Thursday, December 29, 2011

What's in a name? A lot, if you live on my street...

When giving my address to a service person over the phone recently, I was amused to find that the street name actually made the person on the other end of the line laugh. I know it's an interesting street name because I've gotten similar reactions before. See, we just moved here a year and a half ago, so it's still new to me that I get such a reaction. In my old town, I had a street address that made it sound like I lived in New York. You know, one of those fancy-shmancy newfangled 911 addresses with lots of numbers in both the house address and the street name too. I sounded important.

Now, I just sound plain... well, hick! I no longer live on the high-falootin' sounding 1500th St., but I reside on good 'ole Muddy Trail. Yep, you read that right, I live on Muddy Trail. You would be shocked at how many times I have given someone my address and they've come back with "Is it really a muddy trail"? Yes, Virginia, it truly is a muddy trail.

There are probably some paranoid people cringing right now, criticizing me for revealing the name of the road I live on, so if you happen to be a serial killer reading my blog and you want to come and kill me, please feel free. My giant dogs will be happy to eat your face for lunch and so will my shotgun if the canines should fail. Hey, I told you I'm a hick! Why, the dogs almost attacked my husband accidentally when he went out back the other night and forgot to announce himself. He wanted to see if he could spot our goldfish in the pond better with a flashlight and he was wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt. He had the hood up because it was cold. He didn't turn on the back light because he had the flashlight. Thankfully, our giant alpha male recognized his voice when he said very loudly, "WHOA!!!" just prior to nearly being eaten. If they'll eat us, I'm certain they'll eat you too. But, I digress.

Don't get me wrong, Muddy Trail is a fine place to live. It's a good road at some times of the year, not so good at other times. Central US weather can be brutal with its extremes. I actually took a picture of the road last spring in case we had to prove car damage from the condition of the road, which literally disintegrated due to too much moisture.

We also had to make an emergency trip last winter to the car lot to purchase a four-wheel drive truck so we could get up the hill to our house on the ice and snow. Our poor pathetic little Dodge Dakota was not cutting it and was stuck at the bottom, despite numerous attempts. Bye-bye, Dakota. We have not missed you. Except that part about the gas mileage. We do miss that.

If you go past our house, the road then does turn into an actual muddy trail. It is technically a through road, to our amazement, and is shown as thus on GPS. Therefore, I am constantly re-routing people. If you follow GPS to try to access our house from the wrong side, you must cross a pretty big creek, or crick, as we hicks refer to it. Only certain hicks can successfully cross and an appropriate hick machine is definitely required. We knew it was a bad road when we had to help both the snow plow and the tree cutting trucks when they became stuck at our house last winter.

I walk down Muddy Trail with my dogs for exercise daily and it's really a lovely walk. P.S. If you are a serial killer reading this blog, I must say that it's also a perfect place to dump a dead body. Trust me, I am ever-vigilant to look each and every day for dead bodies at the creek, er crick, whichever you prefer, and luckily have only found a dead goat body so far. I don't know why I do that, look for dead bodies. I'm thinking that perhaps there's a good thriller in my head somewhere just waiting to be born. I am a writer, after all. Too bad I'm a humor writer. It might just turn out to be Ghost Goats of Muddy Trail by Cindy Brown. Oh, LOL, help us all. So in summary, I ask, do you have an interesting story about your street name?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Eye-Fi, You-Fi, We All Need More Wi-Fi!

Have you heard of Eye-Fi? If not, you are missing out on pure magic.

"What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve"

I see this happening more and more and yes, it happened to me recently. I can't take any credit whatsoever for achievement in this field of technology, but I once dreamed of a concept like Eye-Fi. Now, I have it at my disposal. Amazing!

