For some reason, that I am frankly too tired to try to figure out, the basement electronics, from large screen TV to surround sound to amplifier to DVD player and on and on (which Cheri and I bought and paid for), have somehow evolved into the custody of the younger son in the house. When we come downstairs, there is only one question asked: “What do you want to watch?” Please understand that this is quite deceptive, since the answer offered can only be within a narrow genre of shows or movies or whatever. It’s like being offered a treat from a bowl of candy, which has two or three pieces in it, and being told, “You can pick from anything in this bowl!” Yum. Not a Snickers bar in the bunch.
There are times when it gets even worse, such as last night (Thursday) when it was announced, “Football game on tonight.” Please understand that our son has never met a football game he doesn’t like. It doesn’t matter who’s playing, at what level -- he will/must watch it. Especially this season, when it looked as though the games would be terribly limited, each and every event was a celebration to be unwrapped. The trouble is, the game was between two teams I really didn’t care for, and Cheri will barely ever watch a game at all, and never from start to finish.
With all these conditions (see what a rough life I lead – can I get some pity here?), I called the audible (football term) and Cheri and I decided to watch TV upstairs in my office/den. The TV downstairs is probably a 75” monster with all the bells and whistles. Upstairs, we have a nice little 32” set, which works pretty well – with one glaring exception. The downstairs set up includes (which I bought) a universal remote that most likely, if fully programmed, would set all the levels on the tv, change from one type of watching, like television, to a movie or music, or video games, and probably would adjust the lighting, close the blinds, turn down the thermostat and bring you a nice glass of iced tea at the same time. The most effort it takes is to actually use your thumb or finger to push a button. I think they call it the Couch Potato Masher.
Take a trip upstairs, and you will uncover a different reality. I have actually six different remotes, each with its own brain and counterintuitive method of working. One turns on the TV, one turns on the sound, another the cable, another the DVD player, and another, the small video game player. There’s one more sitting there, but I don’t know what it does, actually. Each remote is like a kingdom unto itself, and requires you to pledge allegiance to that control before being allowed to adjust it at all. The TV remote includes the sound controls, but only the controls for the TV – not for the sound system in the room. For that, you have to use the remote for the system, which requires a different undecipherable setting for each piece of equipment you might want to use. For the TV, there is HDMI-1, with the AV-4 setting. For the DVD, there is the HDMI-2, with the … well, that’s part of the problem. I don’t know what the other setting is supposed to be, and if I just start pushing buttons, trying to figure out what might work, I end up losing all spoken dialogue, and only can hear the background or music, while the actor on the screen just move their lips.
Last night, Cheri and I perused the offerings for the television, and saw a movie we wanted to see. Unfortunately, it was on a channel that takes a normal 100-minute movies, and inserts commercials every three minutes, turning the event into a 3 ½ hour marathon. No problem! Somewhere in the settings or “apps,” Adam had programmed about ten different ways to find and watch a movie that is not on TV. We tried them all, with no hope. 50,000 different things to watch, and not the one we hoped to see.
The last effort admitted our failure. Cheri texted Adam downstairs and asked him to come and find the thing we wanted to see. He came upstairs – how I hate the sense of being completely incompetent in doing something so simple as to watch TV. I of course remember when the remote control was Dad, telling one of us to turn up the volume, or to tune in the one of three channels on our black and white television. When we explained what we wanted, Adam said he had that DVD downstairs, and went and got it, and prepared to shift from “TV” to “DVD.”
He did it in about 30 seconds.
As he handed me the four remotes, that I was to operate during the movie (the only one I used was the volume – I wasn’t stopping or pausing it for anything….), I asked how we could make it easier. He replied that “all” we had to do was purchase a brand new, state of the art, master-of-the-universe universal remote to run everything. The remote cost more than our 8-year-old television. That saddest thing is, we are actually thinking about it.
What a world we are living in. We quietly giggle at Cheri’s mom, who has never owned a computer, and doesn’t particularly like cell phones. However, the rate of speed of change facing us in the land of electronic technology creates all sorts of anxieties and foggy brains as we try to sort out step by step how to keep up with what should and could be normal ways of living. I know this week has brought a review of computers and cars and now television systems, but I have to wonder what it might feel like to just reset everything, and start all over without having everything needing to be enmeshed between human and machine.
I know it won’t happen, and we just need to find the grace for the living of today. I do know, however, that it is possible to live a simpler life in many aspects. When I place my total reliance on something I no longer understand, I believe that is the recipe for accidental living. It’s not that I need to have a class on computer programming, but it does make sense to either avoid those things that cause the brain freeze up, or to learn about them – at my own rate – and become more adept, and more intentional about what I do in my life. At least then, I’m not flying down the road blindfolded, hoping I won’t hit something.
Next I’ll take on passwords….
Word for the day: deorsumversion. A great Latin word, used in medicine. As is often the case in Latin words, the emphasis is on the “penultimate” – meaning second to last – syllable of a word, so the pronunciation is day-o-sum-VERZ-yun.
To break down the word, version comes from the Latin “verto” which means to turn, and vertum is to turn toward. We have other words that include this part of ours today, like aversion (turn away), and diversion (turn from), and even inversion (turn backwards). The other part of the word, “deorsum” really means “down.” So, deorsumversion is the action of turning, or better, looking downward. It becomes a medical issue in testing the ability of someone’s eyes to go in the same direction, and to look down without moving their head – you just tried it, didn’t you?
It’s also a good fancy way to describe especially a child who has done something wrong, and then was found out. “His only response was deorsumversion.” No one will understand it, but it’s a fun one to throw in the mix.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.