–>Note: This post has lots of hyperlinks to previous entries scattered about. Still haven’t found the best way to denote them. Look for a brown color, if you can see that well (Ctrl + increases screen size!).

Once again, and despite all efforts toward frugality, I have been dragged into the 21st century and found (yet again) that things really can improve over the span of 20 years or so (and I propped up our economy a bit)…

Latest example is my TV: 20 years old, works ok except the ‘0’ and the forward buttons on the remote and the antenna (broken off and just stuck back in), which meant you couldn’t get all channels all the time.

The DVR was starting to crap out (instruction manual does not say “To remove a disk just lift equipment 1/2 inch and drop”).

My failed attempt at trying the cheap frugal route to the digital conversion was a disaster. And then I started watching missed shows on my teeny tiny laptop screen, and the size aside, the resolution rocked. The more I saw (even on that tiny screen) the more I realized how crappy dated my setup had become.

To further this perfect storm, I had an unexpectedly huge temporary loan to the government tax refund. Then you add in the fact that I have genes from my father’s family, which has had the year of the camcorder, the year of the digital camera, the year of the i-Phone, plus each kid’s adult’s own favorite toys, from pipe organ to slide scanner. I come from good geek stock.

As you may know I have also been on the poverty plan for past 2 months (not to be confused with the ‘poverty preparation plan,’ in which some measures are taken but which is nothing as draconian as the real poverty plan). I was like a dieter who goes on a binge. Not that I would know about a diet, since I don’t believe in them (which shows) but anyhoo.

I “ended up with” an LG Dare phone, which I’ve been craving for the camera (seriously). It’s like an i-Phone without the  data plan, which I didn’t want.  Sold the old phone on Craigslist to a frazzled young mom.

Got a 37″ LCD HD TV, which I can see from my dining room. I’ll probably be able to see it from the front lawn should I ever want to. The refresh rate is a bit slow (they changed the recommended standard for refresh rates just after I bought-sigh) but I don’t game or watch sports so I hope it’s more of a user-error setup issue.

I also got a DVR with a 160 GB hard drive that’s not a tivo that I don’t have to pay for “subscribe to” but that can pause live tv like a tivo (while recording on the hard drive I think).

No more worrying about disk space, no more worn – out – disks – that – you – don’ t – know – are – dead – until – your – recording – fails. And for the real geeks among us: It’s got a1080p upconverter if you use HDMI cables!

Suweet!

Did you know TVs don’t come with antennas anymore? Yeah, go figure. How stupid is that?! I had to get (the much under-estimated piece of the whole digital “experience”) a $50 antenna…that comes with its own remote. As do both the TV and the HDD/DVR.

So 3 remotes just to watch “Antiques Roadshow”?! Ridiculous.

But I will say that the setup was easy enough that (unlike the DVR / RF modulator / TV debacle of 2006) and I even have “cable phobia” (not literally, but they do bug the hell out of me because they are uncontrollable and just wire-y), yet I did it.

Despite the money spent, the learning curve, the rationalizations and the guilt because even though I didn’t over-consume for the last 10 years and the new cultural zeitgeist (Oooh I’ve never used that in a sentence!) is to be frugal (i.e.-pay off your credit cards!),  it is so far, SO worth it.

Rationalization Case in point: there was a great graphic-y, extremely visually attractive – that’d – be – great – even – without – HD digital tv, well-composed commercial. And as god is my witness, I teared up. It was beautiful. I can’t even tell you what the commercial was for, but there were a lot of old-fashioned student chairs, all perfectly aligned.

It was frightening too, because then I thought: What if I start watching commercials and reality shows, all because they’re so “pretty”??? So I have been careful.

And don’t get me started about the PBS show Monarch, which showed off the Queen’s bling in one episode. OMG. More almost-tears.

Now I have some of my “regular” shows recorded to the hard drive, so I can skip commercials, and Monarch is over. Plus, who the hell has time to watch tv when you start a new job?!

And to quote Ellen de Generes (from today’s show on the hard drive) “Money buys you ‘things’ and things…make you happy.” All I can say is that they all better last a good 20 years.

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