My car can forget stuff. I learned that after disconnecting the battery so I could clean the terminals. When I reconnected the battery, the car had forgotten how to run properly. It kept stalling.

My car can forget stuff.

I learned that after disconnecting the battery so I could clean the terminals. When I reconnected the battery, the car had forgotten how to run properly. It kept stalling.

A half hour on an Internet forum revealed the problem: When the power source to the car's computer is interrupted, the stupid thing has to relearn how to make the car operate.

Drive it around awhile until it gets the hang of things again, my online advisers said. This actually worked, but it has strained my relationship with the car. I'm not fond of household machines with central nervous systems of their own.

In a previous house, we had an old furnace that, one cold winter day, turned on and wouldn't turn off. When the house got into the mid-80s, I decided I better do something, so I called a furnace guy who told me to bang on a certain pipe with a wrench. The furnace promptly shut off and never misbehaved like that again. Beautiful.

I haven't had a furnace that obedient since. Now it takes a technician and $400 (if I'm lucky) to get a furnace to cooperate because it has mysterious electronic brains that operate it. Threatening it with a wrench would have no effect whatsoever.

I suppose I can tolerate this sort of thing in cars and furnaces, in the interest of conserving fossil fuels. But generally, I think it best to minimize the number of household devices that have minds of their own.

They make refrigerators now that will keep track of what you put in them and remind you when it's time to buy more. Isn't that a bit presumptuous of an appliance? Frankly, I don't want a refrigerator recording how often I buy a six-pack. It's none of the refrigerator's business.

Likewise, I'm not happy about my radio's standoffishness. I resigned myself to all TV sets demanding that I approach them only via remote control, but I thought radios were more down-to-earth than that. But my latest model has nary a button or switch upon its sleek face. The remote must intercede for me when I need to make a request of the radio.

It's a perfectly fine system until it's not. When the remote abruptly stopped working, neither changing the battery nor mashing the remote buttons with increasing intensity would jolt it into action. And, of course, approaching the radio itself was out of the question. I would have had better luck getting an audience with Queen Elizabeth. So it was a day without NPR.

Lest I sound like a Luddite, I should point out that I wrote this column on a computer. There's such a thing as a machine that's too dumb, and that pretty much describes every typewriter I ever used. No matter how carefully I hit the keys, an error or two always managed to find its way onto the page.

But when they did, I at least knew whose central nervous system was to blame.

-Joe Blundo's column So to Speak appears in the Life section of The Columbus Dispatch. Visit his blog at Dispatch.com