Magid: A love story about a departed sibling*

Magid: A love story about a departed sibling*

Like always, today’s column is about tech. But it’s also a love story that started when I was a baby, so please bear with me. I promise to get to the tech.

My sister, Carol Ann Magid, passed away last week at the age of 79 at the house in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles that she, my brother and I grew

Carol Anne Magid and Pooh taken during her last hour of life. (Courtesy of Larry Magid) 

up in. Although she had been married, she had no biological children, but over her lifespan, she adopted countless dogs and cats – all rescues, doing her part to save innocent lives from so-called euthanasia. In addition to her own adoptions, she rescued and placed many more animals. She once even brought home a sheep from the Van Nuys High School farm to graze in her backyard rather than become someone’s dinner.

When I was six months old, I had a life-threatening illness and, though I don’t remember it, I’m told that my older sister almost never left my side. She’s been with me ever since. She clipped out every article I wrote during my 19-year stint at the Los Angeles Times and recorded my daily radio segments on the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles. Even though we lived hundreds of miles apart, we would talk and exchange emails, often about her animal rescue efforts. In the late 1970s, when I was a private pilot, she visited me in Massachusetts and agreed to fly with me to an airport in New Hampshire next to a riding stable as long as I agreed to go for a horseback ride. She was afraid of small planes and I was nervous around horses. We both survived.

On July 13, I got word she was in the hospital, followed by a week in a nursing home. She was then sent home to be on hospice. I hoped she’d live for years or at least months and I knew that there would be a lot of caregivers coming and going along with the two women who were taking care of her three dogs. So, and here’s the tech part, I decided to install an electronic door lock along with a doorbell camera, a driveway and three webcams and assign each caregiver and animal helper a unique door code while using the cameras to keep track of people coming in out, even when I was in Silicon Valley.

There are lots of relatively inexpensive options for everything I needed including a Ring doorbell, August lock and webcams from several companies, including Google-owned Nest, all of which come with apps that would give me remote access.  But I had all I could do to manage her care, organize her house, deal with her pets and do my own work so – even though all these products are excellent and relatively easy to self-install, I just couldn’t do it. So, I called Vivint, which, like ADT and Xfinity, offers a professionally installed and managed service for doorbells, cameras, light switches and other IoT devices.  They agreed to install the equipment last Wednesday and showed up exactly on-time.

Unfortunately, my sister took a sudden turn for the worse on Monday night, which prompted the hospice company to provide 24/7 nursing care and advise us to let the other caregivers go. I thought of canceling the installation but decided to go ahead with it for the hospice nurses and animal helpers. We had no way of knowing how long they would remain.

The system was only in place for about 36 hours before she passed, but – for a few moments – it proved priceless. In the wee hours Thursday morning my wife and I watched and listened to her bedroom camera and got to see that the overnight nurse was giving her loving care. We could see her breathing comfortably, even though she was unable to talk, eat or drink.

Carol is gone, but two of her dogs are still in the house, so I still need to keep an eye on the house and provide access for the animal caregivers along with the workers that will inevitably be hired to clean and fix up the house for sale. The realtor – once that time comes – will also need access. Plus, it’s good to have some extra security that all those cameras provide, plus the alarm system which will go off if someone tries to get in without an authorized code.

The app will let me add or remove authorized visitors, tell me when someone comes to the door or rings the doorbell and even let me remotely unlock the door if necessary. It’s the next best thing to being there. Please contact me at if you want to adopt a gentle male pit-bull or a 13-year-old male three-legged chow/border collie.Oh, there is one more tech story. As I’ve written before, I bought a Tesla Model 3 last year. A few months ago, Tesla added “dog mode,” which lets you control the cabin temperature when the car is parked and displays a prominent image on the car’s large screen telling passers-by the temperature inside the car and that “my owner will be back soon.” Even though we have a dog at home, he’s never been in the Tesla. But, in honor of my sister, my wife and I decided to adopt her sweet 10-year-old cocker-spaniel, Pooh. To avoid extreme heat, we took 101 back instead of I-5, and during most of our charging stops, we took her for a walk. But we still had to leave her in the car during one stop, so I finally got to try out dog mode. Carol, who drove a 1984 very low-tech Oldsmobile that she proudly had fixed up and painted, would have found that amusing.

Larry Magid is a tech journalist and internet safety activist.

Published at Thu, 22 Aug 2019 10:00:18 +0000