Category Archives: plugged in

Try using a nicer tone

Try using a nicer tone

What do you do when you’re in a relationship and the other party will not negotiate, doesn’t understand the word NO, has no respect, a mind of their own, and is difficult to deal with?  Does this sound like your mother-in-law? Well, then I’m sorry for you my friend, but I’m talking about my iPhone.

In therapy terms my phone seems to be “finding its voice.”  But unlike previous tone5parenting skills which seemed to work; the time-outs, the ultimatums, the watch your tone or you will spend the weekend dusting…nothing is working.

Phones these days have no respect.

My phone continually asks if I want to invite Facebook friends to Messenger. I tell my phone, no.  It invites them anyway. It asks if I want to know of Breaking News or tone1notifications from various websites? I tell my phone, no. Do I want to be reminded that a Facebook friend has a birthday? No. And yet, the beeping, singing, flashing, annoying notifications appear on the banner of my phone, regardless.  In Settings, I turn them all off…again. What are my options to let it know I mean business…draining its battery till it’s at 1% and then slowly bring it back to life?

“I told you I don’t want to see that” I yell in the kitchen.  My husband comes in and asks who I am speaking with.  My phone, I say.  He suggests I try using a nicer tone.

My phone doesn’t know its place.

I was recently texting my friend Mike G. while we were both watching Michael Conforto hit a homerun for the Mets.

tone7My first text:   Confirming!

My second text: Confetti!

My third text: OMG Mike. I’m trying to text his name and it won’t let me.

Thankfully, Mike G. knew that I was trying to spell Conforto.  Conforto, Confirming, Confetti. It’s like having a 3rd person in on the conversation.  Me.  Mike G. and my Phone. Please get out of my conversation, I yell at my phone, trying to watch my tone. Notice the word, Please.

My phone does not respect me.

It’s helpful when you spell something wrong and spellcheck corrects it. But it’s not helpful when knowing what you want to say, your phone thinks its smarter than you are.

For instance, I text my cousin, Jackie M. asking if she has a muddler I can use.  I clearly text MUDDLER. My phone asks her if I can borrow her muffler.  I text my daughter: Your Grandparents are going to Disney next month. My phone overrides and texts: Your Grandparents are going to divorce next month.  My friend was asking for advice on whether to send a text to someone.  I texted back, MYOB (mind your own business) but my phone decided I meant, Myocardial. Which I sent. What should I do? Sit my phone in a corner and make it think about its behavior? Who is in charge here?

I yell at my phone.

I do not watch my tone.

My phone has a smart mouth.

The voice on Google Maps is becoming increasingly frustrated with me. It used to be tone4when disregarding the directional prompt my phone would recalculate to what I wanted to do. No more! Now, it instructs me to make a U-Turn, again and again and again, completely disregarding what I want to do. I’m waiting for the day when through my Bluetooth I hear, Jesus, Tracy either you make a U-Turn NOW or I’m taking away your keys!

When that happens my friends, all bets are off.  I will grab my muffler, make myself a drink, turn on The Mets, hope that Confetti hits a home-run, and mind my own myocardial.

Just say, “Huh?”

Just say, “Huh?”

Auto correct has made us dumb. I have texted, I’m heading to the bank, when can I


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experience you? I’ve texted, I love to HIV, instead of I love to give.  And when my frustration elevates into the danger zone, am I mad at myself?  Of course not! I get mad at Auto correct!  duck you auto cucumber!

Auto correct is supposed to suggest corrections in spelling or grammar.  It isn’t there to finish our thoughts with words it thinks we want to use.  We, need to be in charge of it.  Not it, in pumpkin2charge of us. But that means  reading before sending. And based on texts I’ve sent and received, this doesn’t happen that often.

Take this text I received from my sister prior to meeting for lunch: In really pumpkin. Not here. If you’re wondering what she was trying to say, you’re not alone.

This happens a lot. I receive a text and have no idea what she’s trying to say. I look at the keyboard, hoping to think of the letter she wanted press but obviously didn’t. It is close to Halloween, so the word pumpkin, well…maybe that’s a clue?

When all else fails, I simply text back, huh?

Her response…LOL.

We are going on 10 minutes, and neither one of us has moved off the mark.pumpkin6

Realizing all bets are off I trying to mess with her a bit.  I text, bring your pumpkin…really. 

Her response… Huh?

I text back LOL.

2 educated, college graduates going nowhere quickly and one of us is an English major.

I think your phone should be able to flash the word, huh? when necessary.  Similar to when your computer asks you if you really want to delete something. It would be an alert of sorts that we are sounding dumber than dirt. A last chance to sound smart.

