Friday, August 29, 2014

A Patriotic Pair Step Up and Purchase New Stuff

 Hub and I can happily pat ourselves on the back this week as we deplete our checkbook, knowing it is for a good cause.

The U.S. economy.

We recently purchased two kitchen appliances. One needed replacement due to the death of its predecessor – our microwave/convection oven – the other resulted from a sale we could not pass by.

Shopping, eating and cooking patterns changed as we adapted over the years from young singles to a married couple, to a family with kids with bottomless stomachs, back to couple status again.

Over the years our kitchen appliances sometimes matched our needs, but at other times did not (the appliances came with the territory - the house purchased, we could not afford to replace the old one, the wish list model proved unaffordable…).

We were happy with the older appliances in our current home (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher all predate the purchase of our home in 2010 and are at least a decade old, and probably two decades old), but realized replacement was inevitable.

What was not necessarily inevitable was the replacement of the one kitchen appliance purchased new – the microwave/convection oven.

Yet that is exactly what happened.

Thrown a lemon, we try to make lemonade. Which in these circumstances was easy enough to do in our kitchen.

We met the challenge, stepped up and became patriotic Americans.

We spent money.

By doing so, we helped spur the economy to new heights. The day after we purchased two new appliances, the stock market rose half a percent. That may not sound like much, but every little bit helps. We are proud to be responsible, even a little bit, for that rise.

After all, buying new stuff is what the American dream is all about. Buying new stuff is what consumers are supposed to do.

We are the greatest economy on earth.

Because we spend money and buy new stuff.

So hub and I joined the throngs of Americans indulging in the most popular recreational activity of all – shopping.

We researched online.

We perused the unending number of circulars covering our front porch every Sunday.

We got in the car and depleted expensive gas driving to brick-and-mortar stores, overwhelmed by the number of brands and models available. And of course prices, which start modestly for a stripped down, cheap no frills model from an unheard-of brand to a sleek, fully loaded, overpriced boutique brand with a cool foreign-sounding name from another country but still made in China.

A lot of appliances are made in China. Or South Korea. Many machines manufactured in the U.S. have a substantial amount of foreign parts. It gets complicated…

We purchased our two new appliances at a local appliance dealer because we have dealt with both their sales and service department favorably in the past. Our research provided us with the information needed to assure ourselves we were not being ripped off. Prices were comparable to the big box stores and online ‘specials’.

So, enough with the suspense, what did we buy?

A Maytag microwave/convection oven.

And a Maytag refrigerator. One door, freezer on top.

The Maytag refrigerator was a floor clearance model. The company is changing the design (new handle).

We do not care. Good price, we grabbed it.

We do not need a fridge with lots of bells and whistles. Two of us live in the house. No pets. The kids and grandkids stop in and stay for a week occasionally, but not long enough to warrant a large fancy fridge.

Why replace the fridge? The enamel on the old one is peeling, the icemaker works sporadically, and the freezer compartment on the two-door unit is too narrow for lots of things (one example – an ice cream cake). And we were shopping and spending money and saw a good deal…our patriotism shines through!

Our new fridge is no-frills, except it is stainless steel.

I know - next week stainless will be passé.

But hub and I will survive the humiliation.

We spied slate appliances, apparently the latest innovation in kitchen design. Otherwise white and black appliances, in addition to stainless, prevailed.

Anyone know what happened to all those avocado, yellow, blue (turquoise, actually) and other colored appliances of the 1950s and 60s?

Anyone out there own one? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Memo to GE

To: Jeff Immelt, CEO GE
cc: Keith McLoughlin, CEO Electrolux 

This post was going to begin with the sentence:
GE, your appliances suck,
but thought that would be too abrupt, forthright, and unprofessional.

Instead I will objectively, straightforwardly, and without emotion overcoming my better judgment, relate the saga of our microwave/convection oven.

The short version:
It died. For the third time in four years.

The longer story:
We bought a GE microwave/convection oven in May 2010. The appliance died two years later. We replaced it with another GE. A mistake, we realized even then, but the price was right and, when the appliance worked, it worked well.

