At last the moment has come! For a considerable time already, I had been planning to integrate at home the television, the internet and the telephone. Two weeks ago I, at long last, placed the order with UPC for the Horizon media box, with the various services that we think we need. UPC has told my current internet provider to end their service to me, and has also intervened to stop my telephone services via KPN. I received a nice parcel with my new toys and I have made significant progress in installing all these goodies. The media box functions as promised and I can now surf to more television channels than ever before. Certainly, there are sill some mysteries that have not yet been revealed, and so far I only partially understand how the two remote control devices for my media box and for my television can harmoniously work together. Some time next week my current internet service will be ended, and then I will find out whether the laptops of myself and of my wife will wirelessly perform at the proudly advertised speed through the media box as the center of my home wireless network.

I cannot deny that I always do these kinds of technical jobs with great trepidation. It takes a lot of time before I have a clear idea which cords must be connected where, and which buttons must then be pushed and in what order. There is a deep-seated fear that I might blow up the entire installation by some wrong move. I suspect that this anxiety is the result of a terrible trauma I suffered as a child.

In the beginning of the 1950’s our family continued to receive at regular intervals ‘care packages’ from a benevolent person in the United States. At the time, an extensive charity program had been established to facilitate the sending of parcels with clothing and other items by good spirits in the US, to Dutch families that had suffered great difficulties in the Second World War and the immediate post-war period. A lady in the city of Lexington in the state of Kentucky was the regular donor of the parcels we received. Apparently, there had been some correspondence between my father (who had a fair command of the English languages) and this good lady, in which my father had indicated that our family did not possess a radio. And so, the next parcel contained among other things, a small radio.

I vividly remember how our family was united around the table in our living room when my father dismantled the parcel and unwrapped the radio. I can still see the radio before me: a small brown box of Bakelite, with on the front a button to start and to stop the radio, and a much bigger knob that had to be turned around to find the various radio stations.  Since my father was an electrician by profession it presented no major challenge for him to replace the American plug with a Dutch one. When this was taken care of, the great moment had arrived. The plug was put into the socket, the on-button was pushed, the round knob at the front of the radio was turned around, and, lo and behold, there was music! But not for very long. A strange smell and some accompanying smoke, began to ascend from our precious radio and then the music stopped as abruptly as it had started only a few minutes before. The radio was irreparably damaged. We had, unfortunately, not been aware of the fact that the VS operates with a different voltage from that in Europe, and when 220 volt passed through the radio, it ended the enjoyment within a very short moment.

I remember few things from my childhood and youth that have frustrated me in the same manner. We were so happy to, at last, have a radio in our home. But the joy lasted at the very most for three minutes. Ever since I have been very careful when installing electrical appliances and equipment. Therefore, when installing my new UPC-wonder box, I proceeded with great prudence. So far, everything has gone quite well. I feel, I have reason to be optimistic with regard to the remainder of this process—encouraged by the pleasant thought that this complicated operation will bring me a financial benefit of at least 50-60 euros per month.