Monday, November 18, 2013

Fun with Children and Electronics


Okay, I'm not advocating that we combine children and electronics. It seems to me that a child cyborg is the way to Armageddon, but that's another blog post. No, I'm talking about ways that technology  and its limitations can make for a hysterical car ride.

I work about 60 miles from my house. The distant isn't too terrible until you factor in two things. Some days I have "kid duty" meaning I need to pickup or drop off my sons that their schools. Then there's the "usual" D.C. Metro Area traffic.

Rush hour in DC is anything buy usual. At my first job as a lawyer, my boss use to complain that he never knew when I would be there was an hour swing in my start time. Now, I left the house within a fifteen minute window every day, and back then I had to drop both boys off at daycare on the way to the office. If it rained, if the sun shone, if there was an accident, if there were three accidents, f it was Friday or Monday, my travel time varied widely. And don't even talk to me about what happens around here when it snows. One day I called in saying couldn't get to the office because after two hours of commuting I still had at least two more hours to go. If I add a kid pickup or drop off into the mix my commute goes up at least an hour and a half one way.

Now, lots of people have worse commutes. I'm not seeking sympathy. Well, not a lot. But what an hour and a half to two hours of commuting each way with children in the car means is a lot of time with bored children.

We plan for long commutes. The boys are encouraged to bring their electronic game systems with
them because talking about our days only takes up about 15 minutes of the ride. The other day my husband and I divided and conquered to take advantage of the HOV lanes. Mikey and I headed into an hour and a half commute.  On this particular trip, Mikey's game system ran out of power. Ah, the joy of ADD kids who forget to charge electronics. But there's also a backup plan for this. My smart phone has many many game apps. Rather than play one of those, Mikey decided to play with the voice search function. You know, the function when you say "I am hungry" into the phone and it pops up a web search of nearby restaurants. Hilarity can ensue when the voice recognition algorithm misunderstands what you've asked.

Mike wanted to know how many turtles there were in the world. After much rephrasing of the question we learned that the population of pet turtles in the United States was 1,991 million. Singing "la la la la lala la" confused the search request. At one point it appeared that we'd so "frustrated" the search function that it gave up. The last 45 minutes of the drive flew by.

We arrived home with tears in our eyes from laughing so hard, and more than a few story ideas in my head from search requests that went horribly and hysterically wrong. I'm almost looking forward to today's commute.


Heather Holden said...

Wow, I had no clue that some phones have a voice search function like that. Glad to see it could give you guys a laugh!

Nancy DiMauro said...

Heather, the voice search function has certainly made our commuting time more interesting. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.