That oven died a year later (immediately after the warranty expired). Because it broke down early in our ownership cycle, GE covered the cost of parts. We paid for labor.

And now, one year and two weeks after purchase (and two weeks after the warranty on the new parts elapsed), the machine died again.

GE has a long, distinguished track record of manufacturing appliances. The esteemed corporation traces its origins back to Thomas Alva Edison, who established the Edison General Electric Company in 1890. The first appliance manufactured by the company was an electric fan in the 1890s. Cooking appliances appeared soon after the turn of the 20th century. The 1920s brought huge strides, including the refrigerator and dishwasher, leading the way to today’s modern kitchens.

Somewhere along the line I believe greed overtook a desire for top-notch performance.

Or maybe the giant conglomerate neglected a small division. After all, the appliance division contributes just under 6% of GE’s total revenue.

Or perhaps the desire to unload the division brought about cost-cutting measures in an effort to make it appear as profit-generating as possible. Those belt-tightening measures eventually negatively impacted appliance performance.

Whatever the reason, Mr. Immelt, your microwave-convection ovens underperform.

Or, more accurately, our two microwaves underperformed and failed. Disappointment does not adequately convey our feelings.

If I was emotional, I would use a lot more colorful language.

And the machines are not cheap. More important in the long run, GE appliances are costly to repair.

Our repairmen do not recommend GE because when appliances break down replacement parts must be purchased through GE at a high price. And then there is the cost of labor…

Our poor-performing microwave/convection ovens generated a dismal track record and cost the consumer, a.k.a. the appliance owner, a.k.a. hub and I - $$$.

I realize I am only one of millions of consumers. I hope the vast majority have better luck with their GE purchases. Maybe we were the unlucky recipients of lemons. Hopefully there are not too many out there.

Our appliance repairman was contacted – we are on friendly terms now, since he has become a regular at our house. Then we contacted GE customer service directly.

Their computer was down (really).

Goodbye, farewell, sayonara GE.

No more GE appliances for us.

Ever.

I cc’d the CEO of Electrolux because the scuttlebutt is that the company is interested in purchasing GE’s appliance division.

A note to Electrolux:
Beware. As the owner of iconic brands Frigidaire, Westinghouse, and Eureka, if you can improve on the performance of certain GE underperforming appliances, go for it. Otherwise…

And now it is time to shop for another microwave/convection oven. We briefly considered replacing the combo with a cheaper microwave-only unit, but the convection oven is used often at our house. It is big enough to cook complete meals for the two of us, and is more energy efficient than firing up the oven for a small casserole.

I am not happy about the broken appliance, am not pleased about taking the time, effort and energy to research and shop for a new one, and am especially unhappy that we have to pay for a new unit again.

We can only hope the new one lasts a long, long time.

And if anyone can recommend a brand other than GE, I look forward to hearing from you. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Kudos (maybe someday) to McDonald’s

Companies keeping up with the latest fads, fashions, and trends make the most money. That is not, as the saying goes, rocket science. McDonald’s is one of the best in the business at being, if not ahead of the curve, catching and successfully riding the latest food-related wave; or in some instances, creating and shaping the wave.

One of the strongest waves now shaking up the food industry is the emphasis on fresh foods and healthier products.

McDonald’s has jumped on this bandwagon with its latest food-related initiative. The company recently sponsored a party for reporters and bloggers (not this blogger; I was not invited. No hard feelings, McDonald’s. Maybe next time.), offering dishes prepared with McDonald’s ingredients and created by renowned chefs.

McDonald’s campaign strives to change the perception the world holds of its products. The New York City gourmet gala was one undertaking in this endeavor. The company wants people to abandon the vision of McDonald’s as purveyor of cheap junk food, a.k.a. fast food, and embrace the idea that the company is all about ‘good food served fast’.

