Calling Abby

For my analog experience, I decided to call one of my friends instead of relying on texting or social media for our interaction on that day. I decided that my friend Abby would be the perfect person to call, because of the fact that she still uses a flip phone, making communication between us clumsy from the get-go. We never really text because of the fact that the keyboard on her phone forces her to click a number on the keypad multiple times in order to get the desired letters onto her screen, so most of the interactions that we have are in-person whenever I see her in New York. I told her to call me whenever she had the chance, also meaning that the call I got from her would be at least kind of a surprise.

She called me around noon on Wednesday, and I was immediately anxious when I felt my phone vibrate in my back pocket. Even though I knew it would be Abby calling (no one else would call me, except for maybe my Mom if she really needed me), the sensation of the intense vibration in my pocket was still enough to make me uneasy from the start. It took me a few seconds to answer the phone, mostly because I wasn’t sure exactly what I should say upon picking up. I realized that time was running out to answer, and with a flick of my touch screen I put the phone up to my ear and let out an awkward “Hey, Abby.”

I definitely remained awkward for most of the conversation, but what was so interesting about talking to Abby is that she was so used to phone calls that her personality on the phone was actually quite comforting. “Hey, I’m at the coffee shop right now, so I can only talk for a sec,” she said. I had been at that Bushwick coffee shop around the corner from her apartment many times, and on a few occasions I had witnessed Abby waiting in line while making a phone call. Talking on the seemed to be part of her own routine, so switching out her Mom or best friend from high school with me for her morning gabbing session didn’t seem to phase her at all. I, on the other hand, felt way too much pressure to say as much as I could in the few minutes we had to talk, trying to make conversation as productive as possible.

“So, what are your plans for the weekend? Do you want to do anything together?” I asked.

“Sure, why not!” She answered, but immediately followed her response with an anecdote about an art piece she was working on in her studio. She didn’t allow for even a second of silence, which was comforting for me in the sense that I didn’t have to think too much about what topic we should talk about, but it was always frustrating for me to try and articulate my response without stuttering or tripping over my words.

It felt like we had talked for a good chunk of time, and when she said “Okay, I’m getting on the subway now, bye!” I hung up the phone only to see that we had really only talked for about 7 minutes.

When reflecting on it, I think that the time that we spoke on the phone was interesting because 7 minutes in a conversation through text could yield only one sent message and one received in return. I have grown accustomed to these long, pregnant pauses between responses, and in fact I relish them–they allow me to articulate myself and assess whether my planned initial response is sufficient or not. But in 7 minutes Abby and I talked about how our weeks were going, what art project she is working on, and even our plans for the upcoming weekend, topics that would probably take a few hours worth of texting in order to result in our respective responses.

For that reason I think that calling Abby was probably really effective in the sense that her own limitations with her cell phone make it the easiest option for us to communicate (when we aren’t face to face), but in my interactions with fellow smartphone users, I think I prefer the air of caution that surrounds our text conversations.

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Writing Longhand

For my analog experience I decided to write this week’s blog post longhand. Being as that the experience has literally just begun, and thus I have nothing to report yet, it seems that the only way to overcome this paradox is to say what I’ve just said. See, now I have like two sentences. Three. Four. Ha. I’ve already made some observations. First, my handwriting sucks unless I focus on making it neat: I think it’s just a matter of being accustomed to proceeding quickly through a sentence when typing; plus I suppose I just don’t write by hand often enough to have become well practiced at maintaining consistent legibility. Second, I am noticing that flow is indeed easier, though I’m not sure why: perhaps having actually transcribed the words has left them more pronounced in my working memory, and thus what follows is better able to derive itself from that which came before it.

Editing is a little more difficult, especially since I’m using pen and can’t erase; however, having to cross things out of and interject things into sentences has left me with a better picture of the evolution of what I’ve written. If I were typing instead, my words would always look as if that was how they had always been, and I would have no real record of any changes I made unless I specifically remembered them.

I feel that the enhanced flow is compensating somewhat for my tendency to jump around while I write. Also, sometimes I want to quickly transcribe starting points of several thoughts: this is very easy on a computer, as I can just type quick fragments wherever and then expand and arrange them later; but, at the same time, this paragraph that I am currently writing was (ironically) expected by me to be an example of this fragmentation, but here I am a minute later and what I suspected would come out as fragments that I would need to figure out how to manipulate on the paper medium has cohered into a paragraph requiring nothing of the sort.

