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Electronic Efforts

Months and months ago I bought a combination DVD-VHS recorder. My primary aim was to copy some VHS tapes I have onto DVD without having to go through my computer. This gadget would do that, easily. What I hoped was that I could just plug it in anywhere and get going on it. But that wasn't to be.

The instructions are for hooking it to a television and cable or other devices. My first attempt failed because I didn't have the right number of the right length and type cables. I figured I'd go out and get the right one but I kept putting it off.

A lot of the reason is that Paul is in the house. I never like to have others in the house when I am struggling to work things out, electronic things. I don't want the interruption, the suggestions, the offers for help. I know, too, that Paul has a way of forging ahead with things, assuming that he knows what to do,  and will often mess things up. I didn't need that kind of help. It's what made our network not a network, in fact. Just a cable modem that we both use wirelessly.

Then, with Paul not working, he was always here. So I looked for times when I had the inclination and energy and when he would be not likely to be wandering near the living room. From time to time he mentioned the thing and I said I needed a certain cable and I hadn't gotten to getting it yet. Being an extraordinarily unpurposeful person himself, he understood that years could go by before I would get this cable and he wouldn't be bothered by it, much as he'd like to play with the gadget, record shows from my DVR.

Yesterday was finally the day. I had picked up what I thought was the proper cable a few days before. I pulled out the appliances, found the manual online, hooked it up, and got the thing to play a DVD. So I knew I was on the right track.  But I was not yet ready to tackle more mysterious workings of the machine,  like recording from the DVR directly to DVD. For one thing, I didn't have the right kind of DVDs. It only accepts certain types.

This morning I decided to get the right kind of DVDs from Staples. But first I tested its recording capabilities by trying to record from the DVR onto a VHS tape. I pressed the various buttons and it looked like it was doing the right thing so I left it to record. Later, I saw that it was still recording long after the show (At Home with the Braithwaites) would have ended. I didn't know what this meant, so I stopped it and tried to view what had been recorded. It seemed like I couldn't get to the right channel to view the video. But in fact, I had gotten to it. It had recorded the list of DVR recordings that shows up on the cable, instead of the show itself. So it looked like I was stuck on a menu,  but in fact I recorded just the menu. Well,  at least it recorded something.

I usually have to step back and get myself together again when at first things don't go right. And so I did. I did go out and buy the right kind of DVDs - DVD-R, rather than DVD+R, in case you're wondering. And when I got back, after spending time at Utopia Bakery, reading, drinking coffee, eating a scone, watching people, and releasing another book, I did what appears to be the simplest type of recording: from a VHS tape to a DVD. Which is what I bought the thing for in the first place. I think it's working...

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Judith Lautner
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