Good food served fast in my kitchen are fresh fruits…a bagel laden with cream cheese, red onion and a thick slice of an in-season tomato…leftovers warmed in the microwave, an undertaking of maybe three minutes…and, always in reserve in case no other food is around and a shopping trip appears imminent, a bowl of cold cereal (not sugary ones)…but I digress…

My blood pressure rises and body swells thinking about the event and the lost opportunity to observe what the company considers ‘good food served fast’, not because I am upset about not being invited (I am not. Upset. At all.), but because of all the salt and fat my body would absorb tasting the various dishes. Yet, on behalf of my readers and others who might one day read my words of wisdom providing a detailed account of the event, the venue, who attended, and my description and humble opinion of food served, I would sample every item, not thinking about the medical issues which might occur as a result of my gluttony.

It is not easy finding and preparing cheap healthy foods – the term is almost a contradiction. And like most people I appreciate low-priced almost everything (especially taxes, but that is fodder for a future post), but also understand the truth to the saying, “you get what you pay for”.

However if anyone can find a way to sell low-cost, healthy fare (I state anyone purposely, after all, Citizens United and other Supreme Court cases set the precedent that McDonald’s is a person), McDonald’s can.

Even without nutritious food items, McDonald’s does a wonderful service for the people of our nation and I categorically do not advocate the demise of McDonald’s. That would prove a hardship to long-distance travelers. McDonald’s outlets strategically positioned along America’s highways are sometimes the only place weary and bladder-filled road warriors can find clean rest rooms (as long as they do not venture into stores in major cities, where facilities may be less than pristine; the restaurants cannot always keep up with heavy foot traffic).

While McDonald’s attempts to improve menu offerings, it maintains their food is real food.

Really? Remember the book and movie Super Size Me? The guy ate McDonald’s for a month. The result was a host of medical issues. He conducted several experiments, and in one test placed McDonald’s sandwiches and French fries in sealed containers, observing them for weeks. The sandwiches turned to moldy, ugly, smelly messes, but after two months the French fries looked like they just came out of the deep fryer.

Real food?

Maybe someday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rebate Welcomed

In a previous life I was never enthusiastic about applying for rebates. I rarely did it. The undertaking required work. Filling out forms, collecting receipts, finding a stamp and an envelope – it was not worth it.

Which is, of course, what companies counted on.

Rebates can now be requested online, avoiding the search for an envelope and stamp, saving 40 cents, 45 cents or however much a first class stamp costs nowadays (49 cents – just looked it up. Real $ !). Stamps no longer have a monetary value printed on them; the word forever appears somewhere on the design.

I venture to the post office every few months to stock up, choosing interesting images. I do not bother doing the math to figure out how much each costs.

For years, decades actually, I did not have the time to devote to rebate management. Working…raising kids…cooking meals…watching TV…cleaning …laundry…phone calls…something had to give. It did not seem worth the time or effort for a few cents or a dollar or two.

Although we are not on a fixed budget, hub is close to retirement. The necessity of careful budgeting is on the near horizon. So when recently purchasing paper for our printer at Staples and noticing a rebate offer, I decided to go for it.

Rebate requests are a quick, painless process nowadays, at least for the particular rebate requested from Staples. The receipt was already online. I punched a couple of computer keys and my application launched into cyberspace. A follow-up email stated my claim would be processed and a check issued in four to six weeks.

One day three to four weeks later hub retrieves the mail from our mailbox and throws the stack on the counter with the comment, “It’s all junk.” I grab the pile before tossing.

Sitting on top is a postcard, which initially looks like junk mail. Inspecting it closer, I realize it is my $4.00 Staples rebate check. No envelope. The postcard saves money, I am sure, but anyone can cash it. The amount is not a lot and its loss would in no way cause hardship, but the unsecure transmittal in this day and age of privacy and the too-common occurrence of stolen personal data seems inappropriate.

Nevertheless I will cash the check.

Luckily I reviewed the mail, or the check would have been tossed and lost.  I am not sure, after waiting futilely for weeks for the rebate check, that I would have followed up with Staples. 

Hub will be more careful pitching mail in the future.

