A lesson in saving time and getting things done

Mona Wood Patterson discusses her use of social media during the fall luncheon of the American Association of University Women at The Palace Restaurant. She and partner, Charles Ford, background, put on a number of plays and have found social media to be an efficient way to manage their time and communications. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Mona Wood Patterson discusses her use of social media during the fall luncheon of the American Association of University Women at The Palace Restaurant. She and partner, Charles Ford, background, put on a number of plays and have found social media to be an efficient way to manage their time and communications.

Call me a Luddite when it comes to technology.

It would be virtually impossible to do this job without emails, Google, cellphones and word processing. (I don’t know how my predecessor, Sally Morrissey, ever got any stories out with correct information.)

But I have been passive/aggressive in my resistance to social media.

Really, I keep asking, aren’t two columns a week more than anybody wants to hear from me? Don’t the several ways I’m available to readers make me accessible enough? Yes, I’m registered on Facebook (no page), but I already have so many friends, do we need to connect in cyberspace, too? And who are all these people who want to friend me? Twitter, tweeting, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Words with Friends and don’t get me started on texting. My head is about to explode, and there aren’t enough hours in a day.

That was my mindset going into the presentation by Mona Wood Patterson and Charles Ford about how they use social media technologies at the American Association of University Women’s Annual Fall Luncheon on Oct. 13 at The Palace Restaurant.

(To learn more about the group, contact President and Membership Chairwoman Katherine Burgess at kaburgess@durango.net.)

Technology had entered education in a big way before they retired from Durango High School, not only in how they took roll, recorded grades and communicated with parents and students, but in how, as Wood Patterson put it, “stealthy note passing transformed into subversive texting.”

And they had seen the power of the Internet in her sister teaching violin to a student in Nigeria via cyberspace, her nephew in the Marines in Afghanistan staying in touch with his wife and yes, the universal staying in touch with far-flung family, especially grandchildren aged 2, 2½ and 5 via Skype and Facebook.

Wood Patterson said her grandson seemed to be surprised to see them in “3-D”on a recent visit.

But it is in their life in the theater where technology comes in particularly handy.

Wood Patterson who is the director of Merely Players, and her technical director and partner in life, Ford, have become known for their compelling theater productions. (Coming up is a staging of “Metamorphoses,” based on Ovid’s take on mythology, in the drained swimming pool at Mountain Shadows Motel. That is a must-see for area theater lovers.)

But even working in the same house, they could spend all day running up and down stairs to talk to each other about the myriad details involved in each play. Technology has made them much more efficient and saves a lot of time.

They demonstrated that fact by walking the 40 attendees through a day in their lives from a technological standpoint, where texts, emails, Facebook postings and information forum searches help them get a lot done fast.

Here’s one example. Ford, in a text to “WP,” as her many former theater students call her, wrote, “Need a metal watering can for this scene in Metamorphoses.”

Her reply text: “I’m on it.”

She posts it to Merely Players’ Facebook page, which has a group of friends for each production, “Need a metal watering can.”

Within 15 minutes, she has several watering cans on offer.

Text back to Ford: “Borrowing a watering can from Darla. I’ll pick it up tomorrow.” Problem solved with no wasted time on chitchat.

Meanwhile, Ford is online seeking a design for Poseidon’s trident, which he doesn’t want to look like a pitchfork. A visit to Replica Props Forum is in order – it provides links to materials, ideas, inspiration and thoughts on what worked and didn’t from property masters ranging from Hollywood and Broadway professionals to community theater men such as Ford. He not only finds several trident designs to choose from, a prop master has generously provided step-by-step directions about how to make it and pitfalls to avoid.

“It’s like a giant show and tell,” he said.

Ford himself has posted items on forums, including a little robot he made on the Instructables forum, where, he said, “you can find out how to turn an old VCR machine into an automatic cat feeder.” The robot was cool enough to merit a spot on the home page and garnered 10,500 hits.

Here’s what I liked best – WP and Ford have developed clear boundaries. They use their smartphones, computers, iPads, etc., for time management, research and communication, but then they have a time each day when they set them aside.

“Too many people are slaves to their phones,” she said. And, making conscious decisions about what they share, they are careful what they post: no political views, no sharing where they are. And when they go on vacation, the couple completely unplugs. Completely.

While it has not 100 percent converted me to the technology generation, I have to concede the point that it definitely can make a difference if used properly, and I’m going to be more open-minded about trying some of these newfangled social media.

That doesn’t mean y’all need to rush to friend me, though. I’m good on that front.

Thanks to Wood Patterson and Ford for a thoughtful and thought-provoking presentation.

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Enjoying the last of the Libra birthdays are Abagail Fallace, Linda Geer, Marilyn Holland, Eli Rambo, Bella Lopez, Kim McCarl, Nancy Phillips, Jo Weger, Megan Edwards, Hunter Houle, Carley Pierson, Fred Whitehurst, Maggie Sauer, Sue Benton, Marna Burnett, Evan Gonzalez, Betty Calkins, Brandon Gross, Larry Brown, Kevin Heckman, Austin Volz, Debbie Williams, Brad Fassett, Leah Deane and Diego Max Bonilla.

Belated birthday wishes go out to Steve Hudson.

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Many people have heard by now about my burst appendix last spring and the resulting bills. The community has responded with its typical generosity, so while everything’s not paid off, the bills are now manageable.

It’s been both overwhelming and rather strange to be on the receiving end because my contribution to community is to let people know what the need is, not to be the person in need.

But my friends wanted it to be about more than dinero, they wanted to share their appreciation for the role Neighbors and I play in the community. So they did something else Durangoans do well: They threw a party, a semi-potluck at the lovely new home of Tom and Mary Orsini.

I’m calling it a semi-potluck because Gemma Kavanagh Monghelli and Michelle Hegenwald went above and beyond the call of duty, preparing dishes fit for a king – OK, a queen – to fill a table groaning with goodies.

It was low-key, and lovely, and I’m re-energerized after 12½ years to keep going out and about to see what our friends and neighbors are up to and reporting back to the rest of you.

Mary Orsini said, “It’s good to know people love you before you’re dead,” and I would have to concur. Although I am feeling a bit of a “love hangover,” no Advil was required!

The whole experience made me think about all the people we know or come across in our lives that we never take time to tell how much they are appreciated.

So that’s my New Year’s resolution, made a tad early.

And I’m going to start by saying thank you to all of you because your loyal reading of this column is what makes it all happen. Muchas gracias, mille grazie, domo arigato, merci beaucoup, danke schön ... well, you get the picture, a heartfelt thanks.

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Marking another anniversary of tying the knot are Wayne and Linda Ruby and Mike and Christine Phillips.

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Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory) and include no more than three to five people. I need to know who’s who, left to right, and who to credit with the photo. Candid photos are better than posed, and photos should be submitted as .jpgs or .tifs.