What is a potentiometer?

Two or three Christmases ago I received enough Wal-Mart gift cards to buy a new cd player, which I was very happy about since the smaller older one was beginning to sound as if there were scratches on the cds, which there were not. I hauled the big box home and there it sat in the back bedroom for a year. In an energetic moment I pulled it all out of the box and set it up on a small table in that room next to the desk. Due to the placement of a stack of bins I could not reach the outlet nearest to it. One of the tasks I gave my friend Ramona’s beau, who is good enough to hire out to me as a handyman, was to plug the thing in. He did that and turned on the radio part so I could hear that it was working.

At the beginning of this Christmas season I managed to fill the player with 5 cds I most wanted to listen to and I turned it on and the sounds were lovely. The next time I turned it on I was not able to get the machine to issue a peep. The radio would go on, but the cds were not playing at all. Nothing I touched, pushed, pressed, or threatened would get the music to play. I asked my high tech niece and nephew-in-law who asked me if it was plugged in and if the power to the room was on. That was the extent of their guesses. The husband of another friend said I needed to use the remote that came with it and I assumed that since I had it so long, the battery was dead.

After Christmas, the soonest anyone could get me kicking or screaming into Wal-Mart after Thanksgiving, I took the remote to Wal-Mart and got a clerk to open it for me, because again, nothing I did, pressed, pushed, or threatened with a sledge hammer, would open or move. She popped the old battery out and told me the number was 2025 and I could get some at the battery station at the check-out counter. For just under $5.00 I got one and an extra and came home and with the use of a tweezers as a pry to open the thing, got the new battery in, so I went over to the machine with power to the room on and red light showing “1” in the display window, I pressed everything on the remote. Nada. Do I need to say how exasperating I found this?

I grew up in the 1950s when every electronic gadget – including radio, television, and record players had knobs (look it up if you are under thirty!) and the knobs were used to turn the piece of equipment on and back in the other direction for off. As the decades slipped away and I went up to my sleeping son’s room to turn off the radio he left on, not only have knobs been replaced by tiny buttons that were labeled power, or pwr for short, or if the manufacturer didn’t care to print on the surface of the unit, the tiny button was red which was a hint that this is where it was to be turned on or off there was nothing I could identify as the power button. I stood there looking at the radio for some time before I just unplugged it.

So here it is a few decades after that, I am completely befuddled about how to turn on the new cd player.

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