My hand is getting a little tired.

This is such a weird, self-perpetuating blog post. I was expecting to have a lot more difficulty. I was also expecting my spelling to suffer a little bit, but I guess I’m less reliant on spell check than I thought; though I feel like writing this by hand has evoked a less formal vocabulary than I would use if I was typing.

I’m not going to abandon the digital word processor, but I definitely intend to explore ways to incorporate longhand into my writing: perhaps hand-writing small segments of something to be later integrated into an evolving digital document. We shall see. I definitely prefer to look at what I’ve written through the aesthetically superior lens of a type font, though, so I don’t think I’ll change my ways too much.

Lastly, dealing with a physical piece of paper really conveyed the feeling of creating something more than pixels on a screen typically does; though the printed version of something I typed may find greater favor with me than something I wrote longhand.

All in all this was a fun an interesting experience.

Experimenting with the dying art of letter writing

For my analog experiment, I decided to hand-write a letter. While I am, of course, very used to writing by hand, writing a letter is very different from taking notes in a notebook like I do for my classes; moreover, I can safely say that I’ve only written a few letters by hand in my lifetime. I was raised using computers and am much more accustomed to writing in a word processor, which permits me to rearrange and continually modify my writing as I go along. Writing something by hand does not offer that level customizability at all. Prior to starting, I was completely aware of this, and I knew that I this could pose a problem for me, but I wanted to see if I’d be able to adapt my style a little bit to avoid the pages turning into messes of scribbles. Though I tend to use an abundance of carets (these things: “ ”) when writing on paper, the amount of rearranging and tweaking I to do while drafting is often too much for the slim margins between lines of ruled text to handle. I tried to be more decisive with my word choice, and honestly, it kind of worked, though honestly, I admit it could’ve turned out better.

Setting aside the issue of customizability and versatility during the writing process, something else that I came to realize while hand-writing the letter is that I type so much faster than I write that at times, I was unable to write quickly enough to keep up with the sentences I was thinking up! Several times while writing the letter, I realized that my hand was at least a sentence behind my brain. It was definitely one of the weirder experiences I’ve had as a student, especially as a liberal arts student who writes as much as he does for his classes! I felt lost overwhelmed. That isn’t to say that writing by hand didn’t have its own perks, though.

Pressing my pen into the paper, creating both ink marks and impressions in the surface, is indisputably more satisfying than pushing a seemingly endless series of buttons on my laptop keyboard. I love the cushiony feeling of writing on the top sheet of a pile of paper, plus my handwriting is always neatest when I’m comfortable writing, and I get a (laughably) strong sense of accomplishment when my handwriting at its neatest. Compared to the comfortable surface I wrote by hand on, the hard, angular aluminum shell of my laptop is markedly unforgiving. (This is underscored by the fact that it occasionally causes my wrists to ache.) As I’ve noted above, however, I can write much more quickly and keep up with my thoughts when typing on my laptop, so maybe one could say that it’s a fair tradeoff to be temporarily less comfortable but able bang out my writing faster? I’ve pondered this in the time since I carried out wrote the letter, and I’m still not really sure!

I think that in light of my experience doing this little experiment, I’ll consider writing by hand for shorter forms of correspondence, as well as correspondence with loved ones, because I won’t mind taking the little bit of extra time hand-writing takes. Using analog technology feels more personal because of the fact that it takes longer and is more laborious, and I believe that this means that a handwritten letter communicates love and appreciation better than, say, even the most beautifully written email. The fact that letter writing is becoming increasingly rare also renders the experience of receiving and reading a handwritten letter that much more special. As an object, a letter is so uncommon nowadays that the time and care put into writing one can’t possibly be misconstrued by the person receiving it. Its rarity makes it, potentially, a very powerful way to make a statement.

Special Delivery

In response to Revenge of the Analog, I decided I would rely on the postal service to deliver my text message responses. I live in an antiquated world of my own creation, as my play and free time is large spent with analogous experience. I admittedly own the tapes, regularly listen to vinyl, and own a surmountable stockpile of 80’s-90’s Nintendo artifacts, which I play to unwind, weekly. Although the ancient game systems would have been the easiest means to transport everyone with without a time machine, I opted for letter writing. Although I have tried in the past (I am a terrible correspondent during any given semester), I thought I would approach it differently this time.

