WT🍆✈️🚿⛑ Has Happened to our Language?

I’m torn. I’ve always believed English is a living language and have met the yearly word additions to the major dictionaries with amused excitement rather than curmudgeonly complaints about change or tradition. At the same time, the rise of emoji’s and internet slang make me wish for a Rosetta Stone app to translate some texts and posts on a daily basis. IMHO. (Irons Make Happy Onions, International Machinists Hate Oleomargarine, In My Humble opinion).

There’s a reason the translation of Egyptian Hieroglyphics was lost for thousands of years. Just take a glance at this chart.

“A” is for Vulture. Huh? Ok, what is it about a death carcass eating bird that screams first letter of the alphabet to you? If you’re thinking that pictures do convey a clear thought you’ve never played charades with married drunks. Stuck on an electric fence. This is what my title will look like in a thousand years. Or fifty. Or today

I get it. I really do. 😀😞. Happy face, sad face. I imagine any society from millions of years ago to millions from now will understand this representation of these simple emotions. But some of these…?🤡😱😈👽? I am now using my emoji and internet slang translator apps ad much as google translate when I read Spanish. AND… The emoji faces are easier to get

Take my title. What The eggplant, airplane, shower, red hatter? (I actually have no idea what that last one is supposed to be- that’s why I picked it). Here’s proof of my argument. There is no way to tell whether those emojis are arbitrarily picked or actually convey some meaning I had in my own mind. Some readers will think the former, some the latter. (Some will think I’m smoking too much weed, some will think my anger issues require therapy)

And why do emojis often come out so tiny tiny small. I find myself looking at a string of them thinking, “What the hell IS that?” Or what the HELL is that? Or “What the hell is THAT?” 🚨? 🉑? 🔶?

In a text the other day, my daughter said “… a guiding light for me 😍😘💋💯🙏🏻👏🏻💕👍🏻. Here’s what I got from those enojis- I love you and blow you kisses with dark red lipstick but I’m praying for you because you look like your 100, need to learn sign language and clearly need cardiac care because your hearts purple. Thumbs up- good job!!

I’m trying to be 😎 about this but really, it’s alla bunchof 🐂💩to me

First Colonoscopy Suggestions

I was going to say “Tips”, but it seemed unfair to “insert” this in the title. In preparing for my fourth colonoscopy which is in the morning, I thought my experiences might be helpful to those getting ready for their first.

1. Do not lift weights on prep day. Also, walking or running long distances and yoga class. Especially yoga class.

2. Your instructions say to avoid raw foods and nuts three days prior. I would also suggest steering clear of baked beans, Brussels spouts, bananas, prunes, yogurt (this is not the day for probiotics) and anchovies. Don’t ask about the anchovies- trust me.

3. If your locale is either experience or soon to experience a natural disaster, like a hurricane or wildfire, There may be unending news broadcasts involving “evacuate” or “evacuation”. Avoid these at all costs or learn the power of suggestion at your peril.

4. Stay home that day. In a chair. Outside of your bathroom.

5. Your instructions will not tell you to check the toilet paper supply. This is not the day to run out.

6. Do not go to the grocery store just for Gatorade. Every cashier over 50 knows exactly what you’re getting ready for and wants to chat about it. A lot. In front of the entire line.

7. Do not read the nutritional label on the Gatorade. Unless you’ve missed all the bad press about Monsanto’s roundup. Then it’s ok.

8. Do not believe for a minute popsicles ease hunger pangs. They will make you angry however.

9. There is a reason there is an entire google page of “soundproofing a bathroom” sites. You’ll thank me later. Soundproof your bathroom

10. And finally, your bonus tip. Make sure whoever takes you is prepared to hear you say whatever comes into your head without a filter. There’s a good reason Michael Jackson was so fond of propofol. You will be too.

Solar Eclipse Tips

Not sirloin tips, which would probably be more fun, these are suggestions for enjoying the first coast to coast solar eclipse in almost a century. Living in Charleston SC, the very end of “the Path of Totality”, I’ve had a unique opportunity to be exposed to suggestions about the solar eclipse 24/7, on every media outlet. For those of you worldwide who have escaped this Chinese water torture of media, I have a short list of hints to save you time when you have a chance to see an eclipse.

