Sadly Converted


Urgency Day 465

antenna sadly stowed

500 Things Item 36: Mini-TV

  • Bought post 9/11 during emergency-prep hysteria
  • Sam used briefly as a much-too-small gaming-monitor
  • Post-digital conversion, basically a shiny paper weight
  • Yard sale

Ah, rabbit ears.

My whole life, I have enjoyed having a TV with rabbit ears. My very first TV was a teeny tiny black and white Panasonic with rabbit ears and these five cool sliding adjusters like on a sound board in a music studio. I could “fine-tune” every setting from volume to contrast. Best of all, it made an awesome prop for playing Star Trek.

Remember how the 23rd century was going to have toggle switches?

Crappy reception aside, except for the cost of a cheap portable and a bit of electricity, it was free TV.

Remember free TV?

I just paid $100 for a month of what is basically a fancy SpongeBob receptacle. WTF?

I bought the teeny tiny TV pictured above back in the aughts, when we were convinced that anthrax and dirty bombs would be raining from the sky any minute. We were instructed to go shopping, and while we were shopping, just pick up a three month supply of non-perishable food, bottled water and enough duct tape to hermetically seal our houses. And don’t forget the kiddies. They might like a little SpongeBob during the apocalypse.

That’s where this teeny tiny TV was going to save my family. You see, it has the option of being battery operated! If the local TV stations were still heroically broadcasting through a grid-compromising emergency, I would by-god pull ‘em in.

It wasn’t even necessary for us to wait for a full-on terrorist attack. We could legitimately expect to use this little gem during a D.C. snowpocalypse (or what Mid-westerners call “winter”) or when a summer thunderstorm warning actually lived up to the Accu-weather hype. It had happened, it would happen again, and my family would sail through a power outage informed and entertained.

I wasn’t really all that bothered that the TV sat unopened in the box for 4 years before we moved and then another 3 after we relocated. I would occasionally remember to replace the stand-by batteries which would have been pilfered for Gameboys, digital cameras and other AA battery-operated devices. That was fine, normal even. To be expected.

What I did not expect was for the government to render my teeny tiny battery-operated pull-out antenna TV, not to mention a huge chunk of my lifelong entertainment style, obsolete.

On June 12, 2009, the federal government mandated that

all broadcast signals be digitally formatted.

No more rabbit ears.

No more fuzzy I Love Lucy. No more countless UHF repeats of Cheers or M*A*S*H. No more dripping toothpaste down my pj’s as I strained to make out the non-Weather Channel weather person’s gestures and grimaces and charts on my tiny bathroom telly. End of an era. End of free TV.

Did I hear someone mention “digital-to-analog converter boxes”?

In Great Britain, there is a word—well, we have it too, but it’s so much more polite in their accent– used to describe something that doesn’t quite live up to expectations. It’s “shite.” And those boxes are. Complete shite.

I do still have a little portable TV in my bathroom. It’s one of those TV/DVD player-combos. Paul, bless his heart, is so tired of walking in to the umpteenth viewing of Friends on DVD.

I blame the government.


3 Responses to “Sadly Converted”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Remember our “kit?” It was six bottles of wine and a bag of M&Ms. And I still laugh when I remember Allison’s husband bought a case of spaghetti oh’s. Can you imagine being duct taped inside with them? Eek.

  2. sthibeault Says:

    What would your post-children kit include? I’m thinking you were on to something with the wine. And the chocolate. Were they peanut M&Ms? They count as a protein.

  3. boysgonewild Says:

    My post kid kit would take up the entire stinking basement, but absolutely would require several, SEVERAL, bottles of wine. Can you imagine being stuck in the house for weeks with your own children? Simply terrifying.

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