Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Defining "hate"

When I was a little girl with long braids, Mr. Pelham used to tell me, "'Hate' means to want to kill or destroy."

I thought that he meant I shouldn't say I hate squash; I should reserve such a strong emotion for really horrible things like injustice and despotism. To be honest, I did hate squash. I still do. Summer gourds are an abomination on the people of the Earth.

But I tried to absorb his lesson, and sometimes I actually am able to reserve my strongest negative emotions for people like Osama Bin Laden and Hitler and for injustices like Tennessee's latest completely insane amendment to the state constitution which bans gay marriage.

Other times -- I still struggle with the whole thing.

Take, for example, my new TV.

I hate it.

Maybe I hate it because it's smarter than I am. Then again, maybe I hate it because it doesn't do what I think a television should do.

Whichever way you look at it, my new TV is not a loveable critter.

Unlike my old TV, which had a great, big screen and tube-like innards, this new TV has an LCD screen and is flat and skinny and easy to carry around. It isn't quite as big as the old TV, but then again, it's a widescreen TV. And I *love* widescreen. I do. The moment those letterbox black bars appeared on my old videotape of "The Colour Purple," I jumped up and shouted, "HOORAY!" Why? Because I love movies. And I always hated that movies were re-formatted to fit to standard near-square TV screens. I felt like I was missing a third of a movie if it were on broadcast TV. But with widescreen -- yummy! It looks just like it does in a cinema!

I've had this new TV for ten and a half days, ... and it has been the most reluctant piece of equipment I've ever purchased.


Now, I know I'm a big dingbat and everyone thinks I'm at least a little stuppid, but I'm actually not the dumbest person I know. For instance, I often fix things around the house. I have fixed broken toilets -- with multiple broken parts. I have installed major kitchen appliances without assistance. I can program a digital watch (as long as I have the instruction manual). I have even cracked open no fewer than six different computers just to put new hardware in.

I mean, I might seem like an idiot, but I'm really not as dumb as the publisher of O.J. Simpson's latest book.

That's why I'm absolutely livid over the state of technology today as it pertains to home entertainment. I've spent the last ten and a half days trying desperately to make this new TV work in my home. And I can't do it. I'm beaten. I've consulted the store from which I purchased the TV. I've called a cable technician to my home. I've bothered my sister and her husband -- who are busy, intelligent, *vital* members of their community -- far, far more than anyone should ever bother one's siblings and in-laws.

And at the end of all these ordeals, I have a large, expensive piece of useless junk sitting where my television is supposed to be.

My first mistake, as I understand it, was to allow an old television to die. That was my first misstep. I understood the old TV. Well, really, I should say that the old TV was hooked up satisfactorily and showed television programs in a fine manner, and furthermore, it looked great with a widescreen format DVD. If I had saved that old TV from its final doom, I could have saved myself ten and a half days of anguish and unhappiness.

My second mistake, as anyone can tell you, is being too poor to subscribe to HDTV cable. I have a digital cable box. I love my digital cable. It lets me find shows I want to watch in the future. It tells me what I'm watching now, and when that show will be on again. It even tells me what time it is and the date. Digital cable is the bomb, and once you get spoiled by it, you really can't go back to regular TV without the nifty info boxes.

But to subscribe to HDTV cable, I would have to cough up an additional $12.95 per month. I can't do that. I have needs. $13 buys a 24 cans of red kidney beans -- including tax. It buys two and a half gallons of milk. Why, thirteen dollars would buy five different tubes of glass beads from WalMart if you happen to be making a special bracelet for someone's Christmas present. I can't find another $13 in order to subscribe to HDTV -- I'm barely making the *regular* digital cable bill every month.

So my poverty means that instead of HDTV and the commensurate high-tech HDTV cable converter box, I have the crappy, archaic, outdated, old-fashioned digital cable box, which my brilliant brother-in-law tells me was being used when "The Honeymooners" was still a hot, new show. And that means that my TV programs will NEVER fill out the widescreen LCD screen of my new TV.

I accept that. I have to. I have no choice. My old TV died, and there's no sense in getting archaic technology. So I have a widescreen TV with HDTV capacity, but no way to make it look like HDTV. I was just hoping that someday the cost of the HDTV subscription would reduce itself and suddenly become affordable.

But that's not the reason that I have to give up and give in to my hatred of the new TV. Oh, no. The TV is way more offensive than just playing "The Golden Girls" in a little square in the middle of the screen.

No, my third offense -- and the really offensive part of this TV -- is that I can't make the new TV cooperate with the new DVD player. It doesn't even play widescreen DVD's in widescreen.

I've tried everything, y'all, I really have. I have researched and Googled and called and been put on hold and been hung up on, all in an effort to make "Ocean's Eleven" look something like George Clooney and Matt Damon in Las Vegas, rather than a couple of tiny, emotionless dots on the screen in what might be any brightly-lit location in the world.

And the thing is -- I really can't blame myself. I blame the manufacturers of the supplies. Why, even if you crack open a computer, you'll find color-coded areas that make it easy to install new sound cards. If you want to add a printer, you hop online and download the driver while simultaneously hooking up the hardware, loading a new toner cartridge, filling the thing with paper, and printing out 78 pages of your last epistle to Wendy's about their customer service.

But for some reason, the people who make TV's, DVD players, tuner/receivers, cable boxes, and stereo speakers -- for some reason, those people can't make components that work together harmoniously. And you can't buy an old-fashioned tube-filled TV for love nor money, even though that's the thing that you know how to work.

I also blame the sellers of these new TV's, the people who are purposefully misleading me into thinking that what I see in the showroom will appear in my home. Those people don't sell service with the TV's -- they sell those services at additional costs. And they never tell you everything you need to know. Like, "This TV won't show your widescreen DVD's in anything approaching widescreen, especially not if the feed is coming from your new DVD player."

I swear, if I weren't so fond of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Top Chef," I swear I could give up TV entirely. I'm exhausted. I'm worn down. I have actually cried real tears while trying to get the "help desk" people to actually HELP me. Ten and a half days of wrestling with this garbage is ten and a half days too many. I didn't spend all that money to be this unhappy.

So I hate new TV technology. I want to kill or destroy new TV technology. And I am going to write some stinging letters, too, let me tell you. Those wretched manufacturers are going to get an earful, and I can't wait to give it to them.

In the meantime, could someone please send me updates about Top Chef? I'm going to go into withdrawal; I just know it.


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