Tag Archives: Ipod

Untangling My Ipod: Why I'm Not a Lifehacker

I posted last Thursday about my new-found fondness for self-help manuals.

But I realized over the weekend that there are limits to my self-help tendencies. Specifically – and you heard it here first – I am not a life hacker.

What is a life hacker, you ask?

Wikipedia tells us that “lifehack” was originally a computer term that referred to productivity tricks programmers devised to cut through information overload. Over time, however, it’s come to refer to anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way.

The reason I know that I’m not a lifehacker is because I’m married to one. I’ve blogged before about my husband’s fondness for household gadgetry here and here. He’s also been known to email me instructions for how to achieve the best “tamp” on one’s espresso, as well as videos for how best to employ our new George Forman Grill (which – it bears saying – is the kitchen-appliance equivalent of a life hack all by itself. Once you’ve grilled a chicken breast on one of those babies, you’ll never go back to a frying pan. Trust me.)

It’s not that I don’t appreciate all of these lifehacks. They are – indisputedly – useful.  Take this one, for example. It’s a video – courtesy of my husband, natch – that shows you how to roll up Ipod headphones without getting them all tangled…because, hey, we’ve all been stuck there, right?

No really, we have. It’s just that my personality is such that rather than track down the information needed to figure out how to do this properly, I’m inclined to just shove the headphones back in the drawer the way I found them – and then untangle them the next time. And he’s not. And I think there are a lot of me’s – and him’s – out there. It’s just one more way that the world maps itself onto the whole boxers vs. briefs thing.

The reason that I got to thinking about all of this recently was that I finally killed off another lifehack in our home:  the dreaded home seltzer dispenser. We first spotted these on a trip to Israel a few years back and they seemed like such handy little doo-dads. After all, I hate tap water and will drink it only under duress. But buying sparkling water is so expensive…and environmentally unfriendly…and possibly cancer-inducing…that I just thought: right! No more bottled water! We will do this ourselves! (OK, it was actually my husband’s idea. But I was totally on board).

And because he’s a classic over-buyer, we purchased like 512 of the little CO2 cartridges

Much as I tried, however, I grew to I hate our little home carbonation scheme. I hated having to fill the syphon with filtered water. And I hated that, as you neared the bottom, it lost all carbonation. And I hated that it didn’t taste like the nice sparkling water you could buy in stores.

And so this weekend – 512 cartridges worse for the wear – I finally broke down. “I think I’m going to go back to store bought water,” I told my husband, my eyes cast downward.

And much to my astonishment, he didn’t object.

“That’s OK,” he said. “I understand.”

I breathed a huge sigh of relief. And then, just as I found a spot for the syphon in the back of our closet, I stumbled upon…but what was this? A small device for removing the seeds of an apple. (Unlike…um…say, a knife?)

Oh no!

*****

Speaking of lifehacks, the Guardian has a hilarious article in today’s paper about “household objects we’d like to see.”

Image: Headphones by JBelluch via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Free Pimms and iPod Chairs: Why I Really Joined the PTA

Last Wednesday I found myself in an upscale, Italian furniture store called Natuzzi (pronounced, in case you’re wondering, Nah-TOOT-see). I’m not exactly the home furnishings type (though I did notice the leather chair where you can plug in your iPod and listen to it in surround sound and made a mental note to never, ever bring my husband here).

I was there because the store had generously sponsored the annual quiz night at my kids’ school and, in exchange, I was arranging for an event to be held at the store next Autumn.

I do this sort of thing quite a lot, actually. In between blog posts and article pitches and agent queries and whatever else I’m up to as a writer, I’m also frequently dashing off emails to the local bakery to see if they’ll donate a cake or nipping into the local off-license (liquor store) to see if they’ll slide us some free Pimms for our upcoming Summer fair. (Never tried Pimms? Get thee to an English pub tout de suite!)

People get involved in the PTA for a lot of different reasons. It’s a great way to make friends, to improve the resources at your kid’s school and to feel on top of what’s going on at the school.

All true.

But while I’m active in the PTA for all of those reasons, the main reason I do it is because it uses a different part of my brain.

As a writer, most of my day is spent (a) alone (b) typing and (c) in my pajamas. So when I go to a meeting or organize a project or cajole someone into donating money to the school, it’s a way to use my now dormant (but bursting at the seams) administrative gene, the one I left on the side of the road the day I left an office job (along with Karaoke night and bagel Fridays). Sigh.

Marci Alboher has a great book called One Person, Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success in which she describes the advent of what she calls “slash careers” – e.g., police officer/personal trainer or violin maker/psychologist.

The thrust of the book – which I’ll talk about some other time – is that slash careers enable people with multiple interests to realize all of their professional dreams. But having a slash career (yes, parenting counts as a slash!) is also a way to utilize different parts of your brain.

For me, then, doing the PTA is about taking my Admin side out of the garage every so often, dusting it off, and going for a whirl – though I’m sure there are many parents at the school who’d love it if I just gave that part of my personality a rest!

And, hey, whenever I get a bit too overzealous in my PTA duties, my friends offer me some Pimms and all is right with the world…

*****

The website Babble offers an arch, funny take on parenting. Read here for a tale of one woman’s reluctance to embrace the PTA, only to discover that she found it quite gratifying.

Image: Pimms No. 1 by Naughty Architect via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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