Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Date With Kate

I met Kate Hepburn yesterday outside of Target. I know. It seems so improbable. You never think of her as a Target customer.

You look fantastic, I exclaimed as I hugged her svelte frame.

“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”

And your hair, it’s gorgeous.

“Fuck the roots.”

I’ve always wanted to know what your secret is. How did you get to live the life you wanted?

“As one goes through life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.”

But didn’t you feel like you missed out on things you wanted to do?

“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”

From what I’ve read about you, you must have been one of the bad girls then.

“I don’t care what is written about me as long as it isn’t true.”

Well you didn’t get much help from the Hollywood establishment.

“If you need a helping hand, you can find one at the end of your arm.”

You showed them. You bought out your studio contract and picked your projects.

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”

But didn’t some of the critics make you angry?

“Enemies are so stimulating.”

They thought you dressed funny, wearing trousers at a time when women just didn’t do that.

“What the hell — you might be right, you might be wrong…but don’t just avoid.”

And you kept on working in film and television well into your 80’s.

“I have no romantic feelings about age. Either you are interesting at any age or you are not. There is nothing particularly interesting about being old – or being young, for that matter.”

Your career had lots of ups and downs in the movie business. That must have been hard on you.

“Never complain. Never explain.”

Good mantra. I bet that catches on.

“Life can be wildly tragic at times, and I’ve had my share. But whatever happens to you, you have to keep a slightly comic attitude. In the final analysis, you have got not to forget to laugh.”

So true. Life can be a bitch.

“Life is hard. After all, it kills you.”

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Me and My Bot

The future is now. Or something like it. For a long time it seemed like only the Japanese were exploring all the ways that robotics could be of service to their aging population. With its labor shortage and lower birthrate, the Japanese felt compelled to turn to robotics to take care of their elderly. I admit I was very amused to see a contraption that washed and dried someone, but when there is a severe shortage of caregivers and that shortage is only getting worse, it’s what you do.

And now it’s here. Retirement homes and assisted living facilities in the U.S. are testing a variety of robotic tools that undoubtedly will be commonplace by the time most boomers are ready for them. A telepresence robot helps residents stay in touch with family and friends via video. With isolation and loneliness being such a tremendous problems for older adults, this tool is life changing.

Virtual reality technology allows seniors to revisit destinations they remember fondly and experience new places they always wanted to visit but are physically unable to experience any other way. Finally, a worthwhile use of VR capability other than gaming.

What’s most encouraging about this entire trend is that inventors are cutting through the geeky side of technology to make it so much easier for the elderly to access the benefits. Tricky interfaces and passwords are out and voice recognition is in. Much like automobile multimedia interfaces, you can request a service, function or communication device with a voice command. Consider the capability of Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant Alexa to see where this is going. Calling up entertainment options and being able to interface with home automation functions such as lighting and HVAC will supplant many standard caregiver functions.

This is big. We are about to experience a level of technology that changes the way we’re going to age. While it’s true that the age of social media sometimes dulls actual human interaction, an older population with limited mobility and resources will most likely be very grateful for any kind of connectedness that reduces their sense of isolation.

How far can all of this technology go? Most experts believe that in the next five years we will have robots that pick up objects, do the laundry, wash the dishes and provide basic housecleaning.

I would take that now, thank you very much.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.