The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Daniel Will Harris

The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris, author of My Wife and Times. —Ed].

Turn off your computer
Perception and unreality

By Daniel Will Harris

Turn off your computer. Yes, you, wondering if you can just skip to the next message and not feel obliged to turn off this machine. Yes, now. Don't even finish reading this. As my wife likes to say, "It will be there later." And, she's right (as always—something that's as comforting as it is annoying).

If anyone asks, tell them it crashed (they'll believe that!). You've been looking up close at your screen for too long. Turn it off and focus on infinity.

If you're still reading this, you haven't turned it off yet. Did you think I wouldn't notice? Go on. I'll wait... Right now. Go outside. Then come back and read the rest of this...


. You better not be reading this unless you've already turned your computer off and now are coming back to finish. I'll be able to tell...


Maybe it's just me, but I think it's easy to get confused between what I see on my computer and reality. Until I actually saw the Eiffel Tower in person, it seemed like it was only 12" tall. That's how big it is in the little models on my desk, and it's even smaller in pictures. I knew it was bigger than that—but that's how it felt.

Computers are wonderful things, but I sat in front of one for so long I'd gotten to the point where they started to affect the way I saw the world. It was as if I had tunnel vision—looking straight ahead, as if the world was my monitor (instead of my oyster). It felt small, flat, and two-dimensional. And the scary part was that I'd gotten used to seeing things that way.

Then I went to Yosemite National Park in California. Things there are big. And wide. So wide I found myself constantly turning my head until I realized I could stand still and see almost 180 degrees—I remembered I have wide-screen vision, not just 19" vision. I could see—well, as far as the eye could see.

Yosemite reminded me that while computers are great, seeing something 12" high and listening to stereo speakers just isn't the same as standing in front of the 2,400 foot tall Yosemite Falls, hearing the thunder of the Falls go right through you.

When I got back home, I tried to remember how it felt to see things—not just in front of me, but from side to side. I exercised my peripheral vision (it's easier to do in the car because of the movement). Doing this gave me a very different perspective. I wasn't driving though the world, I was driving in it.

The web doesn't just shrink vision, but also time. Everything's faster, and that can mean more pressure.

Last week, I turned off the computer again (yes, I can now go an entire day without using the computer—I'm so proud,) and took a ride on the Hawaiian Chieftain, an 18th century-style tall sailing ship on San Francisco Bay.

Not only was it a great way to see the bay from an entirely new perspective (like seeing the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge and finally realizing how huge that bridge really is—trust me, it's a lot bigger than 12" long), it reminded me of a different sense of time. Not the milliseconds of internet time, but the time of the tides, the pulse of the planet.

To help me remember this, I don't turn on my computer first thing in the morning. I go outside. I look around. I do Tai Chi.

I remember where I am and what's outside the phone lines. So here's to making your memory snapshots wide-screen.



My Wife and Times by Daniel Will HarrisIf you would like to read more fabulous stories such as Moms Online, you need Daniel Will Harris’s My Wife and Times. The 148 page book contains stories that are conveniently short, perfect for bedtime reading, or between airport friskings. Price: $15 postpaid and is available for purchase online at or on



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