Last week’s column:
Technologically speaking, it’s been a rough summer in the Grindstaff household. This really should not be a surprise, I suppose. Things are bound to happen when an old geezer like me who grew up in an age before television, dial phones and air conditioning tries to cope with 21st century technology. (note 1). I have learned that it is easier not to fool with the stuff that I can’t understand which, by the way, is almost every modern device we own. This is not the case with our granddaughter, Riley Marie, who spends her summer days with us. She is not content to let all that modern stuff just lay there.
An example of this occurred when Riley Marie twisted her ankle at Gymnastics practice. The Doctor told her to stay off her foot for a few days so she arrived at our house one morning with 3 movies on DVD discs that she had brought from home to keep herself entertained . She has already learned that we do not have Cable television.
This was a problem because the DVD player we have went on strike earlier this spring and refused to work, spitting out any movies we slipped into its innards and telling me over and over that the ‘disk is dirty’.
‘It most certainly is not.’ I said to the damn thing, pushing the load button again and again. I’ve been told that one definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, each time expecting different results and by this definition, I probably fit the bill. Still, we come from a long line of clean people and I was not about to let some machine insult generations of housekeepers in my family. I eventually gave up on the thing and unplugged it, reasoning that cleanliness standards in the Far East, where this thing came from, must be different than here. I have not yet bought a new player, deciding to wait until I can find one made in the United States by people who recognize cleanliness when they see it.
I explained my stance on foreign made goods to Riley Marie who, for some reason, just shook her head. When she went home that evening, She took Susie’s Kindle with her. For any of you other old geezers out there who are like me, a Kindle is an electronic book reading device and this one was given to Susie by our children for Mother’s Day. Riley Marie returned the following morning toting that Kindle and telling me her mother had rented a movie from one of those online services and had reserved the movie on Susie’s Kindle.
“All you have to do, Grandpa, is download it to the Kindle and then we can watch it together.
Hah! We have only gotten to the turn it on stage with the thing. Download movies??? Not a chance.
“Why don’t you just ask me to dig a few hundred yards of the Panama Canal?” I asked her.
“The Panama Canal???”
“Never mind. Dial your mom’s work number and ask her how I do that.” I told her.
“Dial???” She looked at me quizzically. I might as have told her to crank the phone and get Rosie the operator to connect us.
“Forget it. Why don’t you just turn on the radio?”
Instead, she went to work on another project. I was busy sitting at my desk wrestling with the world’s problems when Riley Marie woke me…. er, ah interrupted my musings.
“Grandpa, would you and Grandma like new ringtones for your phones? “
“Hmmmmmh??” I said?
“Sure.” I said, not really paying attention. Susie and I abandoned our land line phone last year in favor of cell phones but we don’ take advantage of their features, using them only for making calls.
Big mistake. Riley Marie went home that afternoon for the weekend. Later that evening, Susie and I were watching television when she said, “Is the radio on? I hear music.”
“No.” I told her. “Is it the TV?”
“No, it sounded like it was coming from the kitchen but I don’t hear it anymore.”
“Probably the neighbors.” I told her.
A little later, I heard a bird chirping. It sounded like it was in the house.
“Why is a bird chirping at ten o’clock? Shouldn’t it be in bed?”
“How should I know?”
The next morning I was looking for my phone (an everyday occurrence) and noticed that Susie had two calls the evening before. “Did you hear your phone ring last night?”
“Huh, that’s strange.”
I went out to the truck to see if my phone was there. Not seeing it, I used Susie’s phone to call mine. (Another everyday occurrence). Suddenly Susie ran out of the house.
“I think the house is on fire.” She said. I could hear an alarm that sounded like a prison break in progress but it stopped before I could get inside to see what it was.
By now, I’m sure you tech savvy folks are chuckling to yourselves about what dunces we are and you would be right. All the noises were from the phones and we eventually figured it out by ourselves. I will tell you that it took me a week to realize that a 2 note bird call signaled a text message from my daughter and was not, in fact, a rare bird that would have put me in the Birder’s Hall of fame had I ever located it.
Ah, well. Such is life.
This evening, we are at our daughter’s house celebrating her birthday and while we were having dinner, Riley Marie said “Grandpa, did you know you can actually buy more ringtones?”