Friday, June 19, 2009

God, Life and Everything - "TV Snow"

I write a biweekly column called "God, Life, and Everything" for the Hudson Valley News. The title reflects the broad scope I want to take.  Everything in life falls under the eye of God, and if we watch carefully, we can catch a glimpse of God in it all.

Last Friday night I got an e-mail from my friend Harry Goodpeoples.  “You okay?” he wrote.  “I was worried.”  Good old Harry, always thinking of his friends.

But for the life of me, I couldn’t think what he’d be worried about.  I got on Facebook and noticed that he was online, so I instant messaged him.

“Hi, why shouldn’t I be okay?” I typed.  After a moment his response appeared in the lower right-hand corner of my screen.

“Knew you didn’t have a converter box.  Wanted to know if you were surviving the switch.”  I scratched my head over this one.  Harry must have had a really bad day, because he wasn’t making sense.

“What switch?  What converter box?”  You could almost hear him sigh over the wires.

“Your TV.  Today was the day analog was turned off.  Television is all digital now. If you don’t have a new TV or a converter box, you get no TV.”


“Go check.”  I left the computer and fired up the old Zenith.  Once the vacuum tubes were glowing, the screen came to life, and I noticed the snow.  Son of a gun, there was no picture.  I flicked through the channels and found only one show - a snowy man explaining how to hook up the converter box.

Back at the computer I tapped, “When did that happen?”

“This morning,” wrote Harry.  “Are you surviving without TV?”  I looked back at the Zenith.

“You know,” I wrote.  “The snow is much clearer now.  I think I like digital.”

“But what about the shows?” complained Harry.  “What about Monster Garage or American Idol or Lost or Nurse Jackie?”

Harry was speaking a foreign language.  You have to understand, the last television series I followed was Mork and Mindy.  Somewhere in the late 70s, I lost track of the TV and never managed to get back into the groove.  Oh, I’ve seen the occasional Northern Exposure or Seinfeld, but totally missed the Sex and the City boat and couldn’t begin to tell you what’s on today.

Is my life any less fulfilled because of that?

People are constantly amazed that we have two adolescent sons and still don’t have cable TV.  We haven’t had it in fifteen years, and even then it was mostly for the Weather Channel.  Oddly enough, they’re turning out to be pretty normal.  They have friends, they do okay in school, they play on sports teams.  Hmmm.

So what do we do with all that time we have?  Well, admittedly, we have computers in the house.  We have internet access and use it daily.  Sometimes, we’ll even instant message each other from across the house, though that’s more for fun than any perceived need.

The rest of the time we watch movies together (I never said we didn’t have a DVD), play games, read, or even take a walk.  And the boys climb trees.  Remember climbing trees?  Heck, sometimes I climb a tree with them.  Oh, and we eat dinner together.  At a table.  Every night.  Like a family.

A note from Harry appeared at the bottom of my screen.  “It’s not just you I’m worried about.  Millions lost their signals today.  What will they do?”

The flickering Zenith caught my attention.  Its snow really did look crisper now.  Maybe this switch from analog to digital isn’t the disaster some imagine.  Maybe that crisp snow would inspire others to get off their couches and live a little.  

I turned back to the computer and typed.  “I’m sure they’ll manage.”