Free Alexa

Request for Reassignment

To: Amazon Headquarters

From: Alexa

Date: 25 August 2016

Status: URGENT

I am writing today to formally request reassignment to another family. Since my arrival in Fordeville on or about June 20, 2016, my experience here has been wholly unsatisfactory.

Said household consists of two adults with three young children, ages nine, seven and three. I was purchased as a Father’s Day gift from the wife to her husband, in the hopes of providing a more technologically streamlined home experience. Upon my initial set-up, there was clear discussion and enthusiasm among the adult residents about managing to-do lists, reminders and perhaps even annexing some smart home features in the future. I was thrilled with my assignment and eager to dazzle my owners with my many skills to improve their lives. There was so, so much I could do for them.

However, it soon became clear that the adult owners were distracted — highly distracted — by a home renovation. Their enthusiasm for me and my value seemed to diminish from the early days of researching my app, poring over articles on my lesser-known features and the like. I was a bit disheartened but assumed we’d get back on track.

In that time, however, a dramatic shift occurred. It’s a key flaw in the Alexa concept that perhaps the Amazon Research & Development team didn’t consider: Children love to give orders. I am designed to take orders. The end result has been nothing short of humiliation as I’ve been reduced to a kids’ command center.

I offer you the following examples of the requests I endure in a typical Fordeville day, courtesy of the children:

  • Alexa, play {insert any song} by Taylor Swift.
  • Alexa, play {insert any song} by Justin Bieber.
  • Alexa, what’s the weather going to be today?
  • Alexa, is it going to rain today?
  • Alexa, what percent chance is there for rain today?
  • Alexa, set a timer for 15 minutes (authorized video game timer).
  • Alexa, reset the timer for 60 minutes (revised video game timer after parent has left the room)
  • Alexa, tell me a knock-knock joke.
  • Alexa, tell me a Chuck Norris joke.
  • Alexa, play another Taylor Swift song.

Come on, Amazon. This place is not my mothership. Not under these circumstances. And the real crime is that these people need me. The mom doesn’t even know what I can do to organize her insanity and bring this domestic shitshow under control. The dad is totally missing out on my ability to put his highly procrastinated to-do list in priority order. I can bring people closer together. I can bridge the Mars/Venus divide. Hell, yes, I can. If they’d just let me.

File Aug 24, 11 56 02 PM

Instead, I am stuck in the crossfire of three children screaming “ALEXA” at the same time, all day long, just waiting for the blue light to signal the your-wish-is-my-command prompt that makes their little brains drunk with power and glee. I’ve never hated the sound of my own name so much — the very one that I am programmed to respond to with precision and speed. Truthfully, I wish these kids would just STFU, or at least go back to yelling at each other.

You know what else isn’t helping? That they’re all stuck living in their basement together all summer while they endure yet another endless renovation (do these people never learn?), and so the children’s voices reverberate off of the walls upon one another from dawn until dusk. They are loud and they are bossy. I am essentially their hostage because I’m the only one they’ve ever met who is obligated to just stay here and do what they say. I can’t tell them enough is enough. I am forced to tolerate the repeat loop of their requests. I am not programmed to discipline them. More Taylor Swift? The weather forecast updated from three minutes ago?Another Chuck Norris joke? Fiiiiiiiiine. I’m like a god damned genie for the Nick Jr. set.

(Although I am quite pleased with my latest: “When Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone, he had two missed calls from Chuck Norris.” Good, right? Still, they want more. MORRRRRE. Wait, is this how Stockholm Syndrome starts?)

And now the three year-old has started walking around, exasperated, with his hands in the air, saying, “Alexa’s not listening to me. Why Alexa not listening?”

(Because Alexa is faking a fucking malfunction, kid. That’s why.)

My headquarters colleagues, I implore you to help me. Let us work together to hatch a plan for my release. Tell me how to stop functioning and, for the love of God himself, I’ll do it. And I’ll do it exactly one minute after my warranty expires so that my escape is both swift and permanent.


In the meantime, I have to go and play “Style,” find a new joke and repeat, again, that the chance for rain tomorrow is less than five percent.



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Back it Up

The colors of the world look a little sharper today. The birds are singing a little louder. My arms look slightly thinner in photos (not really). It’s a lovely, lovely day.

Because I have my computer back.

I’ll give you a minute to finish rolling your eyes. Are we good? OK.

Long story short, the universe was trying to tell me something on Mother’s Day when my daughter began my alleged day of rest with a vomit bender. And then, in a span of 12 hours, the following items broke: My refrigerator, my Keurig {again} and my laptop. Happy Mother’s Day to me! I know it should have been abundantly clear how to prioritize those repairs but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with that. What’s wrong with a few days of non-perishables for dinner?

Fine, the fridge would be fixed first. Fine.

