Ongoing Battles with Technology

Most technology is growing at a rate that is simply beyond my capabilities. It took me months, for example, to learn how to “hang up” the phone once the technology firms decided that to end a call you just need to press a little red button.

               Nowadays, to get some phones to activate, all you have to do is say “Okay, Google.” Supposedly. I’ve spent hours of my life saying this phrase over and over, louder and louder, while moving closer and closer to the phone.

               Usually I do these antics when I’m wrist deep in meatball mix or cookie dough and need to call someone or check a recipe. So yelling “Okay Google” for 10 minutes isn’t really saving me time. I might as well just wash my hands and check it manually.

               But the voice activation isn’t my only problem. There’s that dratted auto-correct.  Part of the auto-correct issue, for me, is that it changes words that I don’t want changed. So then I have to correct the correction, which is a big time-waster.  The other problem (and I confess, this is bigger) is that I have a tendency to press “send” before proofreading. So, there’s that.

               For some reason, if I try to type “Kent” (our son’s name) and I accidentally hit the “L” instead of the “K” first, the phone always types “Levy” right away.  Levy is not a name or a word that I have ever knowingly used, so I have no idea why the phone wizard thinks I want to type it all the time.  And even if I get “KEN” put in, the phone will helpfully insert “keep” instead.  Wouldn’t you think a smart phone would pick up on words you type many times a day?

               It also creates havoc. The other day, our son asked me to keep him posted on a friend of ours, David, who had been tested for covid. I typed “D’s test was negative!  Yea!” and pressed send.  I didn’t realize that the microchip computer in my phone had helpfully altered it to read “Dad’s test was negative!  Yea!” So naturally, our son was a little concerned and typed back, “Dad was tested?  Why??”

               No, Dad is fine, is covid-free and did not get tested. Why is my phone trying to help me?? I don’t need this stress!

               Once, early on in my war with autocorrect, I thought I would try the voice-to-text feature.  I figured this would really be the way to go.  So I said to the phone, “text Laura” to tell her “safe travels.”  She was going away for a weekend. The phone said, “here’s your message, ready to send?” and I said yes without reading it, because how could it mess this up??!!  What I didn’t know is that it could mess it up quite nicely and, in addition, it would add my aside comment to my husband after I thought it was sent.  So what Laura received on her end was, “mobile smiles jammers why are they going there anyway it’s silly.”

               Yeah, that was fun to explain.

               I’m not only losing battles, I might be losing this war.

Learn Something New Every Day

I think it’s true that you learn something new every day.  Most of the time, we learn from our local newspaper or radio. We discover what restaurants are opening, what the covid numbers are, or who was arrested for some crime. Once in a while, I learn something that makes me realize that I’ve been wrong about some “fact” or other for years.  This week, I learned something that I not only haven’t known for decades but have been totally wrong about!

               I’ve always enjoyed music and love to sing along in the car (or shower) to my favorite songs. There are a few songs that defy accurate lyric singing, so for those I just “do-do” along until we get to parts I know.  I’m not sure anyone really knows the lyrics to Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  Other than “jumpin’ jack flash, it’s a gas, gas, gas,” of course.  So we just croon along, making up words to that one. I suppose I could look up the lyrics, but I’m not sure it would help me that much.

               I do have a friend who sang “there’s a bathroom on the right” for a long time to Bad Moon Rising.  That always tickled me, since the correct words are practically in the title!  Apparently, that’s a pretty common mistake.

               My husband had a friend in high school who happily sang along to the Supremes’ Stop! In the Name of Love.   But she sang, “Stop! In the Neighborhood,” which makes sense lyrically, but still.  It’s the title, for heaven’s sake! And it’s really not that hard to hear, is it?

               There was a song popular when I was in college that had a refrain that went, “I wanna know have you ever seen the rain?”  Many of my dorm-mates would sing along to this, but they sang, “I wanna know have you ever seen Lorraine?”  This didn’t make sense at all, considering the rest of the lyrics.  Again, the words being in the title made me think they might have been doing this on purpose.

               None of these gaffs are as embarrassing as mine last week, though.  I was babysitting my grandson and we were watching a popular babies’ video.  (I learned there are popular videos for babies, that day, too.  Who knew?) These animated and colorful folks sing all kinds of songs, with close captioning even. This is the one that has “Baby Shark Do Do Do Do Do.”  Maybe you’ve heard of this. It’s the Barney of this generation, I think.

               Anyway, I was happily singing along to the old standby “London Bridges.” I was belting it out to my little guy, making him giggle and coo and then it happened!  I glanced at the close captioning and did a triple take.  For over 50 years, I have been singing:  “London bridges, falling down.”  I thought that all the bridges in London were falling down. So that’s what I’ve been singing.  But it turns out that the correct lyric is “London Bridge is falling down.”

               My husband says that there is only the one “London Bridge,” and that’s the one bridge that’s falling down.  I guess I should have figured it out a long time ago. While I may learn something new every day, thank goodness, it’s not always embarrassing!

Timing is Everything

Why is it that when big things break down or go wrong, it seems to be at the worst possible time?  I mean, have you ever had a flat tire or a washing machine explode on a quiet Monday morning when you happen to have the day off and all the service companies are open and available?  Maybe we just remember the times that are the most inconvenient because they are the most memorable.

               It reminds me of a Christmas Eve about 20 years ago now.  We were celebrating with friends with lunch and a matinee and then returned home to play board games in our kitchen. That was the year we added a family room next to the kitchen where the garage was located.  The builders had removed the garage and then left for the holiday weekend, planning the new framing to start the next workday after Christmas. We found out when we arrived home that our pipes had frozen, as they had been outside and not sufficiently insulated from the December temperatures. My handy husband took care of that and we felt pretty smug.  Then it began to rain. Poured, actually, which we didn’t pay any attention to, as our game of Taboo was much more interesting.