First some definitions. “Path of totality” refers to the distance between a weight watchers group and the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts as well as the 70 mile wide swath of country where you can see 100% of the eclipse. The “corona” is a Mexican beer which surrounds the sun sans lime. The “penumbra” is part of an umbrella with a pen as the shaft and the “umbra” is the Crayola crayon color nobody liked or really new what it was. This is the color of the eclipse. Other more astronomically based definitions of these terms are neither helpful nor useful.

Spoiler alert- during an eclipse, it gets dark for two minutes and then light again. This confuses everything from birds to crickets to humans to TV news people. To wait a VERY long time for two minutes of pleasure is like, well, you ladies know what I’m talking about.

So, here’s my tips:

1. Go outside to watch the eclipse. Inside buildings, the roof will block the eclipse

2. Once outside, look up. The sun and moon are in the sky, a fact which you only forget during an eclipse. As you can see from these tips, an approaching eclipse reduces IQ steadily as it gets closer.

3. Like tip number one, do not look up with things blocking your view- trees, buildings, or the weight watchers headed to Dunkin’ Donuts. Again, you won’t be able to see the eclipse.

4. You can look at the sun before, after or during the eclipse but you’ll go blind. Permanently. I’m guessing mother’s who gave the same admonishment to their sons if they masturbated in the 1950’s must have also seen an Eclipse. (You can not just watch the sun till you need glasses).

5. While I know the command “do not stare at the sun”, sounds so silly, an eclipse seems to have the same effect that beer does in choosing relationship partners right before bar closing and makes people think they can, indeed, stare at the sun. You can however watch the eclipse, with special glasses that look like 3D movies glasses from the 60’s if they are NASA ISO USA NANU NANU Approved; understanding that there is really no way to know the difference between glasses which will protect your eyes and those that fraudulently don’t. If after using the glasses, you can’t see anything, Amazon will give you a refund.

6. Unless you are a professional photographer with $40,000 worth of special equipment and the inability to live in the moment, do not try to photograph the eclipse, because…it’s dark. (And before or after dark, pictures of the sun just look like blobs of light, which I’m sure you’ve never experienced before in a photograph.)

7. If you’re planning to travel far to see one, as estimates of a million people who have spent thousands in air, hotel and travel expenses to come to South Carolina for the eclipse, I have one word for you. Clouds.

8. Lastly, you will see some people describe it as a goose bump, hair raising life altering experience and some shrug their shoulders with a “whatever” kind of look. Yes, when it’s all said and done, a total solar eclipse is a teenager’s first prom astronomical kind of event.

ENJOY!!

Understanding Relationship Communication- through Bats. 

Scrolling Facebook one day, a headline that Egyptian Fruit Bat calls are actually communication caught my eye.  Egyptian Fruit Bats Argue- A Lot

Much to my surprise, not only do these bats communicate by sound, but they have synthesized the substance of human relationship issues to four communication issues. 

“They were able to classify 60 percent of the calls.  One of the call types indicates the bats are arguing about food.”    “I’m hungry”  “what would you like, honey?”  “”What have we got”. “Well, we have spiders?”  “Nope”.  “Mosquitos?”  “Nope”.  “We have leftover peach from last nights dinner?”   “Nope- I think I want a burger and fries from Batdonalds”.   “Why didn’t you pick that up then in the way back to the cave?’  “I wasn’t hungry then.  Will you go”.   “. No!”  

“Another indicates a dispute about their positions within the sleeping cluster.”    “OMG- you snore like a bulldog bat!!   Go sleep In another part of the cave, will ya?”    “It’s too warm/cold/light/dark/quiet noisy in your part of the cave ceiling. ” “You hog the sheets/blanket/comforter”.  “Stop kicking me”.   “How about a bat cuddle.  You never bat cuddle with me”.  

“A third call is reserved for males making unwanted mating advances.”    “DONT TOUCH ME!”   “I have a splitting wing ache”.  “I’ve been feeding baby bats all day.  Do you realize how many mosquitos I caught today?!”   “How come you never help with the the bat guano?  “Hey, this weekend, wanna just fly around and look at the moon and park in the big Redwood”. 

“and the fourth happens when a bat argues with another bat sitting too close.”  “Don’t sit next to me”.  (This is closely related to “don’t touch me above) but is particularly used by female high school Bats of different social circles. 