Not only are our phones making us sound dumb, they are also making us annoying, and dangerous.  Today you practically need a helmet and certainly a lot of patience to walk from point A to pumpkin5point B. How many times have you needed to bob and weave your way around the mall, the street, wherever you are,  avoiding a collision with an oblivious person, head down and buried in their phone?

And there’s nothing more annoying than being behind a person who is walking and then simply decides to stop short! The pile-up of humanity behind them is akin to a pile-up of cars on the parkway, but without the broken glass.

Huh? How’d that happen I’m sure they wonder.

I remember hearing about a woman in Miami who fell into an open cellar space because she was walking and texting.  Forgive me but when I saw the video, I laughed.  Out. Loud.

Huh? she must have said as she hit the floor.

Did you know that it’s illegal to cross a street in Honolulu if you’re texting? A city council pumpkin4member said, “this is really milestone legislation that sets the bar high for safety.”  My friends, we have melting glaciers, the threat of nuclear war, 300 million guns in the USA, and white supremacy rallies.  Laws are needed to help us cross the street? Seriously?!


In the words of someone who wants to “make America great again” …SAD.

Talk about the dumbing down of humanity.

So back to in really pumpkin not here.

Previously to receiving this text, and because I hadn’t read before sending, I texted my sister, are you interested in tight places? 

When what I meant to text was,  Are you in the right place?”

She texted back in really pumpkin. not here.

What she meant to text was, in the right place. here now.

All together now my friends…. Huh?







There’s way too much Smart in my life

There’s way too much Smart in my life

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to snatch the power back from my Smartphone, my Smarthouse, even those obnoxious Smartkids of mine, and become a Smartwoman.

But now I have a new foe and its proving problematic.

My Smartcar.

smart1This is the fourth time in a week I’m in my garage and standing outside my new car, anxious, a knot in my throat, a feeling of dread. Quite a difference from the love I felt at the dealership. It reminded me of the football players I liked in college.  They looked good on the outside until they spoke. Then I wanted to punch them.

Same for my new car.

I calm my nerves, take a deep breath, slowly place my hand on the door, and get in.

I push a button and the car turns on.

Champagne, anyone?

So far so good.

I hit the menu button and the computer screen lights up asking if I want the menu to smart2appear on the virtual cockpit.  I don’t want to fly over Russia, I want to drive to HomeGoods.

I sign into the car’s WIFI then synch my iPod to my car. I’m killin it here!  But in synching my iPod I can’t figure out how to synch my phone. They both use Bluetooth technology and one seems to be cancelling the other out. I feel like I’m in the car with 2 squabbling kids fighting for my attention. Which do I want more…music or phone?  I choose the iPod because it’s been 20 minutes in the garage, so at least I’ll have music while flying reconnaissance over Russia.  I sheepishly grab my bag of old technology and use the headset to synch to my phone.

My husband walks by and informs me I no longer need the headset.

Think of 2 words, people…I can’t repeat them.

I don’t need a Smarthusband.

Maybe I’ll have more luck with navigation: An alphabet chart comes up. 977valleyroadgilettenj. I’m unable to add spaces so I toggle down and I’m instructed to draw address on optional touchpad.  Excuse me?  Draw? On a touchpad?  What touchpad?!  I. Want. To. Go. To. HomeGoods! Not draw! Grabbing the bag of old technology, I find the Garmin GPS, plug it in, type the address (with spaces), and waa-laa….it calculates the trip. Thank you, Jesus.

smart3$10K extra for technology is so worth it, said no one ever.

My husband walks by, and notices the plugged in Garmin GPS.

This time he says nothing.

Smarter than Einstein, that one.

It’s been 30 minutes in the garage. Maybe I’ll skip Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, synching, flying over Russia, and just drive the damn car. So, I’m off. At a stop light the car turns off. My blood smart10pressure is up to 450. Miraculously I step on the gas and the car turns on, but a green foot with an arrow appears on the dash which means I’m going above the speed limit. My car obviously has a dual personality, morphing into my mother telling me to slow down. How much more did this cost me?

Mistakenly, I hit a button on the steering wheel and a voice in sotto voce asks what I want to do next. What I’d like to do next is punch the car in its virtual cockpit, but instead while pulling out a chunk of hair on my head, I loudly speak, “call smart6home.”  I need to apologize to my husband. Sotto voce informs me it doesn’t recognize my voice.  Then I come to a stop sign and the engine turns off.

My next car will be a golf cart.

Where was I?

Ah yes…HomeGoods.

So, I finally get to HomeGoods.  I buy the dishes I came for and try to swipe my points card which hangs on my key ring and realize I don’t have my keys. My Smartcar doesn’t require keys  to turn itself on or off.  Did I turn the car off?  Cripes, the car is so smart it may be at Burger King having a whopper by now. I leave the dishes and find my car. It is running and I swear its snickering.

