COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | PHIL BAKER

There's more to life than technology

While I love high tech, as you can probably tell from my columns, before I embark on the gadgetry of 2005, I have short profiles of two individuals that each demonstrate in their own way that there's more to life than just technology.

Thomas Arvid

With digital cameras and printers now matching and exceeding the resolution of film, you might think there's nothing that can surpass them in creating photorealistic images. After all, we're always searching for the newest models that can create images that are sharper and with more accurate colors.

At least that was my thinking until I came across the works of Thomas Arvid (www.thomasarvid.com). Arvid creates oil paintings of still life settings of wine bottles, labels, glasses of wine, corks and wine crates that are actually more realistic than photographs. They evoke the joy of wine more effectively than I've seen done with conventional photography.

I spoke with Arvid to learn how he differentiated his works from high-resolution still digital photos and to learn more about these images that have created a stir in both the art and wine communities.

Arvid explained that, unlike photos which have a finite depth of field, meaning part of the scene will be out of focus, his paintings put everything in clear and sharp focus regardless of position within the scene. As a result our eyes wander throughout the image and can always see details in perfect sharpness and with full realism.

Even the best photos rarely have everything in focus. A camera will create a perfect focus of a plane but objects either nearer or further from this plane will be out of focus to varying degrees. In addition, a scene can be lit according to the artist's perception, not restricted to the placement of the lighting used in a still photograph. As a result a painted image can look more perfect than life.

His oil paintings take about three months to complete. Originals sell for $30,000 to $50,000 and prints for $700 to $1,500. They can be seen in San Diego at Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts on Fifth Avenue. He has just published a book of his collection, "Arvid: Redefining the Modern Still Life" at $75. There's something gratifying, even to a tech columnist with a photographic background, to see man triumph over machine.

Lisa Whaley

Lisa Whaley worked for IBM (NYSE: IBM) for 22 years reaching the position of vice president. Much of her life's focus was in her accomplishments at IBM where she advanced rapidly, requiring several moves for her family. It was only after the shocking experience of her daughter being arrested for selling drugs in high school that Whaley realized how her personal priorities had affected her life and her family. She tells her story in a gripping autobiography, "Reclaiming My Soul from the Lost and Found."

Whaley is now writing a new book, "Prisoners of Technology," due out in the spring, about our being captives of all our technology and how to manage the intrusions of this technology in our lives. She explains "we all have been victim to a systemic challenge in our society -- being connected, accessible and on demand all the time."

Lisa has found in her current work of coaching clients, including those from IBM and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), that those with problems in achieving a better balance between their personal and professional lives have one thing in common, the "frequent use and dependency on technology." Many are stressed out and overwhelmed between the constant demands of work and life and the lack of any separation between them.

Why are we always connected? Whaley says, "we're in a fast-paced society where we've gotten ourselves in a mode to get everything on demand, now. Everything needs to be done this second."

What is Whaley's advice to address these issues? She tells us to be on vacation when we're on vacation. Set clear boundaries between our work and personal time. If your boss thinks you are always accessible, you will be interrupted. It's best to let others know when you are available and when you are not. Be honest with others and let them know what you want. Schedule your off time, put it on your calendar and abide by it as any other important engagement. Lisa can be reached through her Web site at www.lifeworksynergy.com.

I think Lisa's advice makes a good New Year's resolution for me and perhaps for many of you. I'm now scheduling on my calendar some time for family and friends -- of course I'm using a computer to do this. My family has challenged me to turn off my computer, cell phone and PDA for 24 hours, but I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet. Maybe after I read Whaley's new book.


Baker is San Diego's Ernst & Young Consumer Products Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 for successfully bringing to market Think Outside's folding keyboard for the Palm and other PDAs. He also has developed and marketed consumer and computer products for Polaroid, Apple, Seiko and others. He is the holder of 30 patents. He can be reached at phil.baker@sddt.com.

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