Touch ‘M’ for ‘Murder’

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‘The time I out-teched my Techie daughter’

Boy, are my arms tired. I just flew back from the Coast; the Oregon Coast, that is, where I spent a most marvelous three days with two of the coolest women on the Planet, my Mom and my Favorite Sister Laura. (I’ve told her many times that she would be my Favorite Sister even if I had more than one sister, which I swear is the truth even though I can’t exactly test my theory.)

Favorite Sister, pictured at left in tiny hat. Mom, on right. All on the Oregon Coast, just 3 days ago (sigh)

The reason she’s my fave — today’s reason anyway — is that she gave me the idea for this post. Which is about the time I out-teched the most tech-savvy person I know, a person in her mid-twenties who holds a seriously important job at a company so techalicious that I have absolutely no idea what it is they do. It is called Kensho, and you can, if so inclined, read about it here. My brain, as well as my arms, is way too tired to try to ‘splain it to you.

The Person in Question is, of course, The Child.

The Child gets introduced to Technology at an early age

I had just finished showing my Mom how to back up her iPhone and her iPad and we all got to talking tech. (Yes, my Mom is totally tech-savvy. She emails and googles and texts as well as I do. And she’s way ahead of me with emoji. She even has an avatar. Heck, I don’t even have an avatar. Maybe I should get her to make me one.)

My mom can stroke a cat and swipe a screen — at the same time

Anyway, we three are talking tech, specifically about the new iPhone — which, as you know, costs about a jillion dollars and does everything except dance and sing — when Laura goes ‘Hey, remember that time you tried to show The Child how to work the dial phone?’ (Except she used The Child’s real name.)

Well yes, I did remember. I had read somewhere that it’s a good idea to keep a regular land-line phone around the house in case some disaster happens involving power outages, since cellphones or even those cordless non-cell phones can run ‘dry’ with no electricity. You just plug your trusty landline model into your phone jack and you’re good to go. At least till the food all runs out and the rioting starts in the streets. (Oops, that last part is going to be in a post about Doomsday Dude.)

The Trusty Landline, AKA Princess Phone, we keep around for emergencies

I’d saved this old Princess Phone just for Disaster Duty. Remember Princess Phones? They were pretty slick-looking — and considered rather cutting edge back in the days when to ‘swipe’ meant to steal your sister’s chocolate bunny and a ‘software upgrade’ meant you got a new puppy.

We’ve got tech in our genes: The Child and my Mom collaborating over a keyboard

So I haul out Miss Phone and hand it to The Child. She looks a tad confused and asks ‘But how do you use it?’ Which is when I realize that she has never seen a dial phone before. Why, even in the picture at the top of this post, when she is a mere toddler, The Child is holding a touch-tone phone. Ancient, large, and with an antenna, but touch-tone nonetheless. Touch-tone is just a ‘touch’ away from touch-screen. But dialing? Well, that’s a different, unknown, story. At least to The Child.

I take the Princess Phone from her and demonstrate. ‘See? You put your finger in one of these holes with a number in it — and rotate the dial. Like so!’

Well. Try as she might, The Child just cannot do it. She sticks a finger in a hole to get at the number, then pulls it out. She tries to rotate, but her finger sort of wimps out and she lets go too soon. She even tries using a pencil (yes, she knew what a ‘pencil’ was) when I tell her that manicured ladies of my acquaintance dialed that way to save their nails. No dice; no dialing.

She can’t dial a phone, but she can Face Time like nobody’s business. Which is what she is doing here one Thanksgiving when she could not be present because she was honing her tech skills across The Pond

Oh well. I guess there will always be things that Mother Knows Best. Even if it’s only dialing a phone.

New York City. October 2017

Hamptons (Un)Real Estate

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‘I’ll trade you 450 square feet for, like, a jillion dollars.’

Even the ad was small. So small I’d missed it entirely.

I’d just passed The Dude the real estate section of the East Hampton Star and he says “Hey, look. The Little House. It’s for sale.”

“Really? How much are they asking?” (The Little House was what we called our much-beloved former ‘Hamptons home’.) Well, when he told me the price, which was as astonishingly large as the house is astoundingly small, I grabbed that section back fast. “You have got to be kidding!”

“Look!” I say, reading from the (very small) ad and snorting coffee every which way, “it says it’s ‘3 BR, 2B'”. Good grief. Are they counting the outdoor shower?

A study in studs. The Dude shows off the ‘great room’ of our then Little House In Progress

Now I’ve written about the Little House before, in a piece called ‘The Perfect House meets the Perfect Storm(s)’ , where I talk not only about how much we loved this house (which we did) but also how it was so ramshackle when we bought it that we basically had to rebuild it from scratch and how it was like living on a boat. Really like living on a boat. For one thing, it was only 450 square feet, which is tiny for a house, but pretty roomy for a boat. But mostly because you could see water in practically every direction. Continue reading

Happy Birthday to my Selfie

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‘Reflections on the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.’

Honest Injun. I was going to write a piece about iPhones and ringtones anyway. But as I was reading the Times (er, procrastinating) with my zillionth cup of coffee, I happened upon the news that the iPhone came out ten years ago today.

My my my. It seems like just yesterday that I was sharing a (very tiny, so it’s a good thing we got along) freelance office with an art director I dubbed Svenska Boy, who was the very first person of my acquaintance who had an iPhone. He waited hours in line outside the Apple Store in Midtown Manhattan to get it. Sigh. Technological memories are so bittersweet.

Take that early selfie at the top of this post. Please (!) It’s not only fuzzy, it’s taken in a mirror. Because the phones back then didn’t have that reverse camera. Or maybe I just hadn’t realized it was there. Oh well.

