Smart tech

Kym Seabolt Smart Light Notification
Submitted screenshot.

I almost missed dinner because I was fighting with a light bulb. For the record, the light bulb was winning.

I am a firmly “on the grid” kind of gal. I have no desire to do without modern convenience. Electricity and the many joys it brings to my life are the only reason I pay exorbitant utility bills. We don’t even have electric heat and yet our bills run $300 or so a month. I have no idea why. It’s just always been that way. Rural life I guess? So many pumps and interesting things.

In return for this princely sum I try to run All Of THE THINGS all of the time. Lamps of every size. Electric scented wax warmers so our home can always smell like baked goods that we do not actually have. Smart outlets for appliances to come on and off at will. Basically, I want to control everything I can with my voice or mobile device. Flip a switch? Perish the thought!

Accordingly, I am always so confused when the power goes out. I’m cool for about 15 minutes and then I begin to panic. Picture me, fist raised skyward in bitter anguish like Scarlett O’Hara lamenting the loss of Tara: “I cannot LIVE LIKE THIS!”

Fortunately, with rare exceptions, the power never stays off long. If it ever did stay off for very long, we also have a big generator we can fire up (see “firmly on the grid gal” referenced above). Mr. Wonderful is a very wise man. He knows that I need, at minimum, running water and a working coffee maker. His commitment to that generator is self-preservation, honestly.

Used to be that we knew the power went out because the clock on the stove was flashing. It was the last digital clock in the house that didn’t just automatically reset itself according to the Russian satellite or Chinese Spy Balloon or whatever was floating around. Progress, am I right? We would come home to find a little beacon of lost clock setting flashing for help. We would punch in the numbers and order was restored. So easy.

Then we got smart. Smart bulbs and smart plugs, that is. Now, even a momentary power outage causes no end of chaos. Our “smart bulbs” lose their connection to the router, the smart device, the fairy magic or whatever it is that makes it work. They all begin flashing wildly like some sort of electric panic. It’s like disco! Only without fun music and far more annoying. Our smart plugs SEND ME TEXTS that say “device is offline. Please pay attention.” I feel chastised. It’s like my devices are deeply disappointed in me.

I then have to crawl around to outlets pushing buttons, poking power strips and removing and resetting devices. After any power outage I stomp around waving my phone hoping to get things to settle down.

This scenario is what Mr. Wonderful walked in on when he was trying to take me out to dinner. He was being charming and spontaneous. I was crawling around with my head stuck under the dining room buffet muttering “I can’t leave now! This light bulb won’t COMMUNICATE.”

He walked out shaking his head. We did make it to dinner — late.

A friend regales us with stories of her robotic vacuum. She is forever untangling it from cords and blankets and pulling things out its “mouth.” It is, she says, somewhat like having a puppy.

They named it “Sunny.” Sometimes she gets texts at work alerting her that “Sunny is stuck.”

Last night I realized that the “smart bulb” in our sofa lamp would not turn on with voice command. I kept trying.  “Hey Google, turn on the living room lamp!” Nothing happened. I had every other light in the room blinking on and off. The lamp resisted all efforts to be commanded by voice or anything else. I hit “reset.” I “searched for a device.” I made every attempt to “connect” with the bulb. Frankly, I put less effort into finding a husband. So I spent a good part of my evening yelling at a lamp.

Meanwhile, my father-in-law visited and (rightfully) poked fun at us. Observing the shouting at random light fixtures he noted, dryly, that at his house he just leans over and flips a switch.

Sure, that’s an option. I prefer my modern way. When it works it’s all very delightful. On the other hand, when it doesn’t, smart plugs and bulbs definitely have a way of making me look not so bright.


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