I love technology that purports to make life easier and then actually follows through and delivers. My Lumix digital camera died a slow painful death recently and I did a lot of research in order to choose the perfect camera at the perfect price, just right for little old me. I landed on the Canon SX210IS, which one reviewer described as the "Cadillac of point and shoot cameras", and decided that we were meant for each other, till mechanical death do us part. I noticed it had a function called Eye-Fi. I didn't know what Eye-Fi was, but was glad to see that my little bundle of joy was Eye-Fi capable, whatever that meant. Upon further investigation, I found out that Eye-Fi was one of my dreams come true. In a nutshell, take a picture and it flies to your computer without you being required to do a thing. No cords, no removing your card and finding adapters, nothing. It just flies through the air like magic.

Okay, it sounds like magic, but the technical terminology would probably explain it better. It's a memory card with Wi-Fi in it. You set it up to connect to your home wireless connection, set up your parameters as you want them, and shazam! Literally, I can take a picture with my camera, walk over to my computer, and it's on there. Creepy. Creepy and faaaaaaaa-bu-lousssssss! I jumped on eBay and ordered one. Bonus that I got it twenty dollars cheaper than retail - holla! When it arrived, I nervously set it up. At first, it wouldn't find my wireless, but after several tries and me blaming all inadequacies unnecessarily on Vista, it connected. I tried it, not really expecting to be impressed. Let me tell you, I am impressed and Eye-Fi lives up to the hype!

It even features the ability to upload to your favorite sites like Facebook and it stores all of your video and photos on a website for seven days for free so you can access your info from anywhere, anytime. you can pay for a premium service that lets you keep it longer if you wish. You can also have unlimited storage on your memory card. I'm not sure how this works. Maybe Chris Angel or David Blaine are involved, I'm not sure. Shhh! I told you, the thing is magic!

Who ever said dreams can't come true? Believe it, achieve it, receive it, that's what I say. Merry Christmas everyone! I'm off to snap some photos.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Connection Addiction - Are You Immune?

My husband took me out to eat recently. We went to LongHorn Steakhouse and I must say that we had the best steaks we've had since our honeymoon eight years ago in Las Vegas. You wouldn't often describe meat from a cow as luscious, but this meat, well, it practically melted in your mouth. I even told the waiter and managed not to drool when saying it. But eating cow is not what this post is about. It's about communication.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we realized we were in for a wait, a very long wait, a one-hour-wait-to-seat-two-people kind of wait. We sat on the little waiting area bench and talked to each other. My husband had to use the bathroom facilities and so I filled my time with one of my favorite activities, human observation. Almost every person who entered the restaurant took their little "your table is ready" notification apparatus, which looks alarmingly like some sort of Taser device, by the way, found a place to park themselves either sitting or standing and promptly pulled out their phone to do whatever. Some already had their phones in their hand when they came through the door.

Now, being the human observer that I am, I took note of the dynamic the phone played in various situations around me. People who were waiting by themselves, I could understand. There is a need to "do" something while you wait. Me, I am still a connoisseur of the fine art of vegging, i.e. being in a vegetative state, or quite the opposite of "do" which is to do nothing and just be still. I have always said that patience is a virtue and this is part of it.

The woman beside me, I noticed, was on Facebook. Not that I was snooping, I just happened to glance and see that familiar blue and white I know so well. Of the group of four beside her, three had their phones out and were excitedly exchanging information. I overheard one woman say to the other, "Now you've done it. He has your number. Who knows what you'll get from him now!" Across the entryway, several sat on the opposite bench, poking at their phones. I wondered if they too were on Facebook or if they were texting or perhaps playing Angry Birds while looking important and busy. A young man waiting alone used his phone to serve as his Walkman, ear buds intact. Old fogies, you know what that is, the Walkman. Go ahead, date yourself right a long with me. Younger generation, you would know it as the archaic version of the iPod. A young boy played a loud game on his phone, or perhaps the phone belonged to one of his parental units, these days it's hard to tell. We get our kids phones at stupid ages. By we, I mean you, of course.

