Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fruit Flies and Remotes

Not too long ago I began to notice annoying little critters flying around the kitchen. I compost, so decided that the small compost canister I kept under the sink was the birth place of the nasty little buggers. When I opened the lid, I was swarmed by a flying wedge, literally a legion of gnats (fruit flies?). Look, I’m a guy and can stand a little bio diversity. These guys, I was pretty certain, were from the family Drosophilidae, whose larva feeds on ripening or fermenting fruits and vegetables. The celebrities of their clan are the especially pesky species of Drosophila melanogaster, because of their noble karma of volunteering (?) for use in genetic research. They even have alias; pomace fly, vinegar fly. Anyway, I got my can of Raid and blasted the composter and the entire underneath of the kitchen sink. They seem to thrive and swarmed even more the next day.

Awhile back I bought a couple of wicker baskets, as recommended by a neighbor, in which to keep onions and potatoes; a neater solution than my standard practice of shoving them off onto a shelf where they seemed to sprout of their own accord, rendering them useless. Well, even with the airy basket, I still didn’t get around to using the produce and forgot that they were sitting in a dark corner of the kitchen (for some reason I just felt better knowing I had potatoes and onions on hand). Apparently one large onion rotted into a juicy mass, which I guess was the probable true genesis of the bothersome gnats. 

Now I swear that, as I am writing this post, one arrogant, small, biting midge just skidded to a landing on my nose. I swatted and missed, bending the bridge of my glasses. I rushed for the can of Raid, but the little bastards seem to be faster than the jet spray. At the time of this writing I’m about resolved to removing my fish tank over to my son’s place and then set off a dozen or so cans of fumigate in my home and then take an overnight trip. I don’t know if they feast on humans, but my psychosomatic inclinations tell me they do and I intermittently imagine the itch and swelling of bites. 

Flash ahead several days later, as I resume writing this post:

Okay, by now you’re probably wondering just how “remotes” figure into this vignette. I’ll tell you how. After fighting the infestations each day for several weeks, I’ve noted that at night they seem to settle down to sleep. In the evening I want to either write or leave the computer and go relax in my entertainment center (a grandiose appellation for a TV set). The particular night I’m referencing I decided to watch either a DVD movie that I had purchased or a TCM Humphrey Bogart noir classic; something I did in 1947 and all I needed was twenty-five cents at the neighborhood Paramount Theater. 

Well, for me to revisit that flick in my 21st century, intuitive “entertainment center” it seems that I needed four remotes. One for Direct TV, one for the actual TV set, one for the surround sound system, and another for the Blue Ray. I know – I  know – you’re  suppose to be able to compound all of them into one master “remote”; well if you’re so smart, then you come do it for me … please! 

Just to point out how insidious the necessity of corresponding with your electronics has become let me just take a moment and illustrate what I mean.  Like everyone else I have external remotes, and built in remotes, and a myriad of confusing protocols on an IPod, cell phone, on every clock in my house, the weather station, Satellite radio, not to mention my desk top and two lap tops, plus their wireless keyboard/mouse set ups, Skype, and wireless interfaces between my computers and the flat screen TV. Oh yes, the Kindle has its own “intuitive” protocol keyboard, plus the Garmin GPS in my car has at least five hundred permutations of “intuitive” key combinations; yet it still gets lost! Don’t forget the highway radar detector (I have a heavy foot). There are more … but I can begin to feel the vibes of your empathy pulsing through the ether (can you tell I lived in Southern California for decades). There are so many buttons in my life for me to push, that the tips of my fingers are becoming splayed.

Okay, I resolved to triumph over the “entertainment center” remote by reading three copious manuals and after hours of fruitless (no gnats) attempts, I at last programmed the master (DirecTV) remote to accommodate the other three remote’s functions. I confess I was rather smug, in that I felt I had successfully represented mankind in its constant skirmish with technology. 

Yikes! There goes another critter crossing in front of my computer screen – drat – missed it! 

Now back to the story. So there I was ensconced in my favorite recliner with a single, solitary, all powerful remote tapping out on the keys the precise protocol for the anticipated movie, when a gnat, obviously suffering from insomnia, began circling my nearby bowl of pig skins and hot sauce. I laid my remote on the arm of the recliner and watched for the circling nuisance to land. It did … on my remote … and before I could think I lashed out with the palm of my hand, a result of all the built up resentment, don’t you know. Of course, you probably already anticipated the results; I missed the bugger and the force of the intended gnat blow deprogrammed my “Star Wars phaser-master remote.”

Tomorrow the fish go, and I’ll call the exterminators. I can’t fight both technology and the Drosophilidae; I know it’s intuitive, yes I’m whipped … dang gnat it!

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