Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Gadget Castle

I grew up believing that every home was like mine. I had no idea that my family was abnormal, no idea that other children weren't growing up in a situation like mine. The experts claim that children just believe that what they live is normal, and that certainly was my story. See, our family had an over-riding force that shaped its very being.

My Dad is an engineer.

Now, this may sound to you like it isn't a big deal, but then you didn't grow up thinking that it was normal to have a wire inside your mailbox that tripped a small flashing light in your living room to tell you that the mailman had arrived. You didn't know that people found it odd that you had a "keep warm" light that your mom set dinner under as she prepared to set the table. You probably didn't live with parents that were whole heartily committed to the electric knife concept because, well, it's electric, so it must work better than a regular knife despite the fact that it might actually dislocate a shoulder with excessive vibrating, and that it shot small flakes of turkey around the room.

Honestly, I thought everybody had one of those strings hanging from the garage ceiling with a cork tied to the end -- to tell you exactly how far into the garage you should pull the car. Also, let's not forget all the heat sensitive outside lights (that would flip on when an intruder might happen past) or the hours spent learning how to do things with our personal computer. Lest you forget, I'm talking about the 70s and 80s, so, really, for most people computers didn't do much. Ours didn't either, but I do remember my Dad sure liked to give me lessons about it.

"The computer can dial the phone for you!" He told me one night.

I was skeptical. Before you judge me, remember, it was the early 80s, and our computer monitor was also a television set if I remember correctly.

"Look, you type in the person's last name. Then you pull up their number. Then you enter the number here and hit enter. Then you wait (and wait and wait, I might add) and then you pick up the phone and it dials." I tried, vainly, to point out that that was no easier than actually dialing.

Interestingly enough, I have now replaced him with a husband who likes to do the same thing. In fact, some nights, when I see the spark creep into his eye, I just know, I know, that he wants to show me how to do something on the computer. My eyes glaze over and my teeth start a subtle grinding. But, my childhood did prepare me for this, so I'm always able to survive my evening tutorial.

Last week, we planned a camping trip to Watkins Glen, New York. A few days of the trip did happen, but due to inclement weather, we shortened the trip and stayed at my parents house. They were out of town, in Corning New York, attending an Intergenerational Elderhostel with Swimmer Girl.

After disarming the security system (of course-- something as basic as that is necessary for any gadget lover), we entered the garage. My Dad, in his retirement, I quickly found, has evolved. He now has a laser to show him how far to pull the car into the garage!

It was late when we arrived, so we dumped the kids in bed and used my parents room to sleep. I lay down in the bed, and Rob turned the lights off.

Instantly I shot of out bed!

"What is that?" I whispered.

On the ceiling was a large red blur. I placed my glasses on my face, and realized that the clock next to me was shining the time in large red numbers on the ceiling above my head.

My Dad strikes again.

Another of my favorite's is his caller id system. Not only caller id, but you can read it across the room.

A convenient favorite is his out-of-town plant watering system. The little green thing is his in-town watering system, a nice little frog gadget that sits in the plant and chirps when it dries out. It works well, and I know that because they bought me one for Christmas.

The mailbox indicator has appeared to morph and has become a garage door indicator, open or closed:

Just the sheer number of remote controls in the house is enough to make a grown woman shudder, but, of course, all my children know exactly how to work each one.

However, the best was this incredible can opener that you simply set on top of the can and push a button.

When all is said and done, I have to admit that the apple must not have fallen far from the tree, because he gave us his nifty can opener and we've eaten something from a can every day this past week. I can only say that it proves my thriftiness, because it provides both dinner and entertainment.


Joyce Seagle said...

As I recall, that hated computer saved you from getting a bad grade in spelling! Dad

Deb said...

That may be true, but as Ben would be quick to point out, it certainly didn't make me a good speller!

Joyce Seagle said...

Now computers solved all those old problems by having "Spell Check".

Deb said...

Of course, I solved the spelling problem by giving birth to Ben, the most vocal spell checker in the world.