October 30, 2009

The Digital Aftermath

June has come and gone. And with it, the switch from analog to digital signal television transmission. The meager accolades are over and the great tide of outrage has, for the most part, been silenced. Those without cable have settled for watching what they can get on their TV screens, and for most, it isn't much.

I live in a hybrid household. Downstairs, our television pulls in all of the cable channels we can afford, but in our upstairs bedroom, we make due with those few channels that we can pull in with our antenna. We've had to make some adjustments. At bed time, instead of Letterman and whateverthell ABC broadcasts after the local news, I watch as much of Conan as I can stomach. Poor Conan ... you either love him or you don't. And I'm one of those who don't, so I watch him hop around awkwardly for a few minutes, and then turn him off and go to sleep. He's such a tool.

Before the switch, I studied up on antennas to see which one would suit our needs the best. Unfortunately, the models that had the most optimal performance also cost more than the majority of new televisions and required zoning variances to erect. So I started looking at other alternatives, like "making your own digital antenna". Believe it or not, I drew on my master handyman skills; gathering scrap wood from the garage, screws and washers from the basement and wire hangers, which my poor wife had to beg for from the people she worked with. And after hours of blood, sweat, tears and a fuck load of bad words, my creation was ready for use.

Voila! (French for "how pathetic")

And it worked! Kind of. We ended up pulling in about 12 channels, 3 of which didn't zzzapp out continually. Jan was appalled by it's looks, but I thought it was a modern art masterpiece. Through several effective threats, she convinced me to hide it out of sight behind the TV, where it squatted until last weekend.

We were at a hardware store last Friday night, and Jan spied a digital antenna for under 20 dollars. She gave me one of "those" looks and we bought it. It gets a total of 5 channels, none of which go "zzzapp", so it looks like my coat hanger Frankenstein is out of a job. I wonder if anyone would buy it on e-bay?

One of the side benefits of the digital switch was that I was able to establish an e-mail dialog with the engineering departments of two of the local television stations. The first, our ABC affiliate, had been telling us loyal viewers for months that we had "better be ready" for the digital onslaught. But when the time came, it turned out that they were the ones who weren't ready ... with their tinker toy digital transmitter. Ha, ha! So, I started to e-mail them, basically asking them what their general fucking problem was. At first they were polite in their responses, but as I escalated my withering opinions of their technical prowess, they became increasingly irritable until they finally told me to fuck off.

I had a better rapport with the second station, Channel 6 (The "U"!). After the switch, I e-mailed their engineers about the picture quality of their reruns of "Frasier". The following is a synopsis of our conversations over several weeks.

Me: Hey, your Frasier reruns look like podcasts!

The "U": What R U tking about?

Me: You know, the picture quality is like a podcast. Haven't you ever seen a podcast?

The "U": Hve U chkd ur connections?

Me: Stop spelling like you're posting on Twitter! My connections are fine.

The "U": Sorry. Then maybe you need new glasses. Hee, hee.

Me: Very fucking funny. Seriously, go home and watch it on your own televisions!

The "U": We can't. We're working when Frasier is on.

Me: You guys should put together a stand up routine. So you're not going to do anything?

The "U": There's nothing wrong!

Me: Morons.

The "U": Takes one to know one.

And I never heard from them again. And it's a pity, because I think we could have become best buddies.

I miss them.

1 comment:

  1. You made that up, didn't you? I seriously hope so. Those guys should be fired.

    Oh and Conan? As soon as I hear that opening song we change it. Neither of us can stand that man. I can tolerate Letterman but miss Leno. I know, you don't care for his new show. But the real love of my life? Craig Ferguson. I love that man! I have no idea why but I find him very attractive and love his personality. I wish his show was on earlier.