Category Archives: Reviews

Smart or Creepy? “Nest – The Learning Thermostat”

 

Nest a.k.a. Big Brother

I don’t know if you have heard about this thing or not but I have a bone to pick about it, so I thought I’d do it here.

A few months ago I saw a display for this lovely piece of machinery (technology?) when I was at Lowe’s browsing.  I stood there and watched the informational video and almost ran away.  It was like someone knew exactly what scared me most and put it alllll into one tiny, creepy ass, discoid.  Because ya’ll, APPARENTLY we want our thermostat to learn about us.  It’s good for your bank account and makes the world a better place one green day at a time!

Wanna know how they’re selling it to us??

Most people leave the house at one temperature and forget to change it. So Nest learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and Nest can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20%.

Really?  I, for one, most certainly DO NOT want anything (or anyone for that matter) learning my fucking schedule!  What I get from this is that the tricky little bitch will learn when you aren’t there, alert it’s pal that has hacked into it to find out when your happy ass is out of your house and break in to make sure your thermostat is the only thing you have left when you get home.  But hey, you will save some money!

And “teach it well”??? Seriously?  We  can’t even teach our children properly anymore (it doesn’t seem) but we are trying to teach a thermostat now?  What. The. Fuck?  This just blows my mind.  But hey, it’s only $249 and it’s so easy to install!  …and consequently take over your life.

I don’t know, there is just something very wrong about an electronic device learning.  It is disconcerting.  It is wrong.  Unnatural.  Is it going to start talking to you as well?  I mean, it does send you nice emails (yeah, sends you emails) to update you on how it is controlling the temperature in your home and just how much you are saving.  Cause it’s that difficult to program the thing?  Or possibly turn the air up or down before you leave the house.  I know that’s what I do.  And you know what’s great about it?  I don’t have to worry about the damn thing turning on me.  I mean, what if I accidentally make it mad?  Will it decide to turn on my air full blast in the middle of winter while I’m out?  If it can learn doesn’t that mean it can think?  Doesn’t thinking always lead to feeling in the movies?  Short Circuit?  I Robot?  I’m sure there are others but I can’t think of them…

Saving money is one thing, but I would be terrified to enter my home if that thing was on my wall.  I can just picture it emailing me about how it doesn’t like my colorful language, or that I’m not eating healthy enough, or maybe it would like a friend.  There are countless circumstances I can foresee and none of them make me feel at ease.  Not cool man, not cool.  This just screams Big Brother to me.  It will be staying as far away from my house as humanly possible, thanks so much!

Teach it?  Honestly…

Boomsday

(From my blog: sarica-writeorwrong.blogspot.com, 09.28.10)

Politics and religion. But mostly politics. Just a hint of religion.

Normally I want to read about neither of these (at least not as a recreational activity), so it may seem a bit odd that I picked up Boomsday with the actual intent of reading it. Shocking, I know. But, the thing is, the cover is just so inviting! I was walking past it in the bookstore and the bright blue and yellow screamed at me to pick it up. At first it looked pretty boring, but then I noticed that the author was said to have also written Thank You For Smoking (I will admit, I didn’t even know that was a book before it was a movie) so, I decided to take home Christopher Buckley’s book – Boomsday!! Really. Good. Choice.

Just think of this as reading The Constitution with Ad Libs. Okay…that is probably not at all what it’s like, but I felt like I was being educated on some of the goings-on of our public office holders while also being entertained by such outbursts as, “Instead of staring at a computer screen all night and railing against the government and shrieking that the sky is falling, you should be out exchanging bodily fluids and viruses with the rest of your generation” (taken from page 8, spoken by Terry Tucker).

So, what’s this book about? Basically it is a political satire – specifically about the Social Security “crisis” that we are facing. The main character, Cassandra Devine urges her peers via a political blog she spends most nights pouring her thoughts and opinions into, to rise up against the Baby Boomers who are cashing in on the social security that they will end up paying for. Why should her generation have to pay the bill when they weren’t the ones who made the mess, she asks. This triggers a few people to take to heart what she has said and lead a small revolt – catapulting her name and face up to the top of the most interesting people list and, eventually, landing her on the cover of Time magazine.

Oh, did I mention that she also recommends that people voluntarily “transition” (in laymen’s terms: commit suicide) at the age of 65 to allow a break in Social Security spending and not forcing the new generation to pay the bill the Boomers ran up. Add that to the fact that Cassandra soon becomes the girlfriend of a Senator who eventually decides to run for President, with the Transitioning Bill at the forefront of his platform.

Tell me you don’t wanna read this now.

– S

Sloppy Firsts

(From my blog sarica-writeorwrong.blogspot.com, 07.22.10)

Megan McCafferty does an amazing job at bringing to light all the insecurities and inner musings of teenage girls the world over in Sloppy Firsts.  Popularity, boys, school, SAT, college, family, boys, friends, gossip, and, did I mention boys?  As you read through each journal entry you can’t help but think that these are your journal entries from when you were in high school (and, let’s be honest, even from now).