Then there was the couple who came in, looking quite ritzy and well-off. A husband and wife, I'll presume, who immediately pulled out their respective communication devices and ignored each other completely. Maybe they were talking to each other on their devices, who the heck knows? It made me feel bad for them. Can't they talk to each other? Do they hate each other? Are they so bored with one another that they are forced to shift their focus to avoid divorce? I remembered the days of beepers. Remember? The only time you were ever interrupted when out in public was if you really were important and you had a beeper. Respect, man, now that was respect. You were a doctor or a chief of police or some highly regarded profession. "Excuse me, I have to take/make this call," meant it was really important. Someone was dying, being born, or on fire. Nowadays, that same person might be interrupted with an "LOL!" Sheesh.

Even when seated at our table, I observed people using their phones while conversing with their table companions. Personally, I find this very rude if it is done consistently. I am here, pay attention to ME! Is it a status symbol, something to make a person appear prestigious? People like to feel needed, possibly even need to feel needed, some acutely more than others. I realize this. However, I believe we are in the midst of a connection or communication addiction epidemic. Some people just cannot ignore a text or go without being "connected" for even an hour. It's a sickness, really.

If I were an alien from another planet and I observed this behavior, I think my report would go something like this:

I observed the human race on the planet of Earth today. It appears they all need some sort of life support, battery pack, or energy device to keep them alive. Only the very young and old of the species seem to survive without the device, plus a few select others who seem to be immune to the need for this life-giving technology. Many of the subjects observed were required to pull the machine out and touch it with a finger hundreds of times before being able to put it back in its storage facility, a "pocket" or "purse". These devices beeped and chimed when the user needed a recharge and the user was required to pull out the device and touch it, presumably to continue life-force. Some were even required to put it up to the ear. We assume this was for people with advanced disease who needed an opening close to the brain for direct penetration of this energy. We were not able to determine what would happen if the prompts were ignored. We suspect that they would fall over in a slump and possibly die altogether. However, the beeps and chimes are never ignored. Therefore, we may never know.

As I pondered this at the table at LongHorn, I pulled a pen and piece of paper out of my purse and began to jot down notes for this blog posting. My husband said, "Look at you, old school with your pen and paper," and I thought to myself that yes, it would be nice to have one of those smart phones that I could take the notes on or an iPad and one of those cool roll-out wireless keyboards and then I could just whip it out and type these notes so much faster, right there at the table! And then I realized in horror that would make me "one of them". As usual, I made myself giggle just a little.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coffeemaker Shot Craps! Will I Survive?

At 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, I bumbled upstairs to wake up my daughter, then ventured back downstairs to find this note on the kitchen table: "Coffeemaker shot craps. The outlet works, but the coffeemaker doesn't. Take it back right away for a refund, get it fixed, or call my cousin who works at the Bunn factory. Must have coffee!" The note was from my husband who had been up late the night before. He was sleeping, so I dare not wake the bear to ask questions.

Three things immediately happened:

1) I was disappointed to know that I would not get my morning cup of joe, but I was headed to town, so I could get a cup in town - no biggie.

2) I thought of how my day would be overrun with this errand of repairing or replacing our Bunn extravaganza morning happy maker supreme machine.

3) I realized (gulp) that my husband would not be tolerable without coffee and that my life's mission for that day would absolutely consist of nothing but finding a remedy for the absence of brewed coffee in the house.

Our coffee is very important to us right now. It's what keeps us sane. It's what wakes us up joyfully. It's what protects us. Yes, you heard me right, it protects us... from him. I'm talking about my husband. It isn't bad enough that he drinks coffee like water on a normal day, but this of all days? This day? No, this couldn't be happening. You see, this was my husband's second full day of abstinence from a bad habit that will remain nameless (ah-ah-chew...excuse the sneeze) and he was doing fairly well. He had only lost his cool once so far and it was not horribly bad, considering.

Coffee, you see, was keeping him from going psycho on the three of us girls. I had heard multiple very deep sighs coming from within the belly of his soul that first day and I knew he was fighting it hard as it was, but without the blessed coffee? His note took on new urgency. I panicked with the realization that if I didn't get an identical coffee supplying machine ASAP, I could be subject to unspeakable withdrawal demons being unleashed upon me and my innocent children.

