Cool Technology

The Blue Screen of Random Restarts and Techno Superpowers

Dear Kid,

I am not a techno-geek. In fact, I have the superpower of being able to stop all technology within a five mile radius just by waking up in the morning. Eyes flutter open and all computers instantly slow down, wondering if I will turn my death-ray eyes in their direction. Those spared go back to work. Others give up their ones and zeros until I leave the state.

The Blue Screen of Random Restarts and Techno Superpowers. DearKidLoveMom.comNot only am I the DeathStar of technology, I’m a little excessive when it comes to using my laptop. Which is to say I generally have about 43 files and 287 internet tabs open at any given time.

I get that I set myself up for problems. I get it. Really, I do.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop me from losing my mind every time my computer decides to restart (this instant! No warning! Just “Don’t close your computer or the world will implode” messages.).

I shouldn’t be surprised. But I am. I should take it in stride. But I don’t. I should wait patiently. Instead, I spend my time explaining to the laptop that it would be fine with me if it would just hurry things along and update the minimums—I’ll pass on the premium offer.

Doesn’t matter. I am ignored (as I knew I would be).

I thank my computer for still working hard, and assure it that if it would just update during the day while I’m at work I won’t feel left out. My computer says it likes having me around as it goes through its routine. I give a long explanation about the opportunity to grow and advance. My computer says that’s the definition of restarting and it’s happier when I’m around.

I point out that I’m less productive when it won’t let me work. It points out that it is ones and zeros and I can talk until I’m blue in the face and ain’t nuthin’ gonna change.

I scratch the Puppy’s head while I wait. Silently.

But in my head, I’m hoping it will just hurry up and restart.

Love, Mom

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10 Things I Learned from Being on TV

Dear Kid,

What I Learned from My Brief (very) Stint (Ha!) as a Television Personality.

  1. 10 Things I Learned from Being on TV. DearKidLoveMom.comSome green rooms (the place you wait before you go “on”) are green. Some are not. Some green rooms are just the corner of the set.
  2. It is amazing how many different looks get crammed into a studio. (The actual number is 453 according to a recent study I made up.)
  3. It’s better if you actually know the price of the tickets in case someone asks you on air. When you overstate the ticket price by 50₵, someone (Dad) is liable to say something (a LOT) about it.
  4. Women who work behind the camera are teeny little people (I saw two and therefore can state this generalization with supreme confidence). Their size and gender has absolutely no bearing on their ability to do their job.
  5. People who are actual TV Personalities are very good at making their guests feel welcome and relaxed. At least the ones I met.
  6. The people who work behind the scenes are very good at making their guests feel welcome and relaxed. At least the ones I met.
  7. No one hangs around to chat with you before the segment. No one hangs around to chat with you after the segment unless they are seriously into coffee (which means everyone hangs around afterward).
  8. Being on air for several seconds does not make one instantly recognizable in Kroger. I do not have to worry about changing my name or hair color.
  9. Elves do not rush over to clean up the house just because one appears briefly on TV.
  10. It is better (much) to be on TV for something like the Cincinnati Coffee Festival than for many of the things people are on TV talking about.

Love, Mom

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Why $36 is better than $1,000

Why $36 is better than $1,000

Dear Kid,

There I was, happily working, typing away (I was once told I type mistakes per minute faster than almost anyone else) when a small notice popped up on the corner of my laptop. It said something about the HP not working which I assumed meant that the laptop couldn’t find the old printer (we just switched printers recently) so I did the only reasonable thing and ignored the message.

Isn’t that the right way to approach all technology problems? Keep working and hope they go away.

Hi Friend! Puppy Conversations.

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but it was dang cute.

The next morning, the message popped up again.

Dang, my strategy didn’t work.

More importantly, my laptop wasn’t charging. Even I know that’s not good. So I paid attention to the message and discovered it was talking about my charging cord.

Really not good.

After teaching the puppy a few new unprintable words, I unplugged my useless cord, threw it in the car, and after work I zipped over to Microcenter to purchase a replacement.

Drive home, walk dog, plug in computer, feed dog, contemplate dinner, open computer, and discover that the charger isn’t working and the same awful message is popping up.

Freak out.

Spend 8 minutes 34 seconds on hold imagining that I will have to spend $1,000 to buy a new laptop.

Hang up on “hold” and freak out again.

Throw cord, packaging, and laptop in a bag and drive over to Microcenter so I can freak out in person.

Fortunately, Geoff the Microcenter Guy was kind, patient, and adept. Which is to say he didn’t let my  freak out get in the way of reality and he solved all the world’s problems (and by “all the world’s problems” I mean he convinced the charger-thing to charge the laptop. Yay and hallelujah!

Buying a new charger cord is so much better than having to buy a whole new laptop.

Whew! And thank you, Geoff.

Love, Mom

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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.

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.”


“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?”


“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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