Teenagers and Technology | Guest Post

The Nerds Syndicate
by Devin Stafford

In the world there are things that are just destined to be together, peanut butter and jelly, gum and the bottom of your shoe, cheese and pizza, apples and cheese (if you don’t believe me just try it) and of course, teenagers and technology.  Now many parents groan when they hear technology and teenagers in the same sentence, and who would blame them? When we teenagers have our technology it’s like the world disappears, and instead of listening to our parents tell us to do chores or listening to our parents yell at you for doing something that we weren’t supposed to do, we give our undivided attention to the little piece of technology in our hands, enjoying a universe filled with angry birds, texting, and Facebook.

Teens Love Technology

Teens Love Technology

When I had a phone (yes, it’s past tense, I sadly lost my phone when I was on a plane to New York, I have yet to get another one) I would never let it out of my sight. In the morning before I went to school I always made sure that I had my phone with me, I didn’t check if I had my homework or my lunch.  My phone was my top priority. When my mom talked about grounding me, she could threaten to have me under house arrest or that I wouldn’t get my allowance for the weeks. I would shrug not caring what kind of groundation she would give me, but the moment she mentioned taking my phone away I straightened up quick.   My phone was my life line to the outside world without it how could I talk to my friends?  How could I update my status on Facebook?  How could I blog on Tumblr?  It took me a good month or so after I lost my phone to realize that I could do all of those things without a phone, I would have to go out of my way to do them, but I would still be able to. I still remember all the conversations I had with people about me not having a phone. When people would ask to text me I would say that I didn’t have a phone, their first reaction were a kind of facial expression that said ” is she insane what so you mean you don’t have a phone? What is wrong with you?” They then proceeded to ask me if I was grounded or If I was having a new one shipped in and I even got asked if was against my religion.

So in short, technology was made for teenagers and I think that we wouldn’t have it any other way.

...before I went to school I always made sure that I had my phone with me, I didn't check if I had my homework… Click To Tweet

About the Author

Devin Stafford is a teenager who loves technology.

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Scared to Fail

by Amy Edmonson

I remember the first day of kindergarten. It felt like I didn’t sleep the night before. My mind went through everything that could go wrong. I would forget how to spell my name. I would trip in front of everyone. I would miss my bus. But the worst was I was horrified that no one would like me. I would be different. I would have on clothes that would be different and make me look like a dork. I would say something stupid or say I liked something uncool. I was so worried about standing out. I wanted to look like, sound like, act like everyone else. I even asked my grandma for my ninth birthday to get a jean shirt and jean jacket that everyone else was wearing. She laughed because I told her now I was like all my friends.

I would love to say that as I got older, I outgrew that need to be exactly like everyone else. Unfortunately, it got worse. I decided what clothes I got based on what everyone else had on. My music wasn’t really about what I liked but more what everyone was listening to. My biggest high school fear was standing out. The kids whom found their own path didn’t do so well in a school of people trying find acceptance by pushing others out. Marching to your own drum didn’t come with heaps of friends. As a so called grown up, it didn’t get much better. We ask people “those” questions. What school did you go to? What job do you have? Who did you marry? Do you have kids? If you think that we adults have lost the desire to fit in, tell a group of people your dreams, you want to start a business instead of getting a job, or you have seven children. Sometimes, they are truly shocked but sometimes there is a look of disgust.

It wasn’t until my children started school that it truly hit me. I saw them stuff their strengths, their talents, their dreams so that others wouldn’t laugh. Seeing such amazing children with unlimited potential scared to fail made me realizes that I want to stand out. I want to do what others don’t. I want to look weird. I want people to laugh. Leaders stand out. Winners stand out. Champions stand out. They are successful and you remember them because they get out of the crowd of mediocrity as fast as their legs will carry them. Mediocrity hurts far more than failing. Mediocrity sticks forever. Laughter last a moment.

To get where I want to go, I have to be me. Not the me that the world wants to see but the me I need to be. I need to embrace what has value to me and accept being laughed out as a compliment. I am unique for a reason. My song will be sung, loud, strong, and slightly off key. But I will be brave enough to sing it.

Amy Edmonson

Amy Edmonson

About the Author:

Amy Edmonson is an award-winning writer, former military wife and proud mother of seven beautiful children ages 2 to 13. She encourages women to share their personal story through individually created custom lockets by Origami Owl.

