Tag Archives: Technology

Remote Pasts and Possibilities

I know little about our not-so-current remote. Hubby changes its batteries and soothes its moods.

Our remote hides in our home’s every nook and cranny. Today, however, the remote is staring me down. Daring me to write about it.

Its hieroglyphics intimidate me. What if I offend it, and it translates every movie into Egyptian?

I shake myself. Why do I cave to this device? I belong to the brave, dwindling population who remembers life without remotes.

Surprise! Something is older than I. TV remotes preceded my birth by three whole years. In 1950, the Zenith Company created “Lazy Bones,” connected to a television with a cable that tripped and/or strangled anyone who dared leave the sofa. Mothers voted it down.

Zenith produced a cableless “Flash-Matic.” However, controlled by directional flashes of light, the Flash-Matic not only responded to the screen, but to sunshine and ceiling fixtures.

When too many sports fans missed final plays, Robert Adler invented the “Space-Commander,” engineered around sound waves. This innovation increased sales dramatically among humans, who couldn’t hear its high-frequency noise — though it dropped canine sales to zero.

With infrared light improvements — along with inventions of players, devices and consoles — concern increased among health authorities. Studies revealed some viewers had not moved from their recliners since 1979.

Doctors need not have worried. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, cited research claiming viewers’ step counts had increased, due to searching for remotes. An average British man spent 18.5 days per lifetime hunting his remote. A woman spent 12.5 days.

Some families with young children may have spent more. One mother reported not only excessive exercise searching for remotes, but excessive expense. One autumn, she discovered 11 missing devices stuck in a now-leafless bush.

Voice-controlled devices seem a solution. But given software programs, movies and games that require vocal direction — plus 24/7 cell phone conversations — how long before our poor vocal cords collapse?

Let us look to the future, when we may change channels per our brain waves. At a 2011 global technological show, one company’s headset experimented with mind control. Those who donned the headset exploded a video’s animated barrel with a mere thought.

Future action film fans not only will enjoy 57 car chases/crashes per movie, but with a single thought, may detonate their screens.

I, however, question “infallible” technology. Should I entrust my thoughts to technology like my laptop? It possesses meaner hormones than mine.

Worse, do I want my thoughts played out on a screen?

That kind of remote is way too close to home.

My own device beckons: Want to watch a show?

No, thanks. I think I’ll read a book instead.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where is the oddest place your remote has hidden?

Overrated

Facebook reunited me with an elementary classmate with whom I shared the zenith of second-grade status: our class chose us as PTO prince and princess.

I blurted my ecstasy to Mom. “I can win a crown!”

Reading the school’s purple, mimeographed sheet, Mom raised an eyebrow. “You’ll be asking people for money?”

“Yeah!” I held up the bank-like canister accompanying the information. “Let’s take this to church!”

Mom, more interested in heavenly treasure, considered that “honor” highly overrated.

Since then, I’ve discovered many similar, oh-so-desirable positions. The words “officer” and “chairperson” come to mind. Those who assume titles of “assistant” and “coordinator” often wish they could revert to the “secretary” who wasn’t chained to her laptop weekends, fed on bread and water until projects were completed.

Titles aren’t the only foolers. I despise the word “update,” which slows my phone or laptop to slug speed. Afterward, with one correct swipe, I can enlarge bacteria-sized print to readable material. However, with one wrong swipe, I set off interplanetary war — or open the garage doors of every home in Rhode Island.

Updates rarely include explanations. Instead, I’m to follow the wisdom of a long-distance, twisted techno-geek who needs a laugh: “To accelerate your laptop’s update, submerge it in boiling oil.”

However, technology hasn’t cornered the “overrated” market.

Medical insurance companies like updates, too. Many currently demand that slaves — er, customers — achieve 10,000 steps daily, measured per devices akin to ankle bracelets. Five years ago, such behavior would have labeled the customer obsessive-compulsive. Yet now, companies advocating “wellness” raise premiums — and blood pressures — with noncompliance.

What’s next? Will updates demand we smile while jogging?

Other overrated objects, events and activities include:

  • Waistbands. These stifle creativity, not to mention oxygen intake. Especially when buttoned.
  • Cars whose designs block back-up vision. Instead of lowering their obnoxious rear ends, we install cameras. Cool! (And costly.)
  • Milkshakes. As a busy young mom, the only warm food I ate was melted ice cream. Paying perfectly good money for the equivalent seems overrated.
  • HGTV. Should we commiserate with people whining about crushed dreams as they shop for $500,000 houses?
  • Tattoos. Though tattoos are considered art, ceramics classes are less painful — and less permanent. A generation hence, I look forward to watching parents explain to skeptical teens why Mom and Dad thought this was a great idea.
  • Weed whackers. Mine whacks flowers, strips paint, dents siding — and nibbles weeds. Maybe.
  • Roundabouts. Carmel, Indiana, where my daughter lives, boasts more than 100, claiming they reduce accidents and gas usage. However, have statisticians counted how many have died of old age while circling within 10 feet of McDonald’s?
  • Vacations. While they promote family togetherness, the amount they generate sometimes reaches toxic levels — as do resulting Visa bills afterward.
  • Awards. They glitter in the spotlight, but tarnish quickly and eventually end up in the attic or trash can.

Even the long-ago, fourth-grade PTO princess who actually won the crown probably can’t find it.

Soon, the writing award I coveted but didn’t win will fade from memory as well. Like my mother’s, my treasures may prove to be heavenly, rather than earthly.

Thankfully, those can never be overrated.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What everyday trophies have you learned to treasure?

OMG, It Isn’t Even Monday!

Oh, my God, I’m trying to thank You for technology. Really. But it’s Wednesday, and I’m already writing an OMG prayer! Please help my Awesome Techie (a.k.a. Hubby) and I figure out why my blog is lying to me, insisting it is sending posts to my subscribers when it is not. Otherwise, OMG, I may be asking You about exorcism.