Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oh, Lars

I thought it was high time someone wrote a post making fun of Lars. It's been a while. And if I don't do it, who will?

I always get the dirty jobs around here. ;)

So this one is about Lars and technology. Now let me start by saying that Lars does a HIGHLY technical job. English major notwithstanding. He is a principal software quality assurance engineer at a very cool high tech company doing very cool and complex stuff, and by god the junk he brings home to read is LESS READABLE THAN THE DEADEST OF DEAD LANGUAGES. And the deadliest, too.

He can trouble shoot almost any computer issue we have at home, even the ones that have Saskia in tears at one a.m. the night before her assignment is due. He can converse with programmers in their language. He knows what certain dorky acronyms mean. Like RTFM (delicacy prevents me from translating that into English). He's DOWN with that tech stuff.

Unless it has anything to with television remotes, microwaves, oven technology, or DVD players.

For example, when he wants to turn on the TV, he does not know which remote to use to do it. Granted, we have three of them, so this is not quite a simple operation, but still, they are each visually distinct. For example, the DVD remote, which we almost NEVER USE, is dove gray. The TV remote, with which one turns on the TV (I know, radical idea) and also accesses Netflix on the TV (OK, a bit more complicated) is all black. And the cable remote, with which one changes channels and accesses on-demand features, is black with multi-colored buttons.

But you all don't need the explanation, right?

I have painstakingly explained these processes to Lars a hundred times. Just like I have presented the use of the digital controls on our stove, again and again. ("No, the way you set the timer is by pressing the "TIMER" button. Crazy, isn't it?") And how I haverepeatedly described the way you set the clock on the microwave, which occasionally has to be done again when we lose power. ("See that "CLOCK" button? Yeah. Now push it.")

Lest you think Lars is dumb, let me assure you he is quite extremely intelligent. One of the smartest guys I know. And also one of the most helpless. But only in very focused ways. So if a mullioned pane of glass (circa 1919) in the vestibule of our house shatters, as happened last year, and I run to call a glazier, Lars will stop me and say, "I can fix that!" No matter that he has never done anything of the sort in his entire life. And he does it, and does it well, saving us probably a hundred dollars.

There are lots of other things he does that I can't -- or won't. Which is probably more to the point.

As long as Lars has me to turn on the TV for him, why should he bother?

So the other night when he said, "Now HOW exactly do I do on-demand again?" I killed him with kindness.

"I KNOW," I said. "It's really hard. It's kind of like programming. I mean, I know you are really really good at QA, but you're not a programmer. You would struggle with that. And this is kind of like programming. It's REALLY hard. But I have faith in you, Lars. I know you can do it. BECAUSE YOU CAN READ THAT DEADER THAN DEAD LANGUAGE CRAP YOU BRING TO BED EVERY NIGHT."

"That is what I read to put me to sleep," he said.


I showed him the little on-demand button -- really, much too little, I don't know what Verizon was thinking when they designed that remote -- and he pushed it, and I guided him through the process of selecting a movie.

He did it all by himself, and it was a lot easier than programming. Actually, it was even easier than software QA. The question is: Will he be able to do it again tomorrow?

I'll let you know as soon as I know. Because I know you want to know. Who wouldn't?


  1. So funny! Sounds like my brilliant husband (he really is) and programming/deleting messages/entering new contacts on his cell phone.

    1. Anon, you are about as anonymous as the Hound sitting right here on my foot. Your husband is indeed both brilliant and clueless. He is also adorable, like mine. xx

  2. laughing as I think about my then engineer boyfriend, almost PhD ex husband and my joint attempt (yeah, that is a story in itself) to install a new thermostat. connect colored wires. seems easy enough. hilarity ensues. then cursing and lots of frustration. finally, a call to the electrician who did it in 1 minute flat. (note to all: take a picture of the correct wiring with your cell phone).

    last night, i connected the wii to the new tv and it both only took 15 minutes and it worked. given my complete lack of ANY technical acumen, i was impressed with myself. until, of course, my autistic son then decided he really didn't want to play wii golf, after all.

    someday, i will be as smart with gadgets as my kids. for now, i am behind even lars :-)

    1. Love it! I too have TRIUMPHED over a WII -- because who else was gonna do it? (This was years ago. Today Benjy does all that stuff.) And we have waged our own thermostat war, only to be rescued by an electrician and a check for $100. (What a bummer.)

  3. You need to get that man a Harmony remote! (But make him program it.) :)

    My husband is still annoyed about the time I told him to RTFM. I used to be a network goddess a very long time ago, but now I pretend that I have forgotten all that so I don't have to be involved in troubleshooting. I also bought a Mac so that he couldn't break (I mean tinker) with my computer. He was constantly updating things I wanted left alone. (His account on my computer doesn't even have administrator rights!)