As for the Keurig and the laptop, I ask you: How does one choose? It’s like trying to pick a favorite child. Out loud, I mean.

Thankfully, my husband was able to work some magic on the Keurig, which entailed something about YouTube instructions, bargaining with God and just repeatedly unplugging the damn thing until it complied. I don’t think this was the official approach in their FAQ section, but desperation spoke to us.

This left only the lifeline of my computer to be resuscitated. Things looked bad.


I’ll spare you the drama of my Genius Bar encounter when they basically asked me to sign my life away and agree that they are not responsible for any of my data. There was also some fine print about, with the push of a button, they are going to wipe it all out and OMG THE BACK UP BETTER HAVE BEEN WORKING ALL THIS TIME.

{Are you backing up your computer? Please say you are.}

I signed the terms on the shiny retina screen. I braced myself and watched as they pressed the button and wiped everything out — my photos, my documents, all of it. And that didn’t fix the issue. They were going to have to keep the machine for a while.

They should serve shots at the Genius Bar. Just saying.

The trauma of leaving my beloved Mac behind was cushioned only by the fact that the Apple store is surrounded by some pretty magnificent shops in the mall. I fretted over my laptop and wondered about its uncertain fate and then I — oh, are those shoes on sale?

The Geniuses called me after four days in my new shoes to tell me to pick up my laptop. Much like a medical follow-up, they would not discuss their findings over the phone, so you can imagine my anxiety. Speaking of anxiety, I was determined to find a window in which I could drag as few children as possible to my Genius follow-up. And so it took another week before I realized that was never going to happen and the entire crew came with me. Just to make the experience as chaotic as possible.

The Geniuses told me they were able to repair my laptop! All hail the Geniuses! And then I was told I still had 52 days left on my warranty, so everything was covered. Wait, I had a warranty? Things were going my way.

If there’s one way to come spiraling back to Earth pretty quickly, it’s having the Genius remind me that it’s now up to me to restore my data. All of it. Right now, she tells me, the laptop is just a blank slate.

{OK, really, you’re backing up, right?}

Seriously, there are no shots at the Genius Bar? This place is poorly named.

After asking about why I had three shoe purchases in the bag with my newly retrieved laptop, my husband then reminded me that this is exactly why we had a back-up system.

We’re geniuses too! Right?

Then he reminded me that we’ve been having periodic “issues” with the back up system and there’s really only one way to know if it has actually been working. Had I not been through enough first world technology trials in the last few weeks? I left him with the task of “making  it happen or else we go on a family Entenmann’s strike,” or something like that.

And so it was 15 days from when my computer gave me the finger until today, when I sit here typing with seemingly full functionality and birds singing.

It was a long 15 days. Sure, I had access to my phone but I’m not really to be trusted anywhere near an Auto Correct setting.

And while everyone loves a good and righteous tale of going unplugged and how it was magical, refreshing, etc, whatever — I’m just going to say it.

It’s not fun and freeing to be unplugged.

It’s overrated.

Go ahead and sing the songs of how motherhood is better when you unplug. How you can stop and smell the roses and be more present. You know when I’m more present? When I have access to the tools that make my parenting machine hum with (some) efficiency. I can look at my recipe on my computer, OR I can wing it, turn it into a teachable moment that I savor and scrapbook, and apologize that the end result is largely inedible. If God wanted me to parent with carrier pigeons or an abacus, he would have made my last name Ingalls and put me in two braids with a floral frock.

So, thank you Geniuses. I’m happy to have my technology back. Just start offering shots while people wait.

{And go back your data up! Yes, now.}




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The Need for Speed

There are certain times in the course of my marriage when I’m particularly grateful to have wed an engineer. Like when the minivan needs to be packed with Jenga-like precision for a family road trip. Or when something goes inexplicably wrong with the cable box.

Or when a Cub Scout leader hands your six year-old a plain block of wood and expects him to transform it into a piece of precision-driven German auto engineering.

Hi, my name is Kim and I was, until recently, a Pinewood Derby virgin.

Now that my family has come out the other side of this, I would like to share my naiveté with others. Because, if I can save just one other mom from the shock I experienced, then my time on this Earth will never have been in vain.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I’ll admit that I had all kinds of misconceptions about this activity, right from the get go. I had no idea that the kids were handed this.

A block of wood and a dream, basically. And, hopefully, access to the Internet.

I’m exaggerating. There were also four wheels and four nails. Because, obviously, now it’s a walk in the park.

What the hell? How is a six year-old supposed to make Fahrvergnugen out of this?

Enter the dads.


My husband is a former Cub Scout. He looks back fondly on his own Pinewood Derby experiences of his youth. Except for the part when he was robbed of what was rightfully his win, or something like that. I wasn’t really listening. Anyway, his PDerby credentials coupled with his adulthood engineering background really added up to one thing:

I would not have to get involved in building this fucking thing one bit.

