Monday, January 12, 2009

Why I Am Contributing to the Great HDTV Crisis

On Saturday, when I read my local newspaper, I discovered that I am contributing to a great crisis. In an editorial entitled Courage, Couch Potatoes the editor of the Albuquerque Journal wrote:

"On Feb. 17, U.S. television goes digital and those who are not prepared will go without until they get the converter gizmo . . . a prominent part (of the government program for this conversion) are the coupons that the federal government has made available to defray much of the cost (to consumers).
"The coupons have run out before an estimated 6.8% of households with TVs took advantage of them . . . The administration-in-waiting, not blind to a disaster of such proportions, is urging Congress to delay the switchover from analog to digital signals that has been in the making since 2005. Or maybe National Guardsmen could deploy truck-mounted flat-sceens in the hardest hit areas . . ." (Albuquerque Journal, Saturday, January 10, p. A6, parenthetical statements mine)

The assumption of the editor is that if you have not got your coupon, it is because you are too lazy to get up from watching TV to get it.

In the Sunday paper, there were two separate articles about the converter gizmos, how to get them, and a big warning to get them right away, even if you don't have the coupon, so that at least one TV will be available in your house for watching broadcast TV. Apparently, the government says that New Mexico is one of those hardest hit areas, with something like 12% of us being without the HDTV Converter Gizmo Coupon Bail-out. (I wonder where the New Mexico National Guard will deploy those truck-mounted flat-screens?)

Maybe the Admin-in-Waiting is worried that New Mexicans are going to miss out on the new season of 24? That can't be it. I heard that Jack Bower talked back to Congress on last night's season opener.

I admit it. Ragamuffin House is one of those dead beats with nary a coupon or a converter box in the house. It is not because we have cable or satellite TV. And it is not because we are too lazy to turn off the TV to get one. It is because we rarely watch broadcast TV.

Now before you call Child Protective Services, we have not neglected the one child in our household. We actually own a TV. And it is in line-of-sight with all the pretty antennas up on Sandia Peak. It is a rather nice TV, in fact, although it is an older model (2003) and would need the converter box to pick up HD broadcast TV. But why bother? The last time we all watched broadcast TV was in the fall of 2007, when PBS ran the Jewish Americans series. Thus the following imaginary conversation between the administration-in-waiting (AIW) and us:

AIW: "But, but . . . how did you watch the DNC?!"
Ragamuffin House: "We didn't. We listened to selected speeches from both conventions on the local talk-radio. Our favorite was Sarah Palin. She didn't sound much like a politician. She was actually funny."
AIW: "Talk radio! We know who you are! You must be one of those bitter people, clinging to your god and guns!"
Ragamuffin House: "Nope. Not bitter. And that's G-d with a capital 'G', smart aleck! Hmm. We are card-carrying members of the NRA. We just bought more guns and ammo in case Obama Messiah raises the taxx (it's always a four-letter word) on them. But didn't you note that we watched PBS for six whole Wednesday evenings in 2007? We can't be conservatives. We're just libertarians."
AIW: "But how will we invade your home with propaganda for immoral government programs, ads for trans-fats that we want you to crave before we make eating them illegal, and political double-talk about how we can spend our way into recovery?"
Ragamuffin House: "I guess you'll have to deploy the black helicopters. We'll be waiting, our tin-foil hats firmly on our heads. We'd love to show you that beautiful Winchester 30-30 we just bought. Just look for the 'Sedillo Welcomes the Ministry of Truth' sign on the Sedillo Hill Road bridge over I-40. You can't miss it. That's the bridge that had the 'Wanted: Osama Bin Laden, Dead or Alive' sign back in the fall of '01. The American flags are still there. Wah-hoo!"

But seriously, we do not use our TV for watching television. We use it to watch DVD's that we select. I wonder how many of the other 6.8 percent of households in the US (and the slightly larger percentage in the west) who have not got the "gizmo" have the same reason that we do?

We do not need Uncle Sam to help us buy the gizmo. We can choose our own technology, thank you very much. We are not lazy. We are not couch potatoes. And you don't have to send in the Marines. We can choose to buy the previous season of 24 on DVD.
And if we really want to see Hillary's $3,000 pant-suits, there's always You Tube.

We're just not huge fans of the TV wasteland.


Magpie Ima said...

We haven't watched broadcast in many years. The TV/DVD-watching machine lives in the basement and there's no reception. And somehow we survive.

I got my coupons a year ago, though, so I could give them to the refugee families where I volunteer.

christinethecurious said...

We weren't going to bother getting the conversion box either, although I was going to miss the PBS cartoons while I fixed supper, the only time I liked having zombie kids. But when DH found a huge broken HDTV on the side of the road, brought it home to see if he could fix it, he did. So now the kids can still watch Cyberchase. The former owner is looking for the remote for us, he found the recycling aspect charming, and had already bought another big TV so didn't want this one back. In the mean time, my 11 month old daughter is taking after her engineer father and getting into the button panel whenever she can. She loves the drama when she pushes the power button and the DVD stops playing. Good girl, turning off the TV!

-Christine in Massachusetts

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Magpie Ima--what a great idea. I will ask for the coupons for people who might not be able to get them!

Christine Curious--what a great story. It sounds like something my husband would do. And of course the kids are the first to 'test' the technology!

~L~ said...

We have a coupon but only because my dh is palpitating at the thought of being intentionally TV less. Never mind that we have cable; I keep threatening to cancel it. LOL ARGH.

I'd like to invite you to my blog. I had to temporarily close it because of a stalker type. Can you contact me with your email if you want to have access? You're one of my fave bloggers.

Amie said...

I vote for the National Guard truck-mounted flat screens...LOL

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Amie--I just hope the National Guard gets those truck-mounted flat sceens out here for the Superbowl! It would be a great party!

`L`--How do I contact you?
You can send me your e-mail by comment. I won't publish it.

Crimson Wife said...

We're with you. Our television set doesn't get broadcast reception and we canceled our cable subscription a while back because we so rarely used it. Pretty much anything we want to watch can be found on DVD or the 'Net.