Tag Archives: technology

Lord of the Remote

I don’t like to think of myself as dramatic, but every once in awhile a scene like the one described below occurs and I have to humbly accept my imaginary Oscar for best dramatic performance in a domestic situation. 

Son: Hey mom, can we watch “Lord of the Rings”?

Me: (dropping everything in my hands) I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT SINCE YOU WERE BORN.

Son: Mom, are you ok?

Me: (grabbing special edition extended DVD boxed set) Sit down and prepare not to do anything for the next 13 hours!

Son: Can I go to the bathroom?

Me: No. 

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I’m kidding, of course. I let him go to the bathroom. 

Once. 

The point is, we really are living in a magical time. A time where technology makes it possible for us to share everything we’ve ever loved and obsessed over with our children. EVERYTHING. Most of it at the click of a button. Even more amazing is that it’s something we already take for granted even though this instant nostalgia wasn’t around even a mere generation ago. 

I have no idea what my mom’s favorite TV show was when she was growing up. This is mostly because as her child I was genetically inclined to think everything she liked was dumb and therefore of no interest to me. But also she had very few outlets to share these things with me. Reruns and VHS tapes were pretty much it and that was only if some balding, cigar-chomping, TV executive (I’m just assuming they were all like that in the ‘80’s) decided they were worthy of reruns and/or VHS immortality. 

Meanwhile, my children have seen my favorite childhood TV show, “David the Gnome,” so many times they could write a passable doctoral thesis on it in multiple crayon colors. (Alas, my favorite childhood movie, “The Neverending Story,” didn’t go over as well because us ‘80’s kids were built of stronger stuff and didn’t get hysterical every time a beloved horse character committed suicide via swamp quicksand). 

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It’s not just movies and TV shows either. Thanks to the Nintendo Classic Edition, my kids and I have spent hours playing Mario Bros. together, side by side, just like I used to do with my cousins. The only difference now is that I’m finally the best player and my generic Mountain Dew has been replaced by generic Merlot. 

I’m basically getting to relive the best parts of my pop culture past while bringing my kids along for the ride. This is an extraordinary power and like all extraordinary powers, it’s super fun to abuse!

Take, for example, the fact I’ve been trying to force the Harry Potter books onto my firstborn for years. Pretty much once a week we have some version of the following conversation:

Me: You ready yet?

Son: For what?

Me: (in bad British accent) ‘arry Potter! 

Son: No.

Me: How about now?

Son: Nope.

Me: Now?

Son: Please stop, mom.

Me: Accio Interest!

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And THEN, after buying multiple Harry Potter Lego sets and T-shirts and light up wands and a sorting hat and discreetly playing the movies in the background and leaving the books scattered all over his room, my son brought home a worksheet from kindergarten and under the question “What is the title of a book you want to read?” he wrote “Hrry Pottr Nubrw 2.”* 

Did I trick him into wanting to read the books? Did I gaslight my own child? Did I grift my own flesh and blood?

Yup.  

It’s just, my kids have the WORST taste in entertainment. It’s all “Little Einsteins” and “Paw Patrol” and “Muppet Babies” but not the awesome old “Muppet Babies,” the new ones with the weird penguin. 

They don’t even like the good Disney movies. All the Disney movies ever made right there at their fingertips and they keep requesting “Sleeping Beauty,” the one where the princess is worthless and does nothing and has one job, not to touch a spindle, but what does she do? She touches a spindle because she’s human garbage. 

So, while I would never dictate what my children can and cannot like, because that would be wrong,** all I’m saying is that while they are still too little to figure out our three remotes and the convoluted sequence of magic buttons you have to hit in order to make them obey your every command, I’m merely going to gently guide them in the right direction. 

The right direction, of course, being “The Goonies.” 

*First, so cute, right? Second, I have no idea why he wants to start with the second book in the series but gaslighters can’t be choosers. 

**Right? It would be wrong? Or…no, no, it’s wrong. 

When your online life is a hot mess

You know, it used to be back in my day (oh yes, I’m officially old enough to use that phrase unironically now) that you were only in charge of keeping one life in order. Or at least keeping it from turning into a major dumpster fire. All you had to do was keep a roof over your head (with only small-to-medium leaks tops), food in your fridge (30 plus containers of old takeout completely qualifying) and a little bit of money in the bank (at least $4) after paying all your assorted bills.

Beyond that, if you really wanted to get fancy with your adulting, you just needed health insurance, a pet (or kids, or anything that looks cute in a tiny sweater) and a close circle of family and friends you saw in person from time to time.

