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What I Learned This Week – 3/19/17

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I am sure many of you were already aware of what I am about to tell you. But, this series of posts is called “What I Learned This Week”, not “What Everyone Else Already Knew.” So, ya.

I left work for my lunch break on Tuesday, something I don’t usually do. When I went to restart my car, it wouldn’t start. I’m a woman, so my only guess was my battery was dead, although it had started up just fine a half hour prior. And the dashboard lights were acting…unusual. They would all come on and sort of dance when I turned the key to try to start the car. Even where the “P” usually lights up to tell me it is in Park, it was cycling through and lighting up “R”, “N”, “D”, and “1” as well. It truly was the strangest thing.

I tried to jump it–nothing.

I have a cuter picture of it with a Christmas tree on top, but it would take me forever to find it.

I called in my husband, who while not a trained mechanic, totally understands engines and how to take them apart and put them back together. (I, on the other hand, believe they run on hamsters on wheels and fairy dust.) The crazy lights with the lack of success at jumping had him convinced it was an electrical problem.

During the next 24 hours, we proceeded to juggle the one remaining car and our two jobs and elementary school pick-up of M. I contemplated the hassle of having to pay a tow truck to tow my car the literally .3 miles my car died from the actual dealership. But as crappy as all that was, I have to admit the timing was actually fortunate because my husband was still home to assist me.

But while my husband was at work, I realized something…

In the old days when your battery died, it just died. Your headlights were weak, nothing would work. You could just jump it back to life and be on your way.

What I realized is that we don’t live in that time anymore. (Let me take this opportunity to reiterate that I don’t understand how a car engine totally works.) We live in a time where computers are ingrained into everything from our cars to our televisions to our electric toothbrushes. Computers are made by humans. Computers have unnecessary safety features. Computers fuck up.

I remembered that the second time my battery died in my beloved Aztek, I thought it had an electrical problem. Turned out that the battery got so low, that it tripped the anti-theft system. See what I mean about computers having unnecessary safety features?

So I hypothesized my battery had just gotten low enough that the car was like “Ya, we are done with this battery” without actually giving me a clear message that that was the case. Figuring that would be the least expensive option, I talked my husband into taking it to O’Reilly’s and getting it checked out. Sure enough, it was dead. After we spent some more time in a parking lot in a -10F degree windchill, it started right up.

The lesson this week kids is if your car is acting goofy and you have no idea how old your battery is, it may just be that you need a new battery. Your car is not your grandfather’s car. Unless, you know, it is. But if your family has children early, then chances are your grandfather’s car could be computerized as well. My family waits to have our offspring. My dad drove a Ford LTD from the 1970s. I am pretty sure it would have exhibited the standard blasĂ© of a car with a dead battery. 🙂

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

The Automated DJ Has Left the Building

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Located at Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Lake Superior

Located at Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Lake Superior

The other day I turned on my weather radio so I could listen to it (or zone out, as is usually the case) while I folded laundry, as I usually do.

I was in for a rude awakening.

The voice on my weather radio was just not the same.

Now, let me give you some background, some history.

I have a habit of obsessing about the voices that come out of my radio. For more background, click here. Listening for a DJ I like to back announce a song is sometimes just as good as waiting for a favorite song. I still remember the names of some of them I listened to 25 years ago. I have looked up their Facebook pages and befriended them. One of them even stalks me (who know who you are). This phenomenon was partially responsible for me studying radio and TV production in college. I have a story outline based off of one of them I wrote years ago, and someday soon I will fill it in with actual nouns and adjectives and verbs and junk. When a favorite DJ would leave a station (which they frequently do, a good reason for me not to go into that line of work), I would get very depressed.

This is what happened with my weather station.

Well, sort of.

I had gotten used to the old voice. He was friendly and reliable and reasonably easy to understand…for a computer.

Yes. I admit it. As I felt depression crushing me as I listened to the stranger on my radio station, I realized it was true. I had become attached to a voice coming through my radio that I was fully aware was automated all along. When I was first researching a weather radio before I purchased one ten years ago (Ya, I’m a giant nerd.),  I found on the NWS website where they blatantly tell you all about the various versions and upgrades on their voices.

I don’t like this new voice. It is too smooth. For a sample, click here. I liked that the old one stumbled over a few words now and then, sort of a digital pixelated hiccup. Even computers are allowed to mess up sometimes. We are only human, right? Oh, wait…

I even messaged my local weather service office in Pontiac, MI to find out what they changed. Their response:

We switched over to a new digital broadcasting system. The old system was the Console Replacement System (CRS) and the new one is the Broadcast Message Handler (BMH).

That means they went from the voice named Tom to the voice named Paul (There was also another Paul several years ago.). I am sure it is faster and will save more lives in an emergency and blah, blah, blah. But I will miss Tom dearly.

Unlike other DJs, it is unlikely I will find him up and down the dial.

Oh, did I mention that I am watching WKRP in Cincinnati these days. Probably the rest of the formula to why I wanted to study radio.

Have you seen that Dr. Johnny Fever?

Johnny freaks out over a tornado on WKRP in Cincinnati.

Johnny freaks out over a tornado on WKRP in Cincinnati.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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What I Learned This Week – 3/9/14

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I learned that monster trucks are just as great in person as I always thought they would be.  I was always fascinated with the commercials for monster truck shows.  So much so, that in my spare time at college, I made one.  (Sorry, this one is audio only*.)

My asbestos friend invited my son and I along for a girl’s night out to Monster Jam at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.  My son was a little scared at first.  But I had him equipped with proper hearing protection and he really got into it when the trucks did their freestyle at the end of the night.

Hearing protection a must!

Hearing protection a must!

Grave Digger (the only truck that was there that I had heard of) flipped over–twice!  That was awesome!  We got all the drivers’ autographs afterward.

Grave Digger!

Grave Digger!  He was even on fire (a little)!

I was sad that the Monster Mutt and the Scooby-Doo trucks were not there.  But I would definitely go again sometime.

On to a new subject…

Kids, when you get a new computer ALWAYS make recovery disks right away, and store in a safe, logical location.

Also, regularly back up things you care about.  Delete the things on your computer that you do not care enough to back up.  I had to have my hard drive in my laptop replaced this week, but I am VERY glad to have it back.  (FYI–I did both of those satisfactorily enough that I was not devastated by the loss.)

* To see my Oscar Mayer commercial, please click here:  https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/02/06/wienermobile/

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