Category Archives: electronics

Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3, Thing 4

Small things pack a big punch

Yes, they are upside down in the picture. I don’t care. It just a perfect illustration of something that I find to be exasperating, enraging, unbelievably frustrating.


I believe I have probably written about something like this before, but things have reached a fever pitch lately in the area of electronics and their absolutely maddening help. Please note: this is about the electronics, and not the electronic setter-upper, no matter what the next paragraph says.

While [the wife cat] was away, [the husband mouse] did play, adding some sort of sound system to our already-complicated (to me) television set-up.

We went from having a TV, a cable box, and a DVD player to having a TV, a cable box, a DVD player, a blu-ray DVD player, and a sound system. And somewhere along the way the television because a really big black box of doom and despair to me. And that’s before I even turn it on! I’m not talking about FOX news here! Just the actual appliance!

On/Off has been replaced by Standby. Which means what, exactly. All the remotes have approximately the same configuration of buttons, but they do not work the same, no they do not work the same, no they do not.

Look, I’m already spitting nails this morning because the “simple” task of switching phones with Greg has turned our iMessage accounts into schizophrenic madpeople who send messages to themselves, in the name of being logged into a particular iTunes account.

This morning, Kepler wanted to watch a DVD. He put it into the DVD player, and then looked to me for the rest. I crawled around on all fours, hung from the ceiling to examine the back of the TV, and did a few back handsprings in front of the TV to coax it into action.

First, the remotes are LOST. Stuffed down into the couch cushions or abandoned on a kitchen counter. Except for the one I don’t need. So, first order of business is to find them. Where’s the TV remote, I ask Kepler, over and over. “The tv remote?” he replies. Over. and Over.

Finally, all four remotes are in hand and I begin to peruse the directions Greg has written out for me on how to use the TV. Push THIS on THAT remote, and THAT on THIS remote, and make sure the THING is in THAT position, hold your mouth just right, and press PLAY.  Success.  “Success.” SUCK-CESS.

Because the DVD is not at the PROPER PLACE in the movie, mom, so let’s see the scene selections, and now is good. Me, loathing every minute of this, “This one? This one? This one? This one? This one? This one? This one? This one? This one?” Him, knowing exactly what he wants: “No! No! No! No! No! No!” Silly me, I gave up before we got all the way through and said, “Just watch this!”

I left the room, done with the process.


Kepler finds me in my hiding place under the bed. (Curses, foiled again.) He comes in, holding the DVD in his hand, effectively telling me that I’ve done it wrong and I must start again. ONLY THIS TIME, THIS TIME, THIS BLEEPING TIME, the TV has a screen within a screen telling me I must set it up, asking me questions written in English but not meaning anything comprehensible to me. (How would you like to get your television signal into your house: A. by elf, B. through the microwave, C. by courier pigeon).  I answer as best I can, then wait as it thinks, then gnash my teeth when it tells me I have alas committed an electronic crime and must start again. After another fun round of this, I rip the DVD out of the player, and tell him the TV doesn’t work and he has to watch it in the laptop. He’s happy as a clam to do so. Should have tried that sooner.

Because indeed the TV DOES NOT WORK (like I want it to, in any way that makes sense, like a normal human being would think it would work, like things worked in the olden days, in any sort of logical manner).

And that’s all I have to say about that.

This Electronic Life

Have you ever called a company and been frustrated by the phone menu? Ever tried to login and forgotten the answers to your security questions? Ever wondered if we might not be better off having personal relationships with the people we do business with?

Square the phone menu, add in a quadrupled set of websites, all with their own login, password, security questions, and blasted captchas.

And what do you get?

A REALLY LONG TIME on the phone, navigating the very complex phone menu, entering digits and passwords and account numbers, waiting on hold, finally reaching a person, and then confirming all of the same digits and account numbers, and then ending up with answers like: “Your husband will have to call us or write to us to grant permission for us to discuss your account.”

I admit I find this whole thing exasperating. I don’t see it as an opportunity, but maybe it is. An opportunity to write down every last detail there is for every account we have ever had?

The irony here is that my very capable husband has NO interest in talking with the XXXX Insurance Company about this claim or that coverage, and is so very happy that I am able to and interested in handling these details.

As much as I try to simplify things, the sheer vastness of the internet just makes it very challenging to stay on top of the details. I always thought of myself as a detail-oriented person, but the volume of details has increased to the extent that I dread trying to call someone, especially the insurance companies, to solve a problem or get information.

And then there are the places that require authorization EVERY SINGLE TIME from my dear husband. Not that he is working or otherwise busy or anything. Aargh. I love how they ask if he is right here with me so they can get approval from him. Ha.

Do you have any tips for how to simplify things? Because I’m all ears, here.