So often, we check our text messages as a means of quick or passive response. The way in which I personally approach texting is unquestionably passive, sometimes leaving the phone in other rooms, coming to find emergencies on the screen of my phone, rather than actual phone calls, usually to something I don’t ultimately find pressing. I, for many years was plagued by the overriding panic of waiting for a message, but I have worked myself into a “mindful” place, living in the moment, with reservations about immediate communication needs. Coming out of class on Tuesday at 4:45 pm, I found 11 texts from 5 people, and decided I would address them once I had arrived at my next destination. An illuminating thought, what if I responded to them through letter writing? A century ago, this type of communication would have arrived by pony express (or train) and pressing conversation would have been wired or spoken in person. Conceptually, I would need to respond to the pressing matters first, such as my mother’s, “What day is your flight? I’m putting in for my vacation Friday,” clearly needed a response in that moment. I decided to write her the boring, “I registered for A, B, C, D, E for Fall…” along with one of my class papers, which I usually send by email. This particular piece of mail felt boring, but I was trying to stick to my plan of writing to all five of my text messages senders.

In deciding which texts to respond to, it was simple, as conversation always dulls resulting in “what did you do today,” and “how’s everything?” I decided in three instances overall there were deeper questions to answer through letter writing. I just needed to keep my recipients at bay, proclaiming how busy I was, and in one case completely avoiding the conversations by asking the sender self-indulgent questions about themselves to the point of distraction.

Mail!

No one can resist the charm of personalized, handwritten mail!

Having the tools needed to complete this task helped tremendously. I get stamps regularly for my grandfather and I, so I know that is no chore, and a little over $10 for an entire book. However, unexpectedly, I found the writing itself to be a more elaborate process. Taking into consideration the length of my intended message I found some of the smallest and least tacky of my paper/stationary collection, and a postcard someone once gave me, I’m going to send it back to them. I then sat down to write. What style of penmanship is appropriate to write? Is my doctor-like script too hard to interpret? Why does my hand hurt so much? Perhaps the paper was too big, maybe I didn’t have enough to say, or maybe drawing seemed easier when I ran out of things to comment on. Some of the letters included doodles that I tried to make relevant, including pictures of themselves sending me texts. In another case, I drew the actual text bubbles to introduce what I was referring to, since the letter seems so out of place and out of context to begin with. In writing itself, I found myself using more flowery and eloquent language than I would normally send in a 7 word reply. I fought my urge to draw emoji, something I didn’t realize I was using to imply connotation. I felt the need to also include important information such as where I was writing from, what date and time, as well as to mention how strange and interesting this exercise was. I suppose the date was for pertinence and my uncertainty about how long it would take to be delivered. I also wrote one each day, trying to spend at least 15 minutes writing each letter.

In the end of each letter, I included a short request that they write back, because I do love any and all constructs of exchange. Additionally, I would love for someone to experience the same intimacy with the transaction and process. It was fun to come up with doodles and interesting things to talk about, or include a poem that was uplifting only to default to some quirky, ever so existential, Bukowski. Overall, the experience of writing feels more like a craft, leaving room for creativity and a need to take time to plan it all out.

My reaction and excitement about getting surprise real mail is only comparable to a small child getting exactly what they want for their birthday. My unending fascination with paper, notebooks and postcards supports that this is a long-time-coming (cue Sam Cook) project, that I intend to continue.

I think I’ll be standing next to the mailbox in anticipation… until I get something other than bills.

Everyone, Pick Up Your Phone

For this project I originally wanted to type this blogpost on a typer writer on campus however, this was made impossible by the development of a pretty awful infection that landed me in the hospital this week. I am home and resting now, which gave me sometime to reconsider my analog project.

I decided to reflect on the phone calls I was making this week. I have always preferred communicating with others via telephone for a while now. I find that texting can be fun when you’re talking to someone new or if useful if you need to send a message that can be read and dealt with later. However, if I need to communicate with someone immediately texting does not fit the bill. This is for a couple of reasons. 1. it is so rare when I urgently text someone that they will read it immediately because they were either in class, their phone was in their bag/pocket, their phone was dead, etc. 2. The silly little beep noise or subtle vibrate of a text is not always easily heard or felt depending on the place you’re in. 3. Ive recently found that a lot of people will only display on their lock screen that they got a message from a person but it doesn’t disclose the message on the screen until you open the messages app. 4. Usually my urgent text messages will say something about calling so why not just skip this step and go straight to the calling?

