The upstairs TV is slowly dying.
Well, that’s not quite true. There’s nothing wrong with the TV itself. Kim and I bought it with our pocket change about a dozen years ago (which is what happens when you throw your change in a bucket for half a decade, though we did deposit in the bank first and pay with a check, much to the salesman’s relief) and it is still going strong from a reliability standpoint. It got moved upstairs when we got the snazzy flatscreen TV a few years back, but otherwise it continues to show us things that will deaden our brains for as long as we choose to watch them, and that’s pretty much all you can ask of one of those things.
Except that it is an analogue TV, and apparently this is just Prehistoric. Stone-Age, daddy-o, like the first halting step in evolution’s long ladder.
A couple of months ago I noticed that there were a couple of channels we couldn’t get upstairs. They would come in fine downstairs on the flatscreen, but not on the old TV upstairs. I made a mental note to ask the cable company about this.
This was about as effective as most such notes, and it was weeks before I finally remembered to call them.
“Hey – I’m losing channels on my television!”
“Yes, you are.”
Well, okay then. I was hoping for a more concerned response than that, though, so I tried again.
“But I am paying for channels, and see no reason to pay for channels that are no longer coming in. Please to explain the meaning of this lack of channels that is not matched by my lack of payment?”
This seemed to help. You can always count on fiscal descriptions of problems to get people’s attention when it comes to customer complaints.
Eventually we worked out that the channels were in fact disappearing and that this was planned. All of the channels were switching over to digital signals this spring, and when they did so I would no longer be able to receive them on my analogue TV. “By mid-May you probably won’t have anything coming in on that TV,” they said.
Of course there was a solution. There is always a solution in today’s economy, for those who choose to pay for it. For a nearly nominal monthly fee, they said, they would gladly hook me up with a converter which would step down that digital signal and return my channels.
Now, a more stupid solution to a problem has never been formulated. I could just buy myself a brand new TV, one that would not need their converter, and in about a year and a half it would have paid for itself, and I would have a nice new TV that I could probably plug into the plethora of devices that already exist in this house until it reaches the Singularity and calls the cable company on its own initiative just to blow digital raspberries at them.
Or, I could just let the whole problem fade away and not bother with an upstairs television. Beyond the occasional sporting event, the weather, and whatever blockbuster highbrow soap opera PBS has convinced Maggie Smith to star in now, we really don’t watch much television anymore. Even the girls have largely moved on to other media. Indeed, most of what ends up on the flatscreen downstairs comes through the Netflix archives – we have now made it halfway through David Tennant’s first season as Doctor Who, for example, and Kim likes to watch Merlin now and then. We’ve seriously considered just dumping the cable entirely, and this summer we may well do so.
So it’s a quandary.