The thing about remotes


“As close to home as your VCR”: Remote Control (Movie) (1988).

As I sit here typing I look over at my end table and see four remotes. I also have a cordless phone there. It is not unusual for me to grab the wrong remote to try to change the station or even to grab a remote when the phone is ringing and try to answer it. I have on occasion pushed the buttons on the phone when I wanted to change channels, wondering why the damn thing isn’t working. This happens occasionally when I’m “resting my eyes” after lunch or dinner. Donna, my wife would frequently ask to go out to dinner right after I woke up. She knew I would agree to anything then and not remember it later.

There are two remotes for the television. One for me and one for Donna. (Don’t ask). There is one remote for my Roku device. Roku allows me to access thousands of sites including television programs, movie, music, and social media sites. The fourth remote on my end table is for my Amazon Fire Stick. Again this device allows me to access thousands of television programs, movie and music sites. But these aren’t the only remotes in the living room.

I have one remote for my VCR so I can play all our children’s wedding videos and several old movies we have. There is one last remote that controls our DVD player. I don’t remember just why we got this because our VCR is a combination VCR- DVD player. They sit in the cabinet under the TV.

My children and grandchildren would make a game of trying to take a remote from my end table when I was in my recliner “resting my eyes” after lunch or, as my grandson calls it, my “napatizer” after dinner. That’s the nap I take before going to bed. They would wait until I was snoring like a lumberjack and then try to pick up the remote without waking me. This never worked out for them. They would inevitably be caught red-handed before they even got it off the table. Just the action of their touching it was met with a stern “I’m watching that”.

If it is summer we also have a remote for the air conditioner in the dining room that I have never figured out how to use yet. It has only been five years so give me some time. I just press buttons until it seems to be doing what I want it to do.

Next, we go into the recently built, first-floor master bedroom suite. There we have another TV and another Roku. Both of these remotes work differently than the ones in the living room.

If you go to our second floor, there is a television and a third Roku device in our old master bedroom. In the summer there is also an air conditioner with a remote in this room. This is one of the three guest bedrooms we now have. On the third floor, the man cave, the walk up attic, there is an older analog TV and a digital to analog converter both controlled by their own remotes.

None of these remotes are alike except for the fact that they are black and have buttons. They don’t even work alike with some of them having the volume controls on the left and the channel selector on the right and some are the other way around. This isn’t very helpful late at night when you are tired and the lights are off.

I know there are “universal” remotes but believe me I have used a few of these and they aren’t universal. They have hundreds maybe thousands of codes you can punch in to try to program them for your device but if you find a code that does work, at best, you will be able to turn your set on and off, change the channel and adjust the volume.

Remotes worked better when I was a child. My father would say, “Norb turn the channel” or “adjust the volume” or “turn the antenna.” This worked 100% of the time and the batteries never died. That’s what kids were for.

This is the other thing. Every one of these remotes has two batteries in them. My best count is we have over 20 batteries running these remotes. Most of them are either AA or AAA. We go thru them so fast that we buy them in the large economy, family size packages. I believe the battery manufacturers and the television makers are in cahoots. I think the TV people get a royalty for every battery of these sizes that are sold.

Not to worry though. I see there is a smartphone APP you can use to control your electronic gadgets. That way when your phone dies, you have to get up and figure out how to use the buttons on your devices. According to WebMD Instead of using the remote, you have to get walking to the television to change the channel might give you some exercise and even help you lose weight.

We now have remote starters for cars, remote wall switches, remote thermostats even remote control bugs, (

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