Meanwhile there are all kinds of possibilities for the $4.00. I will splurge on something.

After all, we are not living on a fixed income yet. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Best of Boomer Blogs #369

I am thrilled to host this week’s Best of Boomer Blogs. Enjoy reading the following articles as you relish the last days of summer at the beach, in the mountains, in the comfort of your home, or wherever traveling this week. 

This is my first effort at hosting and my second week as a member of this group, so please check out these great articles and let the writers know you heard about them here!

Baby boomers seemed to have taken the passing of Robin Williams pretty hard. Kathy at SMART Living discovered that's because most of us have "history" with him as we've grown up.  Here are eight more reasons we grieve the passing of famous people - Why We Mourn The Death Of Celebrities.  

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about two new studies that suggest there might not be benefits to a moderate- or low-sodium diet, Can you eat more salt without harm? The Center for Science in the Public Interest calls the studies flawed, points to another study that describes the massive toll caused by high-sodium diets, and calls for federal regulations to reduce sodium consumption.

Laura Lee Carter, the Mid Life Crisis Queen, asks how your relationship with your parents changed over the decades. Read more in this week's post, Bridging the lifelong struggle with your parents.

Travel has been identified as one of the favorite activities of retirees -- especially young, Baby Boomer retirees. So in an effort to keep up with his cohort, Tom Sightings, at Sightings Over Sixty, has taken a trip to . . . well, drive or fly over to Older But Wiser to find out where he is, what he's doing, and who he's doing it with. 
Find out where Tom spent some time.
Many people take the time to financially prepare for retirement without even considering the emotional challenges that they will face.  Recent studies are showing that more and more seniors are falling victim to alcoholism and depression.  Those polled reveal a major contributing factor to addiction and emotional problems is a lost sense of purpose.  Finding a new identity after leaving the workplace can be overwhelming.  This common problem has given rise to a new form of therapy known as retirement coaching.  Visit Amy Blitchok’s  Modern Senior and get answers to the question:  “Should You Hire a Retirement Coach?”

Music plays an integral role in the life of most Boomers. Simple, understandable songs predominated when growing up in the 1950s and early 60s. Then the music changed. Until this week I thought I was the only individual suffering from a song-induced malady - the inability to understand song lyrics.But I discovered I am not alone. Checkout my nostalgic look at yesteryear’s music, Lyrically Lost in the Music, at Six Decades and Counting. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lyrically Lost in the Music

Music is an intimate, integral part of Boomer life.

We hear the sounds of our teens and twenties and our body wants to jump up (as high as our aging bones allow), dance and sing along, remembering the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful of decades ago.

Murky memories revisit seventh grade art class.  Six or eight of us sit around a table attempting to create some art project – none of us, if I remember correctly (which I probably do not) were art-focused or talented. We repeatedly broke into renditions of Hey Paula, a popular song that soared to number one in February 1963.

Listening to the song today, I surmise the only reason we sang that particular tune was because it was climbing the charts. And maybe we were hormone-crazed kids imagining our true love years down the road.

In the video below the two singers, Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson (NOT Paula Someone and Paul Somebody!), perform their popular duet.

There were girl groups such as Martha and the Vandellas (Dancing in the Street and lots of others) and the Shirelles (Dedicated to the One I Love and more…), the Ronettes, the Chiffons…

And of course the Beatles. The songs from their 1964 movie Hard Day’s Night, in addition to the title song, classics like And I Love Her, All My Loving, Can’t Buy Me Love, Ringo’s This Boy, quickly became favorites.

Although I cannot carry a tune and am tone deaf, I loved singing along. Listening to the music, hearing the words, everything fit together. The singers enunciated. The music did not drown out the words. Lyrics were not swallowed, sung too quickly, or in an accent or dialect misheard, misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Life gets complicated, and that is exactly what happened to our music. As the ‘60s rolled on simple music and understandable lyrics transformed into a cacophony of indecipherable music and words. Suddenly I could no longer figure out song lyrics. I listened intently and guessed what they might be.

