Cool Technology

Rules We Need, New and Interesting Products, and Edith Ann

Dear Kid,

There ought to be a rule.

OK, to be fair, there are all sorts of rules in the world. I’m talking about a new rule.

I’m talking about a rule that says that websites shouldn’t talk about New and Interesting Products in a way that makes people want to find out more when the New and Interesting Product in question is not yet available for sale. And doesn’t have a price posted.

The New and Interesting Product I’m referring to is called the HOVR. It’s a gizmo that lets you swing your feet while you sit at your desk. This improves health and cognitive ability according to the inventors.

Those of us with short legs have always known that swinging your feet while you’re sitting and working is fun. DearKidLoveMom.comThose of us with short legs have always known that swinging your feet while you’re sitting and working is fun.

And it doesn’t cost anything.

Except possibly a little dignity.

When I saw the promo, I was intrigued and thought I’d investigate to see how much such a gizmo might cost. I’m not likely to purchase one, but I was curious about how much I was not going to purchase it for.

The first site I found was happy to tell me everything (including the cost of shipping) except the price.

That was frustrating.

I searched more.

My Friend the Internet groaned a little about being awoken from a perfectly good nap, but got to work.

The HOVR costs $89. The tracker costs $33 (that part is optional). You can attach the HOVR to your desk or you can buy the stand which costs $100. You read that correctly: the stand costs more than the thing you’re buying.

There ought to be a rule.

Love, Mom

 

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The Sound of Silence? NYC Subways

Dear Kid,

IF you happened to be hanging around New York City in 1904, and IF you happened to wish to go from Here to There, and IF “here” was City Hall and “there” was 145th Street, and IF you had an extra nickel (which was real money at the time), and IF you happened to be insistent enough to push your way to the front of the line, you might have been on the first ride of the New York City subway.

The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenements halls and whispered in the sounds of silence. Paul Simon. DearKidLoveMom.comActually, probably not. The then Mayor (George McClellan) was the “engineer” of the first run at 2:35pm (no idea how they chose that time), and one can only imagine that the first ride was full of dignitaries, wannabees, journalists, other hangers-on, and 70% of The City’s homeless.

The general public (that’s who you would have been) had to wait until 7pm to turn their nickel into underground transportation. That same ride costs $2.75 today.

A slice of New York City pizza (yum) tends to cost about as much as a ride on the subway. Seriously.

FACT: The world’s oldest underground train network was opened in London in 1863.

ANOTHER FACT: The first subway in the US was built in Boston.

YET ANOTHER FACT: NYC’s subway is bigger than either London’s or Boston’s because New York.

Until 1948, subway cost a nickel. That year the fare was raised to a dime (not two nickels because those wouldn’t fit in the new turnstiles).

Five years later, the fare was raised to 15 cents. But engineers couldn’t figure out how to create a turnstile that could accept two different coins. Enter the subway token.

For 50 years, tokens were the only way to pay to ride the subway and as fares rose, tokens changed—albeit less frequently than I would have expected. There were only 5 tokens over the years (not including the commemorative ones because I don’t want to include them).

Rather than pay for a token, thieves would sometimes jam the turnstiles and suck the tokens out of the slots. Kind of like slurping soup, but much more disgusting. To combat this, the MTA often sprayed the slots with chili powder. Ick. DearKidLoveMom.com

ONE MORE FACT: Rather than pay for a token, thieves would sometimes jam the turnstiles and suck the tokens out of the slots. Kind of like slurping soup, but much more disgusting. To combat this, the MTA often sprayed the slots with chili powder.

These days, one uses a MetroCard to ride the subway. Which is much more efficient and much less fun.

AND STILL ONE MORE FACT: In 2008, 44 old NYC subway cars were dumped into the ocean off of the coast Maryland to serve as an artificial reef. To date, there have been no reports of fishy graffiti.

Happy New York City subway birthday day.

Love, Mom

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Adventures of Travel Home (Part I)

Dear Kid,

The second meanest thing you can say to someone is “May you have adventurous travels.” The meanest thing you can say to someone is “May you have unplanned adventure in your travels. And be fed kale.”

Driving 609 miles should be long, boring, and uneventful. Our trip home was long. Not so much on boring and uneventful.

First we had the joy of the whiney Puppy. Not sure if he whines because he’s happy to be in the car or because he’s stressed. Either way, not enjoyable. It only took an hour and a half for him to settle down.

Then there was the weather. “Not to worry,” said your father, “We won’t have any rain on our drive home.” This was correct except for being entirely wrong. Mid-rainstorm, Dad revised his forecast. “We won’t encounter any snow this trip.” Brilliant.

Also during the rainstorm (just to keep things interesting), a bunch of dashboard lights went on. FACT: Lights are lovely on a Christmas tree. Not on a dashboard.

About half an hour later, Dad said, “You know there are lights on the dashboard.”

“Mmmm,” I replied, “I’m hoping they reset when we turn off the car.”

For the record, auto mechanics love me; especially if they have bills to pay.

“What do those particular lights mean?” asked Dad.

“How should I know?” I answered. “My job is to drive this thing. Besides, they can’t be bad; the car’s only 3 ½ years old.”

Faultless logic, no?

Dad opened the car’s manual and began reading:

If this light illuminates while driving, never brake suddenly and keep driving straight ahead while gradually reducing speed. Then slowly pull off the road to a safe place. Otherwise an accident involving serious vehicle damage and serious personal injury could occur. If this light still illuminates while driving after adjusting the tire pressure, a tire may have significant damage and a fast leak that causes the tire to lose air rapidly.

“Wait, I have a flat tire?”

