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Technical Difficulties by Angel Perkins

March 6, 2012

For those that don’t know me well, let me begin by stating the fact that I am by far no rocket scientist.
There are things that will forever be beyond my comprehension regardless of how hard I try to understand them: the workings of and settings for the DVR (and previous to that the VCR and DVD players), my car’s radio station pre-settings, a sewing machine, trigonometry, musical instruments (or music reading), anticipating currency-exchange trends, and most of the plethora of rules for the majority of sporting events. For these things, my resistance is futile so I don’t even attempt to waste my time.
There are also many things that I struggle with and thus would rather avoid altogether, like: manual transmissions, my video camera, my car’s cruise control, my children’s high school homework, tax forms, tire changes, baking things from scratch, lawn mowers (riding or manual), and exercise of any kind.
Fortunately, there are many things I have accomplished or rather, conquered like: the ice machine in my frig, topping a stein with the perfect amount of “head,” the windshield wipers/heating controls/gas-refilling of my car, cash registers, my remote controls (at least the basic features of), copy machines, restaurant menus, vacuum cleaners, and most telephones.
My cell phone however is another thing.
While I was one of the very first of “my people” to own a computer (I’ve had and used one in my home for more than 13 years), I was one of the last people on my planet of that bought a cell phone. The thought process behind my latest phone purchase was to acquire one that not only would contact people, but could pretty much do everything but drive me around ... and all at the touch of a fingertip.
And it didn’t disappoint. It can tell me the weather, how to get somewhere, show me videos, play me music, and offers a gazillion applications like what to wear, what’s happening on the other side of the planet (in real time) ... and even to see in the dark.
Sadly, the apps I use the most are under the category of “Games” and I, as a child of the 1970s and teen of the 1980s, am not embarrassed to admit it. I’ve lived and breathed video games from the very first Atari offering (Pong) in the early-1970s. Nothing can make a person appreciate blasting away the enemy than the experiences of one that remembers televisions that you had to actually walk up to and click a dial back and forth between the four channels you had to choose from — channels that all “disappeared” at 11:59 p.m.
My iPhone on the other hand is the epitome of advancement, a superior advantage and connection to the world that often has a life of its own. I send a text and then place it safely in my pocket while I pull milk gallons from a cooler … and then hear strange grunting sounds. I discreetly pull it free to find two men in full fencing attire battling to skewer one another. No idea why that popped up or where from.
Another time I was talking to my sister and at the end of the conversation, set the phone in my cup holder and resumed driving. When I heard a voice a few moments later, and it was my mother, I was a little confused.
But it’s when I set the device in my purse that things really get weird. The hyper-sensitive screen (which it claims can only be activated by a touch from human skin) is often induced to work by the cluttered contents of my handbag. I’ve called people, looked up air reservations, deduced calorie contents, and texted enough gibberish for a children’s book.
My sister literally referred to me with her children as “Aunt Applejombus” for a couple days because my phone thought it would be funny to randomly text that non-existent word to her one day.
And that Siri-voice-lady just freaks … me … out.
Another great convenience that I can only basically control — my automatic starter. I had always wanted one — to give a girl a break on particularly frosty mornings (assuming I remember to leave the heater on) — but when I saw that commercial with the little Darth Vader willing the car to life, I knew it was a must-have.
My generous husband complied to my requests — and as a surprise birthday present. The fact that I was born in January only made the gift more appealing than it would have had I been brought into the world mid-July.  
With the handy-dandy controller device, I can start my car but can’t figure out how to turn off the alarm or open the trunk and I can’t count the number of times I’ve come up to my car after hours of not driving it, and though it isn’t running, the hood is warm and the windows are defrosted by no power of my own.
If only the gas tank could talk, I would realize the number of times my car has started, run, and then stopped because of the preset, 15-minute-timed-limit control. As some great mind exclaimed, I’ll leave what I can’t grasp as: “some mysteries of life are better unsolved.” (I can and do, however, make it start just to startle people and small animals — which makes it even more valuable to me.)
Thank God though, I have the ultimate solution to most of my technological troubles, the empowering advantage of two teens that can assist me with remedies or give my pre-menopausal psyche a jump-start — even if the solutions do come with barely-concealed snickers and exaggerated eye-rolling.

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