“In fact, the bats make slightly different versions of the calls when speaking to different individuals within the group, similar to a human using a different tone of voice when talking to different people. “.  These have been classified as the: spouse tone, dating tone, parent to child tone, child to parent tone, boss to employee tone, employee to boss tone, sibling tone, friends tone, false friends tone, in law’s tone, road rage tone and hormonal tone. 

The 40% Of the bat sounds which could not be categorized were found to be teenage bats pouting or having an “episode”, mother in law bats muttering under their breath;  politician bats who didn’t make sense to the other bats,;  bats who only catch insects on cannabis plants who don’t make noise because they’re now eating every insect in sight and media bats. 

“I’m Sorry, Your Salad Has Been Cancelled. May I Re-book You On Our Earliest Available Salad?

I stopped at my favorite salad place to get my salad to go for lunch this afternoon. They were surprised I hadn’t ordered online, as I usually do, so I explained that I had been in DC for Father’s Day and my Monday 5 pm flight had been cancelled. The earliest re book I could get was at 5 pm, the NEXT day, but not a 90 minute direct flight but a 5 hour flight through Chicago. (why I have to fly to Chicago, from DC, to get to South Carolina never made sense to me, but I digress….) I had to be at work today, so I rented a car, drove 9 hours and was too late to pick up my salads for the week.

“Damn airlines!”, the counter girl said. I said, “What if I came in here and you said, ‘I’m sorry, but your salad has been cancelled. I can get you another salad on Wednesday?’ You wouldn’t stay in business long if you sold salads like airline flights.”

As I leave her laughing at the counter, the imaginary AirlineSalad conversation continues in my head. “But I’m hungry right now, I would say.” “I’m so sorry, says the United AirlineSalad Agent. (The name of the salad company here is not meant to reference any real or existing airline company and any similarity is truly unintended, mostly because this horrible behavior is practiced by ALL the Airline Salad companies, regardless of their name) We apologize for your inconvenience, but it’s exactly the same salad, on Wednesday, going to exactly the same place. (your stomach)

“But, I’m STARVING”. What am I supposed to do for food for the next two days?” “I understand sir, but we’re not responsible for your lack of something to eat when our inability to make your salad is due to weather, employee absences, government intervention, promising to sell more salads then we actually have to sell, war, pestilence, broken salad makers, bowls, labor unrest, computer crashes, computer hacks, or lack of deliveries. However, here at United Airlines Salad makers, we stand by and take pride in our percentage on-time and actually delivery of salads we have sold, which approaches 100%,” said the Agent.

“Well, can you help me get something else to eat?” “I’m sorry sir, we are not able to offer coupons for other food from other vendors”. I could however, direct you to a grocery story where you can buy your own salad fixings, a bowl, dressing, knives, forks and you could fix your salad yourself.” (Sigh), “If I wanted to fix my salad myself, I would have gone to the grocery store in the first place and not purchased a salad from you.” Can I at least get a refund or credit for this salad I paid for, but you cancelled today/” “I’m sorry sir, I cannot do that on the phone or in person, you need to access UnitedAirlineSalads dot com / refunds in order to request a refund. Just have your confirmation number, your 16 digit ticket number, a picture of any food receipt you receive from obtaining other salads, a 2000 word description of what we already know about why and how we cancelled your salad, why you want a refund, what category of refund and your blood type. Either you’ll get a credit in 14-28 business days on your credit card, or maybe an e mail, or certainly a reference number if you need to call us back.

So I opened my WendysDelta app, ordered a single and went there, since I’m still… hungry. “Hi, I ordered a single on my Wendy’s app, the name is Lawrence”. “‘m sorry sir, your single has been delayed due to our selling more singles on line than we have food to make them with”. If you’ll please wait in your car, we’ll have you scheduled for the singles coming our in 6 hours”.

There was a grocery story in the parking lot…..

What If Other Goods and Services Were Sold Like Timeshares?

Call me a masochist, but sitting through a timeshare presentation has always been on my bucket list. Ok, not really, but when the GF called and said, “Hey, I got 5 Days and 4 nights in a Hilton Vegas Resort for $200, I just gotta go to this presentation thing, wanna go”? -I was all in.  She even said she’d brace the presentation by herself, but who wants to miss THAT?

Rather than bore you with all the ways this is not a good deal, my mind turned to what if  other goods and services were sold the same way?