“It didn’t say ‘flat tire’. It said ‘a tire may have significant damage and a fast leak.’”

“That sounds like ‘flat tire’ to me. But it’s not riding like there’s a flat tire.”

Pause.

“Never mind,” said Dad. “I read the wrong thing.”

Oh good.

More reading.

Dad determined that the ABS braking system wasn’t working. He figured this out because one of the little lights said “ABS”.

“So what does that mean?” I asked.

Dad explained, “The computer won’t help you stop. You’re on old fashioned braking.”

“So I can keep driving?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Because that was my plan.” And I did.

Slightly east of Buffalo, we stopped to fill the car’s tank, empty ours, and switch drivers. Dad took over the wheel…and the car refused, absolutely REFUSED, to shift out of Park.

For the record, you can’t actually drive the car when it’s in park.

Then he told us NOT to shift into park No. Matter. What. DearKidLoveMom.comDad turned off the engine, turned it back on, and tried again. Rinse and repeat. Nothing changed.

We called the Subaru Service Department. Dad and ChrisTheServiceDude had a lovely conversation. We tried this and that at his suggestion. Then he told Dad to really, really, really press hard on the brake pedal and that let us shift. Then he told us NOT to shift into park No. Matter. What.

Amazingly, that’s not the end of the story. Part II tomorrow.

Love, Mom

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It’s the Weekend | Take a Few Minutes to Unplug

Dear Kid,

A few days ago I was sent a text. I replied about 15 minutes after I got it. Later, the sender said to me, “What’s the point of having a cell phone if you don’t have it with you all the time?”

I showed great restraint and said absolutely nothing.

It wasn’t easy.

What I wanted to say was, “What’s the point of being human if you’re plugged into your phone 24 hours a day?”

Communication in our day and age is wonderful. We get to talk and text with people near and far. We get to see pictures of newborns (Congrats, L). We get to find out good and bad news practically as soon as it happens.

The Puppy is unimpressed with cell phones. The flowers couldn’t care less about the latest box scores. The rabbit it far more concerned about finding clover than about what’s hot on Twitter. The squirrels are too busy plotting their next attack to contemplate anything. DearKidLoveMom.comBut taking time to unplug is important too. The Puppy is unimpressed with cell phones. The flowers couldn’t care less about the latest box scores. The rabbit is far more concerned about finding clover than about what’s hot on Twitter. The squirrels are too busy plotting their next attack to contemplate anything.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being connected and I love hearing from you (you should feel free to call your mother any time). But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to reply to a text 15 minutes after it’s sent (at least most of the time). And I think Mother Nature has a good idea about putting the tech away every now and then.

Love, Mom

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Heading to the Bahamas and Freedom of Speech

Dear Kid,

I’m so excited! A recorded voice just called to tell me that I’ve been selected to receive a free cruise to the Bahamas!

I’m so excited! A recorded voice just called to tell me that I’ve been selected to receive a free cruise to the Bahamas! DearKidLoveMom.com

I’m so excited! A recorded voice just called to tell me that I’ve been selected to receive a free cruise to the Bahamas!

It will stun you to know that I hung up before finding out what “free” actually means in this case. I’m sure it doesn’t mean “free” in the sense the dictionary might suggest.

“Mother,” I hear you say, “Why, Darling Mother, in this time of spam callers and election lobbyists, did you answer the phone when there was a number you didn’t recognize? You didn’t recognize the number, did you?”

No. I didn’t recognize the number. Recorded voices (and unrecorded people who insist on calling about things I’m not interested in) have gotten smarter. They now call on numbers that have local area codes rather than toll-free area codes. And they have managed to figure out exactly when to call so that they get me at a time when Dad isn’t home. So just on the off chance, the remote possibility, that something tragic happened (like his phone died) or something urgent is going on (like his phone died and he doesn’t know whether to salmon or chicken for dinner), I answer.

The other day, I answered the phone to discover a live human (live, not friendly) calling from a polling organization and asking for your sister. I explained that she wasn’t home. Less than 20 minutes later, someone else from the same organization called again asking for her. I said she didn’t live here anymore. Less than 20 minutes later – you guessed it – they called again. Since this was seriously cutting into my NCIS rerun viewing, I let the Puppy talk to them for a while. He has Very Interesting Views mostly involving treats and naps.

Love, Mom

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Restraint or Not To Restrain?

Dear Kid,

of course you're entitled to my opinion. All my opinions. DearKidLoveMom.comI was browsing Facebook (shocking, I know) and found a very interesting thought a friend of mine had posted:

So many things to say, but not one reason in the world to say them. Don’t you just wish this thought occurred to more people before they started typing????!!!! Just saying….

What was even more interesting to me were the comments people shared (and no, none of the comments were from me).

Commenter 1: When my son (now 21) first got Facebook, as “good” parents, we insisted on being his friend so we could monitor what he was doing and who he was conversing with. Early on, he had a post and I commented on it. Shortly thereafter, he came downstairs and said, “Mom…don’t write on my wall. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” This has become our family mantra. I wish more people would take a minute to think about this before saying things they probably shouldn’t.

Commenter 2: I just heard on NPR that a teacher is sharing this acronym with her students: W.A.I.T. which stands for Why Am I Talking? If it serves no useful purpose, why talk?

Commenter 3: I have an opinion on everything. My very wise husband says, “yes, (sweetheart)….you are entitled to your opinion – but not everyone wants to hear it”

Just because you think something, does not mean you are required to share it for everyone and their brother to see (and by “everyone and their brother” I mean everyone on the planet who’s ever thought of being anywhere near social media).

What do you think? Are you entitled to say anything you think? Or should you show restraint?

Love, Mom

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