Today I look up lyrics (isn’t the Internet great!) to familiar old favorites and, for the first time, appreciate all the words of a song, from start to finish, chorus and stanzas finally making sense.

I thought this problem was a peculiar weakness unique to me.

I was wrong, and am overjoyed to discover the difficulty was – and remains - widespread.

This late-in-life epiphany came as I began researching a writing assignment for a creative writing class.

I discovered the song Louie Louie by the Kingsmen (1963) is a celebrated example of a song most people could not understand. Apparently no one listening to the song figured out the lyrics. Rumors proliferated the song was laced with obscenity. There was actually an FBI investigation. It found the rumor untrue.

Below the magic of YouTube brings you the Kingsmen singing Louie Louie, with lyrics appearing on screen. Did you have any idea what the words were or the song was about?

There are websites listing song lyrics that make no sense, or are poorly written, or might be meaningful to the composer and/or singer, but the rest of the world remains perplexed – senseless/meaningless songs or phrases from golden oldies to the latest hits.

This bit of trivia in no way changes or enriches my life. But it is nice to know I was not alone in my frustrating efforts to grasp what was (and is still today) blasting on my radio, and what reverberated throughout the house from my 45s and albums, played repeatedly on my record player. (Am I dating myself or what?!)
I still have a collection of vinyl records stored someplace in my house.

Not my original old-fashioned record player, but could be - mine was just like this. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Peek Into My Closet…and My Life

I am in trouble. The truth about my inner self will soon become apparent to the outside world, whether I like it or not.

Or at least to those members of the world viewing my closet.

Careful, extended, thoughtful scientific research on the hidden significance of our cluttered, or clutter-less, closets produces the revelation that they are windows into the mind.

I have no idea why adults would waste their valuable professional time studying closets, but that is an interesting topic for another blog post. Meanwhile…

Apparently the things we accumulate tell others about our mental state and possibly our physical health too. Our closet might indicate whether or not we have attention deficit hyperactive disorder or compulsive obsessive disorder or are on the brink of dementia or have developed some other somber-sounding disorder.

My closet is not neat and has never been neat. It is usually a cluttered mess. I want to own a well-ordered closet, one organized by items or color or use, everything carefully stacked on shelves or hung on hangars, but it rarely happens.

Ever since a kid I used the excuse my closet was too small. Actually the closet was never too small. I owned – and still own – too many possessions for the size of the closet.

There is a universal, undisputable law – Baer’s Closet Truism – explaining that no matter how many closets in a home, they all eventually fill and overflow with stuff.

The closet is an inanimate, empty space waiting for one or more humans to fill it.

I admit I do a very good job of packing the entire space with my belongings.

The scenario occurs as follows:

One item, two items, then a steady stream of additional things are carefully placed in what initially might appear to be a huge space. One day in a hurry I toss items in the closet, eventually filling the floor with shoes, pocketbooks, backpacks and other assorted items. Stuff begins falling off shelves and hangers, remaining on the floor, further creating clutter. I impatiently shovel through the growing mound of possessions attempting to find the one pair of shoes needed on a particular day.

I clean my closet occasionally, tossing things out, filling bags for charity, and carefully refilling the closet with items I need/want/refuse to part with but probably will never use.

Unfortunately my shipshape closet does not remain clutter-free for long.

The scenario repeats itself and before I know it, I cannot find the pair of shoes desired, or the shirt I know I washed and put away, or the new pants never worn but waiting patiently for me somewhere in the deep, dark caverns otherwise known as my closet.

So what does this tell the professionals about me?

What long-winded medical term describes my inability to maintain a neat closet?

How does that infirmity spill over into the rest of my life?

Is my mind as cluttered as my physical space?

Is there some test to find out? Do I want to know?

And perhaps the most important question of all:

If I have a disorder, will my medical insurance rates increase?

Will my insurance company stop covering me completely, throwing me out into the cold, cruel world of the uninsured?

Will I be denied certain benefits because the disorder affects other parts of my life and health?