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How to Change a Flat Tire in the Desert (or anywhere) by Stephanie Hall

Guest Post by Stephanie Hall

I dig cars.  In truth, I don’t dig cars as much as I dig “getting” cars and being able to talk with people about cars.  Especially men; men mechanics to be specific.  And, if they are being honest, they kinda dig it that a woman “gets” cars.  The basics are pretty simple – fuel, O2, fire.  It’s a simple formula for combustion that’s been around for a very long time.  Since the advent of fire.

There are some simple truths that everyone needs to know about cars – if they drive somewhere other than downtown Manhattan.  One of the biggest truths is: how to change a tire.

I presented a speech at a Toastmasters meeting about tire changing.  (More on TM at some other time).  One of the big tenets we support is positive feedback.  Someone in the group didn’t quite get the positive aspect of the feedback and handed me an unsigned note: “I’D Call AAA”.  Yes, I am SURE you would.  Snarky to be sure, but something most people truly believe.  They will NEVER be in a position to “Change a Tire.”  They would call AAA.

Let me give you a scenario.  Me, a 14 year old son, a 4 year old daughter and my ex-spouse; driving from central TX to southeast NM.  In a Suburban.  There are places in NM where cell phones do NOT work.  Trust me on this one.  Somewhere between Carlsbad, NM and Las Cruces, NM in the middle of the desert, I heard a noise.  It was a distinct sound, but not one that immediately said, “Danger.”  After a moment, I realized what the noise indicated – Flat Tire!!!  Have you looked at map lately?  Between Carlsbad and Las Cruces lay miles and miles and miles of … Nothing.  It’s a desert region.  Cell phones do not work in many parts of this area.  Even if they do, how long do you think you will be waiting in the desert for AAA?  I did not want to find out.  So we unloaded ourselves, set up some shade for the little people and set out to change the tire.

Let’s take a break here.  It was Spring Break time, so March.  Even in March, the desert does not care who is stuck in its midst.  The desert is beautiful, wonderful and awe inspiring.  It is also hot, dry and heartless.  The desert will consume whosoever and whatsoever is not prepared for existence in its midst.  It is not evil, it just IS.  Get used to that as a fact.

At this time, knowing how to change a tire was essential.  I am glad, and proud, that I KNEW what to do.   Let me give you some info so YOU will know what to do.  I hope you never are called upon to do this, but just in case, you will at minimum have the information you need to keep going.

Tire changing basics:

First and foremost – get off the road.  Yes, some tires can be expensive.  Yes, it can totally destroy a tire to drive on it flat – and add in the cost of a rim for good measure.  But what is your life worth?  I know a man who lost an eye.  He got a load of money, but do you think for one minute he wouldn’t trade the cash for his sight?  So, sit back for a moment and imagine what your family would go through if you were suddenly dead.   It can be that serious.

Not for us on that day.  We simply had to find a suitable pull-out.  “Suitable” means level – as in: as flat as you can get for safety sake and away from traffic.

Now, check traffic – in our case, what traffic?  No cars for Miles and Miles.  Ok, your safety is assured.

You will need the tools necessary.  If you drive, familiarize yourself with the location of your tools!!  (Check your owner’s manual BEFORE you need this info)  Gather together all the parts of the jack: Usually a lifting device, the “jack” portion; the “tire iron”, a tool for removing the lug nuts (those things that hold the tire to the vehicle) and an extension, maybe two.  The tire iron generally does double duty.  It will be used to remove lugs AND lift the vehicle.  In our case a Suburban.  Also, grab a bandana, or newspaper or something to hold the lugs.  If you have an extra something to kneel on, even better; this operation can be tough on the knees.

Find the tire iron – that thing that you use to loosen the lugs.  You’ll use it first.  But, first, here’s some info on the newer model vehicles.  Many trucks – and Suburbans, Tahoes, trucks, etc… save space by hanging the spare under the vehicle.  And car manufacturers make removal of the spare tricky.  By design, but we won’t go into those details now.  Just know if you walk to the back of your vehicle and see what looks like a place to put the key and turn the truck on, you have located the magic kingdom for tire removal.  If you see a hole that looks out of place and you have zero idea why it is there, you have probably found the right spot on either an import vehicle or an older model domestic vehicle.