Jessica Darling begins to document her life the year her best friend, Hope, moves away with her family due to a tragedy in the family.  Without Hope, Jessica is forced to become closer with the other girls in her clique despite the efforts she goes to to keep distant from them.  Throw in some unwanted (or, maybe not so unwanted?) attention from a boy Jessica barely knows and you yourself are thrown back into your high school experience.  As you are reading you begin to feel a part of everything that is going on and you begin to see Jessica, Hope, and the other characters as your personal friends.  When you put the book down you begin to feel withdrawal from your new friends and you are forced to pick it back up and keep reading.

McCafferty doesn’t just skim the superficial surface of high school life – she goes deeper and really gets to the heart of the problems girls go through, not just in school, but in life.  There isn’t one character that you can’t relate to and, a lot of the time, you find yourself shouting “Yes!” when you come across something you have thought or said.  What is best about this book is that it’s only one in a series.  I have read three of them already and, from high school, to college I have been able to relate the whole way and I am eager for more.

Do yourself a favor, pick it up the next time you’re at the bookstore.  Maybe it’s not a classic, but you will definitely feel good after reading the Jessica Darling books.  You’ll laugh, maybe cry, and you will without a doubt fall in love with the characters and yourself in the process.

 

-S

City of Thieves

(From my blog: sarica-writeorwrong.blogspot.com, 03.08.10)

In case you can’t already tell, I spend a good amount of time perusing bookstores so I’m sure it comes as no surprise that this book is another that I found by accident. The minute I saw the book I knew I wanted it.  Just by looking at the cover I was intrigued; I hadn’t even read the summary and it had become a must read.  At the time I had several unread books on my shelf and no money so I made a mental note about it and went on my way.  Several months and books later I found it on the 50% off table – I’m a girl, I can’t resist a sale, so I walked out of the store with City of Thieves and six other books.  Happy with my new purchases and feeling slightly guilty at the hundred dollars that would now notbe going toward my rent, I found a comfy chair next to one of the large picture windows in the store and cracked open my book, settling down for a nice long read.

If you are not interested in history, war, or Russia then you will not like this book – that much I can tell you.  To be completely honest with you I thought this was a very dry read at times, but at others I couldn’t put the damn thing down!  The basic plot of the story is about Lev and Kolya, two Russian citizens who are sent on a crazy mission for a General that has them trudging across the snow covered country looking for a dozen eggs all while there is a war raging against them by the Germans.  As you can imagine they encounter several difficulties, including almost being killed by the Germans several times in between the times that they almost die from exposure.

I would definitely say this is a must read.  Even though at times I was wondering when it would end, I already want to read it again.  It ropes you in and doesn’t let you go.  Read it and comment back.  I’d like to know what ya’ll think.

-S

Her Fearful Symmetry

(From my blog: sarica-writeorwrong.blogspot.com, 03.05.10)

Generally if I like one book by an author it is pretty congruent to assume that I will like another book by the same author.  So, after reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger I could not wait until she wrote another book.  When Her Fearful Symmetry finally came out I immediately put it on my “must read” list where it remained until I finally had it in my possession.  I have just finished it and must admit that I am terribly disappointed.  After reading The Time Travelers Wife I expected…well, to be honest I don’t know exactly what I expected but it definitely was not this.

I won’t give away any serious plot particulars but I will give an overview of what the book is about.  Two sisters and twins, Elspeth and Edie, were estranged at a young age for reasons that nobody else in the family were privy to.  Elspeth dies and leaves her flat (in London) to Edie’s two daughters (also twins) and stipulates that after they turn 21 they must live in the flat for a year before they are allowed to consider selling it.  The will also states that if Edie or her husband enter the flat then everything Elspeth owns will then go to her lover, Robert, and the twins will no longer get her money or the ability to live in the flat.  So the twins, Valentina and Julia, move to London a year after Elspeth dies (which is a week after their 21st birthday) and, upon moving in, begin to realize that even they live alone in the flat – they aren’t really alone because Elspeth’s ghost is haunting them.

I definitely would not have expected a ghost story from the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife but I figured if she could make time travel seem possible and romantic maybe ghosts could be too.  Unfortunately this did not happen.  The entire story is full of twists and turns that confuse you and cause you to set the book down every few pages and steady yourself from dizziness.  I desperately wanted to love this book.  After only a few chapters I was bored but I made myself read the whole thing believing that I would find out that I got better at the end.  I was wrong.  It didn’t.  By the end of the book I was wondering why it ended there.  There should have been more.  Did she forget to write a chapter?  Was there a sequel coming?  It ended so abruptly with so much unfinished business that it leaves the reader wondering why anybody would do that.

Although, after all I have said, I must admit that it is not a bad book.  In fact to many it is probably a great book.  To me though, it is average.  Well written? Yes.  Good story?  Definitely.  Good ending?  Um…that would be a definite no!  Read it and tell me what you think.  Agree or disagree?

-S

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