RECALCULATING! (You weak-bladdered loser…)

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Some of you may have already guessed from the title of this post that I just returned from a long car trip, and used a GPS unit to navigate. Every time I deviated from the official directions, the clipped British voice that was instructing me when and where to turn to reach my pre-programmed destination would utter “Recalcucating!” in a stentorian and somewhat aggrieved tone of voice, even when I simply pulled into a rest area to go to the bathroom.

There are other voice options, but none of them speak Southern. Given that a third of the U.S. population resides in a Southern state I find this surprising. I’d much rather have a GPS unit that said things like: “I see you are fixing to pull into this here rest area. Good idea, y’all! After you freshen up, stretch your legs and get some sweet tea or a nice cherry coke out’ the machine.” Does it sound like I am being sarcastic and making fun of the South? Because while I suppose I am a little, I really do think that is living in such a polite and friendly culture that makes me feel like my GPS unit is being rude when it chastens me for deviating from its fascist but admittedly uncannily accurate and efficient travel optimizing plans.

I went to three different family functions, two in homes without any Internet access at all and one with really, really slow dial up in a part of the country where there isn’t any cable or DSL. Apologies about the slowness with which comments cleared moderation in consequence.

Finally, I have one family member going through some serious health issues. She turns 40 next summer and we’re all planning the greatest birthday party ever for her. There will be scores of people of all ages in attendance, so at least part of it will need to transpire outdoors. We’re trying to get way out in front of things because that helps us stay focused in a positive way. Feel free to leave any cool ideas in the comments or e-mail them to me (and let me know if it is okay to post them with credit): food, activities, gifts, favors, invitations, whatever. Thanks!

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to RECALCULATING! (You weak-bladdered loser…)

  1. bob coley jr says:

    for the kids-fill a cup (styrofoam, pastic, whatever you want) 3/4 of the way with chocolate instant pudding, put a few gummy worms or bugs or some other yukky looking candy in. BE SURE SOME OFF THE YUK-FACTOR IS VISABLE. Crush some Oreo or other dark crumbly cookie into crumbs and sprinkle on top. We called it “dirt for dessert”. Young ones (and some older ones ;>) ) seem to love good tasting yukk!

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Sounds delightfully disgusting, bobc, thanks!

  3. Ralph M. Stein says:

    All b est wishes for your family member’s return to good health.

    For the party, buy some cheap disposable cameras and give each kid one. Encourage them to record the party as they see it. Perhaps after the party each child – and the birthday honoree – can have an album showing who took what. Some editing is a good idea – no one needs 150 snapshots but the kids will be proud to have their accomplishment noted and preserved and it will make a special gift for your relative.

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    I like the photo taking idea a lot. I resist the “disposable” part though, so I will look into inexpensive digital cameras.

    Also, sorry to be so obtuse about the personal details but I don’t want to foist any of the harassment that comes with this blog on anyone else.

  5. Ralph M. Stein says:


    There’s really no such thing as an inexpensive digital camera if you want to buy a bunch for kids to play with. Sorry.

    I’ve gotten into digital photography and the least expensive one I have cost $179. There are models available for much less than that but we’re still talking at least $75 or so.

    I’m with you on not buying disposable products unnecessarily but there are circumstances when that makes sense and the cameras can be recycled, I believe.

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    I found a number of them for less than $20 and in some cases less than $15. I’m not sure what the picture quality would be like, so I’ll need to do some research on them. See e.g.

  7. Ralph M. Stein says:

    The online blurb says the photos are “100 pixels.” If that’s correct…

    The average cheap camera telephone is now about 4 megapixels.

  8. Ralph M. Stein says:


    It’s fine with me. Please post photos taken with these inexpensive marvels. Maybe I spent too much. :(

  9. Scott Moss says:

    The camera idea is great! I’d add just that while 100K pixels is a low number, you can minimize the problem by making the end product a bunch of collages of small-sized pictures (eg, 9 pics per 8.5×11 page), which would make each picture small enough to minimize the low-pixels problem. Various online photo album sites let you make and order such collages easily.

    Also, digital cameras get cheaper all the time, so whatever prices you’re seeing now may well be lower by the summer.