This week the ability to call someone was dyer whether it was my mom, boyfriend, friend, or the health center. Particularly when you’re sick, having immediate response makes a worlds of difference. I am not referring to sick as head cold sick, I am referring to the sick that renders you immobile and practically helpless/confused which is where I was at Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Time passes extremely slow when you’re sick. If someone doesn’t promptly answer it feels like it could be hours or days until they get back to you. Especially in this case it was even more critical that I call instead of text because I would need to use more brain power (that I did not have) to text someone. Wednesday when I was really feeling ill, I called my mother for some support. (Normally I just tough it out when I am sick but this felt a lot different from previous experiences being sick.) It was nice to hear her gentle voice on phone talking me down from my nerves and addressing the situation with serenity and grace. It was able to give me some peace of mind that this would be figured out. By the end of the call she suggested that I either go to first care or the hospital. After taking this called Immediately fell asleep and woke up about an hour or two later in a puddle of sweat.  The second call I made was to my boyfriend Alex. He knew I was pretty sick when he had left for work. Luckily he was walking in as I was calling him to let him know that I needed to be brought to the ER. Finally when I was starting to be treated I received a couple calls from my close friends that learned of what had happened. There is such a massive difference between someone wishing you well over a text and someone doing the same but over a phone call.

I think some of the big difference between this analog system of communication versus the digital means of communication via text is the level of urgency that each technology carries, the level of human connection that is felt, and level of fluidity in conversing with another(referring to the level of brain power needed to text versus talk on phone).

Old Technology as New Technology: Using a Typewriter

For my analog project, I decided to use a typewriter in the Sojourner Truth Library. I had never even been in the same room as a typewriter, let alone used one, so this was certainly a brand new and interesting experience for me.

Typewriter 1

Typewriter Case

The first thing I noticed about it, before even opening up the case, was how heavy it was. And I do mean heavy, in bold, italics and underlined. I knew right away that I was going to need to find a quiet, secluded place in the library to experiment with it as to not bother anyone around me who may have been studying (which was quite difficult). Once I found a quiet enough area with a large enough desk, I opened up the case to this:

Typewriter 2

The actual typewriter

It was surreal. I had only ever seen these things in movies before. I was so excited to try out this really old piece of technology because it was brand new to me. I thought it would be obvious on how to insert the paper, but it wasn’t; initially, I inserted it upside down, and after a solid two minutes I finally figured out how to place it how I wanted to type on it (admittedly, I had to Google how to do it). After pushing some buttons, I also realized how difficult it was to get the keys to produce letters on the page. When typing on a laptop (as I’m doing right now), the letters appear automatically, even if I tap a letter lightly.  On a typewriter, I needed to press the letters with passion, or else the ink simply wouldn’t stick or would be too light.

After typing random words and letters for a while and pushing random buttons, I discovered the Shift key and how it actually works. When I discovered this, all on my own, I couldn’t contain myself. I thought I was so clever and whoever designed the original typewriter must have been brilliant.  For those who have never used one, essentially both the lowercase letter and the uppercase letter exist on the same key, with the uppercase letter slightly above the lowercase one. When you press Shift, the entire keyboard lowers so that the uppercase letter is what gets imprinted on the page. I tried my best to capture this in some photos:

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Entire keyboard, internal view

Typewriter 4

Typing the letter “O”

Since the keys were so hard to type and I needed to practically slam my fingers on the keyboard to get the letters to print, it was very loud.  Also, there were several levers all over the typewriter that didn’t seem to have any particular meaning or use that I could figure out. For example, there is a “Clear” button next to the space bar that didn’t seem to affect what was produced on the page.

Overall, there were two things that I really enjoyed about the typewriter. First, I really liked that there was no way of erasing or deleting what you wrote. While this could be inconvenient, I think it also really makes you think about what you want to say before you say it. I didn’t type anything of particular substance on the page I used (mostly gibberish and random sentences), but when I did try to type a coherent sentence, I had to think hard about what that sentence was. Right now,  typing this blog post, I have typed an equal amount of errors as I have correct sentences, and I’ve typed and retyped the same sentence over and over in different ways to make it better. I don’t have this luxury on a typewriter, and I think that’s a good thing. It forces my brain to work harder.

