Ilivetolearn's Blog

January 25, 2006

Hot buttons

Filed under: on the road,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 9:44 am

In the US, you push a button. Unless you’re from certain parts of Alabama, where you mash a button. In our home here, where way too many appliances and systems are regulated by buttons (I really miss dials) you have to learn various new techniques for buttons. The first thing I do each morning is turn up the heat, which is accomplished using a remote control with…buttons. One up, one down, and one mystery. Then I attempt to turn on a “burner” on the ceramic cooktop. This is equipped with flat square numbered pads, some of which respond to a simple touch but some of which require you to lick your finger first and/or rock it from side to side. I call it massaging the buttons.

Getting the car out is a matter of using another remote to open the garage door and the gate to the street. I thought I was smart to learn which button did which thing until I backed in one night using the secondary remote, on which the button functions are reversed. I ended up with the garage door coming down onto the roof of the car, which meant Bill had to use the manual, brute-force method to rescue me.

The dishwasher, clothes washer, and oven have similar issues, though at least you can count on the same button controlling the same function each time. Some buttons you have to hold in for a while, some you have to jiggle or poke with a certain pressure, in a certain direction. I have even come across doorknobs that do not turn–they have a button on top that moves the latch. When you combine this feature with rest-room lights that turn themselves off after very short intervals it can make for interesting experiences in restaurant basements.

Doors on stores say either “Tirar” (pull) or “Empujar” (push) but when you want a pedestrian crossing signal, the sign says “Pulsar” the button. You then wait for the illuminated stick figure to be green. If you are a little slow, he starts flashing on and off. And if you are in a big city like Bilbao or Granada, which have signs displaying the seconds dedicated to pedestrians, counting down from 25 or 15 depending on the width of the street, you get to watch the stick figure begin to run at the 5-second mark. It’s so entertaining I’m sure some people stand in the street to watch. Then drivers start using their horn buttons.

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