Imagine getting an email from your favorite grocery store. “Hi, Safeway Customer!!!   We see from your Safeway frequent flyer card that you buy groceries. A LOT of groceries.  SOOO many groceries in fact, we see you REALLY like to eat!  How would you like 4 days and three nights of groceries in MIAMI, FLORIDA for $50?  All you have to do is attend our presentation on our irresistible grocery OWNERS club?!?!”    So, one click, $800 of airline tickets and you’re in

You show up for your 10:30 appointment time and …. you wait for 15 minutes. What makes you more anxious to buy something than someone being disrespectful of your time? (Think doctors, cable repairmen and toll booths)

Finally, you and a large group of your fellow Safeway shoppers are ushered into a rather typically decorated hotel seminar room decorated in “high fever, blood drained from your face” beige with a 70 inch TV screen in the front of the room. Your host, a tall handsome, salesman named John takes the front of the room. He laughs, painfully and insincere, at all his jokes no one else laughs at.

He launches into his very scripted presentation which goes something like this. “Who likes to eat?”  (Only a few hands). (We’re going to hear 90 “raise your hand questions” in 30 minutes which soon makes me wonder if they’re trying to sell something or just lack creativity at Simon Says).  “Who buys groceries”?   (Pic of people buying groceries in Paris).  “Who LOVES food” (pic of grocery buying in London- you can feel the excitement building in the room)

“I’m now gonna answer the three questions you’re dying to know”.  “First, how long is this gonna take””.  90 minutes.  The other two questions, which I have now forgotten were also answered by -lies.

“What if you could have two weeks of groceries every year for –$59?”   “Pic of people buying groceries in San Francisco”. “Wouldn’t you love that”? (Pic of people buying groceries in the Maldives”).

“Right now, you just go to the grocery store and BUY groceries.”  (Pic of grocery shopping in Bali). “But what if you OWNED part of the grocery store”.  “You could walk in and just take groceries out in a percentage of your ownership- for almost nothing!”   (Wait, didn’t you say I had to buy part of the grocery store? Pic of grocery shopping in the Grand Canyon)

“Now this is not a timeshare.  This is a prepaid ownership points system.   We sell different ownership percentages from a teenie weenie bit to a whole lot!!  We use a point system because if you wanna buy groceries in a  blizzard nobody wants to eat at the airport in Detroit you get FOUR WEEKS of Groceries, but if you want healthy delicious food at Christmas in Paris, you get 48 hours”.

You then get your personal salesman, Mike, who takes you on a tour of the grocery store you’ve shopped in many times before and repeats, ad nauseam, much of what Snake Oil John said. The one question he claims to beyond his pale of understanding like “what caused the Big Bang” is “what does this cost?”   I know, cause like a prosecutor in Law and Order, I rephrased this question a dozen different ways.

It is now 105 minutes in. I have behaved up until this point. Until, he asks, “if we actually DID tell you what this cost, would you buy today?”   Apparently, suggesting that this one question is used by every scam artist selling used cars purchased out of a flood to Ponzi schemes was taken personally.  We were immediately taken to Jay to sign out where we were required to listen to what caused the Big Bang.  Meaning – cost

Jay was a nice Asian guy who sat down and started to listen to the Mike go through a word by word recitation of what had taken place the last 105 minutes. I angrily interrupted to say that we were told this would be 90 minutes total, that they were 15 minutes over time, and that even cars had stickers on the window to tell you the cost and even car dealers, at some point brought in the finance guy. Jay also took this personally and claimed he was only doing his job.  I calmly said I was not addressing my anger to him, as a sociopath thief, but to Sociopathic Thieves, Inc for whom he worked. This resulted in an immediate pricing. $10,000 payable $2500 up front, with payments of $250 a month at 14%-24% credit card interest for 10 years plus a maintenance fee of $1000 a year, forever.  For a weeks worth of groceries. I assume the lack of attraction for prepaying $30,000 worth of groceries where you would not reach the break even retail point and get a discount for 20 years needs no explication.

Health care-imagine the same scenario above except your paying a high monthly payment to Medicare or health insurance for health care you may or may not need, where you have less buying power for the best healthcare when and how you need it- oh wait, bad example. Healthcare IS A timeshare.

Treating Exercise Injury With The Inner Child R.I.C.E Method

You may know that the common medical advice for treating soft tissue injury is the R.I.C.E. method:  Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.  Your inner child however, prefers Reinjure, Ignore, Curse, Exhort (or entreat).  

