by Daddy Scratches, on Flickr" target="_blank">Remotely similar

Remotely similar

assassinated the retaining wall in front of my house … because walls can be fixed, but keeping track of four separate remote controls when you have two little kids and a carnivorous couch is positively crazy-making.

Alas, Saturday morning, I feared my honeymoon with my new remote had come to an all-too premature and disappointing end. I was pressing the buttons, you see, but the dang things weren’t working. I’d try to enter, say, 5-0-7, but the box would only catch the 5 … or I’d try to switch to a menu screen, and I’d have to press the “Menu” button, like, a half-dozen times before it would work. That sorta thing.

And so on the phone I got with a FiOS tech support guy, who, after about 20 minutes of troubleshooting and resetting my FiOS box/DVR from his location (and, by the way: I know it’s no big deal, but I still find it mildly disconcerting that some dude in a tech-support office miles away can actually turn on and off a piece of hardware located in my house), we determined the problem was the remote. They would send me a new one, I was told … but I would have to wait several days for it to arrive.

Were they crazy? They expected me to actually stand up, take one step forward, crouch down and manually change the channel? Fuck that noise.

To Google I went, and searched for instances of others who had run into the same problem as I. And I found a couple of similar descriptions—but, in those cases, the problem was traced to interference from a sensor light that apparently is standard on HDTVs of the LCD variety.

But we do not have an HDTV. Of any variety. So there goes that solution.

“Think, Jon. Think. Hmmmm. Well, I know it’s not a sensor light, but maybe it’s some other light?” And at that point, it occurred to me to turn off the two wall sconces that illuminate the family room via a pair of dimmable, fluorescent, energy-saver lightbulbs (we are just SO green over here at Casa de Scratches).

Suddenly, my remote and I were in love once again. Yes, the remote had returned to its state of flawless execution, and was back to changing channels and flipping through menus like the little miracle device of which I had grown so fond.

I turned the wall sconces back on, and, much like Superman when exposed to kyrptonite, the remote again lost its superpowers. Can you believe that craziness?

This whole incident brings to mind a few things:

First: I’m a genius. But enough about me (says the guy who has a whole website about himself).

Second: The ambient glow of the fluorescent lightbulbs interferes with the remote control? And I’m supposed to believe that, between that, and the Wi-Fi, and all the electricity humming through all of these lights and devices, we’re not microwaving ourselves and our children?

Third: When Zan was about two years old, his favorite show was “Dora the Explorer.” In one of the episodes, Dora and her red-boot-wearing, talking-monkey friend Boots encounter a troll … who lives in a moat … underneath a bridge. And it is at that point in the program that Zan turns to me and, excited by his recognition of the words he had just heard come out of the television, exclaims, “Daddy! Moat conTroll!”

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  1. Posted April 16, 2009 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Took me a minute, but on the 3rd try I got it. To everyone else… Say the last 3 words outloud.

  2. sal
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Your kid is a genius!

  3. Milissa
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I am still trying to figure out how you went from “Remote mysteriously does not work” to “Turn off the lights.”

  4. Cindy
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    We have something similar with our baby monitors. If I’m at my desk, just outside their rooms (we have a “computer nook”), and I turn my body just so … their monitors stop beeping because I’m in the way. The transmitters are in their rooms, the monitors down the hall in our room. It ain’t no distance thing, trust me! And my body, turned just so, can block the signal?! It’s true. I just have to move a centimetre to the right, and the beeping stops. Back to the left, it starts again. And yes, I’ve played with that particular skill 😉

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