Keep It Simple

My husband and I recently returned from a wonderful vacation.  We were lucky enough to spend a week with our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons in a rented house just a few blocks from the beach, stores, and restaurants.  Spending time with the people we love is a good thing, and spending time with them in a vacation setting is even better.  Overall, it was a very good week.

Very good, but not perfect.  And yes, few things are perfect, and the key to a good vacation is to overlook the things that don’t go quite right.  We did that.  When it rained, we read and did jigsaw puzzles.  When it was too windy to walk the beach, we swam in our pool instead.  But the problem that we couldn’t quite conquer was the house itself.

It was a very nice house, but it also equipped with “state of the art” technology.  I know that sounds like a good thing, and in some houses, it probably is.  But in this particular house, it meant we spent way too much time just trying to figure out how to turn out the lights at night.

Every room had several switch plates that operated the various lights and window shades, and every switch plate had several buttons and finger-operated “slides.”  The trick was to push the right button and use the right slide in the right sequence, which apparently varied from day to day.  What worked to turn off the porch lights on Monday night did not work on Tuesday night.  Other lights turned on by themselves a few minutes after we turned them off.

And the problem wasn’t just the lights.  The front door refused to lock from the outside, so we had to lock it from the inside and then exit via the garage.  The ultra-sophisticated dryer started to make strange, loud noises instead of actually drying the clothes.  We decided we could air dry our clothes as long as the washing machine worked, so of course the washing machine promptly broke down, mid-cycle, with our clothes inside and the door still on “lock.”

But the worst was the stove top.  It was equipped with a control pad and six invisible burners that were supposed to light up when you placed a pan on them.  So I put my pan on, adjusted the temp and waited for my pan to heat so I could scramble some eggs.  The burner stayed cold, and the control pad informed me the “pan is not detected.”   I muttered words I didn’t want my grandsons to hear and pushed the setting button on the control pad, which produced a recipe for New England Clam chowder, complete with photos.  Eventually we discovered that the stove top only works with certain pans.

I’m not against state of the art technology, per se.  But I am against making things so very complicated that people who are trying to have a peaceful vacation have to waste time trying to figure out how to turn off a light or scramble some eggs.  I can do those things at my house, I swear.  My stove lets me use whatever pan I want, and I can dim our lights with a simple dimmer switch.

Sometimes complicated doesn’t mean better.  It just means more things that can go wrong.  The KISS (keep it simple, stupid) motto may not be nice, but it’s not wrong either……

The Latest and Best?

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel distinctly out of step with the modern world.  I may only be fifty-eight years old, but often I feel as if I am already a relic of a past age,  often bewildered by how fast things are changing and wondering exactly where it all will end.  And although I appreciate the many advances our society has made, and I do enjoy the conveniences of certain aspects of modern technology, I also can’t help but think that some of technology’s latest offerings are just plain silly.  And more than a little bit annoying.

I have seen several commercials lately advertising new refrigerators that are actually equipped with cameras on the inside.  Apparently, it is possible to obtain an app for my phone that will allow me to see what’s inside my fridge by looking at my phone, although why I would want to do that, don’t ask me.  Yes, it could come in handy when I’m at the grocery store to see if the milk carton is almost empty.  But only if the milk isn’t hidden behind a big pitcher of lemonade.  Or, as is more likely in my case, a large bottle of wine.  Do the cameras rotate, allowing us to see all possible angles, including the bag of moldy cheddar in the cheese drawer?  Do they zoom in so I can read the sell-by date on the sour cream?   It seems to me that it would be so much easier to simply check the fridge before I went to the store.

DSC00209My household is one of the few in America that still has a landline phone, without the benefit of caller ID, and I’m not ashamed to say that I actually like it (although I will get around to adding the caller ID eventually.)  It works even when our power is out, and I never have to remember to charge it, the way I do my cell phone.  And while I enjoy the convenience of my cell phone, I prefer to use it the “old-fashioned way” by using my hands, rather than my voice, to operate it.  I find it very annoying to listen to someone speaking their text message:  “We made it the cabin.  Period.  The weather is great. Exclamation point.  Hope the fish are biting.  Smiley face.”   Seriously?  That’s better than typing?

And then there’s that mechanical voice called Siri.  If they’re going to install robot voices on phones, they should at least have given us a choice of what kind of voice we wanted and how we wanted it to be respond to us.  Personally, I’d pick a deep male voice with an British accent that always referred to me as “my brilliant darling.”  Now that would be worth listening to.

I appreciate some of the new technologies for cars, like the reverse screen, but I read an article the other day that says they are working on a “smart windshield” that will actually display messages, including Facebook, across the bottom of it.  Apparently, someone out there feels that seeing the latest cute kitten video or photo of someone’s lunch is so important that it needs to be available to us even when we are driving our cars.  Or maybe they’re going to wait until the cars are actually driving themselves, which I’m also told is coming soon.

Is it just me, or do so many of these new “advances” seem intent on making it unnecessary for humans to do much of anything at all for ourselves?  We won’t have to know how to write, we’ll just speak to our screens, which we will use for everything:  banking, shopping, communicating, you name it.  We won’t need to learn to drive, we’ll just hop in, settle back and let our cars take us where they will, hoping they get us to the right destination .  And we won’t need to remember anything, we’ll just ask Siri.  Ditto for doing any kind of research.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when it really does make me long for “the good old days.”  Never have I felt so old…..