Category Archives: Irony

Technical Schmecnical

There are a lot of people today who live on the bleeding edge of technology. They eagerly responded to their Google+ invitations, have the latest iPhone & Kindle and can text as fast as a twelve year old girl. Then, there are my parents.

They made the conscious decision years ago not to go for the latest fad. Take the microwave oven for example. They were quite concerned that it could adversely disrupt the function of a pacemaker (not that they have one). When I told my mom that she could bake a potato in 8 minutes, she said, “I’m in no rush”. They weren’t believers in technology for technology’s sake (or for that matter, anyone else’s sake) and saw no need to jump on the push button phone bandwagon or even the electronic typewriter craze of 1968. They are even quite content on driving to the bank, standing on line and having to know what the hours of operation are (generally banker’s hours); only to make a withdrawal of $20. Although we were raised Jewish, maybe they’re some Amish blood in our family tree.

Dad is completely satisfied with the Royal typewriter that he’s used since the mid 1940’s. Although the letters are a bit misaligned along with the spacing, and occasionally a letter is red vs. black, it has been his trusted tool of the trade throughout his career as a CPA. He did purchase an adding machine in the ‘70s, but wasn’t satisfied and preferred totaling columns in his head and then transcribing the totals onto green ledger accounting pads. It never dawned on me that this was strange; being that he actually was an accountant. Recently he ran out of his 30 year supply of carbon paper and combo red/black typewriter ribbons and I had to purchase replenishments for him on Ebay as they are now considered collectibles.

I wonder what the IRS thinks of the tax returns he submits. This year he said to me, “You’re in the data processing field. Can you go to the world wide web and print me my tax forms” since they were no longer available at his local Post Office (which might be the next thing to be obsolete) and he couldn’t use the phone IVR system since he doesn’t have a push button phone. He specifically requested 8 different forms, their NJ State equivalents and 4 copies of each in case he makes a mistake. I started downloading the forms and printing them, but it would have used up a few pricy ink cartridges, a ream of paper and about an hour to collate and then deliver them to him. Luckily the IRS.gov had a mail delivery option. Yes, tax software would be a good suggestion for Dad if he had a computer. There will be no using Turbo Tax for him; He puts each paper form into the typewriter along with a piece of carbon paper and a duplicate form and enters all the required information sometimes pausing to use some White Out (another item available on Ebay). The process is arduous with today’s complicated tax laws and multiple schedules, worksheets and forms. Then he folds a large manila envelope so it will fit into the typewriter and addresses his tax return. When it’s complete it looks pretty much like a ransom note from a deranged kidnapper.

My parents have reluctantly embraced some technology out of necessity. They have adapters in many of their electrical outlets to accommodate their (relatively) new 3 prong appliances and had to reluctantly subscribe to cable TV since their rabbit-ear antennas were a safety hazard. Maybe they have the right idea – they saved a lot of money ignoring the rise and fall of the fax. They have never sent nor received one and are none the worse. Since I can’t IM them when one of our kids return home safely from a trip, they insist I give them the “signal”. That’s where I call them and hang up quickly (less than 6 rings at their age) to avoid the long distance charges (they’re not aware that nobody pays long distance charges these days, but I’m pretty sure they still do).

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The perfect gift

I received many great gifts when I turned 35.  They included gift certificates to local restaurants, my own copy of Forrest Gump on VHS, a few bottles of booze and a very special gift from my friend Dave that I cherish to this very day.  It was an electronic shoe buffer with spinning fluffy pads that keep your shoes looking great.  One side was black and one was red although I’m really not sure why.  I generally don’t wear shoes that need to be buffed but it was proudly displayed in our bedroom until the kids began to play with it and it was then relegated to the walk in closet.

 

At my 40th birthday party, Dave gave me an even better present; a megaphone!  Early the next morning, (while still in bed) I used it to ask my wife what she wanted for breakfast.  She didn’t seem to appreciate waking up to the soothing sound of the megaphone, but it has come in handy. I used it to disperse some crowds at my kid’s parties and to get a word in edgewise at Thanksgiving dinner with our extended family.  Dave prided himself on giving gifts that you never thought of getting, but shortly after owning them, realized that you couldn’t live without them.  I responded to the megaphone by giving him a referee shirt when he hit the big 4-0.  He liked it, but his thank you note referenced it as prisoner’s uniform (yet another useful gift). 

Dave just turned 50 and I wasn’t sure what to get him.  I thought about getting one of those metal shoe measurement devices along with one of those low angled stools found in quality shoe stores.  It would make a nice gift set, but most people’s feet seem to stop growing by 50 and although it would be a stylish addition to their parlor, it wasn’t very practical. 

 That’s when it dawned on me.  I’ll get Dave something stylish, classy yet quite useful – monogrammed handkerchiefs!

It was the perfect accoutrement to adorn a fancy suit’s breast pocket or be more modestly placed in the front pocket of some casual slacks.  And talk about functional; you can blow your nose in it all day and after a spin in the washer along with your wife’s delicate knits, it can show up back in your dresser drawer all folded up nicely ready to re-use.  Think about all the tissues people use today! Handkerchiefs are the ultimate green gift (no pun intended) as they are great for the environment and save trees.  As a Doctor, Dave will be able to pull it out of his pocket and offer it to a sobbing patient who just learned that her Lupus tests came back inconclusive.  I made sure it was adorned with his initials, so as not to confuse it with his son’s handkerchiefs.  Dave will wonder how he ever lived without them.  He will learn to lovingly refer to them as hankies.

Its uses are endless.  If he’s playing Blackjack in Atlantic City and is dealt a poor hand, he can surrender by waving it at the dealer.  Imagine if he gets an upper respiratory infection.  Think of how disgusting it would be for him to blow his nose and cough into tissues and then just casually toss them in various trash receptacles around town.  Now, he’d be able to use his trusty hankie, and then just plop it in the hamper in the comfort of his own home.  I hope he enjoys his gift.

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Google might have automated the process of finding look-a-likes

It seems like Google is helping the effort to find look-a-like celebrities.  Upon searching for Gene Shalit (don’t ask why?) I clicked on images and low a behold the following celebs were displayed.  A few dangerous villans in the mix.  Gene might want to loose the stash

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Thanks for the warning – I almost ate a peanut!

Check out this informative packaging.  There is a warning that says the package may contain peanuts!  I should hope so.  That’s why I bought them!

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