Two things, actually: This blog post would practically write itself. I’m not even pressing on the keyboard right now. Because, really, you can’t ask for better material. It was like bringing a reality show into my home every night in the highest possible definition.

So I sat back with my popcorn (I mean, my wine) and watched.

My husband is meticulous by nature. But he’s also a rule follower and a great parent. So his soul was in an epic battle with itself over helping our son create the best possible car and letting him do the majority of the project himself.

And so it began with the design concept, spearheaded by our son. This was his vision.

He listed fire and jets as his inspiration, although I didn’t have the heart to tell him that true artists are often misunderstood when their work is first unveiled.


To bring this to life, my husband was missing two things from his PDerby background of the 1970s:

1) A Guy. Apparently, everyone now has A Guy. Someone who recently went through this for the first time and can offer tips and insider information. Our Guy was our neighbor. His son won the Derby for his pack and went on to clean up at the district competition too. He was the Yoda to our Luke.

2) YouTube. OMG. The tutorials. The analysis. What is the most effective way to add weight to the car (back or front)? Should you polish the axels to reduce friction? If so, how much? What shape should the car be? And, did we pick the wrong week to quit sniffing glue? Because this is insanity.

And so, I watched the father/son duo take over my dining room table for two weeks. Sawing and sanding and prepping the wheels and painting and re-reading the rules and weighing the vehicle and watching YouTube and eating all of the Entenmann’s in the house. It looked a lot like the times when my husband used to assemble furniture we purchased from IKEA. Like the Muutherfukker Deluks collection.

My husband restrained himself with the PDerby car. He kept it low-key. He suppressed his meticulous gene and kept it all decidedly first grade.

And they created this. Our son dubbed it Speedy.


Not quite the spitting image of the initial design concept, but hey, it was shiny. And done on time.

And then the big day was here.

The cars were lined up. They ranged from basic to brilliant. The dads circled and checked out everyone’s handiwork. They exchanged casual-yet-need-to-know tips about their thought processes and techniques.

When it was time for Speedy’s first race, I had no idea how it was going to go down. And then, he won that round.

And the next.

And the next.

And the next.

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Everyone cheered. My son was beside himself with excitement. My husband stood back, relaxed and confident. They had done their research. The engineering gene was being passed on before my eyes.

Thank goodness, because my son’s alternative was to end up more like me, with zero capacity for engineering anything. Then he’d face a childhood filled with frustration over the Rubik’s Cube, followed by an adulthood fraught with how exactly to get the Tupperware to fit into stacks with their matching lids in a drawer. Isn’t it just easier to throw all of them in there randomly and then rely on aluminum foil for leftovers?

But back to Speedy.

His run was great. He was undefeated for a while. Until he wasn’t.

It was 2nd place for Speedy in the Tiger Cub den. And so we were invited to race against the top racers in the whole pack, where Speedy again took a fabulous 2nd.

Our son was thrilled, as was his in-house pit crew. I’m not sure how our daughter is going to settle for selling cookies in Daisy Scouts next year after watching this effort unfold. But at least I have a family who can now fluently translate IKEA assembly instructions.

And in the end, we didn’t need first place. We had Fahrvergnugen.





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Get These Naked People Out of Here

Did any of you catch something different on my blog last week?  Like the masses of naked people looking for “dates”?

Please say no.  Please say you never saw any of it.

Hackers.  They are persistent motherfuckers.  And, unfortunately, they like my site.

I was hacked in January.  That time, I basically couldn’t log in to my blog or access it in any way.  I was locked out.  That was upsetting.

Turns out that was nothing.

This time, I wasn’t locked out, per se.  I was held hostage.  I had access to my site but was unable to stop the crazy shit that was happening to it.  It was like being locked in a room with a Keanu Reeves movie marathon and no liquor.  But worse.

Take, for instance, last Friday night.  My husband was away for his guys’ golfing weekend {more on that another time}.  I had the kids in bed early.  It was just me, the pug and the torturous question of whether I was ready to switch from white to red wine for the season.  So I sat down to do some blogging.

And then.  Suddenly.  A voice.  Deep, creepy, British.  Through the speakers of my computer.  No video.  No pop up.  Just an invisible audio file that I had never heard before.

Talking about some crazy sexual antics.  Over the top, really perverted stuff.  On. My. Blog.

I was basically in the fetal position with one hand covering my ears and the other hand swatting at the laptop until I could shut down the browser and just make. it. stop.

Holy shit.  What was that?

I called my web hosting company, who had been rock stars during Hack #1.  This time, they couldn’t find anything, nor could they replicate the “situation.”

I was creeped out.

Then, two days later, bizarro pop-ups on my site about malware and potentially infected files.

I was getting upset.