Sitting here in week 4 of hamstring tendonitis, I’ve come to realize, from  9 years anecdotal, strictly non scientific, non statically valid samples, that there may be others, like me, who prefer to address their injuries from a strictly emotional, inner child point for view. (This also has applications for why people,especially men, avoid regular medical checkups or any of the assorted medical screenings which catch cancer earlier and reduce mortality).  I know many of you who know what you’re talking about by virtue of training or expertise in medicine, physical therapy, exercise physiology , etc., are all be shaking your heads right now, but there are completely valid logical reasons for this irrational emotional response.  

There will be times during your life when you feel completely fine (for which you should express constant gratitude to your God, source, science or your lucky draw of probability) but these periods decline exponentially as one ages.  Therefore, at any given time, something in your body is going to hurt.  There are two causes for these injuries.  Doing nothing or doing something.  Those who exercise have formed a firm belief the pains from doing something are better (less debilitating) than those from doing nothing.  That’s because 99% of us, (excepting Olympic and professional athletes) have gone though long periods of time of doing nothing.  What is more painful or humiliating then throwing out your back reaching across the Baskin Robbins counter for your ice cream cone.  Who hasn’t heard some one say, “Really, I wasn’t doing anything, I just reached over to load the dishwasher and a disc in my spine exploded like a firecracker in an empty soda bottle!”

When you begin an exercise program everything hurts. All the time. The first workout, walk, run, yoga class, weight training session leaves you so sore, getting to the bathroom seems like a lottery win.  You wonder if this is what death feels like. Your ego suggests that maybe, avoiding exercise will avoid this pain.  You may even be sore for days.  But your body tricks you. Quickly you’re not sore again so you work out again. More pain.  Quicker recovery. Somehow, your rational brain over rides this self-preservation instinct and  you establish some kind of routine.  Soon however, the exercise starts causing the same rush of endorphins that you were previously happy to get from smoking, drug use, gambling, shoe shopping, sex, or soduku. You notice you actually feel better!!!   Here’s where the body gets really sneaky.  Soon you notice you don’t get sore the next day, maybe just later that day. Then that gets better.  Your recovery time decreases. You’re lulled into a sense of perpetual physical self-improvement.  But the body is not finished setting this devilish trap for you. 

Inevitably however you reach that time when work, vacation, family obligations or something else silly causes you to mix one or more of your exercise sessions.  You go back only to realize that even though you only missed three days, it’s like starting the program over from scratch.  You re visibly pissed only to be calmed down by the short period it takes to get back to where you were. 

One day you work out as normal and something doesn’t feel quite right. Later your arm, leg, lower upper back, knew, ankle, foot, neck hurts.  You immediately pay attention.  Maybe you do something rational like rest it, baby it, take an anti inflammatory. The pain is gone the next day.  You feel like a cubicle worker who just found out the office is closed tomorrow for a snow day.  You got outta prison early.  Unlike the cubicle worker however, as you increase your exercise addiction to a 7 day a week thing, these pain days are more frequent.  And, like Pavlov’s dog, you learn to ignore these little aches and pains because they will all be gone in a day or two.  Until one isn’t. And, you don’t want to take time off and go backwards.  The loss of benefit from exercise starts as soon as the workout is over. .Hence, step one- Reinjure.  Why rest when you know this pain is only temporary.  You can’t be a wuss or and skip every exercise session cause one body part is being pissy.  So you go back out. And reinjure it again. And again.