The second thing I really liked about the typewriter was that I could type anywhere on the page at any point. If I wanted to type in between the lines, I could. If I wanted to type upside down or sideways, I could. I could move the tray and start a new sentence wherever I wanted. I can’t really do that on something like Microsoft Word or even WordPress. In word processors and other digital media, unless I alter the programming I am limited to the template the word processor has already set up.  A typewriter is right in front of me, and I can physically pick it up and manipulate it however I want to.  While some analog technologies make creativity more difficult, I found that with the typewriter creativity was more accessible.

The only negatives I have to say about the typewriter in comparison to a laptop or other computer is that the typewriter is heavy and difficult to type on. However, I would absolutely go back to the library and use it again. My experience can be summed up as such:

Typewriter 5

Typed on a real typewriter (the “1” is actually a lowercase “L”)

A Voice in My Head, Not a Text on a Screen

For my analog project, I decided to call someone on the phone. It was still my cell phone, but there is a certain joy in hearing someone’s actual voice. I did this in two parts. I called my mother yesterday for only a brief 10 minutes, and today, I called my Nonna. The past few days were the type of days where everything seems to go wrong, and in combination with the crappy, cloudy weather, mother nature managed to make my days as gloomy as they could get. After calling my mom, I felt significantly better. We talked about as much as we could: how my classes were going, how that geology test went, how the show was coming along, and if I needed my parents to bring anything on Saturday when they visit. Although I only had this small amount of time between classes, I was grateful that I was able to speak with her because of the fact alone that she is my mom. Even when I’m supposed to be a grown up, independent college student, I can’t help but get homesick sometimes.

The second part of the project was calling my grandmother. When I’m at home, my Nonna lives about 40 minutes away from me, so it’s not the easiest trip. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see her very often, and it is especially hard when I am up here at school. My only way of communicating with her is through facetime if my mom or cousins are at her house, or through the telephone. So, this morning I decided to give her a call. She answered with a confused “hallo?” because my number comes up with a weird Caller ID that isn’t actually my own name (I don’t know why, this has happened since I got my first cell phone). I said it was me, Emily, and I could practically see her face light up in my mind when she said her signature, heavy Italian accented “OHHHHHHHHHHH, Emily!” and I could really feel how happy she was that I decided to call her out of the blue. She asked me where I was, what I was doing, and we talked about my upcoming plans of studying in Ireland for a few weeks this summer. I’m going to send her a postcard. The conversation lasted about 5 minutes only because I had to get ready for class, but it felt so good to hear her voice after such a long time.

I have never liked calling people on the phone with the exception of my parents. It’s just been one of my anxieties since I was very young, and I am still working on it. I decided to call people because not only would it test my ability to do so, but it also contributes to the practice of calling people. The practice will help ease my anxieties about the act of calling on the phone, and hopefully one day I will completely get over this irrational fear. But, today wasn’t that day.

Maybe it’s Just Not My Type

A few weeks ago, I read ahead on the syllabus and saw Professor Mulready’s suggestion to write a letter, or perhaps even use a typewriter to complete our analog experience.  I chose a hybrid of the two, as I wrote a letter with a typewriter.  I must say, it was a highly effective choice as this certainly was an experience.  To give a quick history on my knowledge and “experience” with typewriters, I have faint but fond memories of admiring the two my grandfather had.  One was in the study in his house, where my brother and I would often spend our time watching television, and another was at “the business”, the small warehouse / office space that occupied the business he and my grandmother inherited as I had cited on our first class day.  I’d never used these typewriters, maybe I banged on a few keys, but that’s about it.

Last week, I did my due diligence to ensure that typewriters were available, and learned I’d be able to check one out from circulation.  On Monday, I went to the library and asked to check out a typewriter… it turns out, the girl who was at the circulation desk (she was young, I could only assume she is a student who works there), was totally unaware that there were typewriters available for checkout… So she said this revelation made her day.  I’ll skip ahead to the first sign that this wouldn’t go super well.  The first typewriter I was given had a broken ribbon, so I could not even type.  I had to switch the typewriters out at circulation, and take two begins.  I’d venture to say this large case weighed about 20 pounds, just had an awkward feel, with a hard shell and tops that feel like a mix between plastic and tweed, but basically it seemed like a small suitcase.  I felt as if this process would be rather self explanatory.  Well, no, it’s not that easy.  I couldn’t find an alphanumeric 1 key, hitting shift+comma did not produce an apostrophe, and the spacing is tricky.  If you look at my drafted letter, you’ll notice I was off center, though I thought I did a pretty good job.  There was a serious fade in ink for my final paragraph, so I actually typed it twice, sadly making mistakes the second time over.  I’ll presume I went first, and that’s probably why Briana’s type was fairly faded (sorry!).  Lastly, I got a nice chuckle when I noticed the brand of my typewriter, Olympia.  I have never heard of this brand, but I currently work at Olympia Sports so to me, it was one of those mysterious, funny little connections that you couldn’t make up if you wanted to do so.

