33 Comments

  1. Not knowing who “she” is, or where she is (is she in the same house?) I’m left puzzled as well. I guess the joke is that “she” put a radio right next to a baby monitor and turned it up really loud, but since the receiver is essentially part of a baby monitor system, why didn’t she get both parts?

  2. So the joke seems to be this is the mother of a smart-ass kid. She gave the smart-ass kid a baby monitor in the hopes of that being a practical and useful thing. (Why would that be practical and useful? So the kid could call out if she broke her leg and can’t walk to her mothers bed room?) The kid being a smart-ass uses it to irritate her mother. (Gee…. who have thunk it.)

    Yeah…. I don’t think this really works. I can see giving a baby monitor to a trustworthy kid for the weird off chance that a fire breaks out and seconds count but in general … that’s just not common enough and nothing any sensible parent what set up for a smart-ass kid. … we have to suspend too much disbelief and stretch our imagination too far for this to work.

  3. I didn’t have a baby monitor when there was a baby in my house, but don’t you put the receiver right next to your bed, so you can hear things that are happening in the baby’s room?

  4. For those who are unfamiliar with the strip: This is Heart of the City, a gag-a-day strip (with occasional continuities, presumably not involved here) set in Philadelphia. The title character is Heart, an extremely histrionic little girl who dreams of a show business career. (Indeed, her father is a successful actor. The father, who has never been seen in the strip, is out of contact with Heart and her mother and does not even say hello to Heart when he comes to Philadelphia.) The woman in the strip is Heart’s single mother.

    So it sort of makes sense that Heart’s mother would give an old baby monitor to her daughter to play with, although with a daughter this given to drama, it’s something she might want to think twice about. But why did the receiver end up plugged in on her nightstand? The only answer that makes sense is that Heart plugged it in there, in order to do this morning show. While that may well be what the cartoonist had in mind, he’s going pretty far in terms of having the reader assume what has happened.

  5. Incidentally, when our own child was born, many years ago, we bought a baby monitor, but we found it a completely superfluous purchase. She had no trouble making her concerns heard throughout the house and did not require amplification.

  6. We needed a baby monitor for our older son because he came home during a terrible heat wave and our room and his both had rather noisy air conditioners running.

    The most memorable use of it was the night I heard what was apparently the cry of a wounded pterodactyl. Turns out that’s the sound some window air conditioners make when they’re in their death throes.

    Any idea how hard it is to find a replacement air conditioner during the 4th of July weekend during a heat wave?

    (Hint: not as easy as you’d think)

    Anyway, still doesn’t explain why Mom would put the receiver next to her bed, especially when she knows her 7-year-old is a drama queen. Or, therefore, what the joke is.

  7. I think the joke is just “Ooohh, that’s *such* a Heart thing to do!”

    My local deadtree carries the strip, so I read it every day. Sometimes it’s mildly funny, usually it’s innocous, but every so often Heart’s dramatic pretensions go so over-the-top that I want to reach in to the panel and swat her. For people who like/admire her character, I guess this is funny because it reminds them of her ongoing shenanigans, some of which may have been more obviously amusing (in retrospect, anyway) to them than this one is.

    But yeah, her mother should have known better than to give her the tech.

  8. “Anyway, still doesn’t explain why Mom would put the receiver next to her bed”

    1) maybe it’s been there since her drama-queen child was a drama-queen infant, which isn’t a problem if the drama-queen child doesn’t have access to the sending equipment.

    2) maybe it was put there by someone else. Such as, as was pointed out upstream, possibly the drama-queen child herself.

  9. “Any idea how hard it is to find a replacement air conditioner during the 4th of July weekend during a heat wave?”

    Try finding a dentist on Sunday evening of Labor Day weekend. While suffering from the sort of toothache that would lead you to be searching for a dentist on the Sunday evening of Labor Day weekend.

  10. Still leaves the question of What did she think was going to happen if she gave Heart the baby monitor?

    Extremely trivial fact: she presumably bought the baby monitor at the same time we bought ours (though my son continued to age normally)

  11. Not my own story, but one that happened to a friend of mine: He brought a number of friends and family members up to his office on the 34th floor to watch the midnight fireworks on New Year’s Eve. (Well, they were going to watch from a big conference room with lots of windows, not his personal office.) On the way up, the elevator got stuck. Any idea how hard it is to find an elevator repairman on New Year’s Eve?

