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Losing the Technology War

Those who know me well are aware that I have an ongoing war with technology; one in which I often lose battles. I frequently have to call our son for help with what appear to be very minor issues. As times goes by, you’d think I’d get better at solving my own problems in this area, but sadly, I’m not.

For example, earlier this winter I had a scuffle with my car and though I prevailed, I did so only with the assistance of my husband. It all started when I wanted to go into town to put a teddy bear or two in the Hospice gift shop window. Not to worry — I was following all the social distancing guidelines! The store was not open at the time, but was participating in the “go find a bear hunt” activity that happened in some neighborhoods and downtown. I went into the deserted town, wiped down the door handle, grabbed a few teddy bears from our storeroom, and placed them in the window. Then I locked up and posted a picture on Instragram, planning to go straight home.

Except when I got in the car and pressed the keyless ignition button, the car did not start. I heard clicking noises and lights all over began to flash. Messages appeared on my dashboard saying things like “open and close passenger window” and “theft deterrent system error.” I got out of the car to look at the battery, which did not help explain if it was a digital or mechanical issue. I tried to get back in the car, but it had locked. My remote would not unlock it. It wouldn’t open the trunk. Pushing it repeatedly made the lights inside the car blink frenziedly, but the door wouldn’t open.

I did the sensible thing and called my husband who drove in to rescue me. I had time to ponder my predicament. Was the battery dead? Was the digital system broken? Was God telling me to stay home? I dreaded the idea that my husband would arrive and the car would start immediately because I was inept. I tried to read the owner’s manual, but discovered it was written by the same people who write instructions for assembling furniture, rendering this task useless.

Matt arrived, charged up the battery with this truck, and saved the day.

A second battle with technology happened during the stay-at-home, while I was cleaning out our junkroom. This long overdue task resulted in the creation of piles of boxes and bags filled with (a) items for donation, (b) items for the trash, and (c) items I thought other family members might want. I was going to take a picture of those last items to send to various nieces and nephews when the camera function on my phone froze.

               Having had some training from afore-mentioned son, I went to the internet and searched what to do. It was fairly easy – just reset my settings. After a few trials, I was able to do that and – voila! – my phone camera once again functioned well.

               I snapped several pictures of stuffed animals and sent them to loved ones. Slipping my phone into my pocket, I continued sorting stacks of items. I heard the front door bell. Our front door is very old and the doorbell itself is dated in the 1860’s. It’s a metal half dome with a crank on it. When you rotate the crank, a lovely little sequence of peals ding throughout the house.

               Our front door isn’t used much, typically only by delivery people. I heard the dinging and jogged down the stairs to the door. Looking out, I saw no one and no packages on the stoop. I jogged back upstairs and resumed work.

               A few minutes later, the bell chimed again. I walked down the stairs and looked out – nothing. I prowled around the house to each of the other doors to peer out. The dog was snoozing quietly and no one appeared to be around.

               I trudged up the stairs and resumed my sorting. The tingle of the bell sounded a third time. This time, I picked up my baseball bat and stomped down the stairs. Something was afoot!

               While I was staring out the door window, the chime sounded again, but not from the door. It was my phone!  The pre-set text notification sound is the same little chime as our antique door bell.

               And that’s when I realized that I had lost all my preset notifications.  I had to stop my sorting and boxing and reset every one of them. Of course, first I had to go the internet and look up how to do that.

               Technology – 2, Sue – 0. I’m already prepping for my next scuffle with technology.

People, get here on time

My husband, Matt, and I enjoy going to Ohio State football games (and basketball, volleyball, and baseball, for that matter). He goes to football games once or twice a season and each time it is an event in our house.  Whether the game is home or away, we get to the designated stadium early enough to watch the band make its entry.  We check our seat numbers, double check them and then wait for the big squeeze of all the people in our row.

          Sports arena builders allocate 12 full inches for each individual butt. This means sitting sideways, sitting forward or backward depending on what the person next to you is doing, and sometimes having someone’s leg rest on your own for several hours. We always hope that there’s so much scoring and defense from our team that we spend most of the event standing and cheering. It’s better emotionally and physically!

