July 31, 2009

Let's Talk About Less Than Stellar Reception

We're a one-income family here at the Cleaver compound, so we try to economize any way we can. The Mister is an expert coupon cutter, and we scour the grocery store ads each week for bargains. We don't eat out often, and our entertainment budget is virtually non-existent.

We are faithful members of the library (even though we pay for that privilege); gone are the days when I leisurely walked the aisles of Borders or Barnes & Noble for a good read.

Another way we've economized is not getting
cable television or satellite. We have a lovely flat screen TV that is mainly used for viewing DVDs.

Before the switchover to digital, our antenna picked up a few channels - reception was snowy and basically unsatisfactory. So I did all my TV viewing online: abc.com, hulu.com, fox.com.

When the digital switchover occurred, I re-programmed the set and got a glimpse of TV in all its digital splendor (I know I heard a chorus of angels, it was THAT good).

I was determined to watch my favorite guilty pleasure show, The View, each morning, instead of in the evening on the Web. Here's where it gets dicey.

ABC was the channel that frustrated me most - when there was a program on that I had no interest in, the reception was wonder
ful. But as soon as The View's opening music started, the picture would flake out.

One thing I noticed right away about digital TV: Local TV news anchorpeople wear LOTS of makeup - and it still doesn't hide
their flaws. I got to see them, flaws and all, displayed in 32 inches of technicolor. Scary, that.

Anyway, back to the bugaboo that was ABC in the daytime. Try as I might to adjust the antenna (which sat slightly behind the TV, on the TV stand), I could not get a consistent good result. Either the sound was choppy, or the picture would freeze, or become pixelated. I faithfully played with both the UHF and VHF portions of the antenna to improve the reception (and I used a red Sharpie on the antenna base itself to mark the location of the loop where the picture was the best). Perseverence is my middle name (no wait, it's Freaking).

I searched online (as I AM the Google Queen - but it's not my middle name, that would be too presumptuous) for solutions. I saw a YouTube video about making your own inexpensive antenn
a. Inexpensive is my middle name...no, it's not (but it felt like it at the time). The Mister bought all of the necessary supplies, and I tried to talk friends and family out of cheap dry cleaner hangers for the job. Did you know that there is a high tariff on dry cleaner hangers from China, and a cooresponding shortage of the things? You can read about that debacle here.

We went shopping and purchased some wire hangers (as Joan Crawford spun in her grave); but they were of a thicker, sturdier nature than the hangers in the video.

Nonetheless, The Mister and I forked out abo
ut $8 for supplies and followed the directions in the video and made this:

Pretty, isn't it? Wouldn't you want THAT hanging in your living room? Actually, it's already broken. The bottom right hanger is missing. Hey, we live in a trailer park, we're supposed to have broken stuff everywhere, so it's cool. I may just hang it up as a conversation piece (as long as I don't mind every conversation starting with "What the hell is THAT?").

Being as Persistence and Perseverance and Inexpensive AND Freaking are my middle names, 'WE' decided that we'd just use our existing antenna for the foreseeable future (by 'WE', I mean that big meanie, The Mister).

Still firm in my determination to watch Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck argue like fishwives (hey, if I was married to a fish, I'd be bad-tempered, too), I finally came up a workable two-step solution to my television viewing problem.

1. The Boy must sit on the rightmost cushion o
n the couch from 10am - 11am, Central Time. No bathroom breaks until a commercial - I'm strict about that.

2. I use our new "antenna stand":

It's the perfect height, and oh so portable. So what if it blocks out part of the picture...but not where I sit.

It works pretty well...until someone moves the chair to vacuum...then it's an exercise in futility to place the chair in exactly.the.same.place.

So now I can hear all of the Hot Topics of the Day, and watch the constant interrupting pleasant interaction between Whoopi, Joy, Sherri, Elisabeth, and of course, Barbara. And you know I was glad I didn't miss yesterday's video of Sherri getting her first ever bikini wax.

You know y
ou can't say you see something like that that every day of the week.

I'm looking for sofa volunteers when school starts...any takers?


  1. I think this is my favorite post. EVER.

    Not only do I adore the idea of being cheap and pulling out every last possible stop to avoid buying something (except shirts and pringles maybe, *ahem*...) but I lost it right around "What the hell is THAT?". It took me 2 minutes to gather myself and I'm still giggling.

    Oh, and...Digital is the reason why I no longer dream of being on TV. One word: PORES.

  2. You freaking crack me up! Darn sofa time mandatory, I'm so there! Love the homemade one!

  3. Who are you and how are you looking into my second story apartment? For two people to be using a foldable camping chair for the optimal antena stand is more than a mere coincidence.

    LOVED This post too! You described my battle with "better" reception perfectly.

    thank you for stopping by my blog. You will have to let me know if you end up liking Kings. I don't know if I am a good recommender and if you liked my recommendation then it would certainly validate my opinions. :o)

  4. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Sherri got a bikini wax on tv. Gross me out. I wouldn't want to see ANYONE get a bikini wax. On tv or in real life for that matter....ICK!

  5. Thanks, SingleGirl! Glad you enjoyed it. I can't help but think that TV stations will once again choose pretty over substance when picking anchorpersons.

  6. Alexa,
    It's the little ways that we torment our children that mean the most...lol

  7. CJ Sime,
    May I call you a 'chair sister'? I never thought I'd find another person who uses my lameass solution to this TV nonsense.

  8. Life with Kaishon,
    I'm just glad it was network TV and not some cable show - they might have showed the actual final result shot! Ewww!


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