True stories with a twist!

Posts tagged ‘technology’


Here he is; the man of the hour. The graduate. Our grandson.

Matt just graduated from Cornell and is now a Data Scientist. We are proud, proud, proud.IMG_0050

But I wish I had some idea what that means. It isn’t that Matt hasn’t explained what a Data Scientist is or what they do. It’s just that sometimes we don’t speak the same language. Vocabularies are different and so are Expressions young people use. Even computers speak different languages. College courses exist, dealing with computer languages or “coding.”

When I graduated from high school I remember the wise words the speaker said. He told our class that by the time we graduated from college there would be jobs available in areas of society that don’t even exist yet.

Of course we thought that we were so sophisticated that it was impossible for anything to develop that we didn’t already know about and understand. 

But that was before computers. And that was before cell phones. And that was before cordless appliances. 

Everything has changed. Even music. I used to be able to switch on the car radio and hear the swooning voice of Eddie Fisher singing, “Oh My Papa.” We have gone from listening to music on records, advancing to tapes, then CDs, to listening to music on cell phones. That’s why new car models don’t offer tape decks and CD players. Just turn on your cell phone and listen to your choice of any manner of music.

I take modern life and its conveniences so for granted, that I don’t remember what wasn’t here before. Things are changing so amazingly fast.

Last week we stopped at a convenience store on our way to Ithaca NY for graduation. There were no salespeople and no cashiers in the store. 

We selected our snacks and proceeded to a machine. There we scanned the bar code on the package and entered either a credit card or cash. We used a credit card, and the machine registered the amount and printed a receipt. The next person paid in cash. The change for his purchase was sent down a chute and into a container for him to retrieve. I was amazed by this development in devices. It seemed to me that humans are on their way to being non-essential for transacting the normal business of buying and paying for merchandise. 

Banking’s ATM machines are the models that retail stores are following. 

Children will no longer be taught to politely say,”Thank you, Maa’m.”

In the future they will say, “Thank you, hunk of metal!” or “Thank you, machine.”

When I told Matt that when I was a child we didn’t own a TV, he was incredulous. How could we have lived without a television set? And only one car for the whole entire family? Barbaric!

Perhaps some day his own children will be incredulous when he tells them that his family, considering the level of technology by that time, didn’t even own their own rocket ship.



Picture this: an old fashioned gentleman who opens doors for women and pulls out their chairs for them. If he’s with a woman at a restaurant he waits for her to order first. When going through an entrance he gestures for her to go ahead of him.

He’s a man who would tip his hat to women passing by if he were born a few years earlier. That’s what gentlemen do; that’s the way they behave; it’s been drummed into their minds since childhood and is as automatic as a Y-Generation guy giving a fist bump to a buddy.

Such a gentleman is my husband, Harvey.

When his first cell phone would no longer take a battery charge and finally quit after giving years of service, he went shopping to buy a replacement. A phone; nothing fancy, no hip hop tunes for ring tones, interactive calendars or internet shenanigans; just an ordinary cell phone that receives and delivers telephone calls.

But he met a salesman who showed him the amazing advances since the eons of five years when he bought the the first one.

Apple computer’s voiced computerized fact finder, Siri, finally sold him on the I Phone with its bells, whistles and personal assistant inside the phone. Harvey was entering the world of 21st century technology.

As he started calling upon Siri to do her chores the dialogue became unexpectedly funny to me and frustrating to him. Here is the dialogue of his first attempts at communicating with Siri.

“Siri,” he started, politely addressing her by her proper name, “Do you happen to have any current information about the traffic situation in the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey to New York?”

Click. Siri had hung up.

“That’s too many words,” I explained. “She has a short memory span. Pare your question down to, “Traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel?”

“Siri, Please tell me about the traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel, if you don’t mind.”

Click. Siri had hung up again.

“You are talking to a computer; not a cute young secretary. Stop wasting words with polite talk.”

“Alright, Siri, I’m asking you nicely. What are traffic conditions in the Lincoln Tunnel this morning?”

