Living in Society

Open Road

Open Road on the Lincoln Highway in Iowa, Sept. 8, 2012.

Sunday morning the road was clear and dry with little other traffic. While my spouse slept in the passenger seat, people attended church, and commercial traffic took a break, my mind raced with ideas about what should go next in my life. As we pressed toward our destination, there were no easy answers. The same is true for the return trip. It was a great day for driving and that had to be satisfaction enough.

During her move, my sister-in-law found an extra television and gave it to us. Its age is uncertain yet it is an early flat panel television, at least 12 years old. I brought it home and began configuring it. It will be an improvement over the tube set we had. The reason we keep cable television service is to view the weather in case of severe storms. We can’t pull in a signal with an antenna.

I discovered we have access to 119 channels. Who has time for 119 channels? I quickly learned how to control what shows up with the channel selector. The first hidden was FOX News, followed by religious ones. Next call is to the cable company to see if there is a plan that would cost less while providing access to local weather. Ten years away from television has me hating any time spent with the medium today.

We have three banker’s boxes full of movies on VHS. While connecting our Emerson VHS player to the new television I found it is on the fritz, as in it’s dead. That could be a problem. The movie industry made the last VHS cassette in 2006 and player manufacturers have moved on to other products. Walmart sold them recently, but even that source has dried up. Used and refurbished players are available on line. If I want to spend a couple hundred dollars, new ones are available combined with technology I don’t need like an additional DVD player. The world changed to online streaming and while I don’t like the idea of paying again for the same movie, technological obsolescence may force my hand.

I connected our SONY DVD player to the television and it works like new. The screen quality is good, as is sound. Over two days, to try it out, I viewed the Martin Scorsese picture No Direction Home Bob Dylan. We have a couple dozen movies on DVD, although outside our cult-like ones, like The Matrix, Blade Runner and The Lord of the Rings, I don’t envision watching most of them. I have a copy of Finding Nemo, in the unlikely event we have a person of an appropriate age over for an extended period of time. The movies our daughter watched when young are on VHS.

It is difficult to envision a return to television viewing. The next step is to turn in our tube televisions to the electronics recycling bin at the landfill. There is no going back.

It started to rain about half way home. Not enough to loosen dust on the road, and barely enough to turn on the windshield wipers. We need rain. Televisions, however, remain optional.