Speaking of Machines

“No, I don’t want to go there.”

“Turn right onto the next exit.”

“I told you, I don’t want to go there. I need to go to the grocery store.”

“Do you wish to change your coordinates?”

“Yes, dammit, I want to go to the grocery store!”

“Changing coordinates.”

“Finally, jeez.”

“Turn right onto the next exit.”

You probably think that was me having words with the onboard GPS in my car. Actually, it was Jean Luc Picard, captain of the Starship Enterprise, trying to get “Computer” on his shuttle to take him to the local Piggly Wiggly on the planet Auralia. (Whoever thought Piggly Wiggly was a good name for a grocery store chain must have been on drugs.)

This talking/singing/dinging/buzzing-machine business is driving me nuts. I have Siri living inside my new iPhone. Just for the fun of it I changed her voice setting to a sexy Aussie accent. When she speaks, I swear I can envision this statuesque–well, anyway, she’s no smarter than the other one. Here’s an actual conversation I initiated between the two of us:

“Can you tell me my location?”

“I can only look for businesses in the United States, and when you’re using U.S. English. Sorry about that.”

(Damn, that voice is hot), “I am using U.S. English.”

“IBM closed at $179.16 yesterday.”

“Are you as cute as you sound?”

“I can’t answer that.”

“Do you like me?”

“I really have no opinion.”

(May still have a chance here–she didn’t say no), “Will you go out with me?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand ”’legal are with me.’”

Oh well, I’m not getting anywhere beer, I mean, here. One more try”;

“Do you love me?”

“You are the wind beneath my wings.”

That’s more like it.

My computer at work doesn’t talk to me, but it beeps and buzzes me on a regular basis. Very difficult to sleep at my desk with all that jangling going on. And then there are the website developers who can’t sleep at all unless they are sure they have incorporated every conceivable bell and whistle on every site every time. This, of course, includes talking, music and animation. When viewing such a site, is there any web surfer on the planet whose eyes do not race across the screen searching for the “skip this intro” button? If not, he or she needs to get a life. And talking head videos? I don’t want to hear these things. I want to read the copy so I can skip the parts I don’t need to know. Shut up already.

My car is pretty good at making sure I turn off the engine before I get out. This was not a problem in the good old days when the damn thing had an ignition keyhole. And it dings sixteen times (count ’em) if I don’t put my seat belt on, followed by yet another full set of twenty-four high-speed ding-ding-dings after that if I am totally recalcitrant (which is usually the case). This dinging most often occurs while driving from the mailbox to my garage, travel time for which, as it turns out, equates to exactly forty dings (my luck).

My house alarm is so loud it will literally pound flat all the cilia in your inner ear. A few months ago, I inadvertently left the front door ajar when I left for work in the morning (it still has a keyhole). When I returned that evening it was apparent that the alarm had gone off and had undoubtedly blared with interminable urgency at the top of its lungs for God only knows how long until, spent and short of oxygen, it simply quit, its wilted tongue hanging from the horn. Interestingly, not a solitary soul called me about it. (I have my phone number in the window by the front door.)

I like to play Angry Birds on my new iPad. The game has music of course. Does anybody want to hear that same four bar tune over and over for, like, an hour and-a-half (my average time for getting through a single level)? But then I am probably the only person you know who watches the nightly news with the sound off. Ah, peace and quiet.

Clyde’s dale

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