Category Archives: Technology

Techno Shock

Daughter has been on our phone plan until now, and is taking a step toward independence and is getting her own phone plan. It has been four years since we upgraded our phones. We are helping  her financially with the transition. After reviving from the sticker shock of how much a new iPhone costs, I thought about my own experiences in elementary school getting trained by Ma Bell in proper phone use.

Does anyone else remember phone company reps coming to school and teaching phone etiquette and how to operate rotary phones? I remember it happened in about Grade 3.  The phones were tan and were desk models. They even brought in a slimline phone.  I was green with envy. I thought the technology was cool, since the only phone we had hung on the  kitchen wall.  I can’t imagine such training in the schools these days.

How do you learn how to use new technology?  How did you learn to use phones and  computers?  Where do you think this technology is going?  

Son of Sherpa Intimida

Our former fearless leader was almost a prophet. Missed it by that much.


That one little a.

I sent this to Dale. He answered “I take no pride in being able to predict the Sherpa. All it took was cynicism + imagination. I’d feel better if I had prophesied something hopeful.
Unfortunately those who expect the worst are frequently right!”

We will keep mum about Dale’s own little Russian influences.

Heard a prophesy lately? Have one to make?


Fly Away

I don’t fly as much as I used to, so it’s interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t at the Minneapolis Airport every time I travel.

Construction. I moved here in 1980 and I believe that some portion of the airport and/or the parking structures have been under construction every single minute.  Currently it’s the entrance to the parking shuttle area (and probably more, but that’s what I saw).

Check-in. If you’ve flown in the last few years you’ve experienced the little kiosks that guide you “gently” through the check-in process on your own.  Now you even get to put on your own bag tags.  A little embarrassing how long it took me to figure this out after watching ticket agents do this for 40 years.  And you get to put your own suitcase on the conveyor belt, unless you run into an agent who is chatty and willing to do it for you.

Security. This has changed and not for the better.  Long long lines (which I don’t understand – the only people going through security are ticketed passengers.  Certainly the airlines know how many bodies they are expecting on any given morning, afternoon or evening?  Why isn’t the security area ever properly staffed up?)   By the time they finally diverted some of us to the other security area, which had been closed earlier, the line went the entire length of the airport.

More Security. No more plastic bins to put your stuff in.  And no more taking your laptop, tablet, kindle, etc. out of your bag. But you still have to take off your shoes if you wear Birkenstocks that always make the security scanner go off.

Shopping & Eating/Drinking. OMG!  Considering that the only things I ever buy in an airport are bottles of water and the occasional refrigerator magnet, it is mind-blowing how many shops (and expensive shops at that) and restaurant/bars there are in the airport.  With the possible exception of rolls of toilet paper, I think you can get just about anything at the airport these days.

Connectedness (if this a word).  Well, there are a lot more places to plug in and get online at the airport, especially in the international gate areas, but considering that every single person that I can see from where I am sitting is online somehow, it’s still not enough.

The changes seem to happening faster and faster so I suppose in a couple of years, this blog will be completely obsolete.

What changes would you like in future airports?

First There was Tesla…

A few days ago Linda reminded me that the mute button on my tv remote is going to be my best friend for the next six weeks – until the election is over.

As a child, I was the remote control and the mute button, both in my own home and at my grandparents.  Luckily, turning the sound down didn’t come up very often back then, although my grandfather did like to switch channels during commercials.  Also luckily there were only 4 channels back then.

So I’d like to give a salute to Robert Adler and Eugene Polley, the recognized fathers of the remote control. Although there were a couple of earlier versions of the remote control, it was the Zenith Space Command that came out in 1956 that paved the way for future remotes.  Adler and Polley won an Emmy for this work!

Is there an inventor you’d like to canonize?

Unidentified Object

Husband cleaned the garage and workbench yesterday and found this:

We don’t know what it is.  It must have belonged to my father, since neither if us remember buying it.  We inherited my father’s collection of tools and gadgets acquired over his very long life.  He loved picking up this and that,  just in case he might need them. We have several hundred drill bits, for example, not to mention many socket wrench sets.

I suppose it could be a tripod of some sort, but dad sold his camera decades ago.  I think it looks so funny. I half expect it to come to life and run across the garage. I am not even sure which end of it goes up.

Any idea what this unidentified object is? When have you found something in your house you couldn’t remember buying or couldn’t identify? What does your tool and gadget collection look like?

Crazy Eights

Husband and I received a lovely clock for our wedding almost 35 years ago. It plays Westminster chimes, and has traveled with us from Winnipeg to Indiana to North Dakota.

The clock worked quite well until last year, when it just stopped. We took it to the nearest clock shop in Fargo, where they told us that the innards were all worn out and it needed new ones.  We had a choice of digital or traditional.  I like to wind it, so we had them install new inner workings from Germany. It keeps time again quite well, but it has some quirks that I find alarming.

Some days, randomly, at  8:00 am and/or 8:00 pm, it chimes  continuously for up to three minutes. It plays the Westminster chimes over and over, and then plays variations on the Westminster chimes. When it has got it out of its system,  it rings eight times and gets back to its quiet ticking. It only happens at 8:00.  Some days it doesn’t happen at all.

I don’t know what to think about this.  Ghosts?  Odd German clock maker humor?  Who knows?   I don’t feel like driving it all the way to Fargo for a repair, so we will just put up  with the “Crazy 8’s” and see what new Westminster variations we get.

Tell about some infernal machine problems. What do you think it feels like to be in a time warp?


Royal Flush

Today’s commentary comes to us from Ben.

It’s always fun to go into a new restaurant and see what the bathrooms are like. Some are very nice, some are small and rather “quaint” and some barely qualify as up to code.

I was in a hotel that had black mold on the shower tile and that one still qualifies as the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed at.

There’s a business I get to a few times per year and the mens bathroom there has had a broken fluorescent light fixture leaning in the corner for several years and one urinal has had a bag over it just as long.  And I have no idea what the womens bathroom is like. Not even sure where it is to be honest; it’s not right next to the mens anyway. I keep thinking there must be a nicer bathroom for employees someplace. Or maybe that’s just a ploy by the owner to be sure no one spends too much time in there.

I had to take pictures.  Here are the signs on the four stalls:

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And the fun didn’t stop there:

Oh my….

Our townhall still has an outhouse. It’s insured for $500.00. Mens and womens side. Two hole-er on each! But no lights… plan accordingly.

What’s the worst bathroom you’ve used?