Lame Adventure 425: TV Tales

Unlike my friends and family, I would prefer to watch a squirrel in a tree eat its breakfast scone than watch TV. But perhaps, my friends and family would enjoy watching that squirrel if it were on TV. Maybe even the squirrel would like to be on TV, if it was paid in scones.

It's a good day to be a scone-loving squirrel.

Let’s negotiate a rate in foodstuffs.

The expense of TV irks me. Last year, my cable TV provider increased the cost of service. With taxes and fees I would be paying about $110 for hundreds of TV stations I had no interest in watching. As much as I hated forfeiting the few stations I liked, I refused to shell out over a grand a year for a service I watched scant hours a week, often in a semi-coma. So, I pulled the cable plug. My TV-loving friend, Milton, the unofficial advocate for the TV industry, suggested I purchase an RCA digital TV antenna to still view the major broadcast networks. I thought that idea was brilliant. When I hooked the antenna to my TV, I could only access snow. We learned that my TV was obsolete and incompatible with the antenna. Minus that costly cable hookup, my 86-pound set was reduced to the electronic equivalent of a beached whale rotting in my apartment.

For about a year I streamed TV onto my computer via Aereo, an $8 subscription service that the Supreme Court put out of business last month with a ruling that Aereo was basically committing theft. As much as I personally disagreed with that ruling, I knew the networks had a very solid case. Once Aereo shuttered, I considered buying a new TV, if only to use my RCA antenna to watch the broadcast networks.  Then, the people that manage my building informed me that they would be vacationing in Poland for three weeks.

Building Manager: Is there anything you’d like us to do for you before we leave?

Me (light bulb to self): Here’s my opportunity to unload the 86-pound eyesore!

Now living in a landfill.

For services rendered: next stop, a landfill.

Over the July 4th weekend, I researched TV models. I concluded that a 32-inch Samsung Smart TV would fit my needs. Recently, I visited my neighborhood Best Buy store where an affable dude sporting a hickey only the size of Topeka sold me a set that fits within the confines of my budget: cheap. Even though the box was a tad cumbersome, it was light affording me to carry it home on the bus. I appreciated that fellow passengers did not seem to detest me too rabidly for traveling with a space-hogging parcel.

Much more portable than its heavy as a boulder predecessor.

Much more portable than its heavy as a boulder predecessor.

Setting up my smart TV proved a bit problematic. My decade old Apple Airport Express is borderline obsolete. In addition, when I was reciting its serial number to Apple’s automated prompt, my iPhone somehow called my across the street neighbor. She texted me about this. I explained what happened, but I have the sinking feeling that she thinks I’m an orifice, and not the ear canal.

Thanks to Jeff at Apple Support, he walked me though a few adjustments in a configuration that resulted in compatibility. Something else wonderful Jeff let me do was revise my wireless password. For ten years, it had been the name of a former friend’s cat, an animal that has long since died. At the time I named it after that cat, at the former friend’s insistence, had I known I would be stuck living with that cat’s name as my wireless password in perpetuity, I would have put a tad more thought into this.

When I set up my digital antenna, I was dismayed to discover that I could only access four obscure stations in New Jersey. After nine more tries, I was able to access ABC, provided I place the antenna on a pillow on my bed while shaking my right knee and positioning my left thumb at a right angle. When I blinked, I lost access to the four obscure stations in New Jersey. I suspect that this antenna could be challenging for the long haul, or until Milton visits and tries to work his magic on it. One thing I do not want to do is pay for cable ever again.

I accepted my friend Beagle’s generous offer to sponge off her Amazon Prime i.d. as long as I promise that I will refrain from ordering porn. Fair enough.

Einstein, the Smart TV getting ready to show off.

My Smart TV ready to flaunt its inner Einstein.

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65 responses to “Lame Adventure 425: TV Tales

  1. The airwaves monopoly can be a challenge. Streaming PBS on my iPad mini has been an entertInment savior.

    Thanks for all the antenna tips.

    R.

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  2. Condolences. I was just visiting Best Buy in NJ yesterday and purchased a new smart TV as well. As I am more inept than you I fear, I forked over the extra cash to have them set up everything. They are hauling away our 95 pound Sharp TV that predates my now gainfully employed 22 year old son. I feel your pain.

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    • Considering that my TV weighs about as much as a cantaloupe, I decided I would throw caution to the wind and set it up myself, but I did channel my friends, Milton and Coco, for assistance with the Internet problem only Apple could solve. That made a fifteen minute setup take fifteen hours.

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      • God bless your perseverance. We have a family motto (developed early in our married life when we used to do a lot DIY projects): it always takes longer than you expected. Our calculus was double the suggested “time it will take to complete this project” and add 2 hours.

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  3. Sounds like one Best Buy customer will soon be returning a 32 inch Samsung! Too big an investment for someone who would rather watch squirrels have breakfast in trees!

