Tag: Cell Phones

Small Towns – Don’t Ask Google

I remember the days of asking people for directions and recommendations.  The days before Google and Facebook. I’m not even sure when my phone became the go-to resource for everything.

Even at the dinner table, I’ll consult my phone if the information is relevant in the moment.


“What time does the hardware store close?”

I finish chewing and pull out my phone.  “Eight o’clock.  Enough time to wash the dishes before we go there.”

It’s not rude if it enhances the conversation. Right?

I used to ask for directions and carefully write down all of the details. “Turn left at the place that used to be the Dairy Queen. Go past the thrid tree to the house with the blue door.”

I’m moving to a small town and my Googling knowledge fails me in important ways. I must actually speak to people and look at my surroundings.

For the most part, Google maps will take me to the correct location.  But I don’t always recognize it when I get there. I drove past my new post office several times.

Google said, “You have arrived.”  I didn’t see a post office.  Then I stopped and squinted at the shadows of letters that used to be above the door.

Once inside, the post office looked normal. But, a direction like, “Look for the brown adobe building next to the old loan place,” would have been helpful.

Google failed me when I needed a windshild chip repair.  I called the only auto glass place on the list.  “We don’t do that.  Call Matt. Here is his number.”

My go-to solutions fail me as well.

I called my insurance agent for a quote on my new home. “We don’t insure homes there.”

So I asked the real estate agent.  She gave three suggestions, all which had the word Farm in their name. Hmmm.

I called the national satellite internet company. “We can’t set you up with service right away.  Call back in a couple of weeks.”

So, I called my real estate agent.  She suggested two companies with Native American names.

Elements from the city have been dropped into the small town.  When inside the Walgreens, I could be in Philadelphia or Washington D.C.  The same tile floors.  The same sized aisles.  And, the same online and texting services.

Local businesses sit next to city franchises.  Many don’t choose to pay for website development or Facebook page management. People already call Mike for a windshield chip and ask Barb about hair color. No need to look it up.

Because of the limited internet presence, word-of-mouth rules.

I need to find a church, a doctor, a dentist, and most of all. . . a coffee shop.

My Starbucks app keeps flashing a picture of a coffee cup across my phone. I could drive an hour to get the advertised special.

Instead, I use my punch card at the local coffee shop. The one without a fancy app. Local shops are more fun anyway.

I guess I’ll have to start talking to people if I want information.

Good thing I like talking to people.

Two Years, Two Weddings, Two Moves, Oh My

. . . because life is an adventure.

We moved to the suburbs last year, after thirteen years in a small Colorado mountain town. I wrote a blog about the plethora of choices in the suburbs.

Now, we are moving again. This time to a small town in rural New Mexico. I welcome the slower pace. But the move and the buying and selling of homes might do me in.

At the same time, both of my kids have found the love of their lives. Can’t complain about that.

I’m becoming an expert in things most people do only a few times in their life.

When my daughter announced her engagement, I suggested we purchase magazines with to-do lists and ideas. Hers was a three month engagement. But, magazines are so 1980’s. There’s an app for that. A cell phone contains everything a modern bride needs for wedding planning.

Couples create their own wedding website, thanks to advertisers who want to market to the happy couple. And with an Amazon gift registry, distant relatives can have gifts sent directly without ever touching a piece of wrapping paper or tape.

I mentioned the wedding website to my future daughter in-law, who opted for a six month engagement. She already knew all about it.

I can recite from memory the prices and current trends for cakes, decorations, dresses, flowers, and photography.

At the same time, I’m gaining expertise with moving compaines. Which one charges by the hour and which one chages by weight and mile? What kind of snacks and drinks the moving guys prefer. The oranage Gatorade remains untouched, in case you were wondering.

The junk hauling service is my new best friend, but don’t tell my husband. I point to an item in the house, no matter how big. Then, a couple of strong young men throw it in a big truck, never to be seen again.

I’m finding that moving requires two steps. First for house staging. Second for the actual move. A potential buyer can’t imagine their new home when it is too full of our junk. House staging has become an art, with my real estate agent scouting model homes for ideas. She says she’ll turn my bedroom into a “romantic retreat.”

And then there is the repair of all of the little things. Each requires a separate contractor. Double pane windows have come unsealed. Electrical outlets need upgrades. Paint that chip in the wall from when we moved in. Fix the front step. All the tasks I’ve put off come back to haunt me.

I’ve met many interesting people. One man came to inspect the water heater and barely spoke. Didn’t even introduce himself at the door, just showed up at the appointed time wearing a shirt with a company logo. A handyman talked so much he barely had time to work. So many looks and personalities, so many characters for my novels.

