In our household, we divide the tasks. My wife is in charge of vacuuming, I take care of Middle East peace negotiations. My wife focuses on dusting, I’m responsible for understanding global warming.  

I’m also in charge of photography. At important events, such as the few times we’re all actually dressed up and looking good and there are no ketchup stains on my pants, I take the pictures. Well, I would, if I could figure out how to work our new digital camera.

I bought the digital camera last year, figuring it was time to move up from my 35mm film camera, which had taken me 35 years to understand and another 10 years to figure out what mm meant.

Working with film was not easy. I had difficulty changing the F stop into a more pleasant letter, remembering to drop the film into the right slot at the drugstore and then remembering to pick up the film at the drugstore within the next six or seven months, even though I had lost the little ticket.  

But it was a breeze in comparison to my digital camera.

Before I could even buy it, I had to familiarize myself with the concept of “pixels,” which are not, apparently, marinated cucumbers that go well with pastrami.

Instead, I learned that they are tiny little people imprisoned inside the digital camera and forced, under harsh conditions and for low wages, to create an endless stream of pictures you won’t really know what to do with. As I understood it, the more pixels you have, the more your photos will not look like you were actually more interested at the moment you were taking the photos in listening to John Mellencamp on your iPod.  

So you buy a lot of pixels and then you must insert them into the camera, ignoring their piteous cries, through a little slot that looks nothing at all like the drugstore slot.

Then you have to get a media storage card, where the pixels can store their pictures while they are away on vacation at their condo on the coast. There are a variety of media cards you can get, including the giant family size, which allows you to take pictures of a giant’s family.

The manual then walks you through a 34-step process that will enable you to set the camera on “automatic mode,” which is itself only a 19-step process.

Then you have to turn on the LCD, which I believe is an alias for PIXEL due to some kind of legal problem PIXEL had some time ago, in another state.  

Finally, it’s time to press the shutter button, or maybe to find your old 35mm.