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From the Mouth of the River

When your appliances talk to you

Modern technology has come a long way since we got electricity in that old one room line shack when I was a kid.  One light bulb hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room which, by the way, was our living, dining, kitchen and saddle room. The yellow light from the old coal oil lamp wasn’t the best thing in the world to read from so it was great to finally see the words I was misspelling in my home work. The trouble with having good lighting was that I no longer had any excuses for my bad spelling.  Today the ads on TV are promoting the latest hand-held devices to make your world smaller and reduce your child’s IQ to the size of a squirrel’s.

 Misspelling and mangling the English language is quite acceptable now and everything is being reduced to abbreviations and there is no grammar or punctuation. Not that I know how to use either of those things properly and my spelling is Oakie (spelled by how it sounds), but at least I try to stick to our everyday language. Nowadays, if you text or tweet you have to use a whole new language that does not even resemble English and is just gibberish. But apparently, if you are a tweeter your bird brain can understand it all. 

However, there are some kids in Chipmunk Falls for whom this would be a step up. For instance, a kid stopped by my shop the other day while I was building a door frame and pointed at my hammer and asked what it was.

“It’s a modern device to test the boundaries of pain and it doesn’t even need batteries. Here, put your thumb on this anvil,” I said.

He laid his hand on the anvil and as I started the downward motion with the hammer he suddenly jerked his hand back. Holding his hand and looking at me wild eyed, he said. “That would hurt!”

 “Well,” I replied, “I see you have finally reached the age of reasoning. By the way, just how old are you?”

“Sixteen,” he said.

I can remember when the age of reasoning was eight years old for country kids and nine for city kids. The reasoning behind this was that city kids didn’t have easy access to hammers. I never realized there would be an age when reasoning would start going the other way. For instance, my wife and I are both retired. I’m pushing seventy-five right off the cliff and  she’s not. In recent months we completely remodeled our kitchen, dining and laundry room. I say we, because I got to watch, from a distance. If you have been married as long as we have, you know not to put your hand on the anvil if mom has the hammer. I was, however, happy that Lovie replaced all of our appliances with up-to-date hi-tech equipment. It wasn’t until I went to use some of it that I realized I had been Hi-Teched (similar to hijacked, but more modern). 

For instance, the dishwasher has nineteen choices of buttons; the only one I know how to use says, “ON.”  Our new Kenmore washing machine has thirty-five settings on it and the matching dryer has thirty-six settings on it; there’s even some settings for women’s finer things. I have often wanted to push one of those just to see what comes out. The new refrigerator hasn’t changed much, except it has all clear plastic drawers and shelves so you can see when the vegetables are wilted enough to  throw out without opening the drawers. Takes all the fun out of looking for that mystery smell in the fridge. The new gas stove is something even I can be proud of because it has a two burner grill. I can fry anything on it plus, there is one  burner I use that is twice as big all the rest that gets hot enough to melt a cast iron skillet. Man, when it’s brown it’s cooking and when it’s black it’s done. That’s the way I like to cook.

Lovie says, thank God it has a ventilation system that will suck the shirt right off your back. Otherwise, our house would stink of burnt bacon fat all the time. I can’t help it if I like my bacon crispy. 

We have a new countertop and sink, all one piece. Guaranteed not to crack, rip, ravel, run or tear, but Lovie won’t let me put anything on it but a wet wash cloth. Our new kitchen and dining room floor is of a simulated wood that requires a daily cleaning with just the right kind of products. We have ten different kinds of floor apparatus, that is, things with handles attached. One I recognized. It’s a broom. We also have one of those new Tornado type vacuum cleaners. It will suck the grass right up, roots and all. We no longer have any shag in our carpet and we are missing items from the living room along with one cat.  

Now, Lovie is very intelligent. She has a degree and everything. But, she received a rude introduction to the latest technology this year, in the way of a GPS. This item, if you didn’t know, can talk back to you. She, like most women, is not used to having something tell you what to do. I can tell her what to do but, she tells me where to go and that’s that. But, a GPS will argue with you. And do you know how funny one looks arguing with a little piece of technology? 

But wait, guess what? All the new appliances she bought for the house talk back to her, too, in their own way. The washer and dryer have their own band and play music while they work.  A different tune for each cycle. Eight times in the first week I tried to answer the phone thinking I heard ring tones. You don’t dare set the timer for something you put in the oven because not only will it tell you when its done, it won’t shut up until you attend to it. Which by the way, is funny when she’s in the other end of the house hollering at it to shut the @%#$&* up! 

I have often wondered at what point would Hi-Tech take over our lives and when could we no longer do without it. I think I found out the other day at a gas station in Lewiston, Idaho when a man was talking with his father on their cell phones. One was sitting in the car and the other one was filling it with gas. They were only four feet away from each other! Both calls were long distance. One went through Spokane, Washington and back to Lewiston and the other went to Phoenix, Arizona and back! Now I gotta ask ya’, were these guys being Hi-Tech or were they just being twits?

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Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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