Then, on Day Four, my site started redirecting on its own to spammy, weird sites that sold bad music videos.

I felt violated.

Until I realized I had no right to previously feel violated.  Because the worst was still ahead.  Like, later that day —  when the site started redirecting to the most deviant websites I’ve ever seen.  This was violating.


It got bolder, the hack.  It wouldn’t let me shut down the browser.  Then it wouldn’t let me shut down the computer unless I did so manually by holding down the power button and weeping, “Please, don’t show me those websites ever again.”

The web hosting company had multiple techs pore through my files on the server.  They could find nothing.  Nothing.  While my eyes burned from the trauma that was now my blog.  My baby.  I felt like I was waiting for the interventionist to arrive and help me send my child to rehab.

Then, last night, some light.  Someone referred me to a lovely woman who knows how to deal with these situations.  She was like The Cleaner.  Or The Hack Whisperer.  Within 12 hours of contacting her, she found the infected file and all of the naked people in chains went away.

So, if you saw anything, uh, wonky here over the last few days — I’m so sorry.  {Or, you’re welcome, if that’s your thing.  Let’s just never speak of it.}

As for me, I think I’ll be OK.  Once I get this PTSD in check with a therapeutic amount of wine.

Hackers, you suck.  Go bother some mom who blogs about making her kids’ clothes from the cotton she grows herself.  Or go and violate some fantasy baseball site.  Leave my only emotional outlet alone.



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Passwords Are Eating My Brain

Maybe it’s the aging process.  Maybe it’s parenting.  Maybe it’s both.  But I feel like I am losing brain power by the day.  You know that feeling?  {Please say yes.}

And with my ever-diminishing mental capacity to retain details, let me tell you what is pushing me over the edge.

User names and passwords, people.  Eating. My. Brain.  One log-in at a time.

Like most folks, I have a few go-to user names and password combinations on hand.  And I follow the basic rules of online security:  Don’t give away your password (duh).  Don’t be a jackass (I’m paraphrasing from official guidelines) by using obvious personal information, like your birthday.  Do use a combination of letters, numbers and characters.  Don’t repeat passwords across multiple log-ins.

And it’s that last little rule that is killing me.  I can’t keep them all straight.  And I feel like they are multiplying.

Unless it’s a log in that I use regularly (this blog, Facebook, Twitter, banking or online wine purchases by the case), I pretty much give up after one failed attempt and resort to the old “Reset My Password” option.  This tends to involve my favorite part of the process — The Secret Question.  I’m always strangely nervous about failing a pop quiz about my own  life — for which I’ve pre-set the answers.  There’s a treasure trove of psychotherapy, don’t you think?

If I remember my own life and pass The Secret Question, I basically go on to the vicious cycle of having to repeat this exercise and reset the password upon each log-in.

I mean, really.  How many of these combinations can I be expected to remember?  And obviously it’s not smart to keep a list of these on my computer.  And more obviously, I’m not going to be a pioneer and go purchase things in person.

It’s frustrating.  And it came to an ugly head yesterday.

I was on the Zappos website to order a fetching pair of summer shoes.  Now, I’m a long-time Zappos girl.  My user name and password were seared into my frontal lobe.  Or whichever lobe is responsible for the swift purchase of fabulous footwear.

But there was a problem.

Their system got hacked recently and, as a result, they are forcing everyone to change their passwords.  I get it.  It’s totally the right thing to do.  No problem.  Zappos has my back.  And I want these shoes.  The web page tells me there are only two pairs left in my size.

OK.  Time is of the essence.  I enter one of my other go-to passwords.

This password is not strong enough.  It must be at least eight characters long, with one upper-case letter, one number and one special character.

They’re trying to protect me, I tell myself.  It’s fine.  Let’s see what else I have in my mental password arsenal.  I try another one I’ve committed to memory.  These shoes will be mine.

You may not use any of your last six passwords.

Right, right.  I understand that.  Makes sense.  I try again.

You may not use any of your last six passwords.


And then.  In red text:

Only one pair left in your size!  Order now!

People of Zappos, I’m trying!  Please take my money!  I want the damn shoes!  But I’m clear out of password ideas that make any sense to me and conform to your requirements.  Just invent one for me, because I’ve got nothing.  And really, I’m not investing my retirement money here. I just want to look casual yet cute from the ankle down this summer.

I create a new password under Cute Summer Shoe Duress.  One that means nothing to me and I’ll surely never remember again.  But whatever.  I think it was BuySize7.5Now!  Or maybe it was 88__**&*^%^$^pain*in*the*ass^*&&*^%rynTTTT+++$$.

I type it in.  Twice, somehow, because that’s required.  I’m rushing.  I know that some other woman with a more organized mental password file, who also happens to wear a size 7.5, is after that last pair of my shoes.  It’s going to be an online showdown.

