the summertime cutting out pictures from old magazines. We would carry my great-grandmother’s rocking chair out on the front porch for her in the evenings, because she didn’t want her rocking chair left outside. It was a part of the routine to cart her rocking chair in and out, when she wanted to sit on the front porch. My parents, brothers and sisters, cousins next-door, sometimes neighbors too, congregated around our front porch in the summertime. Often, friends of my parents would stop to chat a few minutes, as they were driving by.
We were never bored, we talked a lot, we never wanted to go inside and we begged our parents to stay outside longer, long after it was dark.
And of course, I do get lost easily, so I pay close attention to everything when I drive, taking careful notes of landmarks, buildings, road markers of every kind, even distinctive trees. I don’t use GPS directions, instead I keep road maps in my car and I write down careful directions on a piece of paper before I take any trip. My father built roads for a living. He taught me to keep track of the mile markers on the interstate, so anytime we are on the interstate, I can tell you which mile markers we are between and which direction we are headed.
There’s no way I am going to trust a GPS voice on my phone to guide me. Years ago, I did a google mapquest search for a friend from work’s home. I had never been to her house, so I typed in my street address and hers. Those directions included a turn onto a street that does not exist.
And, amidst having so many gadgets, gizmos and fancy things, I am going to refocus on being thankful “for the lovely things” in my life, like “the pretty flowers and the little birds that sing”. Kind of odd that a “junk journal” brought all the real treasures in my life into focus.
Note: The prayer, For Lovely Things, was written by Edna Dean Baker and the book, Prayers For Little Children, was edited by Mary Alice Jones and illustrated by Suzanne Bruce.
Books with collages of all pictures glued in are often referred to as “glue books” and it’s a very relaxing pastime. There are many good videos on YouTube explaining how to go about doing a glue book. Here are a couple of videos that I found informative:
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