Let there be light — maybe

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smarthome

You have not truly lived until you have had to telephone tech support … for a light bulb.  The Jetsons never warned me about this.

A few weeks ago, BoyWonder surprised me with a very thoughtful gift of smart light bulbs. They are smart because they connect to the internet via wifi. I can then control them from my telephone or the tiny Google speaker that has been silently spying on us for who knows how long. It plays music so that seems a fair trade for all the secrets of our lives.

With this space-age technology, I could set timers and scenes and prepare every imaginable scenario for which light bulbs might be called into action.

They could turn on every evening at a certain time. They could be programmed to dim themselves when the TV was powered on. They could dance along to music. The future is now, friends.

Smart bulbs

I really did like these smart bulbs, if only for the fact that I could control the brightness and color of the bulbs. Since buying light bulbs became rocket science, I have struggled to find LED bulbs that aren’t a ghastly blue fluorescent hue.

These bulbs came with “scenes.” I could pick, say, “evening cocktails” for a warm glow. Perhaps “movie night” for a barely-there ambient dim. They could even be set to red, green or blue for a festive vibe.

What they could not do with any reliability was respond to Mr. Wonderful’s commands to turn them on. What was supposed to work was, “Hey Google, turn on the living room lights.” What happened for him every single time was the response, “I’m sorry, I do not understand.”

This is preferable to the stony silence that sometimes met his command.

Having Google in your home is like paying a robot to condescend to you with selective hearing and a sassy attitude. Google Voice might say “I’m sorry,” but if truth be told, she never seemed all that sorry. Mr. Wonderful was often left cursing the darkness. He learned to rely on his cell phone flashlight. He is nothing if not adaptable.

Dark

All was well (for me, anyway) until the power went out. When the power returned there was, for lack of a better word, a glitch in our system. The smart bulbs did not come back on correctly. The bulbs would need a reset. No problem, right?

We all know the universal healing power of “have you tried turning it off and back on again?” for computers. Why not smart bulbs too? Try as I might, the light bulbs would not connect to our wifi. I tried. I really did. The lights were stuck on “flashing reset,” the universal distress call of the smart bulb (apparently).

Worse, it is a ceiling fan and lighting combination. I like the fan for obvious reasons, but the strobe effect of the flashing bulbs was getting old real quick.  Thus, I admitted defeat and made the call.

Tech support

Yes, I called the 1-800 number for tech support to assist me with my light bulbs.  The situation was so ludicrous. I handled it like any adult would do. I got the giggles. The kind customer service rep who took my call, after 9 p.m. mind you, was a gem. I was laughing as I explained the problem.

This was almost as bad as the time I had to call in an exploding squirrel-related power outage to the electric company.

The problem was quickly found to be that my wifi had upgraded. Sounds good, right? Nope. The lights refused to reconnect to WiFi because it was now too fast for them. My lights were, perhaps, not that smart after all. They were, in fact, slow lights.

Fan

I was actually getting agitated at this point because the lights would not stop flashing, but if I flip the switch I also shut off the fan. I love the fan. I need the fan. I will not have these mutinous lights take away my fan rights.

Yes, this was my actual thought process as the clock ticked toward 10 p.m. It was easily 40 minutes until I realized I could pull the chain on the lights and leave the fan running.  I am not proud of this fact.

Never worked

Mr. Wonderful, for his part, is glad the offending smart bulbs have been vanquished. He says they never worked right. I explained to him that prior to the wifi issue they did work nicely.

Me: “babe they don’t work for you because you never say ‘Hey Google, turn on the living room lights.’ You always say ‘turn on the d@#! lights.’”

Him: “It fits.”

To be fair, he is not wrong. When it comes to outsmarting smart lights, we may be the real dim bulbs.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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