Then I decided to look at the Bunn fantastical wondrous beam of light to our souls machine myself to see if I could determine the problem, which he had failed to include in the note. We have one of those Bunn machines that stays plugged in all the time. It stores heated water so that when you put the water in, it just pushes out that amount of hot coffee in mere minutes. The only button you ever have to turn on and off is the warmer if you need it. It's really cool and really fast. I looked at the supreme coffee machine and noticed something right away. The power button was off.

Simply put, my husband had a brain fart. The red toggle switch had been inadvertently hit and when the coffee supplying machine didn't supply, my husband immediately jumped to the worst possible thought pattern. No wonder he came to bed with such a heavy sigh and prayed extra fervently that night before sliding into bed! I had to giggle. And yes, he even giggled with me later. Of course he giggled... because he had coffee properly coursing through his veins.

Folgers, have no fear. The wife is here to save the day once again. Until the next brain fart happens...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bird's Eye View From The Birth Canal

Okay, admit it. You missed my twisted sense of humor. You crave the next cerebral explosion of Cindy Brown's grey matter. It's okay. I will once again deliver a delightfully strange tale.

Today, we go on a journey through the birth canal. It all started with a dream I had recently. I know, I know -- it's possible you still may not have recovered from the Alan Alda dream yet, but I promise this is equally intriguing.

It was a night like any other night. Boy, if that didn't sound like the worst first line ever from a bad novel. But really, it was just an everyday underwear kind of day. You know, brush your teeth, go to bed, fall asleep. Really inane. But then, the dream came upon me. Gives me a shiver just thinking about it.

I dreamed that my ex-boyfriend was stalking me. There is absolutely no reason for me to fear this, so the dream started out as extremely illogical. In the dream, I had a current beau defending me against this particular ex. Again, this is crazy because I am happily married and I have no idea who this beau in the dream was except that he looked a little like that skinny little scientist guy from LOST, which is silly because I dislike beards.

Anyway, when the beau wasn't looking, the ex came up to me with a cell phone and said, "If we had a baby together, I'd want it to look like this," and shoved the phone's display in my face. The image I saw was of a woman, man, and child peering into the screen with those big caricature "awww" Puss-In-Boots eyes. That in itself isn't so strange. What was strange was that my dreaming mind interpreted that scene as the family portrait being viewed through the eyes of a baby being birthed. It was sort of a bird's-eye-view-from-kitchen-table-height kind of thing.

Yeah. That's what I said. So then it somehow translated into the realization that the picture had to have been taken by the actual baby, which of course is impossible, so how did they do that?! Okay, so upon waking, I was not even the least bit fascinated by the stalking ex part of the dream, but the compelling thought of how that baby got that photo. Then it dawned on me. It must have been new technology where the doctor puts a camera on the baby's head in utero and voila! -- baby films it's own family members as it is coming out of the birth canal!

I am actually shocked that they haven't done this birthing technique already. I told you, I'm an idea generator like you wouldn't believe, even with the most bizarre things. So the task then became analysis of the dream idea. Usually I can figure out where a dream came from if I think about it hard enough. There are obscure little triggers in everyday life that include themselves almost undetected, but most of the time, I can connect the dots. I still have no idea where Alan Alda came from in the wearing the bra to bed post, but I digress.

After a little thought, I had to laugh at myself. Thankfully, that happens a lot. It finally clicked that I had seen an MSN video teaser right before going to bed. It was about a couple attaching a camera to the end of their dog's stick and it of course recorded the action. That explained it! The stalking ex, oddly coupled beau, and the fact that I had no idea who was having the baby or who the people in the picture were... well, that must have been due to the pickled eggs I ate for lunch that day. What an entertaining journey through my grey matter that turned out to be, even for me! It wears me out just trying to figure out what my mind is thinking. So I ask, do you analyze your crazy dreams or just dismiss them? Freud it? Or forget it?