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Tag Archives: electronics

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Sweet

Racing the GPS 

image via garmin.com

The dashboard GPS has to be one of the greatest inventions ever.  I mean it is right up there with air conditioning and the baconator.  For one thing, if you have a GPS you never have to listen to your wife nag  suggest you stop and ask a stranger for directions (which might as well be the same as getting out of the car wearing a shirt that says: I am only 75% of the man you are).  This little device, though often frustrating , brings a certain calming quality to our marriage when I decide to take a short cut and dare veer off of the digital pink line of safety.  Sure, sometimes we follow our digital mate precisely and put an unhealthy amount of trust into it as we wind up cursing under our breath and turning around in vacant lots or wishing we were still on the paved road but all in all, it is pretty dang awesome.

I think that my favorite thing about our GPS is that on long drives it gives me a clear competitive objective.  When I am driving and using the GPS, all of the goals in my life boil down to one thing.  Beating the arrival time on the GPS.  It is almost embarrassing how much joy I derive from beating the GPS.  I say almost because the amount of awesome clearly outweighs any shame.  One of the great things about racing the GPS is that it re calibrates as you go so if you gain a minute, it will adjust giving you instant gratification.  I went on two separate business road trips this week and am happy to say that I beat the GPS each time.  There are a couple of ways that you can beat the GPS like catching green lights or light traffic, but the best way to win is by speeding.  I drive a lot, so as a byproduct I speed a lot.  I don’t mean driving reckless like a maniac but my cruise control is most comfortable at least 8 mph above the posted limit.  I don’t know why it is, but anytime I cross back into my home state I feel a sense of relief like the state troopers here will welcome me home as a favorite son and overlook my GPS racing.  This is stupid for several reasons, mostly because  I really only seem to get tickets in Georgia.

Driving can often be a long mundane tiring task, but beating the GPS can make it totally sweet.

 

Weak

If Only I had a Portable Infrared Sauna 

image via consumertraveler.com

Have you ever heard of a plane crashing because of an iphone?  Maybe missing the runway and landing in a river because of a Kindle?  No?  Funny, me either.  I know that in my house we have computers and cell phones and regular cordless phones and baby monitors all running at the same time with nary a glitch or disruption.  So here is the thing. I don’t think that safety has anything to do with the reason that we have to turn off all electronics before take-off and landing on a plane.  I think the real reason is Sky Mall.  Unless you bring your own material, the seat in front of you really only contains 2 pieces of reading material (assuming you don’t need to read the barf bag or evacuation instructions)  some boring airline magazine that really is just about restaurants in cities you aren’t on your way to, or Sky Mall.

Sky Mall has comandeered my attention more than once below 10,000 feet.  In fact, had I not read about it only a day before Mother’s Day, my wife may have been the proud owner of one of these:

Sit back and just say ahhhhh to in-home relaxation. Portable Infrared Sauna $399.99
image via Sky Mall

Something about flipping through Sky Mall makes me feel like I am severely lacking in iphone accessories, meerkat lawn statues, and pet car-seats.  Has anyone actually ordered anything from Sky Mall?  Perhaps a plush mini staircase for your little dog to climb up to your bed, or maybe packets of the first ever protein supplemented ketchup? I mean surely you are all getting your credit cards out to order one of these:

The Traveler’s Bed Bug Thwarting Sleeping Cocoon. $79.99
image via Sky Mall

You know, thanks to 20/20 and 60 minutes, that one may actually be a good idea.  I am sure there are folks out there that needed a bunion regulator or a generic Snuggie, I just doubt that Sky Mall is their retail destination.  Have you ever met anyone that works for Sky Mall?  Tell me that wouldn’t be the best job ever, getting to decide what makes it into the Christmas edition?  That actually may be my dream job.  I want to be in charge of all of the vendor’s submissions and test products in order to deem them worthy of mile high status.

Until then, I will continue to ask every flight attendant possible if they have ever seen one of these on an actual flight:

This person is able to sleep comfortably in any Seat! Can you say the same? Probably not, unless you have SkyRest. $29.95
image via Sky Mall

It looks like that guy is taking a restful snooze, but my guess would be that he passed out from exhaustion and light headedness after the 20 minutes it took to blow that thing up.  So far zero accounts of seeing one of these in person by any flight attendant I have ever asked.  I don’t know how much longer Sky Mall will be paying the airlines in order to gain a captive audience at the start and end of each flight, but until then I will participate in the flipping ritual and wonder if I need a hot dog toaster or one of those butler statue toilet paper holders.

It is funny to joke about after the fact but when you have to bring your chair to its upright position and lock your tray tables, the prospect of looking through a Sky Mall for the next 15 minutes is totally weak.

 

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Finding Your Inner Strength

Sweet & Weak

Roughing it

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you have to dig deep inside to muster the strength to go on and overcome sudden hardship.  It is in those times, when situations look hopeless, that families can find a way to come together and triumph.  With gritty determination, teamwork, and good old fashion gumption, my family came out on top this morning smelling like vanilla.  That’s right, vanilla.  That is because this morning’s metaphorical Everest was a 5:55 power outage and we held on tight and reached the summit together by 6:30 thanks to flashlight apps on our phones and a cabinet filled with half burned scented candles.

