Column: Technology, late-night TV don’t always make sense

Car engineers can make a car that will parallel park itself.

Scientists with NASA can calculate — after more than nine years in space — to the second, the optimal time for a camera on the Voyager Horizon spacecraft to take crystal-clear photos of Pluto.

A typical cell-phone has a computer more powerful than the room full of computers required to send Ohioan Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1969.

So, how come it takes an advanced degree in computer design to figure out the right way for the microwave at the Galion Inquirer to warm a bowl of cheese and cauliflower soup? And why do no two microwaves have the same set-up when it comes to warming, defrosting, boiling water or cooking popcorn?

Technology doesn’t always make sense.

Why is it so simple to talk to your phone and it will lead you directly to the No Tell Motel in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

But it is almost impossible to tune my cheap flat-screen TV without my remote control. Do TV designers have to make the control buttons — on the TV — so invisible? I know I’m not the only one who sleep walks with my TV remote in the middle of the night, only to deposit it in the cheese drawer in my refrigerator to be found a few days in the future.

And now that I think about it.

What’s the difference between the cheese drawer and a vegetable drawer at the bottom of my 30-year-old icebox?

These are the types of questions I ponder late at night … when I can’t sleep and my remote control is missing and the TV is tuned to a 30-minute commercial for an Elle McPherson’s skin care product or a couple of goofy talking ad reps are going on and one about one those sweepers that can pick up a bowling ball.

I’m pretty certain I’ve never tripped over a pesky bowling ball in my living room. And I can’t think of any other reason’s I’d need a sweeper that can suck one up.

But not all on TV us useless garble in the middle of the night. In recent weeks, I have rediscovered of some of the upper channels on my TV, channels I forgot about a couple of years ago when I made the switch from Time-Warner to Direct TV.

I’ve missed a lot in the world in the past 25 months when I quit watching the History Channel, NatGeo, Science, Discovery and a few others.

For two year’s I didn’t know what was happening on Oak Island.

I spent 24 months having nary a clue about the bizarre foods Andrew Zimmern was wolfing down. Can I I find fresh limpets at Amann Reservoir?

Were the pyramids in Egypt build by the same interstellar travelers who supervised the building of similar structures in Central American and Indonesia? And why have I never heard of a pretty fascinating collection of pyramid-type structures in China?

I have come to learn in recent weeks that making moonshine on a local level is not so-much different from the methods used by scofflaws in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

I’ve been so caught up the past two years in “Law and Order,” “Law and Order Criminal Intent” and “Law and Order SVU” I completely forgot about what’s going on in the real world.

What ever happened to the Amish Mafia? Are the Pennsylvania and Ohio sects still at war with one another? Where are Lebanon Levi, Jolin, Esther and Wayne?

I used to watch that show religiously. I’d schedule my Wednesday nights around it. I miss those goofy characters.

But I’ve drifted. Let’s go back to late-knight TV.

The older I get, the more often I awaken at night. If I’m not up for a visit to the bathroom, Beatrix — my white, rescue pit bull — often likes to visit the backyard at 3 a.m. and look for insomniac squirrels, possums and skunks. Sometimes she’s sees them before I do, which is the reason I have an elbow that aches 24 hours a day due to my unwillingness to drop a leash when my 60-pound companion takes off after another creature of the night.

But insomnia doesn’t always have to be a negative.

Although I’m not likely to ever purchase any of Elle McPherson’s skin care products, late-night TV can be a shopper’s delight.

And being that it is almost Christmas, perhaps I should stay up a couple nights this week and do some shopping. I bet my relatives are getting tired of home-made snack mix and gift cards.

Who wouldn’t like a ThighMaster, or a Tiddy Bear. I do I have a Snuggie in the back of a closet I could re-purpose in a couple of weeks.

I looked up on the Internet a listing of the dumbest infomercials of all time.

One was for Ginsu steak knives. And I couldn’t disagree more. I have a couple of those knives, and believe it or not, they do not dull. They’ll cut a shoe and a block of granite as well today as they did 15 years ago when I purchased them.

Do you remember Ron Popeil’s spray-paint hair product? I think we all agreed how dumb it was in the 1990s. Guess what? It’s back. Different name — and likely a maybe a less-toxic, less runny product — but less lame? Time will tell.

New inventions and gimmicks grow old and then they become new again.

So save a little money this holiday season. Did through some of those storage containers. You know, the ones in the basement you’ll get rid of one day. I bet there is some liquid hair, or a Ginsu machete or a Snuggie or a rarely used copy of “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” you could re-purpose for a loved one —or someone you really don’t care for —Dec. 25.

Happy hunting … and Merry Christmas!


Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer



Email Russ Kent at or