The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tom Lavis

February 19, 2012

Tom Lavis | Remote possibilities confusing

It was a quiet afternoon at the Suds and Grub Café as my wife and I enjoyed Sunday brunch.

My wife waved to two churchwomen as they entered the establishment for pastries and tea.

The two women, whom we call the two Judys,  asked if they could join us.

I wanted to finish my scrambled eggs and sausage, pay the bill and be home in time to watch a hockey game. But I was cordial.

“Have a seat, ladies, but we’re not staying long. I have to be home at 1 to take my medicine,” I said.

My wife gave me that “you just came from church and now you are lying” look.

One of the Judys informed me that she couldn’t stay long either, because she had to be home, too, to watch the Penguins game.

I never looked up as I pushed a fork full of scrambled eggs through a dab of ketchup, fearing my wife would spill the truth.

Before I could comment, Judy 2 nearly choked on her donut to tell me that she would watch the game if she could get her remote control to work.

“I’ve been waiting for my 12-year-old nephew to come over so he can help me figure it out,” she said.

She was right. When you are talking about HDTV, laptop computers, iPods, iPads, electronic tablets or handheld gaming devices, any child younger than the age of 15 is the person to ask.

Although I wanted to get home, I couldn’t help but ask what was wrong with her remote control.

“It hasn’t worked properly since my dog stepped on it,” she said.

It became quite apparent that each of us seated at the table were technically challenged.

The conversation caused me to have flashbacks to late last year when we purchased an HD, 3D, 55-inch LED, M-O-U-S-E television.

I say that because after we bought the television, the Mickey Mouse theme song kept playing in my head.

“Hey! there, Hi! there, Ho! there, you’re as welcome as can be, if I could just figure out how to use this stinking TV, I’d be as happy as can be.”

I have free long-distance calling in my communication’s bundle because I ended up making repeated phone calls to the store where I purchased the TV, the manufacturer’s technical support representative in Whonoseware, India, and my cable company representative, Chad.

I became acquainted with Chad when I discovered that he was the only human being in the world of technology and cyberspace who seemed to actually care.

Once I learned this, I asked him for his home phone number and offered to put him on retainer as my personal cable-television concierge.

Concierge is French for wits’ end, which I had reached until getting to know Chad.

He helped me through many rough spots.

I was so impressed with his expertise, I was concerned my cable company was violating child labor laws. For someone to know so much about wireless, sub-pixel cells, video setups or frame rates, he had to be younger than 15.

When my screen was unusually dark for a brand new high-definition television that cost as much as my son’s first semester in college, it was Chad who got me on track.

It turned out that my television had defaulted to an energy saving mode, which caused the dimness. The TV’s, not mine.

If you wonder why I may be confused, it’s because there are four remote control devices on my coffee table.

There is one for the television that came from the manufacturer, but is used only to switch the inputs for different viewing modes.

It rests next to the Blu-Ray DVD remote that operates the player. A smaller remote controls the sound bar home theater system. And, of course, there is the remote from the cable company that handles 90 percent of all functions.

A universal remote might be the answer, but the last one I bought to replace a remote that somehow ended up in the dishwasher, didn’t work right. Each time I pushed the volume control button, the channels changed. And when I pushed the channel button, my garage door opened.

I never had these problems with rabbit ears.

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