          Last year my husband and his brother went to a home game. They got there early and within a few minutes were safely ensconced in their double-checked, 12-inch seats. Both of these men are well over six feet tall and while they can fit into those 12 inches, there’s not much room to spare.

          After a little while, a couple came in and, after looking down at their ticket stubs and back up several times, politely inquired of the boys if they were in the right seats. This required them to get up, check their tickets, look at the seat numbers again (for the third time) and verify that yes, they were. Turns out this couple was in the wrong section.

          Meanwhile, seats were filling up and the band was about to enter the stadium. At this time, four large men – according to my husband, they were each the size of a sumo wrestler – came in and sat adjacent to Matt. They were so large and the row was so crowded, that Matt had nowhere to put his right arm. He could hold it straight up in the air or put his arm around the very big man next to him.

          As it turns out, the large man was quite friendly and didn’t mind this at all. It wasn’t his first time at an Ohio State game, and he understood.  Matt took to calling him “Bubba.”

          The game started!  Although this is an outdoor event, watching games is serious business. Just as people don’t clamber in to a play late and climb all over you to get to their seats, common courtesy dictates that if you are late to a game, you wait until there’s a break in the action to crawl over people to get to your seat.

          Right in the middle of a down – not at a time out, or even a squad change – a foursome came in and began to scramble over people. In so doing, they were blocking the view of the game action. This was enough to annoy Matt, but then one of the women turned to him and said, “Are you in the right seats?”  Before he could respond, his brother snarled, “Yes, we are,” and stood up to his full 6 foot, 3 inches to peer at the game over her head.  She continued to stand around, bobbling while she checked her ticket (she was in the row two ahead), and blocking the view.  Finally, Matt could stand it no longer and said, “People, get here on time.”

          She looked aghast and her husband asked her what Matt had said. She responded, “He said we should get here on time.”  Her husband glanced back and saw Matt, with his arm around his new friend Bubba, and decided it wasn’t an issue.  He sat down, the girl sat down, and there were no further problems for Matt watching the game.

          So now, whenever anything annoys either of us, we simply sigh and say, “People, get here on time!” It seems to cover any eventuality, time-related or otherwise, at least for us.

One of Life’s Perfect Storms

Every once in a while, a perfect storm brews into one’s life. I’m not talking about a big tsunami, now, like protests and pandemics. I mean just the accumulation of life’s little disasters that make us wish we’d stayed in bed and just skipped that day.

We had one of life’s perfect storms last week. It started innocently, as freakish things usually do.

               Both of us had been gone most of the day and after dinner it seemed like a good idea to take our dog for his daily walk. We were tired and didn’t really want to do this, but honestly, the dog just insisted.  It was hot and muggy and a storm was likely brewing, but we thought we could take a quick stroll through our woods and then go check out our field.  A big tree had fallen across the street from our field and the county had piled up the wood on both sides of the road. These piles were perilously close to our drain pipe, so we wanted to cut through the field to look at it.

               It had rained earlier that day, so our trail might be a little damp.  I snagged my keys, quickly put on my boots that Matt handed me from the closet, and off we went. Halfway through the woods, we cut down to the field to inspect the pile of logs. Around the pile were at least five or six handfuls of sticks, which we picked up and threw into the ravine.

               We noticed the skies getting darker and figured the rain was about to return. It was as we were heading toward our house that I found my keys were not in my pocket.

               No worry! We simply retraced our steps: up the hill, past the barn, into the woods, down through the field, and all around the wood pile. The key ring has my car remote on it, three keys, plus two charms. It should stick out like a big shiny clump, but we didn’t see it anywhere.

The skies were getting ominous now. There was a slim possibility that the keys had fallen out of my pocket in the house, so we went to the hiding place for our spare door key and the hiding place was…empty.

               Now we could hear faint thunder. The dog was getting antsy. I began to panic. Matt thought he could likely break into a window and get us into the house, but what in the world were we going to do about the missing keys? Plus then we’d have to fix the window that we’d broken. Our son (who lives next door) was helping us search and he said, “I used the hidden key in February, but I swear I put it back.”