And I was doing a fairly decent job at keeping this one life in order. I had kept my kids alive, had a non-expired driver’s license (I think…?) and even paid taxes that one time.

But now? Pffft. Now we all have two lives.

Two.

Two lives we are in charge of keeping from imploding. And I don’t know about you but I was barely keeping afloat with the one involving the ancient lo mein noodles I just ate for breakfast.

My online life is a hot mess. Just completely in shambles. If it were a house, it’d be featured on an episode of “Hoarders.” If it were a TV character, it’d be Liz Lemon. If it were a celebrity breakdown, it’d be 2007 Britney Spears and 2013 Amanda Bynes COMBINED.

Take, for example, the fact I have multiple e-mail accounts, all of which have thousands of unread e-mails because does anyone check their e-mail anymore? And on the extremely rare occasion when I do check them, all the thousands of unread e-mails stress me out so I immediately log off and pretend it doesn’t exist. Until I get an alert that someone has hacked my e-mail, in which case I will spend 25 frustrating minutes trying to change the password, only to finally be successful and then immediately forget the new password. And some of these e-mail accounts have my maiden name and some have my married name and since I go by my maiden name it’s extremely confusing to everyone and the whole thing makes me want to cry into a pile of stamps while venting my frustrations to that Nigerian prince who is just super understanding.

I have roughly 500,000 photos languishing in folders across 23 different devices (some of these devices dating back to almost 20 years because, again, I is old). All of which I am likely never to see again (and if I ever do, the bulk will be pictures of cheese and extreme close-ups of my toddler’s nostrils).

In a similar vein, every piece of writing I’ve ever done since high school is also spending time in technology purgatory, trapped forever on old computers that belong in a sad, old person museum instead of the corner of my attic.

I have three Skype accounts. Three. Because I kept forgetting what I put as my username (unicornglitter_96? mermaidsugarpants?) and it was just easier to start a new account than trying to hack into my old account. Added bonus, if you held a gun to my head right now and asked for just one of my Skype usernames, I’d be dead instantly (joel_mchales_wife321?).

I have ancient accounts on MySpace and LinkedIn and Tumblr and Pinterest and Path and Vine that I haven’t deleted yet because frankly, I don’t know how nor care to learn.

Even watching TV now requires a password thanks to Hulu and Netflix and HBO Go (HBO Now? HBO I’m only here for “Game of Thrones”?). Passwords I never, ever remember. Nor does my husband. Leaving us both to look franticly for that Post-It I wrote down all the passwords on which we can never, ever find.

Instagram. Amazon. Twitter. Snapchat. Facebook (which guilt trips me into wishing 1,378 people I don’t know a happy birthday!!!!!! Emoji cake! Emoji martini! Emoji poop!).

All a mess.

Sigh.

And the hackers. Oh, the hackers. They love me. Because I am the perfect combination of lazy and technologically incompetent. At this point, I am on a first name basis with Todd, the dude in charge of identity theft at my credit card company.

In my defense, it is fairly easy to let your online life get out of control considering it’s out there floating in Internet space or whatever and not in your fridge gathering mold and possibly a conscience. Out of sight, out of mind and whatnot.

But I really should try to get my technology house in order. And I will. Right after I find that stupid Post-It with all the passwords on it.

 

 

 

Thanks for nuthin,’ technology

There are a lot of downsides to moving far away from friends and family to make it “big” in the big city (or in my case, make it “small-medium-ish” in the big city).

But one of the upsides is that you ALWAYS have the ultimate excuse to get out of undesirable social events, such as the lesser holidays, weddings of second/third cousins, high school reunions, the “Let’s help Bob and Sue move across town!” scenarios and, most importantly, showers, both of the wedding and baby variety.

But now, thanks to technology, that convenient trump card has swiftly become obsolete. To wit: This past Saturday I, while hanging out at my house in Boston, attended a baby shower for a couple who lives in Branson that was thrown by a group of our mutual friends from Texas.

Thanks a lot, Steve Jobs (or whoever is the Steve Jobs equivalent over at Google+). No, really.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It really was great getting to see them all again, or at least the tiny, overly pixellated versions of who I suspect was them (Thanks to my 1998 computer software, I could have been participating in an amateur porno convention online for all I know. The dialogue would have probably been the same. We’re a super classy bunch).

And it was an incredibly thoughtful and sweet gesture by a group of people I’m proud to call my friends. The problem is simply that I’ve never really been one of those people who enjoys baby showers. In fact, I even wrote a column a few years back (which I have conveniently re-posted below for your reading pleasure) about my dread of these events.

This was compounded by the fact I couldn’t really communicate with anyone since my crappy computer had an approximate 17-minute microphone delay:

“So, Aprill, how’s Boston?”