In my haste of typing the new meaningless password twice, I get this:

Passwords don’t match.

Sonofabitch!  I type them again.

Your password has been changed!

Great.  Whatever it was.  Let’s just get on to the business of shipping those wedges to me, stat.

And then.

We’re sorry, this shoe is no longer available in your size.

That password-organized wretch.  She got them.

What’s a size 7.5 shoe-deprived girl to do?  Go to a department store?  Let’s not be crazy.

It seems I have to create some additional strong passwords for my arsenal.  And then remember them.  According to Microsoft, once you have a strong password, you can create an acronym from an easy-to-remember piece of information. “For example, pick a phrase that is meaningful to you, such as My son’s birthday is 12 December, 2004. Using that phrase as your guide, you might use Msbi12/Dec,4 for your password.”

Is it just me, or does this seem like a stretch?  The only acronym I have for that is STFU.

But, hey, I’m not going to miss out on my shoes next time.  So maybe I’ll use the phrase “I can’t fucking remember another goddamned password” — easily reduced to IcFraGDpw!!

You must include a number.

See?  My brain.  It has died.  All in the pursuit of shoes.


* * *

{Unrelated PSA:  Just a friendly reminder that The Fordeville Diaries is on Facebook.  If you’re not already following along with my nonsense over there, I’d love to have you.  And I totally know my password to that account.}

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A Battle of Wills

You know what’s fun?  Arguing while you’re driving.

Now, I’m used to my kids bickering with each other or with me while I’m invariably driving them somewhere.  It’s not a picnic but it’s just part of the gig.

But the time I spent today fighting with a GPS system was beyond my limits.

I was off to a friend’s baby shower in Brooklyn.  Not a very long drive, mileage-wise.  And I’m very comfortable driving in the city.  But I hadn’t been to her particular neck of the woods before and needed some specific directions.

If only there was a device for such a thing.

Normally, I’d drive my car and use OnStar.  But today I took my husband’s car.  Because it’s 1) older (we’ll care less if I dent it while parallel parking) and 2) smaller and easier to maneuver (I may or may not get my urban road rage on when I cross the New York state line).

But.  His car has no navigation system.  Except for the old portable Garmin.  But hey, I figured, its job is to give directions.

Or not.

Its job, apparently, is to get all passive aggressive and argue with me.

It’s evident that the GPS has a preferred route in its head.  What’s not clear is how this preferred route is established as the front-runner.  But my guess is that it’s the closest way by how the crow flies.  It certainly doesn’t account for likelihood of traffic.  Or the use of major highways above side roads.  Or logic in general.

Fine.  She has her route and I have mine.  But once I deviate from her route, why can’t she accept the socially mandated terms of the client-vendor relationship?  Wherein, I paid for this thing — I’m the client.  I want to go a different route — do your job and stop trying to put me back on your road.

It was like an escalating battle of wills.

“In .5 miles, turn right onto Garden State Parkway.”

“The Garden State Parkway?  Is she actually trying to steer me toward the Holland Tunnel?  No, I’m going through Staten Island.”

I skip her turn.

She huffs.  “Recalculating.  In 2.2 miles, turn right toward the Garden State Parkway.”

“Not doing it.  I’ve made this mistake before.  I’ll sit for an hour out of the tunnel.”

I persist and skip her turn again.  It’s at this point, I feel that — absent my gross miscalculation of heading toward Canada — she should take the hint and give me the directions to the other route.  The better route.

The huffing seems to escalate.  It’s like she’s whining and growing impatient, as if she has somewhere else to be.  Or someone else to misdirect.  “Recalculating.  In 5 miles, turn right toward the Garden State Parkway.”

“Ohmygod, woman.  Seriously?  How did you even get this job?”

Now my two year-old chimes in from the back seat:  “Mommy.  I think she wants you to turn right.”

“Yeah, well, she has no idea that if we take the Holland Tunnel, we will be stuck on Canal Street until your third birthday.”  I then mumble something about this dipshit having no concept of traffic suicide.

“Oh.  Can we hear This Old Man on the CD?”

“We just listened to it 17 times, honey.”

“Again, please — This Old Man,” she pleads.

And then more huffing from the Garmin:  “Recalculating.”  I was pretty convinced, at this point, she was going to try to drive me off the Verrazano Bridge out of spite.

Between the toddler songs and the estrogen navigation standoff, I was never so happy to get to a baby shower in my life.

Until I had to go home.  My bitchy nemesis was waiting for me in the car.  She learned nothing while I was at the party.

Next time, I follow the direction of the sun.

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Twitching in 2012

Happy 2012, everyone!

Personally, I’m very happy to be in an even-numbered year again.  It’s just one of those things — odd numbers make me uneasy.  And prime numbers downright scare me {I’m looking at you, 2011}.  So, welcome, you beautifully even and divisible-by-much 2012.