Selfies before iPhones. I take a picture of my reflection with a thing called a camera. Actually it was a Flip Video Camera. Remember those?

But back to the reason I was going to write about phones in the first place. It has to do with sounds. I was at the Amagansett IGA a few days ago, stocking up for my umpteenth wave of weekend house guests, when I spied a woman who used to date one of The Dude’s cousins. (Hey, I’m alone all week. When I run into someone I know, even vaguely, they simply must be prepared for a bit of social interaction.) Continue reading

Crime ‘n Stuff

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‘Waves of summer mayhem out East Hampton Way’

Well. No turkeys-storming-the-birdfeeder excuses today. I’m late because Labor Day Weekend brought me a full complement of competent Twenty-Somethings to liven things up here around The Compound. And after they left I had to immediately erase all traces of their occupancy (change the sheets; wash the towels; wipe up the avocado-toast crumbs) — or feel super sad.

These turkeys are welcome at my ‘feeder’ any ole time. I miss ’em already

So now that I can walk around the house without feeling assaulted by reminders of a rollicking good weekend (oops, somebody left her wineglass out by the pool; er, that would be me), let me get down to the actual topic of the piece. Which is crime.

Now this is a crime: floaterless pool floats

Yes, crime. Out here on the Eastern End of Long Island, otherwise known as The Hamptons, we do have our share of crime. In the summertime much of it has to do with road rage, which is understandable when you consider that the local population explodes from around 20,000 to upwards of 60,000. Some sources say 100,000, even. All I know is that they all have cars and that all summer long it’s impossible to leave my driveway without doing that queen-wave-with-a-smile gesture that means “You’d better let me out now, if you know what’s good for you and that shiny finish on your passenger door!”

Why, just the other day I watched in wonder as a Range-Rover-wielding Botox Fan backed out of Brent’s Deli (home of the Best Fried Chicken on the Planet) right into a hapless Camry waiting at the red light. I hope she at least bought him a bucket. With sides. Continue reading

Looks like we got ourselves a HooHah!

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‘The Family Reunion, taken to a whole new (Henry) level’

Well, no one who appeared in one of my commercials died this week. (Are you still out there, Betty White?) Or not that I know of, anyway. So “HooHah” story it is.

Now let me be clear. The Henrys did not invent the “Family Reunion.” Family reunions have been around, oh, I’d say probably since the invention of Large Extended Families. No doubt some of you readers can recall sticky gatherings of seldom-seen aunts, uncles, and cousins featuring picnic tables laden with summer dishes like jello salads (urk) and glorified rice (yum). Games like Corn Hole (a real “thing”, I kid you not) and wiffle ball and sometimes even croquet would be played (though our “croquet” was decidedly non-Downton-Abbey-esque, involving lots of violent “sending” of opponents’, i.e. younger cousins’, balls, resulting in much wailing).

Gathering of the Henry Clan featuring sweaty, crying cousins (I’m down in front next to the boy sucking his thumb)

The other side of my family, the Petersons, had Family Reunions too. They even gave theirs an idiosyncratic name. I dimly recall attending something called the PAL Reunion in Belvidere Park. (This was in Belvidere, Illinois, the closest metropolitan area/gathering place for my farm-residing relations.) The “PAL” stood for, I believe, Peterson, Anderson, and Lindstrom. Yup, these were the Swedes.  Continue reading

I just flew in from The Coast

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‘And boy, are my arms tired. (Old joke, couldn’t resist.)’

Ah, the miracles of modern travel. Sunday I was within wave-crashing distance to the Atlantic. And Monday I was smack-dab next to the Pacific. Funny, we say things like “It’s SUCH a long flight from New York to Portland — six whole hours!” Which seems like a long time till you consider that it once took months to get there in those wagon trains. Day after endless day heading due west. And those poor pioneers didn’t even have sunglasses.

I have to keep reminding myself that air travel is a wonderful miracle because I am such a nervous wreck when it comes to flying. Those of you who are my Facebook Friends already know this, and responded with great kindness (and many funny comments) when I posted this the other day:

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Stars in stripes

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‘Looking back and forth on the Fourth’

For the past several summers we’ve had this fun Fourth of July tradition where we let The Child fill up our house with as many of her friends as we have beds to lay their pretty little heads on. Sometimes it’s guys and girls; sometimes ‘just’ girls. The Dude and I are happy with either arrangement, though we have noticed that when it’s girls-only, the Young Friends seem more inclined to activity — like going to the beach, hopping on the bikes, or heading into town to catch what’s up at The Talkhouse.  

Last year’s crop of Nation’s Birthday Beauties. Haven’t wrestled this year’s photo out of The Dude’s camera yet. But, trust me, they’re equally sparkly

(The guys, when the guest list includes them, seem content to hang around The Compound, sipping beer and, well, being content. Sometimes they bestir themselves to demonstrate their CrossFit routines; there was a Matt-shaped indentation in our lawn for a few post-Fourth days one year. Oh, and one other memorable Fourth, Somebody’s BF soaked his iPhone in our hot tub, though not intentionally. BTW, putting a soaked iPhone into a jar of rice does not dry it out, no matter what you may have read on the internet.)

Speaking of food, this year I inaugurated a new tradition: The USA Birthday Cake. From Carvel, of course. No, we didn’t sing

But hey, anything anybody wants to do — or not do — is A-okay with me. I’m happy to provide food — beaucoup de food — and stay the heck out of the way. I was in the kitchen in the midst of doing just that when one of this year’s Young Lovelies (and they are — lovely — each and every one of them) strolled by on her way to the pool, and I happened to catch the unmistakable whiff of — Coppertone.

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