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1:58 PM Sat, Dec. 15th

Column: A remote chance technology complicates our lives<br>All of these combined don�t equal the power of one child.<br>All of these combined don�t equal the power of one child.

"Hand me the remote."

"This one?"

"No, that's for the air conditioner. Hand me the remote on the coffee table."

"So... this one?"

"No, that's for the ceiling fan. Hand me THAT one."


"No, that's the one for the Roku. I don't need the Roku remote, or the DVD remote or the TV remote or the Blu-Ray remote. I need THAT remote."

"The black one?"


"You do realize that they're all black, right?"

And so it goes. So very many remotes. So very many electronics. So little patience for finding the right darn one.

What's weird is that at one time or other, all of the remotes have gone missing. I have no idea how this is even possible. It's not like I grab a remote, then take it with me to clean the garage, dropping it behind a box in the process. Theoretically, it just stays right near the TV.

Or it should. Of course, I blame the kids. I don't know what they're doing with the remotes. Maybe they pretend that they're boxy spaceships. Maybe they pretend they're drumsticks. Maybe they don't know how to use them, so they ignore them. But I'll still blame them. Better than blaming myself, right? Darn kids, anyway.

And useless remotes. Seriously, we have a remote for a digital picture frame. We love our picture frame. You download thousands of pictures on it, and it continually scrolls through them. But I've never sat on the couch and thought, "Hmm. I need to see that picture of me at the Grand Canyon right now," and then click like a mad man until I see my masculine visage pointing at the glorious hole that is our state's crowning glory.

So many remotes. (Yes, I said that earlier. I'm just still shaking my head at all of our remotes.) I think back fondly on the days when I was the remote control in our house. When I was a kid, I came with a scan feature. My dad would have me go through the channels, not too fast and not too slow, until I was told "STOP!"

And I'd adjust the volume just so. When commercials came on, I'd be dispatched to "Go turn that garbage down!"

Of course, electronics were a bit less complicated back then. You could turn it on, and you could turn it off. You could change the channel, change the volume, and that was absolutely it. If you liked your characters a little on the green side, you could mess with the color and contrast dials on the back, but typically, wherever it was, that's where it stayed.

I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings, and treating that TV with all the care of an expert safe-cracker. You see, you had to turn it on, and then immediately spin that volume knob all the way down, lest you wake up your parents with a sudden blast of cereal commercial jingle.

I haven't owned a TV with a knob in years. And unfortunately, almost every device made now needs the remote, or else you can't use it. My wonderfully large TV has a large button in the front. That's it. Turns it on. If you need to do anything else, you must have the remote.

Geez, I can't believe I'm getting all wistful for a life before remote controls. I mean, I love my remotes. I've tried the universal remote, but those things tend to be more complicated than the cockpit of the space shuttle. I've programmed my smartphone to act as a remote control for a few of my devices. That's fun. I'll be watching TV with my daughters and surreptitiously change the channel from "Dora" to one of those horrible "Real Housewives" shows.

"Argh!" they'll cry adorably. "Who did that?" I'll ask, all feigned innocence. They haven't caught on yet. My youngest think there may be a channel-changing ghost.

But remotes allow me a level of sloth that I've become accustomed to. And since I want to enjoy my electronics, the hunt for remotes will continue.

Still, sometimes, I make my girls turn off the TV with that big ol' button. Just so they can see what it was like to be the remote.