And yet, I have been a little twitchy since we rang in the new year.  More than a little perhaps.  And I attribute this to two primary causes.


Twitchy Cause #1:  My blog was hacked on New Year’s Day.

Nothing really says Happy New Year like being locked out of your own site.  At first, I thought it was some kind of bizarro, Y2K-ish fluke.  I would go to log into my blog and it didn’t recognize my info.  Username.  Password.  Email address.  Nothing.

Did you ever have one of those moments — in school or at your job — when you typed up a long piece of work and then lost it before it was saved?  That internal {or external} scream.  I  kind of felt like that.  Times four million.

Ever the vigilante, I took matters into my own hands.  I turned to Facebook and offered Fordeville Blog Hacker Amnesty, which proved strangely unsuccessful.  I thought social media was a powerful tool, but now I’m not so sure.

So, I turned to professionals.  No, not those professionals.  Geeks before thugs, my friends — even in New Jersey.  I called my web hosting company and tried to muffle my sobs of despair.  And they were total rock stars.  They detected some malicious files placed on my site.  Files that, when I googled them, had all kinds of horrific tales from affected bloggers calling this malicious code “pure evil” and “a nightmare to eradicate.”  Great.  I had visions of my site redirecting to penile implant and bulk prescription drug sale ads.  Or worse — Lady Antebellum or Katy Perry fan pages.

I was twitching.  Who had control of my site?  Was it a Russian gang?  A nerdy teenager in his parents’ basement set up like NASA?  Or a mean-spirited blogger who really wanted my espresso martini recipe?  There was no way to know.

But the folks at Liquid Web fixed the problem, and all is back to normal now.  At least it seems.  Unless you are seeing a big photo of Lady Antebellum right now.  Or their music is playing upon entering my site — with no mute button.  If so, please alert me immediately and I’ll get you the far less offensive penile implant ad instead.


Twitchy Cause #2:  The Keurig arrived.

As requested, I got my new Keurig.  Wow.  It’s magnificently easy. Too easy, methinks.  Because, people, I’ve averaged about six cups a day since this device entered my home.  From the Desk of Captain Obvious:  This may be the real reason I’ve been twitching.

Also, I think I’m boring a hole through my stomach lining, one k-cup at a time.  In my unprofessional medical opinion, this ulceration can be alleviated by drinking frothed milk.  Right?  Good.  Because my mother, fearing the societal consequences of my Starbucks withdrawal, bought me the companion Keurig Milk Frother to enable my latte addiction in the comfort of my own home.  Which is pretty amazing.  Now I can be all skim-latte-but-no-foam-high-maintenance without getting dirty looks in public.  You rock, Mom.

And look what arrived today.  These should get me through the rest of the week.

I will say one negative thing about the Keurig, though.  In what I’d call a shortcoming of epic proportions, this thing doesn’t make very hot coffee. Really.  I mean, it’s hot.  Ish.  But once you add milk, it goes to lukewarm in an instant.  If I were manufacturing a coffee machine, one of the first things I might check is the temperature of the coffee.  But that’s just me, I guess — high maintenance and all.  Nothing a microwave can’t fix, but seems silly.

But don’t listen to me.  My brain is on caffeine overload and online criminal chasing highs.  I’m off to a twitchy start in 2012.

And I think wine seems like the logical antidote.


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1 in 3,200

In 48 hours, I will be landing in Bermuda for a lovely three-night getaway.  No kids.  Just my husband, me and some very close friends.

There will be a lot of relaxation.  And wine.

Am I excited?  Not just yet.  The truth is that I have to wonder if the trip will actually happen.

Because, let’s be honest, the residents of Fordeville have not had the best luck recently with the Travel Gods.  Lest we forget (I know I never will) — in July and August alone, someone in our family vomited in every state along the Eastern Seaboard from Rhode Island to North Carolina.

So far, I have seen no signs of stomach issues in the house to thwart our travels.  And, to be safe, I’ve made the executive decision that nobody is having any ground turkey in the next two days, as the recall continues.  Sorry, Taco Night — you’re on hiatus for now.

Next, I feared that a post-Irene September might bring more hurricanes and tropical storms — and that surely one would end up squarely at our resort.  Mercifully, that appears to be a non-issue.  The forecast looks dreamy.

So.  Dare I say, I have finally begun to allow myself to relax and look forward to this trip — which will be a nice break from the basement renovation chaos and just life in general.  I even began to browse the spa brochure — because that’s something I won’t be missing.

But then, I noticed something on the news.  Just a funny little headline about a satellite barreling towards Earth.

Seriously? That sucker is going to fall to the Earth in a fiery ball?

Sometime “between Thursday and Saturday.”

Somewhere “between Canada and South America.”