    The elevator was too crowded for anyone to sit down, so everyone had to stand until the problem could be fixed.

  12. You set up the receiver on your own night-table so you can reach it to turn it down or off (or unplug it).

  13. “I see your Labor Day dentist and raise you pediatrician on Christmas morning.”

    Not only isn’t that a raise, it isn’t even a call. My HMO had a 24/7 dial-in number for that.

  14. A fun thing to do with the baby monitor is take the receiver out and put it in your own room and hide the transmitter in Mom and Dad’s room.

  15. I’m guessing Addy thought the monitor might be useful for Heart to alert her to nighttime emergencies (like monsters under the bed or needing a glass of water).

  16. “Still leaves the question of What did she think was going to happen if she gave Heart the baby monitor?”

    She thought that Heart was going to play walkie-talkie with her friends. A baby monitor is an inferior walkie-talkie, because you can only talk one way, but hey, she didn’t need it any more, so it was effectively free. It did not occur to her that Heart would instead place the receiver on her own nightstand. But then, Heart generally does prefer her mother as an audience for her performances.

    I actually thought the strip was pretty funny. It would have been better if the cartoonist had somehow communicated that it was Heart who put the receiver on her mother’s nightstand, but I don’t know how you would do that. I guess if it were four panels and the first panel showed her putting it there, but this strip does not usually run to four panels.

  17. Mrs. Shrug sometimes finds it awkward to get out of bed, and between snoring and twitching problems on both of our parts, I ‘ve often found myself myself moving up to the upstairs bedroom in the middle of the night. We’re assuming I could hear her if she yelled out for help, but have considered getting a baby monitor to simplify the situation. (After she had knee surgery a couple of years ago I slept on the sofa in the living room and could be yelled awake to come help her onto the “scooter” she had to use for a while when she needed to visit the bathroom.)

    If we had somehow spawned a kid like Heart, I think we would have taken her out in the woods, tossed a big rubber ball in front of her, told her to run and retireve it, and then driven away very fast. Very very fast.

    Getting a full night’s sleep in a big city is hard enough without some jerk playing MorningDriveShwo at you.

  18. I once tore my Achilles’ tendon on July 3 and ended up in the ER on July 4. The staff were … actually they were great, I didn’t wait long at all, the doc and the ER techs were super-helpful.

  19. We actually still have the baby monitor from 27 years ago hooked up. It’s a one-way intercom so my wife can yell downstairs to me when I’m working (I work from home). Of course I get to bellow back and half the time she can’t hear me, but at least one of us can be understood! (Yes, we had two set up at one point–with the one receiver far enough from the other transmitter, feedback wasn’t a problem. But I make too much noise in the kitchen cooking and drove her nuts, so she stopped using it.)

  20. Apparently, these baby monitors are dinosaurs: now they all have video. And of course instead of a receiver you can watch (and listen to) your kid using a phone app.

    Let him get used to living in the 21st Century.

  21. Usual John does a good job of providing some context.

    Heart loves to perform. Performers need an audience. Mom’s wake-up call seems like a good-enough opportunity.

    Why did Mom give Heart the baby monitor? Heart asked her for it.

    How did the monitor receiver end up in Mom’s room? Heart snuck in while Mom was sleeping and set it up.

    Why didn’t Mom question Heart’s request? She’s a single Mom. The monitor isn’t worth anything. It seemed harmless at the time… but on retrospect, what else would Heart want to use it for?

    Seems simple enough to me…

  22. “James, we had no such option.”

    The kid’s regular pediatrician had a 24-hour service, too.
    I know this because the kid had a bout of meningitis at 2 months old. You do not wait and call back in the morning on a case of meningitis.

