Not So Smart

I got a text from a friend this morning, asking if it would be a good time for her to call me.  It was, so I replied, “of course.”  Or at least that was what I intended to reply, so you can imagine my surprise when I checked my answer a bit later and saw that what I had actually replied was, “M. Por ya.” Obviously, auto-correct had struck again, and I can only imagine how much it confused my poor friend.

I had been walking my dog at the time I received the text, so it’s possible that I hit one or two wrong letters when I replied to it.  But there is no language in this universe in which “M. Por ya” makes any sense, so why in the world would auto-correct make that my response?  And “of course” is a common phrase in the English language, so why couldn’t auto-correct recognize it, even if I did miss a letter or two when I typed it?  Auto-correct is supposed to be a part of the new smart technology, but I have my doubts about that.

In fact, I have my doubts about a whole lot of things that are lumped into the “smart technology” category.  My car, for instance, is programed to beep at me relentlessly until all of the passengers are wearing seat belts.  It’s a safety issue and it makes sense….most of the time.  But my car also beeps at me if I put a heavy bag of groceries on the front seat, and it beeps at me when my dog is riding the in front seat too.  The seat belt in question is designed for humans, not groceries or dogs, but I have to insert the buckle in the slot anyway just to get the car to quit beeping at me.  The fact that the seat belt isn’t actually restraining anything is apparently beyond my car’s comprehension.  (And this is the same car that slammed on the emergency brakes when a leafy twig blew across the street in front of it.)  Smart?  I think not.

I’ve known for a long time that my computer is tracking all my online activity and sharing it with all and sundry, and I guess the fact that I can’t get it to stop means it’s at least smarter than me.  (Who isn’t?)  But since it knows what sites I visit, don’t you think it would also know what I’m doing on that site?   So when I browse hotels for an upcoming trip, wouldn’t it also know when I’ve already  booked a room?  Apparently not, because I’ll get adds for hotels in the area I plan to visit for weeks afterwards.

I think it’s time that we stopped assuming that all technology is smart, and wait until a particular device or program has actually earned the title.  That’s the way it works with people.   We don’t just assume a person is smart until they’ve found a way to prove it.  So maybe what we need to do is start classifying our technology a little more accurately.  There can be categories for smart, above-average, average, below average and just plain “dumb as a box of rocks.”  It may not be nice, but at least it would be accurate and we’d know what to expect from our devices.  And I’d feel a little less annoyed the next time auto-correct garbles one of my texts, because I’d know it was just doing the best it could….

Good Old Summertime

I shouldn’t complain, because this is exactly what I had yearned for all Winter long.  I wanted Summer to come, that lovely season when I could go outside without putting on a coat, or even shoes.  I wanted to wake up in the morning when the sun had already risen, and I wanted my yard to be filled with colorful flowers.  I wanted dinner on the patio, long days and short nights, and nightly weather reports that never once mentioned the words “sleet” or “snow.” The problem is, this Summer I got just a bit more than I bargained for.

Yes, I wanted warm weather, but no, I didn’t want the temperatures to climb into the triple digits and stay there.  I didn’t want it to be so hot that when I came home from walking shelter dogs all morning I had to take a cool shower and a two-hour nap.  I didn’t want humidity so high that my sun glasses fog up when I walk outside, and I didn’t want to see my flowers withering in the sun.  And most of all, I didn’t want weather reports that used the words “excessive heat warning” several days in a row.  But sadly, that’s exactly what I got, and I don’t like it one bit.

So it’s hot—really hot–outside, and I’m a little cranky. (My husband would probably tell you that I’m a lot cranky, but what does he know?)   And the heat wave is supposed to extend into next week, so there’s not any relief in sight.  Which means I have two choices:  I can hole up inside my air-conditioned house wait it out, or I can put on my “big girl panties” and just accept the nasty weather.

I was leaning toward the first choice, but as so often happens, outside influences pulled me in the other direction, challenging me to live my life as fully as I can even in the midst of a heat wave.  It may be miserable outside, but the dogs living in the shelter where I volunteer still need regular potty breaks.  So I go and help walk them, just for short walk and keeping on the grass as much as possible.  Although I could stand to lose a few pounds, my husband most definitely can’t, so that means regular trips to the grocery store and restaurants are in order.  There are still meetings, chores, errands and all of the usual things that keep us busy no matter what the weather happens to be up to.

IMG_2119 2And sometimes there are those moments when we are lucky enough to move from simply “enduring” to actually “enjoying” our circumstances.  I asked my oldest grandson yesterday if he wanted to help me set up the sprinkler to water the back yard.  He did, and he also wanted to know if he could play in said sprinkler.  Long story short, he put on his swim suit and had a great time jumping through the water, while I stood by and watched him, getting almost as wet as he was even if I didn’t have the good sense to put on my suit.

It was the longest time I had spent in our yard in the afternoon sun in a long time, but I didn’t mind at all.  The water kept me cool and my grandson kept me entertained, and best of all, I finally remembered just exactly why I had been so anxious for Summer to arrive……

Making Good Time

064A2666-4A53-49B9-A8C9-E76F4CF47CC0I love strawberries, and I especially love fresh-picked strawberries.  When our children were young, we used to take them to a “pick your own” fruit farm and come back with buckets of strawberries.  My in-laws also had a strawberry patch behind their house, and for years we made sure we visited when the strawberries were ripe.  My mother-in-law graciously allowed me to help myself to her berries, which were always delicious.  But after my in-laws passed away and our children grew up, I stopped finding the time to go strawberry-picking.

This year, I was intrigued when my daughter-in-law gave me some strawberries that she and my granddaughter picked from a nearby farm.  They were very tasty, and she said the farm was only a twenty-minute drive away.  I’ve been busy lately, and at first I didn’t think I could possibly find the time to go pick strawberries.  But I also remembered all those other years I wanted to go and decided I was too busy, and how much I regretted it afterwards.  The strawberry season is a short one.

73FEBAA1-F39C-4314-8A2D-4E3654B318A2So last Tuesday I put on my oldest pair of tennis shoes, drove myself to the farm and picked a big box full of ripe strawberries. (I would have picked two boxes, but my back told me it was time to stop stooping over.)  I ate a few dozen, shared some with my family, cleaned another bowl-full to keep in the fridge, made a strawberry pie, and froze the rest.  Not a bad result for a quick morning’s work.

Yesterday my grandson spent the afternoon at our house, and his parents were also going to drop his baby brother off at dinnertime so we could watch both of them while they enjoyed a quick date night.  Just when it was time for me to start cooking our dinner, my grandson decided it was time to dance to one of his favorite songs.  I watched him for a few minutes, complimented his moves, and edged toward the kitchen.  “Please play the song again!” he pleaded, then added, “and dance with me!”  I hesitated, knowing that it really was time to get dinner going before the baby arrived.

But just as I was opening my mouth to tell him I didn’t have time to dance right now, I suddenly realized that the time is soon coming when he won’t want to dance to “Baby Shark,” or any other song, with his grandma.  And so I played the song again, took his hands, and we danced.  Or to be more accurate, he danced and I jerked around like someone who’s receiving mild electric shocks.  Dinner was late, but we had fun, and I know I made the right choice.

The truth is that life will always be busy, and there will always be problems demanding our attention.  But sometimes we have to stop being so sensible and serious, and just do what makes us and those we love happy.  The world won’t stop if we indulge our inner child now and then, and who knows?  We might just be a better person for it too.