This bring em to the second step- ignore the pain injury. I finally worked my way up to a “no exercise if limping rule”. (Or a fever above 102). (Or severe gastrointestinal illness because well, who,didn’t have that happen to them in elementary school?). From anecdotal evidence, most folk’s inner child developed different time periods for the ignore time period, for me currently it’s 2 weeks.   I’m hoping to build up to a month soon.   Anyway, you know realize you have… what’s the medical term, oh, right “f#%^ed yo shit UP”.   Now, you know, from past experience that if you go to the doctor with a “soft tissue” injury (soft tissue is anything that is not a bone sticking out of your bleeding “soft tissue”, they are going to palpitate, massage, poke, prod and otherwise feel around your injured soft tissue, look at you very compassionately and say “you have f#^*ed yo shit UP” and you should rest, ice the soft tissue (or heat- “ice or heat” is apparently a bigger mystery than what caused the Big Bang), buy a girdle appliance for your afflicted part, and elevate it. So, at this point you skip the doctor and curse.   Here’s a big tip- just curse in general, like a venting do not curse AT the soft tissue.  Some people prefer a cursing which completely runs through every profanity they know- I prefer picking one and repeating it quickly, like combination of a tongue twister and mantra.  Try it, pick your favorite curse word and repeat it as quickly as possible in your own mind silently and see how much better you feel.  If you curse AT the body part- well, Katie bar the door, because the mind-body connection is well documented scientifically and psychologically.  This means, simply that if you cuss AT the body part, it is going to compound your injury.  It will escalate.  In other words, your knees say, “Yeah?!?!?  Ok, then, I’m gonna f#%€ Yo shit up even worse!!”  

And this bring us to the final step in our inner child acronym or “exhort”. Or “entreat”.  I prefer the terms beg, plead and whine, but I needed an “e” word for the acronym and only those pedantic e words were an option.  Anyone who’s ever experienced a difficult relationship with a significant other, parent  or child understands the exhort, entreat, beg, plead or whine stage.  So you also know how well that works. 

 So, there you go, the R.I.C.E method,  re injure, ignore, curse and exhort.  I’ve been doing that for the last week after my massage therapist, chiropractor and yoga instructor all suggested I not exercise for a bit and let this tendon heal.  The yoga instructor even suggested a take 10 (TEN days off). (Pfffft- what does that PhD, 500 hr yoga certified, anatomy expert, 20 years fitness experienced guru know?!)

I guess if all else fails, I’ll tell my inner child what I tell it anytime when adulting is required. I won’t be happy about it, though. And, It’s gonna require Ben and Jerry’s.

Move Over Hated DMV Photos- US Passport Photos Is The New King in Town

Who likes their DMV photo?  No one.  However, the federal government, fulfilling it’s primary goal to be ever more annoying,  has recently changed passport photo requirement to insure you will hate your photo. In the age of selfies, they have guaranteed your worst selfie ever.

Surprisingly, it didn’t require much.   Two of these requirements guarantee you’ll be unhappy. First, no glasses.  Second, no smile.   (Actually the rule says “neutral facial expression” which I assume means halfway between your “Hi, mother in law”  and “I’m so glad to see you snoopy after my weeks vacay” look. Here’s the government’s exciting web page, US Department of State How to Take and Awful Photo Page.   Do NOT miss the exciting video available there.

Anyway, my GF and I recently took a cruise and realized our passports expired just past the 6 month deadline.  Many carriers will not let you travel with a passport that expires in 6 months or less, so at 10 months, we realized when we got back, a renewal was due.  I did mine online, went to a local drugstore for my passport photo and found out about these new rules.  Now, I’m a 60 year old, overweight man of Italian Descent on both sides of my family so, I’m not winning any modeling contests but I’m a happy guy, so I’m usually smiling.  Quite often. Always for photos.  Here’s an example. And, to be fair, even though I wear glasses 24 hours a day, here’s a pic of myself, taken by a professional photographer, without glasses, that I like. 


I saw my passport photo and thought, “OMG- they have done a remake of the Goodfellas – with the same actors- even the dead ones, and one of the dead ones got arrested and this is his mug shot.  No one is seeing this pic.  Ever.”

I mentioned  that I had renewed my passport and reminded the GF to get hers done.  Of course, a few weeks later she texts me her passport photo, and complains of the new rules.   I look at her photo and she looks like she just left a cover photo shoot for Vogue.  Of course she does.  I mentioned my horrible photo and I got back a “really? Pfffft” message as if I was being self deprecating. So I texted her the black and white from my passport card. 


5,4,3,2,1- and the phone rings.  She is laughing so hard, the tears coming out of her eyes are coming through my  phone. She’s laughing harder then the time in  Austin Texas I slid out of the back seat of a pickup truck so far because I’m so short I ended up in a ditch.  She was laughing so hard, I could understand no words she was saying. Not one. Then the texts started. It was my pic back with a caption. Some of the best were:  “I have killed and will keep on killing”.  “Sorry to bother you, don’t want to interrupt you cutting up peeps in little parts”.  “Jaundice for babies”. “Jeffrey Dahmer for adults photo filter”.  “No probation for you ever”. “Everybody’s talking about your mug shot”.  This went on for hours. 