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    • Hm, could a certain TV watching cheer leader be trying to start TV-return rumors just because I prefer chance encounters with scone-munching squirrels and writing my own drivel to feigning consciousness while watching drivel on the airwaves?

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  4. I empathize. Our TV life has changed. We were Dish owners since 1997. Several times, we cancelled and resubscribed with either my name or Melanie in order to get upgrades and better pricing. Last spring, we cut the cord for the last time. We bought a Roku and use our internet service now. Netflix and Hulu are a lot cheaper. We also have an antenna. It is in the attic. So, no pornographic activity is involved in getting it into the right position for pleasurable TV watching.

    One more thing, we also got rid of a 84 lb monster set. Finally…

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    • I appreciate the advances in technology, but I miss the days when all you had to do was plug it in and turn it on. I miss those days most when setting it up, but the picture quality is quite impressive.

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      • The technology I appreciate the most is the remote, especially the mute button. 😳

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        • Yes, the remote and the mute button are two of the greatest inventions this side of the wheel and stretch fabric. But, I wish there was a way to activate a pinging sound when the remote is misplaced.

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          • Great idea. Try a lanyard around your neck to keep it in sight. Or, one of those long retractable dog leashes. Push the button and it comes zooming right back to you. Plus, no need to pick up poop in a plastic bag. Gross!

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            • How did we go from my wanting to be able to find my remote via a search ping to not need to pick up poop in a plastic bag? But, whoever invents either would likely hold a patent as valuable as the one for whoever invented indoor plumbing.

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  5. Is there any chance that squirrel will be getting his own reality show?

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  6. We resisted the HD movement for a long time until Peter finally succumbed while out shopping for Christmas presents a couple of years ago. Like you, V, I don’t watch TV much at all. When I do, it’s a favorite show that we record on the DVR (Elementary) as I’m usually very busy during the week and don’t want to be tied to the network’s schedule. DVR is nice for that. Hope you enjoy the new Smart TV and I’ll keep my eyes open for squirrel shows!

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    • I loved the DVR option with Aereo, Cathy! If I wanted DVR again now, I would have to shell out another king’s ransom to my cable company. If I can get that antenna to work better, I will learn to be content with living with less. What I save on not shelling out for TV I can divert to attending the theater. I am a live entertainment enthusiast whether it be squirrels in trees or stars on the boards.

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  7. SWEET! ‘
    FYI–you can’t get great porn on Amazon Prime, FYI.

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  8. We bought a smart TV which appeared to be smarter than us. After a few weeks, we figured it out. I love how cable, Netflix, etc, can be shared now!
    Do you have it set up in front of your bike?

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  9. Sorry! Not cable, Showtime, HBO and the gang can be shared.

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  10. Wow, ditching the old black & white, huh? I thought you’d hang onto it for a couple more eons. All those memories of Ed Sullivan and Twilight Zone on their way to the landfill? How sad.
    I bought a cheap HD antenna and can get about four stations. Solid Signal sells one on-line that is supposed to reach stations 100 miles away. It cost $120, which is less than two months of Direct TV. I’ve been threatening to switch forever, but can’t seem to quit procrastinating.

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    • Ha! That behemoth was circa 2001. Shortly after I plugged it in, Russell, the HD revolution was well underway. Solid Signal, eh? That might be worth the investment. Coco says that a truly Smart TV would be one that could score a user all the cable stations for free. I so like the way she thinks.

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  11. I got rid of my cable service last month too! The last price increase just made me realize how little I watch and how expensive it is for how little I watch. I bought my digital antenna and it works like a charm. I get about 25 channels. I also signed up for the Netflix streaming service and we’ll see how that goes.
    In the meantime, you have a very lovely blank TV. Maybe this will be your new clothes hanger now that you use the bike regularly!

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    • We need to talk antennas and pie (together at last!). I recently took your advice and visited Four and Twenty Blackbirds for a slice of your highly recommended salted caramel apple. You know pie, pal!

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      • I’m so glad you liked the pie! I also highly recommend their strawberry rhubarb, if you like that sort of thing.
        Have you ever had the pie at Bubby’s? Was walking by Franklin Street last week (Isn’t that near The Grind?) Maybe we can get lunch some Friday soon.

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        • I am quite sure that I had strawberry rhubarb once several years ago and I liked it. I have eaten at Bubby’s, but I don’t recall trying their pie. Yes, it is a short walk from The Grind. I would be completely on board having a pie for lunch with you on a Friday in the near future!

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  12. We have a service here in the UK, LA, called Freeview, which I have. There are about 70ish channels available (but not all of the time), plus some radio stations, plus some other channels which aren’t free. The receiver isn’t free, and neither is the TV (one-off payments), and we have to pay a TV licence (monthly, in my case).
    I like watching squirrels also.

