Remotely Controlled

Probably one of the greatest inventions of recent years is merely an upgrade in technology. I love flat-screen TVs and even more so now as they have come down in price tremendously. If back in the ’60s, while watching Star Trek on our old black-and-white Motorola television, you told me that one day I would be watching a television like the giant navigation screen on Captain Kirk’s bridge, I’d have told you, “Get out!”

But lo and behold, we have one of those in nearly every room of our house. It’s a luxury with one exception: My mom has one in her bedroom. She loves to watch Japanese shows, so besides a flat-screen TV I set up a digital HD cable box that gets all the Nippon Golden Network channels. This setup sounds fairly uncomplicated until you realize that to make all this work, you have to utilize two separate remote control units. You need one for the cable box and one for the TV. The problem is that each remote has enough buttons to control all the ships in a RIMPAC exercise. There is no way my mom can figure those out on her own. I’ve simplified her use of them, telling her to press only certain buttons.

But without fail, I get called to her room every night in order to complete some simple task like change the channel or turn up the volume. I sometimes think she does that on purpose just so that she can spend some quality time with her oldest son.

Sunday rolls around and for the billionth time my mom calls me because she inadvertently pressed the wrong button, and I’m on the edge of a breakdown. This last time, however, she said the TV wouldn’t go on. I spent the next hour trying to figure out what button she pressed that would cause the TV to shut off. That’s when I realized that the battery in the remote was dead.

I’m waiting for the technology to bring us a time machine. That way I can go back in time and watch Star Trek on a TV that requires no remote.