This weekend we bid goodbye to an old friend, a dependable friend, a friend that brought entertainment to our lives and light to our living room.
My old TV has been retired, or at least moved to the lower, less-used level of the house.
The old TV was a hand-me-down given to me when I moved out on my own in 1995. My parents had owned it for about 5 years prior. It was a generic TV from Sam’s Club, and when I say generic, I’m not kidding. It has a model number on the front, something like X5-3400 but there’s no name, brand or logo anywhere. Mom and Dad had it for about a year and it quit working, so my ultra-nerd uncle fixed it and it’s been good as generic-new ever since.
So this old TV of mine has survived 5 moves and just as many cable/dish re-installations and various accessory hook-ups. And all was fine until several months ago.
The problem started out very small. Every once in a while the picture would ever-so-slowly get grainy. After about 10-15 minutes the grain would become total snow. This snow would last anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours. Then, just as slowly as it crept in, the snow would go to grain, then the picture would clear up completely.
Since this happened so infrequently, I chalked it up to sunspots, weather, UFOs, trees in the way of the signal, a bird sitting on the dish or the feds eavesdropping on us again. So we just dealt with it. I assumed it was with the dish since the television was fine when we used the VCR or the DVD. Picture was totally clear.
But lately the grainy problem has been getting worse. It was occurring more frequently, so much so that I found myself watching less television... until Wednesday night.
Wednesday night was the season opener for Ghost Hunters. Out of ALL of the shows out there, this is the ONLY one I CANNOT miss. Sure, I like Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs, but the world has to stop Wednesday nights at 9 so I can see what spooky shit Jay and Grant encounter. I turn off my phone. I turn off the iMac. The spouse can either sit quietly next to me on the couch or, more often, go elsewhere in the house. If there’s an emergency, like the house is on fire or somebody it dying, it’ll just have to wait until 10. NOTHING can interrupt me while I’m watching Ghost Hunters.
Except for TV failure.
Sure enough, 10 minutes into the show the picture starts getting grainy. I’m on my feet and behind the set, angrily wiggling wires and checking connections. Nothing. Everything is tight, the wires are good. But my picture is getting worse. And I’m near tears in anger.
I got to see about half of the show. I got to see the weird shit they saw in Ireland but I totally missed whatever happened in London during the second half. I watched snow while steam rolled out of my ears. The spouse was safely hidden away downstairs.
The phone got turned back on. I called Dish Network. We were gonna fix this problem NOW. I was on hold for 15 minutes and finally got to talk to a human. She reset stuff from her end and I reset stuff from mine. We turned things on and off. Nothing. No improvements. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pay for fucking snow.
Finally she talks to a techy who says there must be something wrong with the actual cable that goes from the TV to the dish receiver. It could be old and the insulation could be breaking down (makes perfect sense - I had spark plug cables do the same thing in my car).
Thinking that this is the real crux of my problem, I get off the phone and proceed to start unhooking things. As I pull the TV out from the entertainment center, it bumps the shelf.
Picture. Clear. Clean. No grain. No snow.
Oh.... fuck.... that’s it? I bump the actual TV and it’s fine?! I coulda bumped this thing an hour ago and NOT missed my show?! It’s now 10:30 and I FUCKING MISSED GHOST HUNTERS!
Ok, that’s it. The spouse and I had talked about getting a hi-def flat screen a while back but backed out because the prices were crazy. Now the technology has gotten better, the prices have dropped. Now with this poor old generic thing being unpredictable... NOW is a good time to get a new one... a nice one...
We dealt with the old one for 3 more days, lifting it about an inch and dropping it to fix the continuing grain problem. This was sad... picking up and dropping the TV to make it work. Sunday we splurged: new 32” HD LCD flatscreen with a new DVD player (since we had to upgrade anyway - our old DVD, which wasn’t hi-def, was acting funny anyway). After lots of dusting, grunting and struggling with old and new components, lots of wiring and connects and disconnects, and several frustrating minutes of “What’s wrong with the DVD?! I’ve got a picture but no sound?! WHY IS THERE NO SOUND?!,” we got it working. The spouse did an excellent job of holding heavy things while I ran cables and connections.
Did I mention how beautiful it is? After everything was hooked up we just turned it on and stared while alternatingly going “...wow....” Ghost Hunters in hi-def is gonna be amazing...