Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A temporary electronic slowdown a good thing (original title)

Electronic slowdown a good thing

Published 10/31/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 10/29/2013 01:07 PM

I came downstairs this morning to my family sitting in the living room, drinking coffee and eating breakfast, while staring at a blue television screen like it was a campfire. A message on the screen read, "One moment please."
"What's up?" I asked.
"Cable's out. We're waiting for it to come back on," was the response.
My husband told the kids not to touch the TV because I would fix it when I got up. He said I know about that kind of stuff. Actually, I know nothing about that kind of stuff, but he knows even less.
So I unplugged plugs, disconnected cables and then hooked everything back up. Then I did what every trapped-in-silence and out-of-touch cable customer does, I called (1-800-my-TV-computer-and-phone aren't working). We bundled, so I used my cellphone to make the call.
The familiar female cable company voice electronically promised to send a refresh signal.
When I mentioned that the cable employee said it would take 40 to 60 minutes to complete the channel lineup, the living room squatters scattered like teenagers at a party when the cops arrive.
I sat down with my coffee and a magazine. They had to leave for work but I had a few hours before I had to go in.
One by one they dressed and departed. My daughter, the first one out the door called about a minute down the road to tell me that there were five cable trucks at the end of our street.
I waited in a house almost as silent as the house after Gloria and Sandy. The power was on so I could hear the whir of the fridge and last night's chicken boiling in a pot on the stove for soup. Because online access was compromised I was unable to check my email, favorite blogs and couldn't access Facebook. That is a good thing because those are tremendous time-suckers.
I remember life before electronics. The phone was black, heavy and had a dial. Television was new - we had the first set on our block - and like the phone it was black plastic and huge. There was no remote, we didn't need one. With three stations, two watchable and one snowy, my brother and I were the remote. We watched what Dad wanted to, anyway.
Back then TV stations signed off at midnight. Accompanying a picture of an American flag waving in the wind, they'd play the national anthem. Then the screen would flip to a test pattern and implode to a tiny dot in the middle of the screen. On the rare occasions when I got to stay up late and watch "Sea Hunt" on Saturday night my mother would yell to go to bed when it was over. I'd press my cheek against the screen and stare at the dot and yell back that I'd go to bed when the dot disappeared.
For kids television revolved around "Mickey Mouse Club" at 4:30 in the afternoon and "Sky King" and Shari Lewis on Saturday mornings. That's when it started actually, the television as background noise filling in the empty silent space that was our days. My childhood memories are always accompanied by Western shoot-em-up sound tracks in the background.
Now, life is never quiet and we are rarely out of touch. With network, satellite and online streaming we have ear buds, earphones and surround-sound to drench us constantly in music and news.
The house is still quiet, the soup still boiling and I am loving the temporary electronic slowdown, even though I am drawn to my computer screen like a fly to a light bulb. Enough said.

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