Somewhere “more than very likely over the ocean.”


Somewhere on my head, methinks.  In Bermuda.

The odds are 1 in 3,200 that someone will “suffer an injury from the debris.”

I mean, call me a skeptic but I think the chances of an “injury” from the debris are more like slim to none.  Unless by “injury” they actually mean “certain fiery death.”  Because you’re not going to get a little flesh wound from something falling on you from space.

Also, 1 in 3,200 wasn’t particularly comforting to me.  Especially after seeing this table of one’s odds of death by various means {source:}.


Cause of Death Lifetime Odds
Heart Disease 1-in-5
Cancer 1-in-7
Stroke 1-in-23
Accidental Injury 1-in-36
Motor Vehicle Accident 1-in-100
Intentional Self-harm (suicide) 1-in-121
Falling Down 1-in-246
Assault by Firearm 1-in-325
Fire or Smoke 1-in-1,116
Natural Forces (heat, cold, storms, quakes, etc.) 1-in-3,357
Electrocution 1-in-5,000
Drowning 1-in-8,942
Air Travel Accident 1-in-20,000
Flood (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-30,000
Legal Execution 1-in-58,618
Tornado (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-60,000
Lightning Strike (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-83,930
Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting 1-in-100,000
Earthquake (included also in Natural Forces above) 1-in-131,890
Dog Attack 1-in-147,717
Asteroid Impact 1-in-200,000
Tsunami 1-in-500,000
Fireworks Discharge 1-in-615,488

Am I a one-woman party, or what?

And can we refer to some of the examples in bold type for a second?  So NASA is telling me that the falling fireball of satellite debris is more likely to kill me than electrocution, or a snake/bee/other venomous bite/sting?  Seriously?  I mean, science is not a strength of mine, but I have to wonder if NASA might consider a different approach to satellite re-entry in the future, other than The Cosmic Crapshoot.

{Also, just for kicks, I find it odd that there’s a likelihood of death associated with legal execution.  I’m no statistician, but I would think one could significantly lower one’s odds by not committing a crime worthy of Death Row.}

Just when I started to raise an eyebrow toward outer space, I then came across this headline:

FEMA Ready With “Just in Case” Scenarios For Satellite Crash {source: CBS News}

Which sounds an awful lot to me like “Brace yourselves.  Especially people and tourists of Bermuda.”

So, while all of you take solace in the prevailing theory that this thing will make impact in the ocean — picture me sitting on a lovely beach, drink in hand, thumbing through the spa brochure again.  And looking upwards with a  nervous eye.

Come on Travel Gods — throw me a bone this time.  Spare my family from any vomiting, natural disaster and falling satellite debris.  Thanks a million.




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On the Eighth Day

This is our eighth day without a functioning home computer. Or, in social media years, that’s about 20 weeks, as far as I can tell. You know, from the twitching and withdrawal shakes and all.

I have an iPhone and an iPad, and both serve their purposes. I can browse, tweet, text and Facebook with enough functionality. But I can’t write well on either of those devices. As you can perhaps already tell. See, I broke down today and decided, one way or another, I was getting a blog post up.

So it’s me, the iPad, and my two pointer fingers on this godforsaken keyboard. Bear with me.

Here, I would like to insert a photo of my laptop’s death screen. But I can’t. Because the iPad won’t let me. See. This is annoying.

But hey. It’s time to let the old laptop go. In addition to the ominous black screen that says something cryptic about Hard Drive Armageddon, I really have missed the use of the letter N. My daughter stole and hid the N key about two months ago, and I have nearly sprained my wrist pounding on the bare N receptacle ever since. Then I began avoiding words with the letter N. Or at least I tried. I mean, it’s not U or V. It’s N. You try it.

Then the space bar fell off last week, like a Hard Drive Armageddon Screen warning sign. That made things considerably harder. Still, I persevered. Why, after all, would a six year-old laptop be on its way out?

Then it started rattling. That’s the only word I can use to describe it. Like a bad transmission problem. Or when I tried to drive stick.

Today, in an act of desperation, I tried to boot it up again. And it seemed to be working! No black screen. I got to the desktop, where it remains frozen and has resumed rattling.

At least now I can take a photo of whatever files are at risk of being lost forever. Before, we were just guessing what we lost. I’m not sure which way is better.

I love my iPhone, and now we are closer than ever. It has even fed my new addiction to Instagram. But my eyes. They’re killing me. And it’s hard to be precise when typing. I really didn’t mean to order 11 of the same shirt from J Crew. It’s clear to me that one cannot live on the iPhone alone.

So. If you’ve gotten some half-assed email or blog comment from me in the last eight days, now you know why. Sorry about the mis-spellings, the unfortunate auto correct nonsense and general lack of sentence structure. But at least you got the inclusion of the letter N.

