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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The “ON” Button, Please

               Recently I borrowed my 23 year old daughter’s car.  It’s a pretty zippy little car into which she had installed a new radio when she first got it.  I remember my first car and its radio.  Turn the knob to “on”, adjust the volume with the same knob, and then turn it off with it.  So easy!  I could not figure out the radio in this car.  There was no “on” button.  There was a screen saver that told the time for a nano second every 30 hours or something, because I never once saw the time.  Thus I arrived at an appointment in a flustered state thinking I was late.  I was on time.  I tried at every stop light to figure out how to make some music come out of the speakers.  All I could find was an “off” button which I stabbed repeatedly thinking that perhaps the maker thought turning it off might be more important than knowing how to turn it on.  There were buttons with arrows, and letters, I think one said “source”.  Driving down the highway stabbing at buttons trying to get some music going in the little car; now that’s the way to get to an appointment!  This of course is just another incidence of my troubles with modern electronics.  I’m still learning the ins and outs of my smart aleck phone, and now this radio.  Thank goodness it’s not in my vehicle, which was in the garage for repairs the day I borrowed my daughter’s car.  Once my vehicle was ready for pick up my daughter drove me to the garage.  I told her of my trouble trying to turn on her radio.  With a mildly amused smirk she pointed to the proper button.  It was the one marked “source”.  If I sat in that car for a year I wouldn’t have ever guessed that was the one to turn on the radio.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing Prompts

From time to time at my writers group we agree to use writing prompts to have something to share and discuss at our next meeting.  Sometimes I share them here, this is one of those times.  Just a little light reading for you on a hot summer day.

This writing prompt was "I used to think..."

            I used to think Candyland was a real place.  The lollipop forest, and the pool of root beer with a vanilla, chocolate and strawberry float were places I wanted to visit.  As a child with a fertile imagination I also thought that leprechauns lived in the hole at the base of the old maple tree that grew near our porch.  I thought Rudolph really lit the night to lead Santa on his rounds and Frosty the Snowman really came to life.  The whole world was like me, with clean running water, a soft bed at night, and loving parents.  Everyone, I believed, had nice schools, books, and enough to eat always.  Sometimes I wish I could go back to that time when everything felt so simple.  To have that bubble of innocence around me, how restful that would be!
 This one was "They had nothing to say to each other...."
Uh oh!

They had nothing to say to each other as they sat together looking at the body.  Each going over in her mind the series of events leading up to this moment.  Sandy found her voice first.  “What have you done Jen?”
Jen swallowed, and croaked, “Nothing, he just stopped and died.”
“I don’t believe you.  You were always talking about poisons and how a good whack with a hammer would get rid of him!”  Looking back at the little body Sandy whispered, “Poor little guy.”

“Oh cut it out Sandy!”  Jen’s voice got louder as she went on, “You wanted to be rid of him as much as I did.  ‘Poor little guy’, oh please!”
Sandy and Jen froze at the sound of approaching footsteps.  “Is that my Joey?” With fear in their eyes the girls turned to look at Mrs. Higsby.  As Sandy opened her mouth to answer she was interrupted by “Yip! Yip!” and nearly lost her footing as the ball of fur that was Joey scampered through her legs to his owner.  Not noticing the looks of disbelief on the girls’ faces, she handed each of them a five dollar bill and said “Thank you young ladies for taking care of Joey for me again today.  See you next week!” The girls were still gaping after her and the little dog long after they had disappeared from sight.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Smart (aleck) Phone

Well, I am now the reluctant owner of a brand new “smart” phone, or as I like to call it (when I’m not cursing at it), a smart-aleck phone. I can think of nothing in recent memory that made me feel more stupid than this piece of electronic wizardry.  Why, I have been asked, did I purchase it if I don’t like it?  I’ll not get into all the reasons, but suffice to say data share plan, two family members who were interested in them, and passive aggression of sorts.
The first problem arose when the salesman, we’ll call him “Joe”, was transferring contact lists from our old phones to our new ones.  Of the three of us, mine refused to do it.  I don’t know if my old one refused to let go, or the new one refused to accept.  “Joe” told me I’d have to do mine manually.  I told him that I should get a 5% discount for my trouble, but he just gave me an amused look and continued entering things into the register.  Next, the screen protector on mine had bubbles in it, in spite of him trying twice to put one on smoothly.  I suggested another 5% discount might be a good will gesture.  Again the amused look while entering data.  Perhaps he was a bit miffed because in spite of his urging us to purchase cases for our phones from him, we huddled briefly and decided that we would go to a nearby discount store and purchase them for about 40% less, thus robbing him of some of his commission.  When he told me the total I just about passed out, but handed over my card and smiled.
To celebrate our new purchase we decided to stop on the way home for dinner.  While waiting, we took out our smart phones and tried to figure them out.  Of course, my 23 year old daughter had no problem, and a bunch of “oh  cool!”s came from her.  “Hmm!” and “Ah ha!” could be heard emanating from my darling husband, while I sat there muttering curses under my breath trying to figure out how to do the most important things I want my phone to do—make and take calls, and text.  Once we were home it was time to try out all the ring tones and set all of that up.  I confess, I am not crazy about any of the sounds that come with the phone, but chose them anyhow.  Next came me trying to download “apps” and then figuring out how to turn the sound off of the notifications.  Really, I don’t need to know every time someone comments on something on Facebook that I have “liked” or commented on!  Nor do I need to know every time someone takes a turn on “Words with Friends”.
Then came the day that I had a voicemail, and couldn’t figure out how to listen to it!  By the time I thought to put the phone to my ear, all I heard were the last 2 words of the message.  I tried and tried to listen to it again, but could not figure it out!  Everything I tapped on either did the opposite of what I wanted, or did the same thing over and over, and wouldn’t clear.  Tempted as I was to throw the stupid thing out the window of my van, I compromised and threw it on the empty seat next to me.  The following day I had my daughter show me how to listen to voicemail.
A week after purchase, I am slowly coming to terms with my smart-aleck phone.  It’s like a new child; try to figure out how it works, then work hard to get it to do what you want.  If it starts talking back to me or sticking its tongue out I’m definitely throwing it out a window!