New technology not always easy


Long before November, the television’s remote or its mute button or both will self-destruct. With my help.

Witness the gag reflex for the explicit commercials for what should be very personal problems for men and women, invariably aired at supper time. Hit the button.

And now pre-election political come-ons for both parties are repeated over and over, ad nauseam. We all know, no matter our political persuasion, that the pure poppycock was written by some poor employee who took journalism in college and envisioned an illustrious media career. Instead, he or she is the underpaid, unseen, unsung author of words that are dead as soon as they’ve been spoken! Hit the button.

Here, the problem is compounded because I broke down and actually bought a new television. It is “HD,” whatever that is. It was either that or prop up my 15-year-old set with one of those converter boxes we are being forced to get. And who knows how that is going to work out.

At any rate, the new TV is baffling. The remote looks like the cockpit of a jet liner. Even the printed information that came with it is impossible to understand. Thank goodness my nephew, Joey, knows all about those things and was able to install the thing while Marilyn, Winnie and I supervised and complained.

Now, just when the murderer is about to be revealed, the picture and sound disappear and a little box reads “Weak or No Signal.” I’ll never know who did the dire deed.

I will admit the picture, when it appears, is nice and bright. And a young man at the store where I bought the danged thing has been helpful on the telephone. Another man the store sent to see what was wrong — it was still under warranty after four days! — insisted I needed to call the cable company the next morning (I’ve never had cable, such a waste of money) and that I also had to get one of those converter boxes.

“It will be so much better after Feb. 19,” they all comforted me.

What a cotton-pickin’ mess. I should have kept my old set, but you’re danged if you do and danged if you don’t.

* * *

Already catalogues are urging you to buy Christmas cards! In the pasture, the buttercups and daisies are long gone and Queen Anne’s lace is trimming the edges.
From the pond, a muted chorus quickens in the evening as the bullfrogs compete in their own talent show. Even though times are such that I shouldn’t sleep with my doors and windows open, I rely on Winnie to keep me posted on any unusual activity, and the amphibian musicians sing me to sleep.

* * *

On a recent afternoon, I heard a different humming in the sky, and looked up to see the Good Year blimp drifting along above the tree line. I marveled, and wondered if I was the only one who bothered to notice. As children, we were thrilled out of our minds at such an unbelievable sight, but today’s children probably couldn’t be bothered.

* * *

The following letter is not dated, but it has to be from the early 1930s when Barbara and I were at Camp Sewanee, which I remember as a Camp Fire Girls Camp near Berlin Center, Ohio. Hope you enjoy Barbara’s correspondence to our mother!

“Dear Mother: Charlotte had a nose bleed today in rest hour. The room is full of wasps, flies, horse flies and bees. Today, we are learning the side stroke. Janie’s hair is a mess. Last night on the hay ride, we bumped along in the trailer. I got a Klondike. I sat beside Peg. The McBrides and Carol Jeanne are here. We go from the barn to the house naked. Our room got 97. Janie wears two things a day. Six already. Love, B.S.”

* * *

“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”

(I have no idea where this quotation comes from, but isn’t it timely?)

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