“Can you guys hear me?”

“Yes.”

“Guys?”

“We can hear you, Aprill.”

“GUYS!?!”

“Aprill? Can you hear us?”

(15 more minutes like this)

“Oh, Boston’s great! I love it.”

And lest you start to think what a horrible friend I am (which I may deserve but for far more devious reasons than this), let me just add that I am super excited for Trysta and Steve and their soon-to-be-born unholy spawn baby and know they are going to be wonderful parents (Oh, and P.S. guys, your gift should be in the mail soon…at the latest, you should get it before she goes off to college).

30 Women & A Baby

As much as we like to think equality between the sexes has come a long way, baby, there is still one giant gap that exists between men and women. Alas, pending some major medical breakthrough, I don’t foresee this gap ever being bridged.

Yes, it’s sad but it’s true. In a recent study it was found that 99.9 percent of all babies come from women.

I know, I know. You’d think that since we’ve put three women on the Supreme Court, we could get at least a few men knocked up, but apparently the medical community is much too busy with other stuff, like curing cancer and finding new poisons to inject into our faces to combat wrinkles.

To be honest, I’m actually all right with the fact that my gender is shouldering this burden alone (or miracle, for those of you who are more of the “glass is half full” mind-set).

But what I am not all right with is that this biological difference gives men another Get Out of Jail Free card. Despite the fact that it takes two to make a baby, women are the only ones who are required to attend the dreaded (insert dramatic music here) baby shower.

Oh sure, maybe not all women hate baby showers. I once read a study that said one leader will emerge out of every group of 20 people. I have a feeling those numbers also apply to the amount of women who actually enjoy the finger sandwiches, uncomfortable small talk and swapping of horrific birth stories that make up your standard baby shower. As for the rest of us…well, dental surgery is an apt comparison.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love babies. I love holding babies. I love smelling babies. I love handing babies back to their mothers when they start crying.

I also love mothers. I fully believe they deserve all the rights and privileges as the rest of us. In fact, some of my best friends are mothers.

So the problem with baby showers is not in the actual act of celebrating the mother-to-be and the brand new life she is carrying. That is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated. No, the problem lies in the mechanics of the event.

See, a baby shower is essentially when you thrust together a group of women who have nothing in common other than knowing a pregnant female and then give them nothing to do for a couple of hours other than to watch this chick open presents and drink punch (which doesn’t contain even a trace of booze).

For you men out there reading this (all two of you who actually made it to this point before you flipped over to the sports section) and have no idea what I’m talking about, let me give you an inside glimpse at what you get to skip out on.

You ring a doorbell and are greeted by a perky woman whom you’ve never met. As you’re shuffled inside, you look around and see a bunch of women of all ages clustered in small groups of two or three, all of whom you’ve also never met. You stand there awkwardly until eventually some brave soul, usually propelled by the fact that they can’t stand the awkwardness anymore, will leave her cluster and strike up a conversation with you. Now if you’re both mothers, this tends to go well, since you can swap war stories about the time little Johnny got a toy army man stuck up his nose or the time little Aprill felt the need to announce to her entire second grade class that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, thus causing a mini-riot at Hardin Elementary (true story).

However, if you are a woman of child-bearing age sans kids such as myself, the resulting encounter typically goes something like this:

Random Woman: “Hi.”

You: “Hello.”

Random Woman: “So, how do you know the mother-to-be?”

You: “I’m her second cousin. And you?”

Random Woman: “Her dentist’s niece.”

You: “Ah.”

Random Woman: “Yeah.”

You: “So, great potato salad, eh?”

Random Woman: “Oh yes, it’s delicious.”

You: “Yeah.”

At this point, one of you will generally make some lame excuse to get out of the conversation, such as, “Oh, I think that’s my child on fire…will you excuse me?” This goes on for about an hour and then, just to add to the awkwardness, you will all be forced to play awkward baby-themed games with each other. These generally consist of smelling chocolate that’s been smeared on a diaper (fellas, I’m not even kidding about that).

Then finally, FINALLY, it’s time for the mother to open presents. This is the best part because now all you have to do to “ooh” and “ahh” over tiny baby outfits, many of them involving a hat intended to make the infant look like a tiny bear or dog.

Then at last, like a drowning man coming up for air, the last present is unwrapped and you are now free to leave. Just be careful not to trample grandma in your madcap rush to the door.

So gentleman, take it from me. Rejoice in your freedom from this barbaric tradition. And the next time your significant other returns from one of these things, be kind and give her the only known cure for the post-baby shower hangover: A glass of wine the size of her head.