  23. When we moved into this house – 2 stories plus basement – we put in Radio Shack intercoms – one in basement, one in kitchen, one in office and one in bedroom. We were used to a tiny apartment and yelling and being heard. The idea was that we would each turn it on when in a room and we could talk to each other. Neither of us would remember to turn them on and they were rarely used. We also found out that if one of us was in the basement they could stand next to the appropriate heating vent and yell and be heard anywhere in the house. (Found this out when I was in the basement alone in the house and people talking. After being concerned and scared, I realized it was Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and I had left the bedroom TV on and it was next to the heating duct.

    Now a days I we both just carry our cell phones around the house. If I go to the basement for laundry I carry it – if I need him, a quick text will bring him downstairs. Dinner is ready – a quick text will let him know to come down for same – a quick reply will let me know that he is not coming downstairs as he has a client online that he is counseling.

  24. Yeah, I’ve been known to phone my wife from downstairs to let her know dinner’s ready or somesuch.

    What a world, huh?

    I remember being in a park with my brother and sister-in-law in 2000, and thinking it was the funniest thing that he called her to ask her something even though we could see her and he could easily have shouted. I guess a kid today would think it funny if anybody shouted rather than texting.

  25. We have a bare-bones monitor (no video, only one parent unit, etc.) It functions as a two-way, because the parent unit has a “talk” button. (Given what happened to our first monitor when we left it in our daughter’s room, I don’t get the point of this, as it seems more useful for older children.)

    I agree it’s often easy to hear the baby, even before they have to resort to crying, without a monitor. But baby monitors are extremely useful if your neighbour also has young children. If the sound isn’t coming out of the monitor too, it’s the neighbour’s kid.

  26. You would think the manufacturer would avoid using the same frequency as a CB channel, but that wasn’t the case when my kids were little and we lived close to a highway. There’s nothing like waking up to “Hellooooo, anyone there?” in the middle of the night.

  27. ” I don’t get the point of this, as it seems more useful for older children”

    Much, much older children… the purpose of this is to allow the spouse who stayed in bed to communicate with the spouse who got up.

    “You would think the manufacturer would avoid using the same frequency as a CB channel”

    You would not. Transmitting on the RF signal requires that one obtain an FCC license to do so. This is a non-trivial exercise, as it involves passing a knowledge test, having equipment certified, and payment of a fee. The FCC sets aside a few frequency ranges for unlicensed use, and equipment that is intended for non-licensed use must use one of the frequency ranges set aside for those purposes. The CB spectrum is one of those. So are the three frequency ranges used for 802.11 wireless networks, which sometimes conflict with other types of devices such as cordless telephone sets, toy walkie-talkies, and RF home-control applications such as garage door openers, which are all in the same frequency ranges for the same reason that 802.11 is… these frequency bands are available for unlicensed use, and other spectrum is not.

  28. James Pollock, I am embarassed to say that we have *used* the monitor for that purpose and it never occurred to us that that was the intended use. (a friend volunteered to the diaper change, and we used the monitor to give her some advice when she got stuck; it’s useful to say “coming” if the other spouse calls for diaper change assistance, etc.)

    Modern baby monitors have a handshake, which really makes things go a lot better. You can re-set the pairing if you need to. I’m not sure if it helps with the “running out of frequencies” problem though. When my in-laws were in seminary, the students lived on campus (I don’t know why. I think it was a really small town). The residence they were in was set up for families, and most of the students there were married & had kids. There was a weekly event in the building, which meant that, in theory, you could put the kids to bed & come down for it with the baby monitor. But there were too many monitors that were trying to use too few channels, so people would turn the monitor on at 15:00 to claim a channel. I don’t actually know enough about RF transmitting to know if the handshake solves this (presumably it at least makes more space available.)

  29. Bill – I just remember this incident – I put the garbage out at the curb. If I walk out of the house to do something I take my cell phone and my keys. During this miserable freezing cold weather we had this winter I went to put out the garbage. I put on a coat, took my keys, cell phone and the garbage and put the bag at the curb. The door and storm door were left unlocked. When I tried to come back into the house the button on the storm door to release the latch was frozen solid. I tried hitting it to no avail. For some reason, the thought of using the front door did not occur to me (it has a different storm door with a different release. So I sent a text to Robert. (I don’t call as he has limited minutes for same – not that he could ever use up the minutes he has.) He came down and let me in.

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