Mr Pict: Who lives in Pennsylvania?
Littlest Pict: Um….Vampires?
I have undergone a technological revolution since moving from Scotland to America in that I have jumped from a mobile phone that was just a few steps up from two empty bean cans and a piece of string to a smartphone. I am like Ishi emerging into the modern world when it comes to phone technology. I cannot say that I have mastered it at all. In fact, I often find myself typing pleas to friends on Facebook asking them to tell me how on earth I do something on the phone. However, I very much enjoy having a tiny little computer in my pocket. With all of the things that I just don’t know, being able to conduct a quick google has helped me overcome a lot of minor moments of ignorance as I navigate life in America. Our Garmin satnav has not been cooperating at all since we emigrated (I think it took the huff) so I have been using my smartphone as a sat nav – a pretty critical function since I have no idea where I am going most of the time. Easy access to email and Facebook is also helping me to maintain frequent contact with family and friends. My kids also love my phone because they can play games on it and watch YouTube and even Netflix. A function of the iphone that my husband likes is the voice recognition tool, which is named Siri for some reason. Siri likes my husband and does his bidding. Siri, however, hates me.
The thing is that Siri is clearly set to understand American English. She is smart enough that she can understand my husband’s plummy English accent. My Scottish accent, however, floors Siri. She is bamboozled by my monopthong vowel sounds and my rolling Rs. Anything I ask her leads to a lot of whirring in the little “thinking” circle only for her to spew out a garbled version of what I asked or provide a reply to a question that does not remotely approximate my inquiry.
The other day one of my children wanted to know what George Washington’s last words were. I asked Siri. She thought I had asked “What were George Washington’s last works.” Close, but no coconut.
I asked Siri how many litres were in a gallon but she thought I asked “How many litters in a galleon.” Strangely she had no answers for that query.
I asked Siri to find me a recipe for peanut butter banana bread and I got “pizza peanut butter banana” which incredibly led her to then find me some restaurants serving such a concoction (allegedly) and she then sorted them by distance. Her efficiency and list-making skills are impressive but that was still not what I asked. I tried again and got “Find nearest be subpoena butter banana”. I wonder what that court case could be about. Intriguing.
What was the last film that Gregory Peck made? Why that would be “the last Olympic make a pigmeat”. I don’t recall seeing that movie. It certainly sounds interesting.
Ultimately I bypass Siri, open up the internet and search google to find my answer. For someone with a Scottish accent, it seems that Wikipedia likes me more than Siri.
Meanwhile my kids love Siri. They find her hilarious. They particularly enjoy starting fights with Siri. They call her a loser and she responds with “I’m doing my best”. Despite them flinging insults at her, they asked if she was their friend and she replied, “I’m not just your friend. I’m your BFF.” Siri can keep kids amused on a car journey for ages. For that I might just forgive her for not understanding a ruddy word I say.
She also has a sense of humour. To a degree. Siri, what is the meaning of life? “I Kant answer that. Ha ha!”
So Siri likes my husband and she has great rapport with my kids. It’s just me she doesn’t get on with. The feeling is mutual. Some day we might reach a level of understanding.
Driving through an unfamiliar town the other day, I decided to share an observation about American architecture with my husband.
“Apart from the theoretical risk of poltergeist infestation, I can see why people choose to live in ex-funeral homes as they are often the most interesting buildings on any street.”
My husband stared at me in silence for a few beats before bursting into spleen-rupturing laughter. According to him, of the multitude of weird conversation starters I have ever deployed, this was the most bizarre.
My observation is true though.
What’s the weirdest conversation starter you have ever uttered?