I’ll dive in to explain what I wrote and the actual experience now.  I thought it would be a wonderful idea to use this opportunity to write a letter to my parents.  The main focus of the letter is to thank them for all of their love and support, and I’ll be giving it to them next month on my graduation day.  I must say, typing these out in this setting rather than on a computer, or for some, a touch screen tablet or other device, was special.  I felt an extreme connection to what I was writing, and it’s even more remarkable because I’d already made an outline of this that I wrote in my notebook to avoid any writer’s block while at the keys.  So I’ll be honest, as far as ease of use, and of course, record keeping, digital technology blows typewriter technology out of the water.  The number one reason why I’ll say that is the ability to make mistakes.  Just in typing this blog, I’ve probably made north of 20 typing errors, whether it be hitting keys out of order, the wrong key, or misspelling a word.  But I have the ability to go back and edit, the magic of the red line indicating misspellings which I’m sure we’re all a little thankful for but you may also hate if you have a last name like Szymczak.  I’ll digress.  What I love about the typewriter, from my sole use, is the TLC factor instilled in it.  It’s not easily replicable, as in, it’s not like digital where I have the letter saved on my computer and could just reprint right now if I wanted to, and that’s special.  The mistakes, the faded type, they show a special extra effort taken to pen the letter that is lost in digital technology.  For that, and that alone, I very much enjoyed my experience, and am extremely thankful that I got to use this technology to express myself as I complete one of my final assignments.  So I’ll take this moment to digitally say it, thank you Professor Mulready for providing the extra incentive that gave me this idea, as I feel it’s one of the more special assignments I’ve completed in my time here at New Paltz.

 

Learning about where I do my Learning (A Draft)

I actually get to do something pretty fun with my history project, and I will examine the building I’ve had a majority of my classes, the current home of the School of Business, van den Berg Hall. van den Berg is the second oldest building on campus, only behind Old Main (1909). As many would know, the educational institution now known as SUNY New Paltz was founded in 1828. At the time, it existed as the New Paltz Charter School. In 1933, it became New Paltz Academy, and then in 1885, the New Paltz Normal School was founded. New Paltz Normal existed as a school and training program / facility for young professionals and high school graduates to learn to become teachers. The school’s principals may sound familiar; Eugene Bouton (1886-1889), Frank S. Capen (1889-1899), Myron T. Scudder (1899-1908), John C. Bliss (1908-1923), Lawrence H. van den Berg (1923-1942).

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Lawrence H. van den Berg circa 1923 – when he was appointed principal of New Paltz Normal

At varying times during the first 45 years of its existence, New Paltz Normal grew and expanded, but during the 1920s, there became a need for a new training facility. In 1929, Principal van den Berg approved the architectural design for a new school. As perhaps one of the most interesting events attached to this story, a ceremony was held for the breaking of ground on this new project in October of 1930. The speaker at this event was Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt (who actually had trouble getting in as the crowd was so large in size). In 1932, this new school opened its doors, and in May of 1934, it officially became the Lawrence H. van den Berg School of Practice. The program offered slowly began to evolve as the improvements to the training process were implemented, and students began attending classes at the New Paltz State Teachers College. This new entity was founded in 1942, and van den Berg was the first president. Six years later, New Paltz was one of the founding members of the SUNY system. This new program served as a school for students ranging from Nursery school ages all the way through eighth grade. In 1982, the van den Berg school closed its doors to students, as the final graduation was held that June. In 1990, van den Berg Hall became an academic building under the umbrella of SUNY New Paltz, housing the School of Business. In May of 1990, there was a fire in the clock tower that caused damage in the building, but this was limited due to the fire retardant nature of the metal roof of the building. It is important to note that in the history of SUNY New Paltz (dating back to 1828), the primary building housing its programs had experienced severe fire damage, so it is likely the metal roof was planned as a precautionary measure to avoid a third occurrence. The new clock tower was installed in 2005.