Ok.  If you liked that, here’s the actual passport photo. 

The ER called later.  They actually had to giver her something to get her to stop laughing. 

F#%’ You, Alexa

A beloved employee of 26 years, probably the most creative gift giver I’ve ever known, gave me an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas.  The echo dot is the new version of the echo, and it utilizes Amazons “Alexa” voice recognition service.  For those who are unfamiliar with this product, I’ve included a link at the end of this paragraph, but think a blue tooth enabled hockey puck size speaker, connected to the internet, that when spoken to, can give you the weather, sports scores,   New or anythingyou could look up on google.  

The 26 year length of service of my beloved employee give some hint of my age; I don’t consider myself an “early adopter of tech”, but I keep up and do love it, so I admit to being pretty smitten with this gift three days ago.  In fact, that evening I took it out of the box.  Set up was pretty easy   Plug it in; download the Alexa app on your phone; follow the instructions on set up.  It connects to your wi fi, and you can set some parameters as to what news you would like when you ask for news.  You don’t have unlimited choices in this area, but they cover the range of “so liberal that socialists in Sweden would be shocked” to so conservative even Putin’s compassion causes a little tear in the corner of his eye.  Set up took maybe 10 minutes – I’m pretty pleased.

“Alexa”, (she ‘wakes’ up when you say her name) I said.  “What’s the weather?”   In a “I’m your hot high school teacher who still is professional” kind of voice, Alexa says, “In Mayberry today, the current temperature is 52 degrees.  Later in the day the high will be 71 degrees, with a low of 49.”    My “thank you” gets no reply so I gather manners weren’t something programmed in by the millennial aged coders.   Shocker.  Like a “you’re welcome” would be a lot to ask.  Anyway, I noted that Alexa will pair with any Bluetooth enabled audio speaker so I paired Alexa with my Bose Mini Sound link.  It appeared in the app that Alexa could “wake up” or turn the speaker on, but a “Alexa, wake up (speaker)(Bose)(audio)(music)” instructins All failed so I immediately assumed I either read it wrong or it didn’t work, which all had the same result to me.  So, I walked the 26 inches to the speaker and ….turned in on.  “Alexa, play ‘you don’t own me’ by Leslie Gore (mostly because I love that commercial?   Have you seen it?  This is not the nest part of the commercial but you get the idea.  https://youtu.be/aqAFGPmECBwhttps://youtu.be/aqAFGPmECBw). 

So, over the next couple of days, I’m starting to dig Alexa.  Ok, so she can only read connect to a limited number of apps, and she can only access a google calendar and there some glitch where you can sync your google calendar with your other calendars but it doesn’t sync with the google site just the app so Alaexa seems to think I’m retired with nothing to do.  Ok, Alexa is definitely not the AI computer on star track where Scotty would say, “computer, get me some haggis, a Guinness, the computations to fly cross the galaxy in the shortest distance possible and a date with the hot polish chick in communications, but, I’m seeing promise. 

So, two days later I have company for Christmas Eve and I wanna show off my new toy so, I know my friend likes the funk musician, Bootsy Collins, so I say “Alex, play Bootsy Collins”.  Much to my surprise, there is a country singer by the name of Bootsy Collins.  “Alexa, play the OTHER Bootsy Collins”. A different artist comes on but still not the right Bootsy.  I know the acting world does a better job of making sure there’s only one Brad Pitt, but apparently musicians are substantially more laid back about it. So, knowing Alexa can only play Amazon Prime music, I find the Bootsy Collins channel on Amazon Prime but it will only play on my phone, not through the Bose Speaker.  DAMMIT.  I ask Alexa to play the Bootsy Collins streaming channel, but NOW she says “I dont understand the question”.  “NOW, you’re gonna get pissy?” I ask her.  Like simon says, if you don’t say “Alexa” first, you get the same reaction as lecturing a teenager.   silence. Except she couldn’t go to her room.