I had used it as well, a month or so ago, when I went to get the mail and locked myself out of the house. But certainly I had put it back. Hadn’t I? Just then, the tornado warning went off on my phone and sirens could be heard.

Our son came out of his house, having ransacked his drawers and cupboards. He had found a key that looked like ours and we tried it. Success!  It was an old key that we didn’t know existed, but we were thrilled – and inside.

As the winds kicked up and the rain began to pelt, we found my keys hanging on the key rack, safe and sound, just where I’d left them. Apparently, when I was putting on my boots, I hung them up instead of putting them in my pocket. Hanging next to them was the spare key that was supposed to be hidden outside.  As we huddled in the tornado-safe area, I was delighted all was well and mortified that our latest “adventure” had been all my own doing!

First Blog – Hello 2020!

            It’s amazing how much difference a year can make. I was looking up (yep, on Google) the ten top things that were searched out on the internet in 2019.  They included one cable channel (Disney Plus), a film (Avengers Endgame), a television show (Game of Thrones), 2 actors who died young (Cameron Boyce and Luke Perry), a rapper (Nipsey Hussle), and the latest iphone. The top ten list also included two actual news stories – one about Jussie Smollet, who apparently perpetrated a false police report. The other? Well, it was about Hurricane Dorian, the endless storm that caused a lot of damage and took lives.

            As I read this list (and I had to look up several of the items to even know what/who they were), I realized that internet searches may be conducted much more often by younger people than I. The other thing that struck me was that, with the exception of the big storm, the items being searched were either gossip or fluff. In other words, not really helpful to our daily lives – unless we plan to watch a channel, a show, or a movie based on our search. But even so…

            Compare that to this year!  The tallies aren’t in yet for 2020, but I’m betting that our list of searches includes more important things to our well-being than those we looked up in 2019. USA Today provided a list of 100 things to do during the pandemic of 2020. I looked at that list and was actually quite impressed. Except for a couple of fluffy items (like “sleep more,” which annoys me only because who can make themselves sleep more? Is that even possible?), the list included things that could not only make a difference in our lives during the pandemic stay-at-home order, but possibly for much longer.

            I’ve taken the ten that struck my fancy the most. But if you want to look up all 100, the article is on the following website:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2020/03/16/coronavirus-quarantine-100-things-do-while-trapped-inside/5054632002/

            Based on the USA Today article, here were my top ten searches for 2020 (so far)!

  1.  Look up how to play an instrument and practice. I already know a couple of instruments, so I used the time to watch some experts teach me new tricks.
  2.  Teach yourself yoga or stretching from youtube. I actually ordered a DVD on Tai Chi and have learned some basic routines. Very soothing!
  3. Learn how to meditate .Try lying down with your eyes closed, palms up, while focusing on your breath. This is also very soothing.
  4. Look up videos on how to knit or crochet. I tried knitting. I wasn’t very good at it, but I did try.
  5. Find out how to have an indoor scavenger hunt. I have one ready for the next time we are with real people who would enjoy this activity.  This one was fun to research.
  6. Write poetry. I wrote some and posted it, too (on Reddit).
  7. Learn a new style of dance via youtube, possibly bellydancing or breaking. I tried to learn tap dancing, but ended up just doing the watusi.
  8. Learn the words to “Tung Twista.” Get them so ingrained in your brain that you can rap them as fast as Twista can. Impress everyone.  I’m still working on it. If rap doesn’t thrill you, try to memorize the lyrics of “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” by Billy Joel. Same kind of impressive work there!
  9.  Learn origami. Make cranes for your loved ones.  I haven’t mastered this yet. My cranes look like folded squares, sadly.
  10. Finally, study the art of beatboxing. Don’t know what that is? Watch “13 levels of beatboxing: easy to complex” on youtube. This features an amazing young woman named Butterscotch who will fascinate you with beatboxing!

So…what did you search for on the internet during the pandemic?

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