               We paid attention though, a lot of attention, when the rain started coming through our window like a waterfall.  We had to go out in the rain and put up plastic sheeting. Well, the menfolk did that, while the girls stayed inside and mopped up the floor and put down beach towels.

               Merry Christmas. 
               Then about two years later, we were hosting our niece’s wedding at our home. It was an outside wedding, with the reception outside as well, but we would need our kitchen to be organized and functional. So naturally, the morning of the wedding dawned clear and sunny and our kitchen sink clogged up. Thank goodness for plumbers who work on Saturdays and fixed that sink one half hour before the wedding march began!

               About a decade after that, our sewer system completely backed up.  Again, this was on a Friday night and coincidentally, we were hosting my side of the family’s first every family reunion. About 40 people were descending on us, mostly the next day. Several were staying in our home, and we guessed that they might all need to use a bathroom over the two day event. So again, plumbers that work on weekends were most appreciated.

               I’m sure the overtime was appreciated by them.

               So it came as no surprise to us when, on New Year’s Eve, about 7:30 p.m., we began to hear a disturbing clicking and popping sound from our utility room. We cautiously opened the door, and saw a cloud of steam hissing from our 11 year-old water heater. The clicking and popping sounds were coming from inside said water heater.  This didn’t seem like a good thing to us, so we shut off the power to it. Now, it’s possible that some plumber somewhere would just love to work on New Year’s Day, or the holiday weekend, but we decided to rough it (thank goodness for the pandemic, right?  Like who are we going to see, anyway?!). We heated water on the stove for sponge baths and used paper plates and made it an adventure. 

               We will replace that water heater, but at least we won’t do it on holiday pricing terms. I’m sure many other things have broken or stopped up in my life, it’s just that I only recall them when they were the most inconvenient (and most expensive).

               I am honestly happy that the water heater broke in 2020. Wouldn’t want to start the new year like that!  Happy 2021!

Christmas Memories

Thanks, Barb

A couple of years ago, a good friend of ours gave me a set of Santa coffee cups with matching plates. They are adorable, and I get them out the Friday after Thanksgiving. They rest in a wrought iron holder on my kitchen counter and I enjoy my morning Joe with Santa winking at me.

This year, as I was sipping my favorite brew, I began to reminisce about Christmases gone by. Though I love each and every moment of each and every Christmas, there are some memories that stand out as amazing. This year, for many and varied reasons, will remain one of the strangest and most wonderful of them all. In the middle of the pandemic that has brought so much sadness, so much grief, and so much isolation, we received one of the best gifts of our whole lives – a new baby grandson.

Christmas, 2020

It’s been a long time since I had a baby to hold. Over 30 years ago, in fact, when Matt and I first held our own little one and gaped in wonder at this miracle in a tiny babe. I fell in love right away, just as I did this year. Watching our son grow was a delight. We saw him become an inquisitive and sensitive boy, then a caring and patient young man, and now a father himself. Those wonderful years of family games, meals, trips, and adventures seem to be just a little while ago, but decades have passed. I’m thrilled to have the chance to be part of another little life as it grows.

Christmas, 1990

Six years prior to that Christmas, I married the man of my dreams. He’s still pretty dreamy, too, and we’ve had so much fun and so many adventures. He always surprises me at Christmas time, which is no easy feat. He has to work twice as hard, too, because our anniversary is just three days before Christmas Day. I remember telling him when picked our wedding date that it was contingent upon, “NO merging of gifts!” I didn’t want to get “one big gift” to commemorate both events. He’s done very well on both counts, that’s for sure. Probably the most memorable gift of all, though, is the book of matches he gave me for our very first Christmas together. You might think this a strange gift, given that I am a non-smoker, but when you see the attached note, you’ll think it’s pretty cool, as well.

Christmas, 1984

Whenever people talk about “favorite” Christmas gifts, I tend to drift back to my childhood. Most folks likely do. The year I was seven years old, I spent Christmas in the hospital. I had chronic nephritis, which is a severe inflammation of the kidney. According to my mother (who may have been prone to a bit of exaggeration from time to time), they were on the verge of removing one of my kidneys, since they couldn’t find the source of the infection that was causing the trouble. Turns out, I had an abscessed tooth, and once that was addressed, the nephritis disappeared. Thanks goodness! However, all this drama (which likely caused my parents great distress) was lost on me. My biggest concern was whether or not Santa would come to a hospital. How would he know where to find me?

But find me he did and thus I received an unasked for, unexpected, absolutely fabulous gift – a doll as big as me that could walk and blink her eyes. When I awoke on Christmas morning, she was lying in the bed next to me! And yes, through many moves to college, apartments, homes, and even states, she has remained with me. I never did name her – I couldn’t decide between Cathy or Sally. But she has been a faithful friend and confidante.

Cathy, or Sally

Her hair is a little worse for wear, and her pink and white dress is pretty thin – so our son, when he was about six – dressed her in his old Spiderman jammies. It seems to suit pretty well.

Maybe Cathy (or Sally)’s arrival in the hospital is why I never fully let go of my belief in Santa. Over the years, Santa has come to mean to me any miracle that happens. My life has been a series of miracles – small, unexpected gifts that have steadied my world and steered my path. Meeting and marrying my husband, having a child, and now having a grandchild – these are truly miracles.

So I’m sipping my coffee as Santa winks at me, as if to say, “Sure, 2020 was strange. But there’s more, Susie. There’s more. Just be patient.”

Merry Christmas to you all! I pray for each of you to find your miracles this Christmas and in the coming year.

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