Will they refuse to pay for blood pressure medication, for instance, citing the cause of this medical issue my cluttered closet and mental incapacity, and not a physical problem or aging factor?

Will they mandate special clutter-free training, requiring attendance at classes aimed at de-cluttering the mind, restoring good health and physical space to my life?

Will I resist, happy with my life, unwilling to change?

Must I stand before a crowd and admit my weakness, my addiction to clutter, and my failed efforts at change?

As part of my cure, am I prepared to wear a T-shirt announcing to the world that I am the proud owner of a cluttered closet overflowing with stuff that probably no one else wants?

The ramifications of my clutter condition are profound.

But at my advanced age, can I really change? Do I want to?

Not likely and probably not.

The only solution that works, and it is only a temporary one, is to move and start over with clean, empty spaces.

I think it is that time again…

Friday, August 8, 2014

A True Fable of Political Folly

This week 153 years ago – August 5, 1861 - was sort of a landmark date in American history, although not a milestone most of us want to celebrate.

Congress passed a bill levying the first income tax. It was short-lived, but began a rocky history leading to the enactment of what has become an annual national ritual.

Conservatives are not usually recognized for supporting change. Their mantra is something along the lines of stick with the status quo. If it ain’t broke, or if it is sort of broke but not broke enough to affect us personally, don’t change anything.

Yet in the case of the income tax, conservative politicians ushered in profound societal change.

That was not their intent. Their motivation was exactly the opposite – to permanently halt a proposed innovation that would inflict ruin on our nation (so they alleged) and which they staunchly opposed - the income tax.

Their clandestine tactics failed dismally.

The 16th amendment to the Constitution, permitting the government to impose income taxes, marked the end of the gilded age of outrageous spending by the wealthy barons of America.

The income tax obliged the wealthiest Americans, like everyone else, to fork over part of their hard-earned cash to Uncle Sam. Cash that previously poured into Newport summer cottages mansions, over-the-top dinner parties, servants, expensive furnishings, fancy balls…

The American equivalent of a Downton Abbey lifestyle. The income tax was not the only reason the lavish lifestyle ended, but was one important reason.

Some tax background…

Politicians during the Civil War advanced the outrageous concept that wars should be paid for immediately, or as quickly as possible. In that spirit Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1861, which included a 3% tax on incomes over $800 (just over $21,000 in 2014 dollars).

The tax was never implemented. An 1862 law imposed a 3% tax on incomes between $600 and $10,000, and 5% on higher incomes. Congress repealed the law ten years later. The U.S. Supreme Court declared income taxes unconstitutional because the taxes were not allocated among the states based on state populations (as they should be according to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution).

By the way, people living in the Confederacy did not avoid taxes. The Confederacy imposed a graduated income tax to fill their war chest.

Throughout the decades following the Civil War a variety of political and social groups backed a graduated income tax as a means of financing the U.S. government. Historically most government funding came from tariffs – taxes on imports.

Conservative Republicans campaigned against the income tax.

Democrats introduced an income tax bill in 1909. Republican conservatives decided to kill the idea once and for all. Republicans, severely divided between moderates and conservatives (sound familiar?), created a ploy sure to destroy the bill.

They agreed to support an income tax only if a Constitutional amendment allowing the tax passed.

A constitutional amendment required ratification by three-quarters of the states before becoming law. Republicans were confident the states would never approve the amendment.

They badly miscalculated. The states ratified the 16th amendment and it became the law of the land in February 1913.

The long, tangled list of deductions and exemptions taxpayers deal with today began with the imposition of the tax in 1913, when only about 1% of Americans actually paid any income tax.

It is notable that anti-tax, anti-change conservatives, the philosophical ancestors of today’s uncompromising conservatives, were drivers of social change.

Over the past century the income tax became imbedded in America’s psyche, a yearly rite ridiculed, hated and avoided, one that probably causes divorces or at least major marital upheavals, fueling the economy with thousands of bookkeeper, accountant, lawyer, and related jobs.

