I Have A Dumb Refrigerator

As the world reels in the face of another computer hacking attack, this time at the hands of the “wannacry” virus, I have come to realize that my refrigerator is dumb — and I really prefer it that way.

img_4173It sounds mean to say that my refrigerator is not “smart,” but it’s true.  It’s shiny on the outside but not very bright, if you know what I mean.  It keeps our food cool, or downright frozen, and it gives us ice and cold water at the thrust of a cup, but that’s about it.  It’s not linked to the internet or controlled by an app.  It’s not programmable and tracking data about electrical usage that I can access when I’m drinking coffee at the office.  It doesn’t stream music or take verbal commands or have an inside/outside video camera or suggest recipes when we’re trying to decide what to have for dinner.

It’s embarrassing to say it, I guess, but our other key appliances — the stove, the oven, the microwave, and the washer and dryer — are pretty much equally dumb.  It’s not their fault, it’s just the way they were made.  In fact, they probably even lack the self-awareness to recognize that they are . . . different from their more gifted cousins.

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure that we have any really smart devices around the house.  Our seven-year-old car has satellite radio and a GPS system, but that’s about it in the high-tech department.  These days, that’s kindergarten stuff.  Our TV allows us to access various content providers, so it’s probably at about the third-grade level.  And our 10-year-old desktop computer is so laughably backward that it might as well be sitting on a stool in the corner with a dunce cap on.

So in our household, we’re surrounded by dumbness.  But with each new hacking attack, I’m thinking that’s really not such a bad thing.  While our refrigerator might not get great test results in the smart appliance department, at least we know it’s not spying on us, or accumulating personal information that some hacker could access, or subject to being controlled by the next round of North Korean mischief.  When the next “wannacry” or “stuxnet” or “bindlehoffer” virus is sweeping the globe and paralyzing smart households, it’s reassuring to know that our refrigerator will still be purring along, keeping the cottage cheese and beer cold.

Family Yard Art

There are tangible benefits to having a talented artist in the family.

Yesterday Russell presented us with a combination birthday/Mother’s Day present: this very cool granite piece for our backyard flower beds.  He made it using a machine that project a stream of high pressure water and a sand-like substance and can cut through just about anything.  The shaped pieces of granite then fit together to form this beautiful three-dimensional sculpture that shines brilliantly in the morning sunshine and changes in feel and appearance as the sun moves across the sky and shadows play upon its surface.  We love it and think it fits perfectly in our yard.

Thanks, Russell!

Happy Mother’s Day!

img_5099Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there!  Happy Mother’s Day to my lovely wife, who has been an awesome mother, to my own dear mother and to my two wonderful grandmothers, who live forever in my thoughts (and in the expressions and sayings I use every day), and to the generations of mothers who preceded them whose love, hard work, nurturing, perseverance, sacrifice, and daily guidance were instrumental in producing the modern-day Webner clan.

You know, when you think about it, a card, some flowers, and a box of candy really don’t adequately recognize what mothers do for us and for our society.  But then, some debts really can’t be satisfied with material items.  All we can do for our mothers is love them right back, and try to live up to the standards they set and the instruction they provided.  And take a day like today to think about how much our mothers have meant, and try our best to show them we appreciate it.

 

Betty In The House

Russell’s here for a visit, and he’s brought his dog Betty.  She’s a pretty and smart beagle mix who’s about 6 months old, and she’s got a lot of energy.

It’s interesting to observe the interaction of Betty and Kasey.  Betty wants to romp, and Kasey wants to sleep, but they share one great interest:  pawing through as much dirt as they can.  It was be a close call whether our backyard bushes survive the furious digging competition.

End Of An Era

After more than 75 years, the Diamond Grille in Akron is changing hands.  Since 1941, the restaurant with the great name and the classic, cool neon sign has been owned by the Thomas family and has held down the same spot at 77 West Market Street.

12024588-largeThis week the Thomas family announced that it has sold the restaurant to a long-time waitress who promises to keep things pretty much the same they always have been — with the exception of renovating the bathrooms and adding some fresh vegetables to the menu.  I guess that long-time fans of the restaurant, and I am one of many, will be willing to accept those slight modifications so long as you can still go to the Diamond to get the same great steaks and seafood, drink the same great drinks, and enjoy an atmosphere that makes you feel like it’s 1958 and Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. might just be found in the booth next to yours.  It’s one of those joints that is unforgettable and timeless.

The Diamond Grille has been an important part of Webner family lore and was a place that my mother and father used to socialize with their friends.  Uncle Mack worked there when he was a callow youth, and Kish and I had had a memorable dinner there with Mom, Aunt Bebe, and Uncle Mack and Aunt Corinne a few years ago.  The last time I chowed down at the Diamond I took a colleague there for lunch.  She’d never been there before, and as we were eating she looking around with a sense of wonder and said:  “This place is great!”

Of course, she was right.  The Webner family wishes the Thomas family the very best as they move on to other things, and wants to thank them for a lifetime of wonderful memories.  If you’re interested, you can read about some of our experiences at the Diamond here, here, here, and here.

Stressed Out Pooches

Recently we took Kasey to the vet’s office while we went on a weekend trip.  When we returned the vet reported that Kasey had been very anxious during her stay — so anxious that they actually had to give her some kind of sedative to calm her down.  One symptom of her stress was that when the vet’s assistants would try to walk her, she would constantly tug them toward the road, as if she wanted to return home.

Of course, this news made us feel like crap — nobody wants to hear that the canine member of their family is suffering from anxiety issues — but it also leaves us with tough and limited choices.  Although it is increasingly common for people to travel with their dogs these days, we can’t take Kasey along every time we go on a trip.  We can’t take her everywhere we go, and leaving her alone in a hotel room seems like a recipe for disaster.  We’ve had her stay at our house with a dog sitter who stops by a few times a day for some of our short trips, but that approach often produces accidents.  We’ve taken her to the vet, where the anxiety issues have occurred, and we’ve boarded her at kennels, but those stays seem to leave Kasey sleep-deprived and exhausted.  Kasey is an old dog, and the constant barking you hear whenever you visit one of those kennels seems to really bother her.

People used to talk about “a dog’s life,” as if the leisurely romping and dozing we associate with pooches was the kind of lifestyle we should all aspire to, but researchers have found that dogs in fact deal with lots of issues.  Many dogs have serious problems with separation anxiety when their owners leave the house; others are high-strung and have delicate constitutions thanks to the constant inbreeding needed to produce the latest designer dog.  Some dogs take daily medication for psychological issues, which really makes you wonder:  what does it say when our modern society is to the point where there is a significant issue with dogs being over-medicated for mental conditions?

I’m not sure what we’re going to do with Kasey when we travel; we’ve got a while before we both have to be out of town again.  I do know this:  I’m willing to accept a few accidents on the carpet if that means she doesn’t have to be sedated.

 

Planting Season

Yesterday we spent some time over at the urban farm, where it’s planting season.  So far this year Emily and Russell have planted a number of black currant and raspberry bushes to join the apple trees and strawberry plants that remain from last year, and there’s a new beehive where the bees are busily doing their thing.  You could say things are buzzing at the farm.

It was a fine day, clear and not too warm, so we tried to put it to good use.  Russell and I spent most of our time shoveling dark, steaming topsoil from a huge mound into the back of his pickup truck, then transferring it onto the rows to be available for even more planting.  Thanks to the squatting, lifting, and twisting, I felt like I’d spent a few hard hours at the gym — except the farm effort also helped to produce two more furrows that are ready to go and made a noticeable dent in the topsoil pile.

Not surprisingly, I slept pretty well last night.