Amazon, You Continue to Fascinate (and Scare!) Me

GLAD wrap Amazon Dash Button
credit: amazon

 

How easy is it to shop in your PJs, have something delivered the same day, and now push a button to reorder something while you’re in the middle of your daily household routines?

Well, if you’re an Amazon shopper, pretty darn easy!

I admit: I’m fascinated by Amazon’s continued efforts to make shopping convenient and affordable. I’m less fascinated by the personalization, though. Minority Report comes to mind….

 

amazon prime logo

A few years ago, while still in the classroom and often buying books at the request of my high school students, I discovered Amazon’s Prime service. For a modest annual fee I could purchase books online and have them delivered to my door within two days? For a busy teacher whose need for classroom resources was immediate and constant, it was a godsend, especially when the closest bookstore (that may or may not have the books I’m looking for) was 15 miles away.

In more recent years, Amazon added Next Day Delivery to their services. Could it get any better??

As if answering my question, Amazon introduced its then-newest service:  Same Day Delivery. Are you kidding me? How do they get the order, process it, ship it, and deliver it – all in the same day??? I was fascinated; it sounded too good to be true.

So what’s a gal to do?  Put it to the test, of course.

On a quiet Sunday morning, sitting comfortably on the couch with a cup of coffee and my phone, I placed an order, noted the time: 10:30 AM, and doubted I’d see the package that day. Imagine my surprise when our doorbell rang at 4:30 that afternoon. There stood a delivery person, with a smile and my package. Did I mention it was Sunday???  #impressed and at the same time, #dismayed

After finding that Same Day Delivery is real, I found myself grappling with the notion that having something delivered the same day is self-serving, environmentally irresponsible, and well, lazy. Or is it? Could I make the argument that it’s job security for someone? Or is that reaching?

While I’m all for shopping locally and supporting small business (and we do), I appreciate convenience and efficiency.

Enter my latest discovery – Amazon Dash Buttons. Introduced in 2015, and well covered in the media, I recently stumbled on to them. Of course, always the curious one, I did some clicking around to find out what they are…

 

 

Okay, so the question begs to be asked:  Is this really necessary???

Is this convenience for a busy lifestyle or simply a branding opportunity for companies? Is it just another gaudy example of over-inflated consumerism or a boon to those trying to simplify their hectic lives?

To be honest, this move toward increasing convenience scares me a little….. and we didn’t even mention drones.

A scene from a movie comes to mind.

 

As odd as this scene from Wall-E (produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney Pictures) may seem to some, is it really that far from the truth? It’s a scene that floats through my brain from time to time (and not many movie scenes do) … causing me to pause and reflect on our ‘modern conveniences’ and where we might be headed, with far-reaching issues and consequences.

CNET reporter Bridget Carey shared ‘issues’ in her investigative report on Amazon Dash Buttons:

 

And is the Amazon Dash Button safe from a cyber perspective? Can someone hack my button via wifi and order supplies remotely while I get the bill? I wondered about these sorts of things as I read the How to Use page. In my need to know more, I ran across this post and a Part 2 here by Mark Gibbs over at networkworld.com.

Ironically, during the start of Lent, I find the $4.99 price tag reasonable enough to satisfy my curiosity. Will I give in to yet another convenience that may be perpetuating environmental irresponsibility, blatant consumerism, and the fast track to dystopia? I’d like to say no, but the jury’s out….  Look for my review of the Amazon Dash Button in upcoming weeks.

Until then, would love to hear if you’ve tried them….

 

Filed Under “Wow!” Einstein’s Space-Time Theory Confirmed

Image: Einstein's General Theory
credit: en.wikipedia.org

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein

 

Thank you, Dr. Einstein, for always questioning. Thanks to a team of physicists who also embraced questions, Einstein’s space-time theory is finally confirmed. According to The New York Times today,

 

A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.

More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.

 

While this is particularly cool news for science buffs and/or Big Bang Theory fans (like The Mr. and me), it’s also interesting news for a generation who’s heard about Dr. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity as a scientific construct. Wondering what black holes are and why they’re so ‘foreboding’?

Check out this trailer for Interstellar, a 2014 fictional movie about black holes, but with ‘an amazingly accurate view of a black hole,’ says its creators.   

 

Prefer a more scientific perspective? Check out this documentary on YouTube:

 

 

Scary AND exciting stuff, don’t you think??

 

What do you make?

Lately, when I tell people that I have an art studio in our home, I’m often asked, “What kind of art do you make?”

My reply:  “Really cool mixed media!”

I get the funniest looks….

Writing is easier to explain: I’m a freelance writer & blogger. Then, I can mention a few projects or share my blog title. Explanation clear.

But I’m finding with art, an explanation is tougher to give. When I say I’m a mixed-media artist, that leads to the next logical question:  What’s mixed media? When I explain it’s a combination of materials – ink, acrylic paint, watercolors, charcoal, graphite, fabric, metal, paper, plastic, yarn, thread, ephemera, etc…. the usual reaction is, “What does it look like?”

Good question.

Hmmmm…. well…. and so begins my explanation of layers and telling a story. By now, I’m wanting to show them and they’re wanting to see, which leads to my dilemma – how to show my work on the run.  Carrying a portfolio would be cumbersome and oh-so-20th century.

What’s a girl to do?

Two solutions hit me while driving home from the dentist the other day, where the ‘What do you make?’ conversation had just occurred:

(1) Create a picture folder on my phone (always with me) to act as a digital portfolio to share when asked, and (2) Create business cards that contain a snippet of my work… similar to ATCs (artist trading cards)….. a kinesthetic experience to promote and explain what I do, while making my work instantly accessible. Being a kinesthetic learner, this second option really appeals to me! 🙂

Turns out, my kinesthetic business card idea isn’t that unusual amongst creative folks. While looking for images of possible formats and wording, I ran across this great blog post about creative DIY business cards. Wow! Let’s take the boring out of business cards!

While I’m still liking the first two ideas, another idea sprouted – a digital option that incorporates something I’ve wanted to try for a while – a QR code.  Can we say 21st century??  Indeed.

qr code - blank

I found a free app on my phone, downloaded it, created a few test codes, and in less than ten minutes, I redesigned my business card to add a QR code linked to my Instagram account. Bam! Now I can share my work and my contact information all in one place – digitally and kinesthetically – in 2 x 3.5 inches.

By the way, in case you’re wondering (I did, until two tech-savvy colleagues clued me in last spring… thank you Jillian and Angeles), QR stands for Quick Response.  How’s that for cutting-edge communication?

Now the conversation will go like this:

What do you make? 

Here… let me show you!  Hands them a business card that’s both colorful and loaded with instant information. (That has to be a 21st century expression ~ ‘instant information’)

 

ArtBizCardsKEEP2

 

What do your business cards say about you? Do they convey your creativity? Have you considered (or already use) a QR code?  I’m loving my new version and can’t wait to share them.  🙂