 

A photo of the front of van den Berg Hall – the home of the School of Business

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An old photo of the van den Berg School of Practice, featuring a view of Hasbrouck Park, where children are ice skating… Not something seen there anymore

I feel as if this is an interesting quick look into the history of New Paltz’s overarching higher education programs, and specifically at the history of the building in which I spend most of my class time. Moving forward in my research, I am fascinated to determine a few things, including all of the renovations in van den Berg, from classrooms, to the programs offered, to the construction of the VH annex, and the clock tower installation. Additionally, I’d like to look into the gap of work between 1982 and 1990. Fascinatingly enough, my father graduated from the School of Business, he describes in its infancy, and he states that he took a bulk of his classes in van den Berg during 1988 and 1989, which is inconsistent with my research. I suspect one of two things, 1) there happened to be a small window of time in which SUNY New Paltz classes were being held in van den Berg Hall, but prior to van den Berg becoming an actual “campus building,” or 2) my research is wrong. I’d obviously be hoping for the former, as that would be more interesting anyway. Additionally, I’d like to know when the name changed from School of Practice to Hall; I suspect this would be when VH became a SUNY New Paltz academic building, but that is certainly something I’d like to confirm.  I find there’s still a lot to be discovered, but it’s certainly exciting to get a closer look at van den Berg and SUNY New Paltz this way.

A Cell Phone Surprise

I chose to talk on the phone as my experience with analog technology. I actually am a big phone-talker, so what I will be describing won’t necessarily be an entire new experience, but I think it is one worth writing about because I have never actually sat down and analyzed why I enjoy the experience so much, or what I think it has to offer.

The digital technology that I am going to define as the “opposite” of talking on the phone is the action of texting. On a general day to day basis, I text more than I talk on the phone. There are about three people currently in my life who I text on a daily basis, plus the handful of friends who text me, or who I contact more sporadically. The experience I have with texting is somewhat of a mixed bag. I enjoy being able to speak to my friends throughout the day and keep in touch, without always having to rest my sole attention on the conversation. If I text, I can still run errands, do homework, or relax with a book or a TV show. But this very benefit of texting is also what stresses me out. Receiving jolts of incoming text-tones often stress me out. Sometimes it does not feel good to be constantly interrupted, even if I am enjoying the conversation I am having. Because of texting, and all the other features my cell phone can offer, I find that I carry it with me everywhere I go, even if I am only walking across the room. Sometimes this makes me feel trapped, and I have gotten into the habit of turning off my cell phone when I feel this way. Overall, texting is very convenient because it is fast and doesn’t require a lot of energy. But once again, its strength is its downfall. Sometimes I have gotten so much into the habit of texting, that I will text in order to contact someone even when it is less convenient.

I like the conversations I have with my friends over text and the ability texting gives me to talk to them more often, but nothing beats the experience of talking over the phone. This week, my friend texted me asking if I could help her with her English paper. I began to type out my thoughts on the thesis she had texted to me, and then decided this would be the perfect opportunity to give my analogue experience a-go. Talking on the phone is not out of the ordinary for me, but it is in terms of simple conversations like this one, where all I was being asked to do was discuss a thesis. I called the friend to answer her that way, and this was our first phone conversation. I was completely focused on the conversation—as one has to be when actual engaging in auditory conversation—and helped my friend plan her paper. Then we began to talk about other things, and ended up having a wonderfully fulfilling conversation which lasted over an hour. I don’t know if we would have had such a long and deep conversation had we only spoken through text. It was a pleasant surprise to bond further with this friend in an unexpected way. Even the act of talking into a phone was more satisfying that having to type out long messages just to get an idea across.

I am definitely more likely to talk on the phone now for simpler reasons. Normally I call a friend and prepare for a three hour catch-up conversation. But I wonder what else I could experience if I used the phone as a means of communicating small things as well. Will I end up feeling closer to the people I text every day?

It is interesting to think that with the same object, I can have two entirely different experiences even though both texting and talking on the phone are options the device gives me to communicate almost instantaneously with others, no matter how far away they are. It is also odd to think that I can have an analogue experience on a cell phone. Go figure.