MY BIG, FAT TELEVISION
All good things come to an end. We learn this early in life, and are visited frequently with refresher courses as we navigate our way through adult life. One of our more prolific writers at the "forum" section of this website, recently suggested that I get a DVR, a digital recording device which allows selective recording of programs, even portions of programs, for later viewing. I had been complaining, as I often do, that by the time the kids are in bed, the chores are done, and I can finally sit down, I have missed the one or two programs that I watch on television. It is usually 11:00 p.m., and at that hour, two of my favorite programs are on at the same time. Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert. It presents a constant source of friction within my tiny brain, and taints my viewing pleasure. For most people, knowing there is a technological remedy available and affordable, it is a no-brainer. Not for me. For me, it is a call from the dark forest of "electronic-device-purchase-and-hook-up Hell".
Anytime in my life that I have had to change telephone, internet, cable tv or any other kind of media provider, it has been a veritable nightmare. I come from the age of 8-track players and turntable record players. I am a reluctant explorer into the world of technology. So, a few weeks ago, when my big, fat RCA television stopped providing a picture, I knew it was probably the end. In the spirit of my father, I tried calling repair places first. "Out-of-business" was the recorded message I heard at no fewer than four local places that used to fix televisions, stereos and vcr players. This was no surprise. The price to replace my big, fat tv which weighs 100 pounds but provided a nice, clear picture for years, chips in the screen from tossed toys notwithstanding, was less than any repair bill could have been. I loaded the old girl into the back of my Jeep, and began the drive, a funeral-procession of sorts, to our local landfill, where it cost me seven dollars to say good-bye.
I knew at this very moment, that an unstoppable chain of events was being set in motion. It was more than replacing a television. I am a terrible shopper. I buy on impulse, too quick, or, I go to the other extreme, over-analyzing like a moron-savant. Interestingly, I was about to do both this time. Before my old tv was even cooled off, I rushed to Wal-Mart, the cattle-drive of shopping experiences, and bought a brand-new, skinny and light, High Definition television. It was the electronic equivalent of losing your first wife, and re-marrying a Super-Model, twenty-five years your junior, on the same afternoon as the funeral. I drove home as quickly as I could, dragged the box inside and closed the curtains.
I opened the box and looked at the back of the set. Uh-oh. Wow, things have changed a little bit. My last set had, "cable-in, audio-in,audio-out". This set looked like I had just opened a control panel on the space shuttle. "I can handle this, I thought to myself."
Three hours later I had a grainy picture with no sound. More re-wiring. Sound with no picture. More re-wiring. Finally, all put together, with the kids' Playstation, the DVR, the VCR all working, I sat back, ready to enjoy "High-Definition". I was stunned when the picture came up, channel after channel, that looked like crayon-drawings. I had to shut down for the night before my head exploded.
The next day I called our satellite provider and the explained to me, Goat-Boy, that you need an HD receiver to receive HD signals for your HD TV. "Well, bring one over then" I exclaimed, already anticipating the convenient 6-hour window they allow themselves to "service" their customers. A day or two later I had a much bigger dish on my roof and I felt excitement welling up inside me. At least I think that's what it was. Again, I placed myself in my tv viewing position and clicked. What?! Still the crayon drawings and all of my HD channels telling me there is "no signal". At that point, I began signaling the TV with my middle finger, then, flashing the same signal in the approximate direction of my new, big dish on the roof.
Another call to our "provider", another convenient 6 hour window, and a different technician who allows himself to wonder aloud why the first guy didn't run an HD cable from the new HD dish to the new HD receiver. I have no GD idea! This kid was actually pretty good, spent a few minutes to walk an old-timer (me) through the remote control operations process. I was like a kid riding a bike for the first time, suddenly showing not just skill, but prowess, with the remote control. Changing settings, picture quality, timers and alarms, and enjoying a picture quality that is mesmerizing when you're new to it. Maybe there is hope after all. I know one thing. I'm not ready to try anything new for at least six months but I do have my eye on a new HD Wafflemaker.