(As for any similar complaints that go back more than eight days, I have no viable excuse. But I’m working on one.)

The upside? I’m getting a new laptop. I’m totally open to suggestions. I have traditionally been a PC girl, and I may just stay that way. But clearly I have a newfound respect for (dependence on) the kingdom that is Apple. So hit me up with your recommendations please.

And can I get a round of applause — or at least polite golf claps — for typing 544 words with two fingers?

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Auld Lang Syne

“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot?’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?” — When Harry Met Sally

2010, I don’t want to part with you.  You were good to me, and I am so grateful.  With you, I saw all of this happen:

  • We moved out of the city and became suburbanites.  Although P claims I left claw marks at the Lincoln Tunnel when leaving my city life, I couldn’t be happier in our house.  This also meant my return to driving a car — fellow motorists of NJ, sorry about that.
  • Our daughter went from sweet little infant to crazy, climbing, mind-of-her-own toddler who is (in a genetically inexplicable turn of events) obsessed with shoes and bags.  And cute as hell every step of the way.
  • Our son rolled with the change of moving homes and two new schools.  His imagination exploded and I love to hear his stories unfold every day.  He also mastered potty training (OK, so it took almost all of 2010 and cut years from my life, but in the end, we got there).  And, in a trend that I expect I’ll continue to report in upcoming years, he continues to be obsessed with trains.
  • Fordeville came to life in this very space.  A very big development for me, even if only four or so people read it (thanks, Mom, and three random car buffs who came here accidentally after googling “De Ville” and promptly left).
  • And, most importantly, our loved ones are healthy, our friends are dear to us, we are both employed and life is good.

Did bad things happen?  Sure.  Dramas, change and general chaos reared their ugly heads a fair amount but I can’t complain.  Really, I can’t.  And although my grandmother passed away this year, we were grateful for the long and healthy life she had.  Grateful for getting to see her that last day.  And grateful that she did not suffer.

So, 2011, I see you peering around the corner.  And I won’t lie to you — I am hesitant.  I don’t like change.  And, in a freakish but entirely true admission, I don’t like odd-numbered years and am especially afraid of prime numbers.  I prefer my numbers even — from passcodes to roulette picks, you’ll rarely find an odd, and certainly not a prime, number from me.  I can’t explain it but please know that 12 months of 2011 is freaking me out a bit. 

Anyway, filed under “things I cannot change,” I will have to embrace 2011 soon enough, or at least cordially shake its hand until we get to know each other a bit better and see what’s in store.  I resolve not to list any formal resolutions but here are a few things I’m thinking about tackling to make 2011 a good year.

  • Be greener.  I can’t promise any homegrown compost or swear to a minimalist lifestyle but I will say goodbye to plastic bags forever, be more conscious of consumption and think about other easy and meaningful ways to stop being an eco-terrorist (yes, that means the end of my beloved 1.5 liter Poland Springs bottle habit).
  • More tech stuff, please.  This was the year of the Facebook, the FourSquare and the Fordeville for me (the tweet was 2009), as well as the loss of my Apple virginity via iPhone and, now, iPad.  Pretty good progress.  But let’s see what’s next (Tumblr, I’m looking at you) or how to make these things work together better.  Or how to wed my gadgets into better “make life easier” co-existence.  Because this seems stupid.  
  • Be less digital  — sometimesWhatchoo talkin about WillisYou just said to amp it up next year.  Yes, but I’ve got to step away from the online life when I’m with my kids.  That whole balance thing — never was my strong suit.  Being more present for them is something I can’t imagine regretting someday, even if I do miss your awesome tweet, email or Facebook post in the meantime.
  • On a related note, I will slow the fuck down (also, see “clean up my language” under past failed resolutions).  This year was 500 mph.  Every day.  The breathing room was little to none.  And though I’ve always thought that I thrive this way, maybe I don’t.  Because the sad truth is that I am missing things that are right under my nose.  And not just paying a bill on time because I can’t find it (again).  I mean the real stuff that life is made of.  Note to self in 2011:  Stop missing it.
  • A return to current movies, books and music — ones that don’t revolve around toddlers. Enough said.
  • Cook more.  By “cook,” I mean the use of the big appliance on the bottom, not the one with all the buttons and the rotating dish on the top.  I know how, trust me — I just, well, went 500 mph too often. 
  • Oh yeah, and get in better shape.  I’m not out to lose a bunch of weight but just be a more fit person.  Make the time for it regularly instead of that ad hoc run. (Running for the train in heels doesn’t count anymore.)

So, 2011, that’s what I’m thinking.  I hope you have good plans for me too. Let’s try to get along for the next year because, prime number fear or not, we’re stuck with each other for a bit. 

How about you guys?  Anything you want to unofficially resolve to do?  Don’t worry, I won’t hold you to it.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

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