Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Feels like…it shouldn’t

For most of my summer vacation I wore a jacket and scarf. That was Paris in June.

When I returned home, I went into air-conditioned hibernation from the heat wave sweeping Philadelphia.

Every day I’d check the weather online. The big, bold numbers would indicate temperatures hot enough to fry my entire garden. Then I’d spy the fine print, which would start with “Feels like…” followed by a few more degrees.

‘Splain that one to me. If the thermometer reads 97, why make me even more miserable by adding two or three more degrees of discomfort? How much difference does it really make anyway? Never mind that people experience temperatures in different ways.

Last week, my father sat by the water in the blinding sun on a 95-degree day wearing a thick sweatshirt and long dungarees. There wasn’t even a breeze to be found.

On the  other hand, one of my running buddies can’t stand to wear sleeves past Memorial Day. Others continue to wear running shorts through winter snowstorms.

Yes, 84 degrees at 5 pm today will feel much, much better than 95 – especially with lower humidity – but is there any real value in AccuWeather’s “RealFeel®” indicator of 83? I don't think I'm going to notice the difference.

I remember when temperatures in the 80s felt tropical, but that was last winter, when I grudging bumped up the heat to 66. Now that I’ve lived through the recent heat wave, the 80s sound heavenly. I might even reach for my jacket if I’m out late tonight when it's supposed to dip into the 70s.

It’s no surprise people make so much small talk about the weather. Hot enough for you? Cold enough for you?

While the answer depends on the individual, at least one thing is true. If you don’t like the weather, just wait. But there’s no promise you’ll like what comes next. Mother Nature has been full of surprises these days.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Can't touch this

Touch-screen smartphones have been around quite awhile. I came to the party a little late, holding fast to my old BlackBerry.

There's just something in my writer's soul that loves the feel of a physical keyboard. Never mind that all my attempts at typing on a borrowed iPhone read like this: "Wyat ari wy d-iwng tomighw?"

Now I have the best of both worlds, with the BlackBerry Q10.

I have the keyboard I want, so typing is a breeze, and I'm getting used to all the swiping and tapping the touchscreen requires.

I swipe up and down, left and right, and eventually I get to the screen I want. It's all trial and error for me, but it's so much fun I don't even try very hard to remember the right commands.

There are a few touchy things that drive me crazy, like the fingerprint residue from so much touching and tapping and swiping. Trying to clean the screen is futile, as I just end up opening more apps in the process.

You've also got to have absolutely dry fingers to swipe effectively. Not always so easy in this brutally hot and muggy summer.

And the speed with which the screen reacts is so much faster than I anticipate that I've deleted a few things -- and sent off many misspelled emails -- before realizing what I was doing.

Still and all, I'm loving this smartphone, which is much smarter than I'll ever be. And even though it's a touchscreen, you can't touch it for a great user experience.