Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No Usable Signal

by Annette Dashofy

Let me begin with a statement of total disclosure. I do not have cable. Nor do I have satellite. Yes, I am among the dinosaurs. I use an antenna to pick up network television.

I do, however, own a pretty nice TV. Flat screen, HD, not huge, but fairly large. Hubby and I bought it a little over a year ago as our Christmas gift to each other when our old set died. So you can imagine our displeasure when it started freezing up on us. Not the usual digital hiccup where the picture pixilates and dissolves because a plane is flying over. No, this time the picture would freeze and then go to the dreaded blue screen. When we changed channels, they were all blue screen pasted with the words NO USABLE SIGNAL.

This was annoying. I’d turn the set off and wait. Fifteen to thirty minutes later, when I’d turn it back on, voila! We had our picture back. Not five minutes. Not ten. It had to be at least fifteen.

Then on Sunday, just as the final two teams were speeding to the pit stop of this week’s episode of The Amazing Race, it did it again. NO USABLE SIGNAL. Hubby screamed at the TV. He stared at the blue screen for almost a half hour. Nothing. I resigned myself to the knowledge I could find out who was eliminated from the race on the computer the next morning. Hubby demanded to know what the (bleep) was wrong with the (bleep bleep) TV.

All this led me to ponder… Do we really NEED a TV? We’re extremely short on job security around here these days, so I wasn’t keen on buying a new television when the old one was just barely out of warranty. And is there such a thing as a television repair man these days?

Twice in the years we’ve been married, we went extended periods with no television. Most recently was when our last set died and I spent some time shopping around before purchasing the current one. It was only a week or so. But back in the early 90s, when once again we were faced with a dead TV, we decided to do without. For months. Honestly, I kind of enjoyed it. We listened to the radio. We played cards and board games.

I read!

I remember listening to President Bill Clinton’s inauguration on the radio. My memories of that non-visual event are far sharper and clearer than many I’ve watched.

Eventually we did purchase a new television. I caught up on the lost months of soap operas in about ten minutes. And I can tell you I only truly missed one show: CBS Sunday Morning.

So I’d like you all to take a few minutes and think about it. Could you manage to go without your television for a week? A month? Longer? And what shows would you miss (especially if you weren’t able to watch them on your computer either)?

By the way, Hubby climbed up on our roof and cleaned the crud off the wires and connections to the antenna, and so far we’ve had no more bouts of NO USABLE SIGNAL.


Laurissa said...

I have basic cable in my living room only, and just the antenna in my office and kitchen. Ever since the conversion,I've had nothing but trouble with the 2 TVs without cable. I get the same blue screen as you, often, and can't even get all of the network stations on both TVs. It's upsetting because the TVs without cable are the ones I'm most apt to watch, while doing other things at the same time.

I could easily go without TV, especially lately when I'm so far behind on reading.

That being said I would miss the news,all of the character-driven shows on USA network, Bones, and The Mentalist. Oh yeah, and The Closer. On second thought, maybe it wouldn't be so easy to go without TV. :-)

Annette said...

Laurissa, I've been told there is a special antenna for digital that's supposed to be better, but I haven't wanted to spend the money on one of those either.

Speaking of the conversion to digital, every time we lose the picture, even briefly due to interference, Hubby grumbles, "And this was supposed to be an improvement?"

Joyce said...

I could do without TV. We didn't turn it on at all last night. Jerry was working in the yard and I was writing. Didn't miss it a bit. We rarely turn it on when the weather's nice, and I never turn it on during the day.

We have the very basic cable that only costs $13/month, but lately we've been getting some of the expanded basic channels because of the digital conversion. The channels will be gone soon because the cable company is requiring anyone with more than the basic cable to get a cable box. (I thought digital TVs were supposed to eliminate those!) So, right now we have a bunch of channels that aren't worth watching anyway!

PatRemick said...

I don't think I could live without the national television news. OK, I could listen on the radio, true, but the 630 p.m. news is usually the only time I watch television -- or sit down and relax all day. I have recently realized that I really don't have any shows I am that fond of anymore, besides the news, and have too much else to do. But don't take away my NPR!!!

Annette said...

The news.

I could write a whole other blog about the news. I once went on a "news fast" during which I went a week with no news. No television news, no radio news, no newspaper or Internet news. It was WONDERFUL. My stress levels dropped tremendously.

I could definitely live without the panic-mongering television news broadcasts.

nancy said...

Our cable bill is three times what my first car payment was. And I watch approximately 17 minutes a day--the first 10 minutes of Regis & Kelly, and the first 7 minutes of the national news. But my husband wants to watch The Tudors and Dexter---both soft porn, if you ask me---and that requires "Expanded Cable." Yeesh!

M Pax said...

I would miss Colbert & Jon Stewart the most. Then the SyFy channel. OK, I like some TV. I go without most of the summer.

We still have an ancient TV that would not work without cable.