Tag: Modern Life

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.

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Lost in the Suburbs

I’m a small-town girl, who recently moved to the suburbs.  I find myself faced with so many new decisions. How do suburb dwellers figure out where to shop?

For example, when I need something for my home, perhaps a dishtowel.  In the small, mountain town where I used to live, I would go to Walmart, buy the towel and be home within a few minutes.

Now I live within ten minutes of three Walmarts. How do I choose? I can go to the one that is near the Kickboxing gym.  Maybe I’ll workout on the way there, but then I’ll be sweaty. Although, people in animal print leggings and bedroom slippers won’t care much about my messy bun and red face.

I can go to the Walmart near Costco.  Wait! Costco is only ten minutes away, too.  The wholesale warehouse sells dishtowels.  Do I need a pack of ten?  I could give them as gifts next Christmas.

Or do I venture north to an entirely new Walmart? With a different floorplan. And different traffic patterns. I could get stuck in a left turn lane and never return.

But, wait, there are three Targets within ten minutes of my house. Target would carry a more upscale selection.   I could go to the Walmart that is nearest a Target for even more choices. Then I could spend an hour exploring the options in both stores before making a selection.

Or, I could go to one of the plethora of craft supply stores to buy a towel that I decorate myself.  Or the mall.  I live near several malls. Or a kitchen specialty store.

More often than not, I discover that all of the stores carry the same two choices. After visiting five stores and the mall, I go home to order a dishtowel online.

How can stores compete in such close proximity?  Home Depot is next to Lowes.  When I need “hardware”, where do I go?  Office Max is across the street from Staples.  PetSmart and Petco. Whole Foods and Sprouts. Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  Makes my head spin.

It took me a while to find a post office. I’m not sure the one I use is even where I would go to pick up a package or put a hold on my mail.  But, why are there so many mailboxes?  Most of them say the same thing.  Which box do I use? Why not just make one big mailbox?

And don’t get me started on restaurants.  I’m surrounded by new fast, casual chain restaurants.  Ooh, the temptation.  Eating out is one of the fastest ways to blow my budget. My husband doesn’t care what he eats and doesn’t understand the temptation.  Sometimes I sneak out to a fun little restaurant for lunch while he’s at work. He doesn’t even realize how much it costs him to live surrounded by yummy restaurants.

After a year, I’m finding my go-to stores so that I can spend less brain power on decision making.  Maybe that’s what native suburbanites do.  Just pick a store and call it good.

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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.


Offseason: Abandoned, Like a Zombie Apocalypse

Who hasn’t dreamed of having an amusement park or tourist town all to themselves? Why fight the crowds? Just go when no one else is around.

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite little mountain towns in the winter with my husband. I had imagined poking through the shops and eating funnel cakes without crowds or lines. Instead, I found this. Closed for the season.

Most of the town shuts down when the train stops bringing shoppers. One die-hard tourist shop remains open. All of the others are locked up tight. And forget funnel cakes. Pictures of the delicious desserts cover the windows, making my stomach growl, but, alas, no funnel cakes today.

Only one restaurant stays open for lunch on any given day. The clerk at the one open tourist shop showed me a schedule that is distributed to locals. It tells what restaurants are open each day, but is subject to changes at the cook’s whim.

We lunched at the open restaurant. The choice was hamburgers or hamburgers. Plain hamburgers, hamburgers with chilis, or hamburgers with other fixin’s. Tasty and filling, but not a funnel cake.

Worse yet, we found the public restrooms locked up tight. I counted on those restrooms. . . although, maybe if the town is empty, I can pretend I’m in the woods and go behind a tree. Nah. The locals wouldn’t like that.

I should have known better. I’ve made a regular grocery run to Walmart at two-o’clock in the morning. That’s the joy of having a twenty-four-hour store.

The perfect time. Right?

No “People of Walmart” to shock me with exposed muffin-tops or undergarments on the outside of their clothes. No dodging other carts. No long lines at checkout.

Instead, I have to dodge oversized plastic-wrapped pallets of merchandise waiting to be shelved. And forget sale items. Those supplies have long since been depleted.

After I fill my basket to overflowing, I head to the twenty checkout stands, anticipating a speedy exit. But, the only line open is self-check-out. First, I look at my bulging basket. Then I look at the little shelf that is supposed to hold my groceries. If I’m lucky, someone takes pity on me and opens a stand.

Unlike Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation, I’m not able to force someone to open up for me. Although, that is my dream—I hate crowds.

On the plus side, I haven’t been chased through the amusement park by zombies like what happened in the movie Zombieland. (Sorry if that’s a spoiler for you). The abandoned tourist town hasn’t been hit by a zombie apocalypse, but it sure could be used to stage a zombie movie.

I guess if I want the full experience, I’ll have to join the crowds, when the shops and restaurants are prepared to serve the masses . . . unless I want hamburgers or hamburgers instead of funnel cakes.


I Didn’t Plan To Binge Watch Stranger Things On Netflix

I got rid of TV six years ago.  Not the TV itself, but the satellite service that brought programming into our home.  Didn’t have time to watch and didn’t want to pay for it.  Much cheaper to buy an occasional streaming movie and a Netflix subscription.

But, lately, I miss the times snuggling next to my husband to watch a show.  Time spent together.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a series we could watch together—a couple of episodes a week?  My husband wasn’t keen on the idea, but he didn’t put up a fight.

When my daughter suggested Stranger Things, I jumped on it.  Set in the eighties, the show would bring back music, fashions, and dark paneling in the homes. I used to watch science fiction and fantasy, although now it is called speculative fiction. My husband enjoys that genre.  And my daughter and her husband recommended it.

Perfect.

One episode and we could get back to our tasks for the evening. Save the second episode for next week.

The show centered around geeky middle school boys in the AV (audio visual) club.  I was geeky back then. Geeky wasn’t popular like it is now. It highlighted the technology of the day, most of which could be purchased at Radio Shack.

I grew up in a Radio Shack.  Well, not in the store exactly. We had a house.  But my parents owned a Radio Shack and us kids hung around the store ever since I can remember.  As soon as I was old enough, I worked there.  Sweet memories of Realistic brand Walkie-Talkies and the Basic computer language. My dad was the go-to technology guy. Kids at school bragged about talking to him about electronics.

With my husband, I settled in to enjoy Stranger Things.  The show introduced a lot of characters up front.  How would they wrap up the first episode with all of those characters?  And there was some kind of supernatural thing. What was that about?

I watched, eyes wide and heart pounding. The kid disappeared and the credits rolled.

What?

What?

By the way, this isn’t a spoiler, because the series description includes the kid’s disappearance.

I texted my daughter.  “You didn’t tell me the first episode ended in a cliffhanger.  Do they all end like this?”

She replied. “Yes, but at least the season is short.”

My breathing hadn’t returned to normal before we turned on the next episode.  I’m too compulsive to stop there. I’ve spent many nights reading until morning because I couldn’t put the book down. And, my husband is no better.

We watched both seasons over four days.  Talk about Netflix binge watching. I’m leery of starting another series. Although my daughter assures me Dr. Who wraps up each episode a little better.  And it brings nostalgia because we watched the original.

I may have to write a blog abut binge watching Dr. Who.  Where will it end?

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