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    • Freeview sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me, Tom. Cable is a money pit and I only tuned into about six of the hundreds of stations available to me. It would take me days on end just to know what was available to me. I am easily overwhelmed — and bored. The squirrels are my idea of entertaining.

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  13. Oh, Virginia! I feel the same way about TV. Why pay for a bunch of channels you never watch? Somehow I was tricked into getting cable again. I know! Don’t ask me how I fell for it. The thing is I was a tad excited excited about getting TV again (we only had had Netflix and Hulu). But, get this, they didn’t give me the ONE channel I wanted. AMC! The bastards. And since I got cable, I’ve hardly watched it at all, so I’m going to cancel it. It’s such a pain for them to come in, etc. Ask me if I feel bad? NOT!

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  14. In my attempts to catch up on long-overdue blog reading, yours was a top priority! Let me just say that reading this post was much better entertainment than any television show I’ve watched recently. We’ve just returned from two months away where the only television we watched were the major tennis matches and World Cup soccer … the latter being a serious snooze, IMHO. My husband’s first call after our arrival home yesterday was to cancel our cable, which we had suspended during our absence. I see we’re in good company!

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    • Welcome back, Patricia! Awwwwwwwww, such flattery!

      Ironically, ABC turned into ESPN on Sunday after I set up my new TV, so I got the World Cup soccer final. Serious snooze-fest. But I’m with you about tennis. It’s my (and Milton’s) favorite sport. I’m hoping that I might be able to watch US Open tennis on my TV via the Open’s web site. This will prove my set’s intellect.

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  15. You know, V I think the cable thing is everyone’s nemesis. What is the deal and what are all those extra charges? Does anyone really know? Even when a “customer service rep” has tried to explain, I still don’t know and I don’t think he/she does either.

    Yet, we (yourself excluded) keep subscribing to it. I threaten all the time to just not have cable but I do love some shows, but not that many. I too was one of those that would not budge for years on end (used rabbit ears) and then moved to a place where I couldn’t get reception with those ears, so I caved. People keep telling me that they now stream Netflix. It’s all exhausting but I’m glad you got you a spiffy new tv and bravo for carting it on the train. It looks as big as you are. I’d like to see a pic of you carting that up and down the street!

    I don’t know what Amazon i.d. is either. I just want to press the button and make it work. HA.

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    • Oh, the days of TV set plug and play seem long gone, Brig! Frankly, I’d rather spend the money I used to sink into cable on attending the theater. Beagle has Amazon Prime which was preloaded on my set. I put in her i.d. and the next thing I knew I was watching Bad Santa, my all-time favorite holiday film, in July.

      I assure you that that box was light. No way would I have carried a whale home on a bus at this stage in the game. I’m only partially insane.

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  16. I am so confused, tell me again why does the TV need to be smart? I am still trying to get my phone to talk to me, the Gods know I don’t want the TV to talk to me beyond the talking heads that seem to pop up when I turn it on. You are braver than I my friend, that is all I can say.

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  17. You sure are one tough do-it-yourselfer. I can’t imagine carrying a 32″ TV in its box and catch the public transit in NYC… and, installing it all yourself. Just curious to know how long your old TV remained on the street before it was gone?

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    • Even though the box was big, Arti, it wasn’t heavy, somewhere between ten and fifteen pounds. I didn’t pull any precious bodily parts carrying it. I made my purchase on a Saturday when the bus wasn’t crowded. I even got a seat. As for my old TV, I saw it on the street when I returned home Friday night. When I stepped outside to purchase its successor the sanitation department had already picked it up so it was on its way to the landfill. Granted, not the most dignified ending.

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  18. Is the TV smart enough to find a show worth watching?

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  19. Hopefully ABC’s lineup treats you well (for the time being)! I haven’t had TV for awhile now, but Hulu & Amazon Prime have been serving me fairly well. Mostly it’s awesome you got to reset your wireless password – did you select a new feline for the honor?

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    • Sarah, I was very pleased that my wireless password is no longer the name of a long dead cat of a former acquaintance. As much as I like cats, I’m deathly allergic to them, so my new password is highly non-allergenic.

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  20. Large electronics make for fun rides! When I lived in NYC, I schlepped a HEAVY laser printer from Best Buy to my place through a combination of subway and bus. But I think New Yorkers are more used to that sort of things.

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    • Hey Bernardo, as a fan of self-preservation (in particular the preservation of my back and joints), I prefer to schlep lightweight take-out electronics that are easy to navigate on public transit. Thanks for visiting and for commenting! I hope your heavy laser printer is still active.

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  21. Amazing the lightness of today’s TVs … Meanwhile, I imagine you will get things working in a “good enough manner” for your needs in a short time.

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  22. It’s a brave new televisual world. Amazon prime: we are besotted with it. Here you can buy all the Swedish Noir you want, unlike any other television service in the UK. Enjoy!

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