Conservatives want to limit taxes nowadays, especially taxes levied on the wealthiest amongst us, but it was their forebear's folly that instituted them in the first place.

Love the irony!

The moral of this fractured fable?

Be very, very careful what you say you want (you might get it).

And politically, Do not support something you really don’t want, because in spite of careful preparation and backroom maneuvering, plans can backfire.

FYI - the 16th amendment to the Constitution:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

iSurrender to iTech

I tried. I really did.

But I cannot keep up with high tech. I am tech challenged.

Laptop, iPad, Kindle, Nook, cell phone, smartphone, smarter phones, apps, infinity, Xfinity…

iSurrender.

My life may be imperfect because I cannot keep up with the latest gadgets, but I am willing to accept the consequences.

I want my plain vanilla life back.

I do not care if the speed of my gadgets increases from one something-or-other per second to a bigger (or should it be smaller…) nano number. It will not change my life, for better or for worse.

I do not care if the number of pixels increase, enhancing picture definition. My eyes are going anyway. It will not change my life, for better or worse.

I am tired of upgrading software every time I turn on an electronic gadget. My smartphone indicates 14 upgrades pending for various apps. The programs work, for now. Upgrades will not change my life.

The electronic age did not totally pass me by, but did not sweep me off my feet. My gadgets and I have not lived happily ever after. Our relationship has been tentative and at times rocky.

Over the years we dated, sometimes content with our relationship, even happy.


But it never lasts.

My gadgets demand more of me.

And I cannot always accommodate. I am tired, have a headache, am busy doing other things, yearn for a vacation, get annoyed at tech’s idiosyncrasies. The frustration level with my electronic partners soars when things do not transpire the way they are supposed to.

Discussing the problem does not help. They do what they want to do when they want to do it, selfish, ungrateful, stubborn gadgets with a psyche I do not understand.

Yet I will not abandon electronics completely. I do not want to be isolated in a world where everyone around me is connected.

How would I spend the time waiting in a doctor’s office? I noticed recently professional offices receive fewer magazines nowadays. People no longer need external stimulus to pass the time. They bring their entertainment with them.

What would I do while everyone else at a restaurant is checking email or texting? I could actually talk to the other people at my table, but they would not pay attention, their heads buried in a phone.

What other items in my home would entertain the grandkids? Card games and board games work sometimes, but nothing generates as much excitement as looking at Grandma’s pictures on her phone, taking pictures with Grandma’s phone, or surreptitiously downloading games on Grandma’s smartphone or iPad.

My new phone – over a year old – is at least two G's behind (tech talk, do not ask me to define G's). But it works fine. It rings, I can answer it, talk, take pictures, look at my pictures, check emails, text and message, check the latest news. I am a veritable 21st century techie.

Until the real 21st century techies – usually the grandkids – utilize their gadgets.

 Do you use Siri? We never communicate. I guess we have nothing in common.

Do you Kevo?  Uh, no, not yet. I open my door the old fashioned way – with a metal key.

Do you twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/…? I do, I try, but not as much as I could/should. Where do people get the time to find out about these apps, learn how to use them, actually use them, post items, look for stuff?…I get a headache thinking about it all.

In many ways, however, my phone has become another body appendage. If I leave the house without it I feel, well, naked. I probably will not need it, but I might. What happens if the car breaks down? I must notify AAA and hub. What if hub realizes we are out of ice cream? He can text me and I will make an emergency stop on my way home.

In summary, while light years (or is it megabyte years?) behind dedicated tech users, I am a tech consumer. An unskilled, inept one, but a user nevertheless.

I have surrendered to the tech demons.

I ask my gadgets one favor. Be kind. Be patient of my electronic weaknesses.

But of course electronic gadgets cannot be kind. Or unkind. Or patient. They are not human.

Yet…

One day in the not-to-far-distant-future a gadget will find an agreeable lawyer to file a legal case on their behalf. Before we know it the Supreme Court will declare that electronic gadgets are people, too.

It happened with corporations. It could happen with our gadgets. Remember that the next time you want to smash yours in frustration.