They got me. They wore me down. I’m weary. I’m worn. I’m caving. I’m going against my conscience and my wallet for the sake of convenience.

Background: I had vowed to let my 19-year old, 19″ tv die a natural death. It works great, and the only thing that’s wrong is that the up arrow and the “0” on the remote don’t work, and the tv antenna holder thingy (that’s kind of technical, I know) is broken, so the reception is dicey. But it’s okay. It works fine.

<long preface: My last tv-related purchase was traumatic. My VCR died (after ~15 years) and I was really going to replace it with another one (and this was 2 years ago). But instead I got a DVR because a co-worker convinced me (correctly) that DVDs were the way to go.

I don’t collect movies or anything. I just record stuff on DVD, watch it, then erase it. I also have a movie of my grandparents that my uncle transferred from (whatever technology was in the 1930s).

So I decided to get the DVR. It was as cheap as the VCR and both my colleague and the Radio Shack guy independently recommended the same model, so I took that as my clue and got it.

Unfortunately, my TV is old and nobody estimated the hell I’d go through to connect that damn thing.


  • several days
  • 4 intelligent people
  • 3 trips to Radio Shack
  • 5 (FIVE) “instructional” drawings that were all wrong (sorry guys)

between Grace and me, we finally managed to connect:

  • the DVR
  • the RF modulator, despite different terminology between the DVR and RF modulator instructions (ex: the names of ports didn’t match between documents because 1 was translated from Chinese and 1 was translated from Korean; I love our global economy…)
  • the antenna
  • the TV

Can you imagine if I had cable too?! My god, I would’ve dug a hole in the back yard and hidden in it.

I’m sorry but it just shouldn’t to be this hard. Look at this cluster — it’s ridiculous!!

RF Modulator (don’t know what it even is, don’t care); See that masking tape on the very left? That’s to tape the box down because it’s so back-heavy with all the freakin’ cables that it kept falling behind the TV.

(back of DVR with part of RF mod. to the left)

(the cables)

(all for this)

I didn’t even try to add my stereo to that mess (which plays DVDs but doesn’t record them and I don’t want stereo sound while watching TV — I’m nervous enough without booming bass).

Finally, though, I had an acceptable picture, and could record with the DVR. The reception was still kind of – um – “variable,” but on a windless day when you turn the antenna just the right direction and don’t sit on the chair or watch channel 9, it’s great. end of long preface>

Alas, I could not enjoy this peace for long.

Now we have the overly-hyped much vaunted digital tv conversion, which I’m sure you’ve heard about on every tv station including the TV Guide channel.

“All I’ll need” (I’m let to believe by every source) is a converter box, which the government is subsidizing. OK, fine. I might as well get something from my taxes besides a war.

Mostly, though, I decided to get the converter box because I just want to keep using my tv and not buy a new one. WIth the exception of the remote, and the reception it works fine. And it was going to be so easy. “All I had to do” was get the conversion box.

<side note: If you’ve read more than one post here, you know I’m a gadget whore who’s trying so hard not to indulge, so I have to work extra hard to not buy the newest/greatest, so I could have used the “digital conversion” as an excuse darn good reason to go for it).>

Anyway, I got my coupon and went to OK Buy the other day and got my converter box. Well, of COURSE it turns out I don’t “just” need the converter box, I also need a new antenna (for reasons that are still not entirely clear) (and did you know antennas ALSO require power now?) Yep, more cables!!!

So I pinned the OK Buy guy to the wall to find out how to integrate the antenna, converter box, DVR, RF modulator oh yeah, and the TV. “Well, you just plug the <whatever> into the <whatever> and all that goes into the <whatever>.” (Don’t worry; I wrote it all down.)

What bullsh$$ that turned out to be.

I tried. I really did. But I couldn’t even, ahem (this is kind of embarrassing) – get the antenna to improve the sucky picture. It got worse with the new antenna.

At that point I still hadn’t opened the converter box, but had searched at length on the web for installation with my particular combination, which of course nobody covers. And I can search the web pretty well, BTW. Oh, AND I read that the conversion box has to be programmed and has its own interface and remote.

That was at the point, when the new antenna sucked worse than my broken one and I found out I had to do more set up and have 3 remotes to do a simple thing, that I decided, “I surrender. They got me. I’ll buy a new damn TV. OK, big box stores? OK, Mr. Stimulus Package? Ok, FCC and Deficit Reduction Act of 2005*** (bill that mandated this “transition”)? I’ll buy a new freakin’ tv.”

I probably have 40 years left to live, tops. My family has a history of heart problems. I have a life to live, weeds to pull, books to avoid reading (This summer’s reading for punishment). I’m not spending my life trying to figure out cables and connections. No.

Once I gave up surrendered, I felt better. I felt relieved. The struggle was over. I unplugged the antenna, re-packaged it, and started doing preliminary research on friggin’ digital tvs.

Everything is now back the way it was, and guess what? The reception is better than it has ever been. Sure, I’m effed in February, but I figure either:

  • TV prices will go down (right?)
  • I’ll get a huge tax refund (HA!).
  • I’ll give up TV. (no more Boston Legal, Women’s Murder Club, Life? Yeah, right)
  • I’ll resign myself to getting a fatter ass and just get cable (and a mini-fridge, porta-potty for the living room, and move the phone back in here) and grow roots into the couch.

So now I have to research the new tv (they START at ~$700. and that’s NOT for a big one), figure out how to get rid of a perfectly good tv, get an HDxx cable to do something, a new antenna (for ~$800. I’m gonna have to spend you can’t give me a freakin’ antenna?!), and probably other surprises that await me when I get wherever I’m going.

SHI*! I just realized I have to mount it to a wall that backs to the outside (brick of course).

That island with books and music and Ted Drewes is looking better by the moment (See Increase your blog traffic by…).

***And what the hell does “opening the broadcast spectrum” have to with deficit reduction anyway?!

P.S.: I’ll be putting my old tv on Craigslist soon, so let me know if you’re interested in it, and the RF modulator, and the 400 freakin’ cables.