Monday, September 24, 2007

Tool of the Trade

I am, by trade, a mom and a housewife. In the Thompson/Grapentine household, "housewife" is a noun meaning: one who fixes everything, including (but not limited to) meals, garage door openers, laundry, broken hearts, leaky basements, and leaky children. I am able to accomplish these tasks because of my incredible flexible cognitive nature: if I stare at something long enough, my brain has time to do the necessary flips and handstands until I figure out what the problem is and what I should do about it. That, or I get sick to my stomach from all that movement and the problem resolves itself while I'm leaning over the toilet bowl.

Mostly, though, I am able to accomplish these tasks because of Google. Google is firmly ensconced in my life. It is my partner in keeping my house together, working and in one piece--cheap. I have used Google to learn how to fix my clothes dryer. Found a description of my problem (the dryer turned on but didn't tumble). Found a place to order parts. And even found graphic illustrations of precisely how to take apart said dryer--and put it back together again.

When I put it back together again, there were no pieces left over. And it worked! Parts ran me $5 plus postage. The service charge alone for a visit would've been at least $75. And think of the fun I would've missed as I experienced the sheer terror of having a $500 machine in pieces on my basement floor.

I have used Google to discover how to respond to computer error messages. My computer guru, M, told me to search for my exact error message (in quotes). I was astounded to find out that almost every single error message you can imagine is out there, with discussions of solutions too numerous to read. Yesterday, I figured out why I couldn't get that damn Windows update shield to go away even though I had installed and updated a couple of times.

I have used Google to find answers to niggling questions, like the complete lyrics to Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again, Naturally" (could there be a more depressing song? is that why I liked it as a teen?), the preferred method of seasoning a cast-iron skillet, and just who was that guy in that old sitcom. Would the world have ended had I not learned these things? Well, no. But think of the brain cells freed to work on other more important issues by eliminating the nigglers.

Now, I've discovered a whole new way to use Google: text searching. Say you're at the grocery store and there's a tense game happening between the Cubs and the Brewers. Text "cubs score" to Googl (yes, sans e). Seconds later, a reply comes, magically updating the score for you so that you have missed nothing. Well, other than what exactly happened to bring the game to that score . . . .

Missed the first showing of your Friday night movie? Text "movie (your zip code)" and Google will send you, even if it doesn't even like you all that much, a listing of movies and times in your area. You can even find pizza in a strange town with the same general text!

No one from Google is paying me to wax rhapsodic. No one from Google knows me. Of course, they know of me. I know that because I have, of course, Googled myself. ;-) So I'm really sharing this with you all out of the goodness of my heart. Problems in your life? Big or small, Google will help you solve them all.



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