“Directions from Trenton,” she offered. At least she didn’t hang up this time, although her response was totally irrelevant to his question.

Siri, he was beginning to think, was no lady!

So I doubt whether he would open a door or pull out a chair for Siri if the occasion arose. Now if only he would  stop saying “Please and Thank You.” His mother would be so disappointed in his newly acquired speaking style, being asked to un-remember the polite childhood lessons of always saying “please and thank you.”

But his mother never spoke to a computer either.

Meshing Harvey’s world with Siri’s and learning each other’s ways of communicating is still a long work in progress.

Waiting is the Hardest Part

How much longer will it be? What’s happening: have you heard any news? Has anyone issued a statement?

I could get more information from a Ouija Board.

I love technology and staying current with new innovations. So why is Apple making it so difficult to buy an ipad 2? I will not be defeated, turned away or ignored. We’ve heard about the shortages and wait lists for the device but are determined to have one.

My husband and I plan a foolproof method to get hold of an iPad 2. Our  approach is as delicate as planning a bank robbery, judging from the movies we’ve seen over the years. One Monday morning we set the alarm to awaken us before 6A.M. We head to the Short Hills Mall to be first in line at The Apple Store. We don’t stop for breakfast, thinking that diners open early and we’ll grab something at the mall. The mall opens by 7:30AM to accommodate walkers and workers. Or walking workers. Or working walkers. The excitement of this venture makes me giddy.

We arrive at the mall parking lot and Harvey says, “You get a head start. I’ll park the car and meet you there.” I head purposefully inside.

Dragging themselves across the floor are exhausted people hiking the one and three quarter times around the mall for each mile they’ve been coerced to walk.

The Apple Store comes into view just as my cell phone rings and Harvey announces that he is has arrived inside the mall and is making his way towards me.

At 6:10 in the morning there is a long line outside the store. A bossy, irritating Apple employee is distributing numbers. He announces that the store has had a shipment today of 35 iPad 2s. We are number 51. So two and a half hours before the store opens it is already sold out. One would-be customer loudly yells, “I’ve been in line since 3:30 this morning.” Apple man, enjoying this opportunity to feel mighty and omnipotent, puffs himself up like a frog, and says in a haughty tone “Too bad, but we can’t sell  what we don’t have. Maybe we’ll have more tomorrow.” We are frustrated, angry and incredulous at this outcome. The rage I feel is hard to control. But there’s no point in confronting Mr. Important Person. It would just give him another power boost.

We’ll go home and order the iPad 2 on line.

“Where did you park the car?” I ask as we exit the mall.

“In the inside lot next to Saks,” he says forlornly.

We go upstairs, find Saks, exit the mall and find …nothing.  No car. “But I know I parked it here,” he says.

We head back inside to the security office, where the whole sad story is told to the  Schwartzeneger body double man on duty. “Sure, we’ll find your car for you.” I feel safe already. This strong giant looks as if he can do anything. But then he calls inside and says, “Carolina, these folks lost their car.” Carolina struts out, about one eighth the size of Schwartzenager-body-double-strong-giant security guard. They say size doesn’t matter and hopefully that is true. She starts asking questions. “What’s the license number?”


“OK: what color is the car?”

“Blue” we say together. At least we remember something!

We walk as she chirps questions and comments. We are suddenly enervated from sleep deprivation, breakfast deprivation and ipad 2 deprivation. Not a drop of coffee, tea or Red Bull has passed our lips today.

Carolina finds the car and we escape to our warm, welcoming house.

We order the ipad 2 on line knowing that the wait will be six weeks. But we can sleep normal hours, enjoy sane quiet breakfasts at home, and share our soon to end morning ritual of leisurely reading the paper. Will we miss the sharing of sections that is our ritual now? Once the iPad 2 is here we will read the news on “the gadget.”

I look forward to eliminating the annoying task of tying and recycling newspapers.

If this works out we might find that, as with our cars, we are a two ipad 2 family.

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