By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

rotary-phoneThis year I will hit a milestone birthday.  I have frequent reminders that I’m getting older, mostly from my knees and memory.  But these days the true test of whether one is on the “back nine” of life is dealing with technology.  I have long prided myself in my interest in computers and anything the least bit geeky.  I owe this to my long-time technology guru at work, Doug Clayton, who always assured me that pressing the “F10” button on the keyboard was NOT going to blow up Hong Kong.  He encouraged me to experiment and right-click my way through most problems.  I wish that I still lived near him – a man of endless patience who never once rolled his eyes at me or called me an ignorant slut.  Although he certainly would have been justified on many occasions.

vcr hook up

These days, I browse Best Buy like it’s a candy store.  Honestly, I’d rather spend two hours there than at Nordstrom (unless it’s the Nordstrom Cafe with their delightful chocolate cake).  I think for someone who started out with a black, rotary phone and a phone number that started with a noun (Twinbrook 23537), I’ve come pretty far.  I have lived long enough to marvel through push-button phones, cordless phones, answering machines, cell phones the size of a shoe box and now the Apple watch.  As for computers, much like the old TV sets, my first one at work had a 10 inch screen with bright green letters on a black background.  I remember when, with more enthusiasm than talent, I hooked up our first DVR back in 1986 and it was a simple matter of connecting two coax cables.  Now…well, there is a computer in everything, from my fitness band to the washing machine.  And everything connects wirelessly.  Even the TV is now called a “smart TV”.  I don’t know exactly what that means but I know one thing, it’s a heck of a lot smarter than me.

Computer wireLast week the intersection of technology and my ineptness crossed when, after 17 years with the same phone and internet company, I decided I’d had enough of their slow speeds and faulty phone lines.  So on Friday a nice young man from the new company showed up at our doorstep ready to install everything I’d need to wisk me through the digital age.  He said it would take about an hour.  That was at 10 a.m.  Apparently our home, which is only 15 years old, is the Parthenon of technology wiring.  At 4 p.m. he finally finished, having had to cancel every other service call scheduled for that day. I peered over his shoulder (which I’m sure he just loved) to watch how he hooked everything up.  When it was all up and running he left.  Big mistake.  I should have kidnapped him.

I spent the next two days uttering language that would make a sailor blush.  Somewhere over those 17 years I lost count of how many devices I’d hooked up wirelessly until, one by one over the weekend, they stopped working – the printer, the wi-fi extender, both iPads and the cell phones.  Don’t even get me started on that “smart TV”.  If it’s so damn smart why can’t it hook itself up?  Honestly, would it be that hard for it to detect that there is a new wireless router and think “Gee, the old router is no longer online and there is a new router.  I think I’ll connect to that one.”  I don’t think that’s asking too much of something that purports to call itself “smart”.

In any event, here I am a week later, and everything seems to be working.  Of course, we all know that I’ve lulled myself into a false sense of security.  I’m guessing that within the next week something will go down and I will have to call Tech Support in India where “Dave” will walk me through all the things I’ve already tried before transferring me to someone in Poughkeepsie.  Some days that old black rotary phone looks pretty darn appealing.

P.S.  For those of you who kindly commented, and related your own stories, on my blog about “Un-Fun Money”, we can now add “new garbage disposal” to the list.  It never ends.



SnowbirdBy Suzanne Sparrow Watson


Well, it’s that time of year again – the annual migration of the snowbirds has begun.  “Snowbirds” for those unfamiliar with the term, refer to all the people from colder climes that come here in the winter just so they can call home to their friends and brag that they’re not having to shovel sunshine.  There are so many people here from the Midwest that someone once said that the definition of diversity in Phoenix is when someone from Chicago moves in right next door to someone from Minneapolis.


A quick trip to the grocery store this morning made clear that the snowbirds are on the wane.  I did not have to swerve coming out of my neighborhood in order to miss some “high flying” snowbird with his top down, talking on a cell phone, and smoking a stogie.


Nor did I have to endure people turning left, no, then right, no, then left again because they didn’t have GPS in their car and can’t figure out our complicated street system.  (I will say that having streets that dead end and then pick up again three miles down the road is a tad bit confusing)car transport


And best of all, I breezed into the parking lot, found a space up close and was able to complete my shopping without having to stand in a long line of people stocking up on gin, cocktail napkins and sunscreen.  Rest assured, the most beautiful sight we see this time of year are all the car transport trucks heading out of town.


The bad part about the migration is that most of my friends are snowbirds.  They return this time of year to the mountains or the Midwest, carry on with their lives at home and leave the rest of us here to sweat out the summer.  Just as they have their unique moniker, those of us who stay here are affectionately known as the “summer sluts”.  At least I think that’s a term of affection.


In any event, last week a friend asked me if I actually looked forward to everyone leaving for the season.  Since she was “migrating” back to Chicago the next day, I did what I thought was right. I lied.  I told her it was awful here in the summer.  And, of course, I do miss my friends.  But the truth is, it’s kind of nice once everyone clears out.  We can get into any restaurant we choose at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night.  We can arrive 10 minutes before the opening of a blockbuster movie and still get a great seat.  Oh sure, you can fry an egg on the pavement in mid-August but  that’s a small price to pay to be the first in line at the Nordstrom Annual Pre-Season sale.


But the best reason to enjoy the snowbird migration?  No more dinner invitations.  We control our schedule – from now until November we will not be on a social merry-go-round.  We will only go out when we feel like it.  We will not have to get dressed up.  We can sit on our sofa, wearing Bermudas and a tank top, and download movies from Netflix.  We can munch on junk food.  We can drink beer and vodka tonics to keep cool.


Come to think of it, maybe I am a summer slut. white trash