Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Machine Told Me To Drive Into A Lake!

I'm sure there are some fellow fans of "The Office" out there who will remember the episode where Michael and Ryan battled over new technology - resulting in an impromptu gift basket road trip and ending with Michael driving into the lake while trying to use his GPS.  One of my favourite snippits from the show took place when Michael returned to the office:
Michael: I drove my car into a [bleep] lake. Why you may ask did I do this? Well, because of a machine. A machine told me to drive into a lake. And I did it! I did it because I trusted Ryan's precious technology, and look where it got me.  
Jim: Into a lake.  
Michael: Exactly!
Well, the theme of this post is technology, so I thought that the above quote would get me in the mood to share with you my recent encounters with new technology.  Over the past few weeks, our family has acquired some new gadgets... with hilarious results! 

Technology #1:  SYNC

My husband started a new job this month, and one of the nice perks that came with the job was a company car.  Ken's new car comes equipped with Sync - a fully integrated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system.  It is so awesome!  If you are on your cell phone and enter the car, the car detects the phone and takes over the call so you can continue the call on the car's speaker phone.  You can also use voice commands to dial your phone.  It can tap into your MP3 player and allow you to choose songs using voice commands.  I heart Sync!

Anyway, Ken took me and the kids for a trip in the car to check it out as a family.  Kaycie had been on a couple of short trips with Ken in the car already, but Knolan and I were new to this car.  Ken was very good about explaining all of the features of the car, especially the commands for Sync.  It's pretty cool.  All you do is press a button, you hear a tone, and then a woman's voice prompts you to "please say a command".  We have started affectionately calling our Sync lady "Sheila".

Our first full family encounter with Sheila, however, was the stuff the Three Stooges shows are made of.  Ken went to show me how Sync worked and pressed the button.  I heard the tone and then before Ken or I could say anything to Sheila, out of the backseat we hear Kaycie shouting, "PHONEBOOK".  Apparently she had been watching Ken carefully on their previous outings.  We giggled a bit about that and then Ken asked her to be quiet for a bit so he could show me how the system works.  Here's how the next few minutes talking to Sheila sounded:

"Dee-doop" (Ken pressing the all-powerful button)

Sheila - "Please say a command."

Me (shouting like I think Sheila is hard of hearing) - "PLAY... TRACK... IF SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN FAITHFUL"

Ken - "Ha, ha... I took all of your Chicago songs off because I needed room for my Tokyo Police Club songs."

Me (still shouting) - "PLAY... ARTIST... JOURNEY"

Ken - "Again... I needed space for cooler songs. And you don't need to scream at her.  Just talk to her normally"

Me - "Play.... Track......... Ummm... I.... Play....."

Sheila - "Playing Track Exiles Among You... The Weakerthans"

Ken (laughing and mocking Sheila) - "You WILL listen to what I select for you, and you will like it."

Me - "Why does she hate me?  Ooh!  Ooh!  Let me try again... I have one this time."


Sheila - "Please say a command."

Me - "Play... Track..."

Small high pitched voice from the backseat - "PHONEBOOK!"

Me - "Ugh.  Can I try again?"

Sheila - "Dee-doop.  Please say a command."

Me - "Play... Track..."

More of the voice from the backseat - "PHONEBOOK!  TROY TRACK!  LONG JOHN SOLO!  PHONEBOOK!"

Ken (laughing so hard he can't breathe) - "Kaycie, honey... let your Mommy talk to the car!"

Me - "Play... Track... Ummm.... Artist...  Ummm.... Dangit!!"

Kaycie - "ROLL DOWN WINDOW!"  (An important footnote to this is that Kaycie is constantly trying to roll down her window.  That girl is obsessed with getting the window open to the point where Ken has had to lock all the windows in the car.  Since then, you hear a constant clicking from the back seat due to her persistent attempts to bypass the lock system and roll down the window.  At this point, Ken and I burst out laughing.)

Ken (trying to regain composure and yet not send me over the edge) - "Ok... slow down and talk normally.  Now... do you actually have a real song you want to ask for?"

Me - "Just press the button!"

Sheila - "Dee-doop.  Please say a command."

Me - "Play... Track... "


Ken and I burst out laughing and can no longer take poor Sheila seriously.  Ken presses the button.  "Dee-doop."

Sheila - "Please say a command."

