174 Remote Control

I was watching a Season 3 episode of Numb3rs on AXN today, and I made an interesting realisation regarding the nature of remote controls, particularly TV remotes. The idea of a remote control is to avoid the 3-metre (I hope that's the distance you're from the TV scren) commute between the couch and the TV. Sometimes, ironically, it causes more work to be done... but first, a brief flashback...
Back during the days of Sesame Street and TV video game consoles that weren't called Playstations or XBox, the TV used to be a simpler device. There was a power button, and a row of buttons containing numbers for channel-changing. Now, despite the fact that we had to stand up to adjust the volume, set the frequency and change channels, it was simple and so hassle-free that I could do it... once I learnt how to count.

The Remote Control : The TV viewers' friend and foe

So, then came a TV with a remote control. It was rudimentary by today's standards, but well, it has the most practical functions, like the volume control and all those numbers. All it didn't have was the power button, it had a standby button in its place. But frankly, placing a TV on standby isn't very intelligent, due to something known as vampire power. No, it's not something out of the horror stories I've been reading, though the images that come to mind at this moment is not short of bemusing. So, we made it a habit to press the power button on the TV everytime we're done with the box. Only my father presses the standby button, much to my annoyance when I use the TV, because the TV will turn on blank, and I will have to make an unneccesary hunt for the remote, which is somewhere in the living room, and easily mistaken for the remote for the VCR (tape player, as we used to call it), Astro Decoder, radio and VCD player.

Quick, call Buffy! It's standing by! It's a power vampire!

But the best thing about that TV is that, when, in the unfortunate eventuality when the remote runs out of batteries or cannot be found after a 5-minute search, there were still buttons on the TV in a concealed area that can control the volume and change channels. So, we were never rendered helpless around the TV. And, sometimes we used the buttons anyway, to save time, when a quick glance around the room doesn't reveal the location of the Holy Grail of TV. And, at the very least, while we were otherwise couch-potato-ing, we'd have a reason to stretch and exercise.

Now, I have a new flat-screen TV. It's great, since it's wide and everything seems bigger and Paula Abdul and Tyra Banks look like they haven't been dieting and Oprah, well.. umm... normal. But, the only button on the TV is the button that puts it on standby, and that means the only way to turn it off is to pull the plug, and the plug happens to be somewhere within a mess of wires, dust and cobwebs, which would compel anyone who have handled it to go to the washroom. Well, we know it's a good habit to wash your hands before meals, but who does it before watching TV? Of course, what irritates me a little is that now I have a power vampire in the living room. Forget the Astro decoder (it takes too long from the decoder to recover from being switched off for the generation that's full of ADD kids). And now, I can't change channels when the batteries run dry. It hasn't happened yet, but it'll happen one day, be assured of that, and there'll be a lot of very irked people when that happens.

And of course, the amount of frustration that comes out of looking for a missing remote control, especially when the show you want to watch is about to start, doesn't justify the comfort not having to walk to the TV after that. And, though we only have ourselves to blame, after we reached our destination channel, the remote is a forgotten friend until we find a need to change the volume or channel. Talk about fair-weather friends. But, I still think the work to locate a remote, and the irritation when the remote has no power still doesn't compensate for the convenience of not having to walk to the TV. Or, I just need to place the remote in more noticable places without allowing it to slide into blind spots and concede that I'm just a lazy guy who needs to go out more often.