Not to be defeated, I go back to my music app on my iPhone, find the Bootsy collins streaming channel and hit play.  Nothing from the Bose.  I realize the pairing of the Alexa with the speaker must have knocked off the pairing of my phone. I try to change it in utilities, but Alexa keeps snagging it back.  I’m seriously “ex wife” pissed and frustrated by now.  “F#%! YOU! ALEXA”.   Silence.  So I unplug her.  Still, no music.  I realize I have to turn her back on, disconnect the speaker from her Bluetooth and I do.  Still no music.  F#%! YOU, Alexa.   Silence. I’m really not understanding why these programmers don’t code her to respond to her name and a curse with with, “It’s not my fault, you idiot” or better yet,  “NO, F#%! YOU!!!! At least I’d feel like I had some closure.   “Let’s try vinyl, my friend said”,obviously wanting to de escalate the rising tension between me and Alexa.  I’m not even going to try to tell you what happened when we tried to stream a movie

This morning, I tried my phone and the Bose- music first try.   WOW.  “Alexa, what’s the temperature”, so I could dress for my walk. Alexa says  “The Phok Koo Chinese restaurant is open from 9-3 on Christmas Day”.    Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh

Uber for Dogs?

Imagine my surprise the other day when the following e mail hit my smartphone. 

WOW!   Uber rides for dogs?!?!   AMAZING!  I don’t currently have a dog, but there’s a large number of them in the neighborhood, so I thought I’d ask around.

The first local I saw was a pleasant older Golden Retriever so I stopped and asked her what was up with the Uber for dogs. “Yeah, I’ve heard of it”, she said non chalantly.   “We’ve been flying on our own for years but this?……   We’re actually pretty excited about it. A bunch of us dogs were talking about it around the doggie station after some pretty vigorous sniffing.”

“Really?, I asked.  “What’s the concensus?”   “Well,” she drawled, “the poodles and the bichon frise were excited about more regular trips to the groomer but wanted to know if Uber served wine.”   “No, I don’t think so”, I said.  “At least they never have me”.    “They were particularly excited about finding some nicer salons, though”, she said.

“The terriers were a little miffed about some of Ubers new rider rules, especially no sex in the car and no unwanted contact with drivers. The Weimeraners were concerned about small cars but thought Uber Plus and Premium would work”.

“How do you pay, can ya’ll get credit cards?”   She laughed.  “Most of us don’t, but all of us are much more spoiled than kids.  We have an easier time getting ahold of our owners credit cards than an honors student from college on spring break in Cancun.  In fact, I flew there once for some frisbee beach thing and even as a dog, my card had a higher limit than most of those kids. I did hear a rumor about a Tibetan Mastiff who cost $1.6 million dollars who had their  own Visa Black card, but you know you can’t trust dog gossip.”  

“What do your owners think”, I asked.   “OMG, they are so excited about it.  She got really animated. ” It’s like getting out of chaffeuring your kids but without the cost of insurance and worrying about us killing ourselves driving when texting.  We can now Uber to the dog walking park, to dog friendly restaurants to have brunch with our dog buddies, to the vet, to the groomer, and to doggie day care. (God, I hate that term. What am I, 3 months old?) Mine is hoping for Lyft soon because you can tip on the Lyft app and my owner is kinda pissy about my carrying cash. I kinda understand though cause she thinks I lost $300 once because I didn’t want to admit on my first Uber ride, I ditched the park, went to a casino, lost  $200 on blackjack and got wasted on Mai Tai’s. I was really late getting back cause I had to sober up before she saw me.  The other hundred bucks was to get the driver to overlook a little urination thing in the backseat, but Mai Tais do that to me.  He said it was ok, most of his college kids were worse and three of the college kids bit him.  That’s why he now likes driving dogs better”

“Have any of ya’ll used there service yet?, I wondered out loud.  “What’s the experience been?

“Kinda all over the map”. she said.  A pit bull said he was leaving a doggie stripper park in the North Area, and that UBER App claimed  the closest vehicle was 30 minutes away but he was pretty drunk and you know how people judge pit bulls.  He swears some drivers won’t come get him.  Shame, even though he has a drinking s stripper problem, he’s a teddy bear.  One of my best friends said he put in a ride request, then sent a text to the driver asking where he was, then a second text asking if he was here yet, then a third asking what was taking to long, then a fourth asking what kind of service this was and then said he was banned the next day.  He though they were biased against dachshunds.  I did mention they were kinda ‘yappy’ , but he’s so sensitive about that.  I did hear later he bit the driver”.  

Just then she looked behind me and darted off. I turned around to see a dozen cats with “Cat Rides Matter” posters headed in our direction. I took off too.