For those of you who have a newer model truck, SUV, whatever – insert the ignition key into the slot and turn to the right (clockwise).  When the plug is released, you can remove it from the truck.  This is important and will be explained in a footnote.

Assemble the poles that are in the tire removal kit – trust me, you will know what I mean when you look at all the parts.  Insert said pole into the void in the back of your vehicle created when you removed the plug.  This gets a bit tricky, but you will be able to “feel” when the tool engages with the mechanism that is devilishly hiding your spare under your truck, SUV, whatever (from this point forward, it’s a truck).  You will feel the rod engage, rotate the mechanism counterclockwise (if you have never assembled IKEA furniture just remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey).  You want to go “lefty”.  The spare tire will descend from hidden depths under your vehicle.  Once the spare hits the ground, slide it out from under said truck.

Now, do NOT do anything with the spare other than roll it over to the dreaded flat.  Well, that isn’t entirely true – check to make sure you have air in the spare tire.  If not, you’re screwed, call AAA. Let’s go with the best case scenario and your spare is okay.

Use the Tire Iron – that funny “L” shaped tool to loosen the lug nuts on holding the flat tire to the vehicle.  Again, use the “lefty loosey” rule.  Give yourself credit, you CAN figure this out.  Note: Loosen the lugs, do NOT remove them.  And do NOT raise the vehicle off the ground first.  You need the friction of the tire to the ground to allow you to break the lugs loose.   If you give them about one free turn to the left, that is sufficient.  Really, let’s be serious.  If you are driving a land yacht you will probably need a “4-way lug”.  Look it up, get to know what it is and how it is used.

Now, read the directions and assemble the jack and put it under the vehicle in the appropriate location.  Read the directions!!  Read the directions!! Read the directions!!  Did I mention you need to read the directions that are with your tire tools?  You should find a diagram of proper jack placement – regard this as sacred.

Raise the vehicle until the flat is off the ground enough you can put the spare ON the vehicle and make it work.  Once the lifting is accomplished, go ahead and remove the flat tire. To do this you will completely remove the lug nuts.  Use the aforementioned bandana as a place to set all the lugs.  Keep them all together – you don’t want to lose one.   Put the flat tire to the side – but keep it, no matter how pissed you are at the tire right now.  It will be helpful later.  Stand the spare up on its tread, roll it to the empty space and put it on the lugs.  This step requires some muscle.  IF you absolutely cannot get the tire high enough off the ground to line up the lugs, lower the vehicle slightly.  Roll the tire into place, the raise the vehicle again.  You gotta have clearance to get the tire into the proper place.  Once you have the spare lined up on at least one lug, put a lug-nut onto the stud and secure the tire.  If you raise the vehicle without securing the tire, you risk having it fall off – and on to you.  Not good.  Once you have gotten the spare on to the vehicle put all the lug nuts on and finger tighten them.  Don’t worry that your version of ‘finger tight’ is not that strong, you are only trying to keep the tire in place.  Now, lower the vehicle to the ground.  Put the weight of the truck onto the tire.

Use the tire iron to tighten the lugs.  Don’t go around the clock, use a criss-cross pattern.  If you have 5 lugs, make a star pattern when tightening the lugs.  If you have 4 lug nuts, make an X pattern when tightening the lug nuts.  Use the tire iron to snug up the lug nuts, run them tight to the tire.  Then hit it for about another ¼ turn.  This is what holds your tires to your vehicle.

Get that broken, flat, worn-out, damaged, destroyed piece of tire back into the vehicle.  Just hang on to it.  You certainly don’t want to buy a new rim if you don’t have to.  Make sure you have gathered up all the parts, pieces and pertinent bits of tool and put those back into the vehicle.  Congratulate yourself on being an Amazon Woman from Mars, get back into the vehicle and drive away.

Now, you are no longer emboldened to AAA.  You CAN drive to those remote locations.  You CAN get yourself out of trouble.  And if you never plan to drive through a barren desert, cell phone dead zone or be without the aid of someone else to change your flat tire at least you will know if they are doing it right!!

Footnote:  spare tires are expensive.  Most cars have temporary spare tires, aka “doughnut” wheels, while trucks have “real” spares.  The reason for the puzzle trick is to keep your spare YOURS.  (Extra tires and tailgates are among the most commonly stolen items from a truck.)

Stephanie Hall

Stephanie Hall

Stepanie Hall is a mom and member of Toastmasters International based in Bryan-College Station.