I will not make light of it (horrible pun), it is a difficult thing to look into your child’s eyes and explain to her that “No sweetie, I can’t turn on a kid show while we finish getting ready.”  With holiday scents released from our flickering light sources wafting through our humble abode, my brave little girl found the strength to occupy her time by sitting in the dark playing Angry Birds on the iPad.  She was scared and didn’t understand why the sink would work but the lights were dead.  It is in moments like this that a parent can take advantage of a real learning opportunity and share a pint of ice cream with his little ones for breakfast, explaining what life was like for people long ago.

I was truly proud of the resourcefulness  exhibited this morning as we made the best of things.  Make-up was applied by candle light and moose and hairspray saved the day as the flat-iron lied impotent on the counter.  Lunches were packed and coffee was replaced with caffeinated soda (even if it was a hard pill to swallow realizing the refrigerator wouldn’t drop the ice directly into our cups and we had to scoop it out with our bare hands).  Our problem solving was at its zenith as we continued to find a way where there seemed to be no way.  Garage door openers were pushed out of habit and the fear of our cars being stuck was quickly washed away as we remembered to pull down on the red hangy down thing to open the garage manually.  In a stroke of luck we even knew where a key was to our house so we were able to lock up behind ourselves to hopefully protect our possessions once the inevitable looting began.

As we drove down the streets of our dark subdivision you couldn’t help but feel a sense of community as parents escorted their kids to the bus stops flashlights in hand.  Somehow we all managed to make it out alive.  It may have taken longer to update our statuses relying solely on 3G instead of wi-fi, but we did it and we learned a few things along the way.  I like to think that our forefathers would have been proud of us this morning for pulling up our bootstraps and exhibiting the kind of determination this great country was founded upon.  In fact, I could hardly wait to share our story of overcoming hardship and roughing it like a real pioneer as soon as I got to Starbucks.

Sometimes a morning that starts off pretty weak has a way of turning out sweet after all.


Honey, have you seen the Fondue set or the Electric Wok?

Sweet

The Trash Brag 

Ever drive through your neighborhood and see a giant flat screen TV box sitting out by someone’s garbage can the day before pick-up?  If you are like me, you instantly find yourself jealous of someone’s garbage.  Buying a new TV is a banner event in a man’s life.  Hours of research combined with months or years of longing finally bear fruit one day and the purchase is made.  I told someone the other day that every time I go to a store with my family I always get sad once we pass the electronics section.

We have all seen him, or hopefully been him at some point in our lives.  Walking through the store with a huge TV box that can  only be transported by one of those sweet pallet things from the back.  That guy has a silly smirk on his face like a hunter that just bagged a prize buck and now gets to parade his trophy through the masses.  I always give that guy a respectful nod and see that smirk break into a full born smile.  Yes buying a giant TV is a momentous occasion.  It is the kind of thing that you want to share with the world but no one likes a bragger.  So instead of driving it around to your friend’s houses to let them see it like a brand new car, we bring it home, bask in the ceremonial un-boxing.  Hook it up, play with the remote, read the manual, go back online and read more reviews about it, and then, drag the trophy box out to the curb.  It isn’t crass and braggadocious, I mean you have to get rid of the box.  But we all know that the neighbors driving by will admire it, At least I will.  So put it out there with pride new TV guy, and I will squint as I drive by to read what features your new prize contains, because on the day that you buy a new TV, you are a man among men, even if you are wearing silly 3D glasses.

Putting the box from a new TV out by the trash is totally sweet.

Weak

The Cabinet that Time Forgot 

An old fondue set, a George Foreman grill, a wine bottle holder in the shape of a bicycle and a Christmas cookie tin.  What lives in the cabinet above your refrigerator?  I don’t know that there is a better use for the space above your refrigerator, maybe taking out the cabinets so you can put a giant TV on top of your fridge, but let’s be honest.  Those cabinets are a wasteland of stuff you don’t use, don’t need, and don’t remember are even there.

If you do keep something up there that you plan on using, you need a step-ladder or at least a sturdy dining room chair to get to them.  Once up there you have to deal with the project of moving the junk that has somehow accumulated on top of the refrigerator because you can’t even open the cabinet door without knocking over a two liter that has managed to maintain its place in your home months after those family members came over to celebrate your daughter’s pre-school graduation.  I guess we all need a place to put that slap chop and magic bullet blender, but rest assured that anything that finds itself being relegated to the cabinet above your refrigerator knows they have just been put into domestic purgatory.  It is the holding zone between the lower cabinet next to the stove and a garage sale.  Enjoy your time up there, hamburger shaped serving tray and quesadilla maker, because come tax season I will be needing a Goodwill receipt, and that donation has your name all over it.

The cabinet above your fridge as a usable storage application?  Totally weak.


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