Archive for November, 2021


This weekend, I learned that Alexa can call your phone, which came in handy when I couldn’t find my phone after I got home tonight.

So I asked Alexa to call it. My handset phone system, which is connected to my iPhone by Bluetooth, rang, but I couldn’t hear the old phone sound of my cell phone. But for the handsets to ring, I knew my iPhone had to be nearby.

Then I remembered that I had the iPhone on silent mode during tonight’s Masonic meeting, so I turned off all the lights in the house and had Alexa call.

No lights anywhere other than from the three handsets in the house.

So I stood with the front door open and asked Alexa to call again.

On the ground, next to the driver’s door, partly covered by leaves, I could see the phone light up.

Technology can have an upside, too.

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In 1980, I was flush with oilfield cash and spent more than $20,000 on a Heritage model T-Bird.

That was an unheard of price back then, but it had a digital dashboard and all the bells and whistles you could imagine.

I loved that car but after the warranty expired (and before I wrecked it twice), and after I got laid off from the oilfield and no longer was flush with cash, all the bells and whistles stopped working. Not all at once, but one by one, leaving me in a bind.

That included the digital speedometer. It would read 0 most of the time, but every now and then flicker the actual speed, so I had to rely on my own guesstimate of how fast I was going. I bought a radar detector and that helped me keep out of trouble until I was able to buy a new car in 1987.

My new car was a 1987 Chevy Nova with manual transmission as well as manual windows and an analog radio. I wasn’t taking any chances.

I think about that T-Bird every time I am tempted to buy a “smart home” gadget.

My sister gave me a couple of smart plugs and an Echo Flex for Christmas last year, and I have to admit, I really like them. I even bought a couple of more plugs to use for lights that are hard for me to reach.

Being able to program them so that when I walk through the door and say “Alexa, I’m home” and watch lights magically pop on has been a cool thing. Telling Alexa goodnight and watching all the lights go out from the comfort of my bed is pretty neat too.

But thanks to my ’81 T-Bird, there’s a lamp by the door that turns on and off manually. It’s the same in my bedroom.

On this Cyber Monday, I find myself tempted to buy smart outlets and more plugs so that I can do all sorts of neat things without lifting a finger.

But the lessons learned from that old T-Bird prevail.

My RAV4 has all the bells and whistles that I could ever imagine having in a car and some that I never imagined. I also bought the lifetime warranty. I just hope I never have to use it.

Technology is a wonderful thing until it quits working.

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