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The first foray

Remember how I told you Dan’s resolution for 2011 was to drag me, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century and to cure what he calls my technophobia? Well, last week we made our first foray into the future: We got an HDTV.


I’m old enough to remember when TVs were dinky little black-and-white affairs with antennas and no remotes, and the stations went off the air at about 1 a.m. after playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and a recording of that poem about flying into space to “touch the face of God.” I remember when my family got our first color TV. We waited specifically to see the NBC peacock in living color. It was pretty cool.


I’m no stranger to HDTV. They’re everywhere, aren’t they? Bars and restaurants and other establishments have them. I loved the commercial where the couple is trying to figure out a place to put their new flat-screen TV: over the fireplace? against the other wall? And they end up putting it on the ceiling over their bed (although the instructions for my particular TV set don’t recommend that). But how is it cool to lie in bed and watch TV like that (although I don’t want to have a TV in my bedroom).


Anyway, I had been doing some research, pricing different HDTVs. I knew after Christmas they would come down drastically in price. HDTVs are so commonplace now that you can find bargains for them all over the place. We did get a good deal on a 22-inch TV, with the HDMI cable throw in free.


“Okay, now what you’ve got to do,” Dan said after I lugged the TV home from the store (well, lugged isn’t quite right; it’s really not that heavy), “you’ve got to call the cable company and get DVR so you can watch HD channels. What’s the use of having an HDTV if you can’t watch HD channels?”


That’s a big bone of contention between us. See, Dan and his generation have grown up with all this technological stuff. It’s second nature to them. They seem to have been born knowing how to download videos and music and burn their own CDs and do all that other stuff that I have no clue about. For my generation, this is the stuff that we were merely dreaming of when we were their age. How could we see beyond record players and eight tracks and rotary-dial phones and black-and-white TVs with antennas and fuzzy pictures? But Dan and his generation take it all for granted, that it has always been like this, that you always had a little phone you could carry in your pocket or a little music player that holds thousands of songs or a TV with a sharp, bright picture. And they know how to work it all without reading instructions. Dan set up my DVD player on my old TV without once reading the instruction manual, despite my flapping it at him: “Don’t you need this?”


I must have looked skeptical as Dan extolled the virtues of HDTV – television is television is television to me – because he waggled a finger at me and said, “When you see the difference in the channels, you won’t believe it. It will blow your mind. I’m telling you.”


Once again he was throwing too much technology at me. I can only assimilate a little bit at a time. I need a chance to hear it, absorb it and then apply it. He nagged me until I made the call to the cable company and set up an appointment to get the TV set up.


“They said they have openings between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. so that means they’ll be here by 4 p.m.,” I told Dan.


The TV we were currently watching was on a very rickety stand. Every time Spotty turned around and bumped into it, it was in danger of collapsing. “You need to get a new stand. You need to get a new stand. You need to get a new stand,” Dan said. “You only have till Monday. Go buy one now so it’ll be ready when the cable guy comes.”


That’s another bone of contention between us. Dan and his cohort don’t seem to think about saving for a rainy day. They think if you have money, you should spend it immediately. They seem to believe money just comes out of the blue whenever you need it and being broke is okay. But my generation remembers how the previous generation suffered through the great depression, and their caution has trickled down to us. We aren’t quite so cavalier about money. We know we have to save and we know the pleasure you get from buying things because you socked away some money specifically for them. We know the pleasure of having a nest egg and not having to worry about tomorrow’s bills. Dan’s generation is all about getting what they want when they want it – now or five minutes ago. It’s hard to convince them otherwise. They are truly live-in-the-moment people, letting tomorrow take care of itself.


I saw a nice TV stand on sale at Best Buy for $50. So I went to get it, but the store didn’t have it. The other store, way on the other side of town, did have one, so the first store called and asked the second store to put the stand aside for me. I trekked over there to pick it up. It was heavy. I got it home and put it together myself – reading the instructions, just as you’re supposed to do, Dan. Then I put the TV on its own stand and we were ready for the future.


The cable guy came at 9 a.m. And he was young, about Dan’s age. He quickly and efficiently got everything hooked up as I sat back and watched and tried to ask intelligent questions. Once the TV was set up, Dan said to the cable guy, “Now show her the regular TV.” Okay, colorful but a little fuzzy. “Now show her the HDTV,” Dan said.


Wow – there really is a big difference. The best analogy I can use is to compare it to getting your glasses clean. All of a sudden everything is bright and clean and sharp, like you can almost touch the pictures you’re looking at. The Price Is Right looks great in HDTV! The studio is brightly lit and the colors pop out. I can even see Drew Carey’s little soul patch on his chin. And the showcase showdown wheel is all gold and sparkly and just beautiful.


There was only one problem with all this. I had the HDTV. I had the HD channels. I had the DVR (and the tutorial for using that will be ongoing, I assure you.) I just couldn’t get the damn thing to work. I pressed the button on the remote and the TV blinkled on, but I couldn’t get a picture. I called Dan, desperate enough to leave a message on his voicemail – he hates that, but this was an emergency. “I can’t get the TV to work! I’m missing The Price Is Right! Call me!”


When he returned my call, I could hear the long-suffering patience in his voice. “Don’t use the remote that came with the TV. Put that one away. Use the remote the cable guy brought you. Hit ‘All On’ and then hit the button under the 7. The TV has to be on HDMI 2. Remember we had a metonym for that?” (He didn’t really use the word metonym.) “Remember, two for TV? Alliteration, Mom. You’re all about alliteration.”


Yeah, alliteration I can do. Technology, not so much. I am high-definitely a work in progress. Stay tuned.