You can convert my tv, but you can’t convert me

Yesterday, Congress refused to extend the deadline to switch over from regular signals that have served us well since the dawn of the 50's to the new digital signals.  Do I sound bitter?

Yes, yes I am bitter. Ledcat and I do not have cable.  It isn't a noble gesture of anti-consumerism.  It is a practical reality based on our priorities. I'd rather pay for high speed (no, we don't watch tv online) and she'd rather go to concerts.  We both prefer to enjoy the occasional nice restaurant and pay for gas. And student loans (sigh). It doesn't make us noble or snobby, just a little less up on pop culture. 

We ordered those damn rebate coupons and didn't realize they expire.  While they are bright and shiny, we figured we had until the deadline to buy the damn boxes.  So I tried to order a replacement. No dice.  Ledcat's Mom bought us one box for the holidays.  Then I had to buy a new power strip.  Then we realized we lost channels.  Well, we did gain all those sub WPXI channels, including Retro Television Network for which there is no schedule anywhere in the universe, but we lost ABC/WTAE completely.  Bye, bye Penn State and Oscars.  WQED comes and goes, perhaps related to the pledge drive follow through?  CBS/KDKA is in box format and fizzes out, most frequently during the news.  WPXI is great so I believe Medium will once again become my favorite show.  Sorry, The Mentalist.  It was nice, but your leading lady reminds me of a cricket and kind of creeps me out so maybe it wasn't meant to be.

So we have to buy another box for our upstairs television.  We already have a power strip so that's a savings.  We only get two stations upstairs so that's sort of a crap shoot. 

People using get rather defensive when we mention that we don't have cable.  It isn't a hair shirt, people.  Peek into my debit card receipts and you'd see plenty of ways I blow $$ on my own steam.  If I bothered to save those receipts.  See?  That's not very budget conscious.  But I've noticed that half of people who learn about our cable free lives immediately try to convert us to suscribe to Comcast or the Dish Network, even shoving coupons off on us.  This is usually followed by some story about the cable/dish going out right in the middle of Grey's Anatomy (did anyone catch Ireland Baldwin diss her Dad by saying she watches Grey's Anatomy instead of his show?  Pretty funny retaliation and with a lovely smile, too!).  And bemoaning the cost. 

The other half openly admit they are addicted, blame it on the kids/spouses/live in parents and stare me down with a defiant look challenging me to cast the first stone.  No stones here, honey.  I'm not a parent, but I can't imagine forking over $100/month when there is plenty of interesting television on regular network television for children, spouses and live in parents.  There's even a $16 cable package available from Comcast that takes the edge off and saves a lot of money.

Still, I can handle a few defensive friends and strangers who question my sanity/self-righteousness when this topic comes up.  I'm not pleased that the Government is forcing me to make this switch and spend this money.  I'm especially not happy that people most vulnerable are getting screwed by this process since the friggin coupons have run out.  I work in the human services sector and no one from the Government ever called me to make sure I am helping my folks get boxes and coupons.  Now it is too late.  Buying a $50 box (the cheap ones don't work) is a hefty investment on a fixed income.  Plus, the potential need for extension cords and/or power strips. 

So if you have a coupon and don't need it, please send to me.  I have a host of folks (not me!) who don't have a box at all.  If you have a box you aren't going to use b/c you succumbed and got cable, send it to me please. 

And please stop trying to convert me to cable. 


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  • A couple (3? 4?) years ago, we looked at our growing pile of purchased-but-not-watched DVDs, the 25 year old 19″ color TV, and went out to buy a “larger” CRT TV. Since the aim was to watch the DVDs (we had no cable) we ended up getting a 16:9 HDTV TV that happened to have a (rare at the time) built-in HD tuner. With the same rabbit ears, we went from 1.5 channels to 12! Of course – they were “three of KDKA, three of WPXI and on good days three of Ch.22, and three of Ch.53, neither of which we could pick up with the analog TVs, even in the 3rd floor front window with a tunable set of rabbit ears. Of course, back then, it was all the same programming too! 1: analog 2: HD 3: SD No “'traffic and weather” sub-channels, no retro TV.
    Finally I could watch CSI without squinting thru a snowstorm, and promptly decided that maybe that was one show I didn't want to see in High-def.
    When some cable customers in the area lost signal during key football games during the last superbowl run, we didn't notice a thing. With the new TV, when the dig … it …. al sig nal …. st . ops… we can change back to analog. I will miss that ability.
    Interestingly, I've never had anyone try to get me to buy cable (or satellite TV) that wasn't an employee of said company specifically tasked with that duty.
    Tivo, on the other hand, seems to have totally rabid “can't live without it!” fans who are only mollified that we don't have a tivo by the fact that we didn't have cable.

  • “the cheap ones don't work”
    this makes absolutely no sense. they will work.
    also people like you are the reason technology is so far behind what it could be.

  • That's a pretty ironic comment considering I've been blogging for over three years and clearly utilize a lot of current technology.
    If you fail to understand “the cheap ones don't work” where I am referring to inexpensive converter boxes, I cannot assist you. It seems clear to me. There is ample evidence (use “the Google” technology) online that the boxes range in quality. I can also attest to personal anecdotal reports from friends who also need a box, but you'll have to take my word on that.

  • man you're a moron. you're old and out of touch. i don't care if you blog or twitter or whatever, it doesn't matter. the fact that you said analog transmissions have been serving us well since the 50s makes anything you say automatically worthless. why bother with cellular telephone transmissions? why bother try anything new/faster/better, if the current way is “just fine”
    glad you saved some cash on already owning a power strip, seems like you are really technologically savvy!

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