Friday, July 16, 2010

A High-Tech Gizmo for the Birthday Boy

Today is my dad’s 84th birthday…so happy birthday to him! I think it’s okay to tell his age – I don’t guess that Dad is too vain about things like age. Personally, if I make it to my 80s, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. “Hey, look at me – I’m 84 and I’m still here, suckas!” Of course, that might tempt the Grim Reaper…so maybe I’ll rethink that strategy when the time comes.

For now, I’m okay with lying about my age. As I’ve said before, I pick a random number and that is the year I celebrate on my birthday, no matter what the “real” number is. This year I think it’s gonna be…um…37. Yeah, that’s a good one. I had fun that year! (And, no, I’m not going to tell you what I did back then that made it so fun!)

But it’s not my birthday today; it’s my dad’s – so I should stop talking about myself. (Yeah, like that’ll ever happen.)

Anyway, back to my dad. Usually I have a hard time figuring out what to give him on his birthday as he is not really a high-maintenance sort of man. Over the years, I’ve given him the inevitable ties to add to his collection, or polo shirts he doesn’t really need or high-tech gizmos he doesn’t know what to do with.

In desperation, I’ve even given him gift cards to places like Lowe’s. These are usually met with a little more enthusiasm than the ties or high-tech gizmos, which is gratifying. Dad doesn’t really need much from home improvement sorts of stores anymore, but he likes to look around.

This year, though, Vince and I sent him what we thought was a pretty cool gift. It’s another high-tech gizmo, but it serves a good purpose. It’s called TV Ears® and we got it at Costco. Vince’s aunt in Florida has a set and showed it to us when we were visiting recently. It hooks up to your television and the cordless earbuds fit into the listener’s ears. The TV can be practically on mute, but the television audio is clearly transmitted through the earbuds. Cool, huh?

As a half-deaf person myself (100% hearing loss in my left ear), I’m thinkin’ I might want to get a set for our household. I don’t think Vince would mind since I turn the television up pretty loudly in order to hear it. This is okay if we’re watching the news, but is perhaps a little annoying when I’m watching Desperate Housewives or Survivor ; two shows he doesn’t have much use for.

(Darn it. There I go – talking about myself again!)

Anyway, like many men his age, Dad is hard of hearing. He has hearing aids for both ears, but they sometimes don’t do him a whole lot of good. My mom would like to tell you that Dad suffers mostly from what she calls “spousal deafness” – he hears what he wants to hear unless it’s mom telling him to take out the trash or do something he doesn’t want to do.

I’m not sure why people go deaf when they get older. Maybe they just get tired of listening to stuff. I’ve heard a theory that a lot of men dad’s age were in WWII and they didn’t use ear protection back then against gunfire and bombs and tanks and other loud noises. I’d say it’s an entirely plausible theory, though I have heard no actual data to back it up.

I have a personal theory that there will be a whole lot more deaf folks in succeeding generations because of all our high-tech gizmos. We listened to loud music on ear phones hooked up to stereos, and then we had Walkmans and now we have iPods where we crank up the decibels so the music gets blasted directly into our ear canals. We’ve gone to rock concerts and stood next to ginormous speakers and then wondered why it took two days before our hearing returned to normal.

So in future generations, maybe we’ll all have TV Ears® – and maybe they can even be surgically implanted. Yeah, and wouldn’t it be great if all our high-tech gizmos could be routed through our TV Ears so we didn’t have separate earbuds and Bluetooth devices? Hmmm…maybe I’ll work on that idea. Who knows? I could be the next Bill Gates!

I’d have to work through some technical difficulties first, though. Like the TV Ears® we bought my dad? His TV is so old that there isn’t a port made in it for them to connect. Figures. Guess we should’ve bought him one of those newfangled flat screen TV’s first, huh? Nah. Probably we should’ve just stuck to the Lowe’s gift card.

Oh well. Happy birthday anyway, Dad! Here’s hoping you hear only the good stuff today like, “Have an extra slice of birthday cake, dear!” and none of the bad stuff like, “Time to take out the trash!”

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