So many experiences to feed my writer’s brain. A few of which will show up in future blogs and fiction.

Yes. Life’s an adventure.

That’s what I tell myself when it all overwhelms me, and I want to hide in the closet with a novel.

Keeping up with Technology

Keeping up with Technology

Seems like I’m always looking for technology before it is ready. Later, I am surprised to learn that it has caught up to my expectations, and no one told me.

Case in point, my daughter suggested using Google Keep. It’s a list keeper that manages everything in online so that I can see and edit my lists on my phone or computer. I was carrying around a notebook with the lists and reference material (half my brain).

Worked great until I left it at the grocery store. I didn’t notice it missing until someone e-mailed me. “I have your notebook”. Kind of creepy. It had half of my brain, and some sensitive information.

Several years ago, I tried to put all of this information on my phone. A virtual notebook. I used Excel spreadsheets and synced them online. The result was clunky and awkward. Never mind. I like paper. I can touch paper and don’t mind carrying it around like a security blanket.

This isn’t the first time I expected too much from technology. Back in the ‘80s, I had a handheld computer. My parents owned a Radio Shack store and when the TRS-80 Pocket Computer came out, I was ready. It had 64KB of memory. Keep in mind, 1MB is 1000KB. So, six percent of a megabit.

I decided to put the periodic table of the elements onto the new pocket computer. Yes, I was that kind of geeky teen. Halfway through, I ran out of memory. I guess computers couldn’t hold that much information after all. No need to waste time trying.

Another time, before automatic bill pay, there was a service called Check Free. I tried to write a description of this service for this blog, but it confused my daughter so much that I just cut it.  Suffice it to say, the service was clunky, confusing and flawed. Before that I ordered checks to print from my computer, complete with perforated edges to feed through the printer.

I didn’t use Facebook for a long time. My kids both had accounts. When my son went to college, I would have my daughter creep on him while I looked over her shoulder. Finally, when she went to college, I had to get my own account for creeping. For a long time, my profile picture was a crazy llama because I didn’t want Facebook to have a picture of my face. Now, most people reading this blog clicked on a Facebook link to get here. No llama.

When I’m not watching, technology catches up to my expectations. But, how will I know?

I need to find young people to hang around. They seem to know. I can complain about technology and they will recommend a solution, just to shut me up.

Seems like a solid plan.

Morning Time Warp

When my daughter was a teenager, she would say, “I’m on time when I’m in my bedroom, but when I come upstairs, I’m running late.” She suspected a time warp. I blamed her clocks.

But lately, I experience a time warp in the mornings. I have a very structured routine. Shower, dress, brush my teeth, etc. Why, on some mornings, does the routine take fifteen minutes longer than on other mornings?

Is it possible that on tired days, each movement is slower? On a good day I spend two seconds reaching for the toothbrush, and on a slow day it takes four? Or perhaps I stare into space between each activity. But I don’t think that takes an extra fifteen minutes.

When I’m running late, I try to move faster. Pump the shampoo faster. Put in earrings faster. Pull my socks on faster.

I can’t cut any activities. If I don’t wash my hair, it lays flat, like I slept on it—because I did. Without a certain amount of make-up, people think I’m sick. And, I can’t cut ‘get dressed’ from the morning routine. Although some modern fashions look like pajamas, I’m too old to pull it off.

I’m easily distracted. Perhaps that creates the warp. I need to check the weather before I dress. And, the soap container is empty. Refilling it will only take a second. Might as well change the sheets while I’m here.

A surprising number of people text or message me before I’m ready to start the day. Of course, I have to respond immediately. Mascara can wait. It only takes a minute. Right?

Does social media on my phone contribute to the rift in time? I check e-mail and Facebook while I brush my teeth and if I find something good, I finish the article before moving to the next task. I need to watch the rest of that video about puppies learning to climb the stairs.

The bathroom seems to warp time during the day as well. Ummm. Not for me. I’m . . . speaking about other people. We can shop, check our bank account, or call an Uber. All from the privacy of the toilet.

On a side note, shouldn’t all bathrooms provide special wipes to clean cell phones? We wash our hands and then pick up the phone we had in our hands before we washed them. Then we put the phone next to our face, (although actually talking on the phone has become an archaic notion). The government must have done a study on that by now.

Phones can’t be blamed for creating the time warp, but for those of us who are easily distracted, they contribute. If I’m running late, I guess I could turn off my phone and see if that closes the rift in time.

Nah. I’ll just brush my teeth and pump the shampoo double-time.