I hit the same button I previously hit by mistake and in my own NOT so sotto voce speak, smart9go home. And it calculates the route home.  Cue a crazed woman with a bald spot on the right side of her head, doing the dab dance in the parking lot.

I feel hope.

Over the next few weeks, armed with a 425-page manual, various YouTube videos, on-line tutorials, trial and error, and yes, my friends, screaming at the dashboard/virtual cockpit, I snatch the power from the Smartcar and become a Smartwoman. I learn to synch everything, master steering wheel controls, the start/stop system, the optional touchpad, the instrument cluster, the virtual cockpit, navigation system, voice activation, cruise control, Apple CarPlay, programmed smart7Sirius, set my seats and synch the climate. I am familiar with 87 possible indicator lights.

I put my trusty bag of old technology back into the old car.

I am a Smartwoman.

Now if I can just find the keys to get into my house.









Then/Now (back in the day)

Then/Now (back in the day)

I noticed a sign outside a restaurant:

“No wifi.

Talk to each other.

Call your Mom.

Pretend it’s 1993


Normally I would agree.

grumpy1I have made of career of complaining about NOW and how it was better THEN. And based on all the positive responses I get, many of you feel the same.  But it’s like we have become our parents, grumbling and saying things like….

(Back in the day we didn’t need 600 on-line friends.  We had five or six who were from the neighborhood who didn’t need to plug into anything to have fun, and were usually waiting outside to play ringalerio).

There’s a lot of complaining about today’s technology and what it’s done to us on a personal and social level but I’ve started to embrace the fact that there are some real positives to being “plugged in”.

(Back in the day, we didn’t have texting.  Your boyfriend had to break up with you in person)

THEN, there was the telephone. NOW, there’s texting.  Without it I would never hear from my kids as much as I do.  Granted it’s embarrassing when I text something to my son that was supposed to go to my brother but as grumpy2soon as I see, “huh?” I know I’ve done something wrong.  It’s also clear that I’m not quite getting through to my mother (who calls me every day, sometimes a few times a day) on the difference between texting and FaceTime. Patience I remind myself.  It will help me get into heaven. My daughter says, “Nanny’s face keeps appearing on my phone during class”. Practice patience I tell her.  It will help you get into heaven.

(Back in the day we had to read a map).

NOW, I couldn’t live without GPS.

grumpy3THEN, I remember being in a constant state of lost. My blood pressure rising while valuable minutes slipped away. My way around this was 1-800-CALL-DAD but first I had to find a phone booth and hope I had dimes.  NOW, with GPS I’m never lost. My blood pressure remains constant while a sweet voice calmly recalculates without ever once saying “Lady, WTF?”  My husband asks, “Don’t you want to have an idea of where you are going before you head off?” No.  I do not.

(Back in the day we were happy with AM radio and the music was better).

NOW there’s my beloved IPOD. THEN I carpooled to middle school while a friend’s father insisted on listening to opera and wishing I had a pencil to stick in my eye. NOW I never have to listen to someone else’s music; not grumpy4to mention all the great music apps that I don’t mind paying for. And since everyone in my family, including my 84 year old Dad, uses my password to share their music stations it’s very eclectic to say the least. Think the following playlists: John Phillip Sousa, Lil Wayne, Rolling Stones, Judy Garland, Bix Beidebecke,  Country Fitness, Akon, 50 cent, Bruce, Broadway, Glenn Miller and NO OPERA.

But my all time favorite thing about NOW is Google search and my personal assistant, SIRI.  There’s something wonderful about typing the word eschatology on the dictionary app and instantly knowing what it means. (Back when I was your age we had to walk over to the shelf and use an actual dictionary).

grumpy5NOW, I can find a solution to getting oil stains out of a sweater, if it’s safe to freeze chopped liver, how to mix a Moscow Mule. NOW, we can look up a new drug for Alzheimer’s, listen to how a song is supposed to be played on the piano before practicing it wrong for 2 weeks, get a list for the best Caribbean vacation spots in December,  amazing hotels,  what they look like, and some reviews.  We can find the weather in Canberra and pack accordingly, track a flight, find cheap gas, check the NASDAC, reserve a cab, map the stars at night and know how to perfectly poach a chicken, …INSTANTLY!  (Back when I was your age we had to read a cookbook).

And these are just on my short list of what I love about NOW!  So instead of complaining about the disappearance of all that was THEN, make your own list of what you are better for NOW.  You might be happily surprised of all you have gained.

I was.

Then turn off your WIFI and go call your Mom. It will help you with your patience and getting into heaven.