Me - "Play... Track... Sweet Child of Mine"

(Collective holding of the breath)

Sheila - "Now playing Sweet Child of Mine"

... and the crowd went wild!  Kaycie commanded us to shake our hair like "rock stars" and play air guitar with her as Axl Rose FINALLY was able to serenade us.  By the way, I am now compelled to embed the video clip from "Step Brothers" of Derek and his family singing "Sweet Child of Mine" in their car... so funny.  If you haven't seen this movie and you're in the mood for some stupidness and ridiculousness, I recommend it.  :-)

Anyway, once I got the hang of it, and once we could control our contributing voice in the back seat, Sheila and I became fast friends.

Technology #2:  Kinect

For Christmas, instead of exchanging gifts, Ken and I decided we'd get one big gift for our little family - and that gift was Kinect.  I have to say, Kinect is really, really cool.  If you are unfamiliar with this gaming system, it is a little box that you connect to an Xbox that scans your whole body, creates a profile for you, and then allows you to essentially use your whole body as a game controller.  Even Kaycie likes it.  She plays a game called Kinectimals where she has adopted a baby snow leopard and can teach it tricks and play with it by pretending to throw balls for it to run after, laying down on the floor to teach it to 'play dead', using her hands to virtually 'pet' the leopard, etc, etc.

The great feature of Kinect is that it is especially suited to fitness games/applications.  The other night Ken and I sat down with a bowl of ice cream after the kids had gone to bed.  We were trying to decide what to watch on TV, when I decided that it was about time we started using Kinect to get into better shape, and suggested that instead of watching TV that we look at some of the free demos on our Kinect to see what fitness game would be best for us to buy to use at home.

Ken found a few different demos, but the one that interested me the most was the Biggest Loser for Kinect.  It is so cool!  It shows a 3-dimensional image of your body in the lower right hand part of the screen, and that way you can watch your form on TV to make sure you are positioned correctly for each exercise.  It looks like this:

I must say, however, it is not a very forgiving image.  :-)

Kenny set up the demo so that I could try it.  So, I set down my ice cream, moved the coffee table out of the way, and got up in front of the screen to let virtual Bob Harper train me.  I was mortified, but motivated by seeing my 3-D image on-screen.  I could see all of my bumps and lumps, but that didn't bother me so much.  What bothered me was that it perfectly captured the unconscious habit I have of tugging down the back of my shirt constantly.  :-)

Anyway, Bob started me off with some squats, so off a squatting I did go, watching my 3-D doppelgänger carefully to make sure I had good form.  If you have good form, your image is green.  If you're a bit off, it turns yellow.  If you're way off, it turns red.  I have to say, I think I did pretty well!  I was "in the green" for a good portion of my workout... and it was a great workout!  I was really feeling the burn, as they say.  :-)

Then Bob suggested I get a drink of water and then continue exercising.  So, I reached over for my glass of water sitting on the coffee table, which sent Kenny into fits of laughter.  He said, "Look... it's showing your butt when you lean over to get your water!"  So, I looked over my shoulder, and sure enough, there is 3-D Kirsten looking back over her shoulder staring me down!  I laughed and stood up to take a drink of water.  Ken starts laughing even harder.  "Look, you're drinking water!"  For some reason this strikes me as even funnier and I spew water out of my mouth and nose and make this weird choking sound.  Then Kenny can't stop laughing and I risk total asphyxiation as we watch 3-D me choking and spewing water like a 3-D sprinkler on screen.

Somehow I managed to get past this and continue with my workout.  I did some boxing moves, some kicking, some squats, some lunges and a bunch of other stuff.  Then I declared that we should buy the game, and that my workout was over for the night.  I sat down on the couch and pulled the coffee table and my ice cream toward me so I could finish my evening snack.  At this point, Kenny is basically dry-heaving with silent laughter, and that's when I noticed 3-D me was on screen dragging the coffee table toward her and picking up a big ol' bowl of 3-D ice cream.  I was howling... it was just so sad and funny at the same time.

That's when Kenny noticed that 3-D me was the colour green and he could barely breathe as he pointed out to me that Bob Harper thought I had excellent form as I dragged over my bowl of ice cream.  :-)  Nothing like an unforgiving 3-D image of yourself straining to reach a snack to spur you on to a daily exercise routine!  I can't wait to get my hands on the full version and get going!

I guess that's it for my recent encounters with technology.  Thankfully, neither ended up with me driving into a lake... just a continuing ability to laugh at myself.  :-)


  1. Perhaps we cant introduce Kinect to Sheila. Would be a pretty one sided conversation but might be interesting.

  2. Good think you didn't ask Sheila to "Play Track: Don't Stop Believing" with the kids in the car. ;)

  3. Oh my god this is hilarious! In other news, well done with the workout- hope you keep at it :).

  4. holy c.r.a.p. soooo funny!! geez kirst - i miss you!