Somewhere in the flurry of all my traveling and boarding and deplaning…
November 9th, 2012

I tried not to skip last week’s posting but I have been spending way too much time on planes this semester and just could not manage a blog. I’m back now, though, for a little while, at least. I just returned from the annual meetings of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies in Ottawa where we celebrated, talked, and watched the American elections on giant TV screens in the ballroom of the magnificent Chateau Laurier. It felt like the perfect Canadian experience, especially with a US Embassy party happening next door. There was a fabulous photo moment when the Governor General of Canada, his Excellency David Johnston, ran into the American Ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, as we were escorting the GG to the ballroom for our gala. If I could have I would have snapped a photo of their smiling, handshaking encounter but not only would it not have been appropriate but I was not in possession of my camera-enabled BlackBerry.

Somewhere in the flurry of all my traveling and boarding and deplaning I left my cherished BB Bold on my seat, returning from New Jersey. It was the day of the catastrophic hurricane and like everyone else who did not have to be in New Jersey I was scrambling to get out of Dodge. The airport in Newark was a hub of anxiety at about 4:30 in the morning. I am sure I slept the whole way to Toronto, landing at Pearson with gratitude and relief. Hours later, while facing the fact of long delays because of fog in St. John’s, I reached for the BB, only to realize in that familiar and sudden feeling of loss and sorrow that it was on an Air Canada plane heading back to Jersey.

The sinking feeling of being cut off from email and phone capability was swiftly replaced by a rush of relief. The BB had been giving me some trouble and I had been on the verge of asking for a replacement Bold. It kept timing out or freezing, and I kept rebooting it or shaking it every which way to get it to respond. I have been loyal to RIM and to their products ever since we all started using hand-held devices. I stopped counting but I have had at least 6 or 7 BBs over the years, sometimes having to replace the same model for one that worked, sometimes upgrading to the newest product. I started with RIM before the units had cameras or touch screens and certainly long before social media was a necessity. I have always admired Mike Lazaridis, the founder of RIM who also inspired the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo about which I have written in this blogspot. I was loyal, consistent, invested.

Sadly, after so many upgrades and crashing screens, after the emergence of social media and this last straw, losing the bloody thing on a plane, I decided to cut and switch. I am now the somewhat proud owner of an iPhone5. I say somewhat because I have residual guilt over abandoning RIM and the extended promise that the Blackberry is bound to be improved. I just can’t wait that long anymore. Yes, I miss the tactile advantage of a soft keyboard and, even more, the game of Word Mole that I depended on while waiting for a doctor or dentist, or, yes, a plane. But the time had come.

What put me over the edge was watching my colleagues this week in Ottawa send pictures of our CAGS conference proceedings instantly to their tweet feeds and Facebook pages. What also seduced me was the clarity of the images and the seamlessness of the phone’s apps and regular functions. I have known for some time that I was going to be divorcing RIM but was never sure when.  Well, as the 90 year-old husband said to the divorce judge: enough was enough. The papers have been signed and I am now officially free of RIM.

Guilt-ridden that I might be in the fresh stages of separation, I admit I love my new toy. I have been playing with it whenever possible, adjusting tot its elegant advantages and trying Siri on for size and fun. I snapped a picture of my office (see above) and mailed it to myself in the time it took to clear my throat. No more fumbling with functions and keys and multiple sites. No more clumsy, ill-sized files that the tiny BB screen can’t see.

My new toy is a little miracle of 21st century technology, but all you Apple addicts out there already know that. What’s happening now, of course, is that my PC laptop, functional, efficient, and relatively new as it is, is starting to look like a dated piece of gear. Everywhere I went in Ottawa my colleagues were whipping out their AirBooks or equivalent Apple products. Yes, I do cherish my iPad and so I am not an Apple virgin, but now I am starting to think of making the final and complete shift to an Apple laptop. Look how thin and lovely they are, and you just can’t beat the seductive attraction of that silver apple sign—no other text required.

For now, I am holding out, naively hanging on to a small part of my universe in which Apple is not the dominant player. But something tells me that won’t be for long….

Dr. Faye Murrin is Dean pro tempore of the School of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. She completed her B.Sc. (Hons.) at Memorial University, her M.Sc. at Acadia University, and her Ph.D. at Queen's University. Her research interests have always been focused on fungi, in particular the cell biology of insect pathogenic fungi and, more recently, the ecology of mycorrhizal mushrooms in the boreal forest. Dr. Murrin has served in a number of positions on the Council of the Mycological Society of America and was awarded the title of MSA Fellow for her contributions. She was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Membership Award as founding co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Summer Program. Dr. Murrin participates in public lectures and workshops, and is a Director on the board of Newfoundland Foray, Inc.

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