Meet Fred!


Before we really started our Christmas shopping, we were at Target buying boring things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, and plastic bags. Target is very clever, because they place the household goods aisles right across from the toy aisles so that when parents are busy looking at Tupperware their kids are off making lists of new toys they must have. Apparently, this also works on adults, because we came out of an aisle and I heard a parrot singing something like “Feeling Hot Hot Hot”. Coincidentally, I had just been telling T that it would be so cool if I could have a parrot that sang “How Much is that Doggy in the Window”. I realize those are two completely different songs, but maybe if the parrot could sing one it could learn to sing the other? I became enamored with the idea of a singing parrot after we watched Groucho at the Animal Kingdom, and African Grey parrot that can sing 6 different songs and make all sorts of sounds.

And so it was that we met Squawkers. He was about $50 then, went on sale all through Christmas, and now I don’t know if you can find him anywhere. It was suggested that perhaps Santa would bring Squawkers home for me, so I could have my very own singing parrot, but there certainly weren’t any Squawkers-sized boxed under the tree on Christmas morning. Sneaky T brought a “forgotten” box in after everything else had been opened (oddly enough, Santa did leave some extra presents in a brown bag on our porch, presents wrapped in engineering plots – perhaps he didn’t have time to come down the chimney?).

I have named my parrot Fred. Fred the parrot.  There are sensors all over so you can pet him and he’ll coo back at you.  You can record words and phrases and he plays back in a “parrot voice”.  I taught Fred to “meow” and T recorded the first line of “How Much is that Doggy in the Window” since you can only record up to 3 seconds at a time (his voice records better, mine comes out all squeaky).  It’s weird to say you like talking to a toy parrot, but how can you know enjoy conversations where “Gimme a Kiss” gets  a response of “Eww!  Gross!”  It eats a plastic cracker, doesn’t poop on anything, and I don’t have to find someone to take care of it after I die.  It’s the perfect bird!  Since you can record 6 “commands” and “responses”, as well as 6 random phrases (meow and the doggy song are 2), there’s still plenty to teach Fred.  If I say “Dog!”, Fred responds “Arf! Arf!”

But, what else should we teach Fred?  I need suggestions!

What a neat little bird.  Lexi hates it… I think if I put Fred on the ground she would attack him.  Mean dog!  I think the only complaint I have with Squawkers is that the mode and on/off switches are under the velcroed fabric, so you have to open and close it every time you want to change something.  Why not put the switches on the bottom or somewhere more easily accessed?  Ah, well, it’s a minor thing and it certainly doesn’t make me love my present any less.

Oh!  Today is also my little sister’s birthday.  She’s 24… nearly a quarter of a century old!


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