When I wasn't working on computers this weekend, I was trying to get the “new” used television working in the bedroom. Prior to even having a “new” used TV, I was thinking about finally breaking down and getting a digital converter box for our existing analog just so we could watch broadcast TV in bed occasionally. For the past few months, that TV has only been good for DVDs and VHS tapes. Anyway, I mentioned to Tara my idea of getting a converter box. She asked, “Would it make more sense to just get a cheap digital TV?” That was all I needed to hear. I went online to Craigslist looking for a good deal. I skipped over the obviously professional ads and looked for an actual human to buy from. I found one fairly quickly, some guy in East Nashville selling a 30″ HDTV for $90. It was a CRT type, not flat panel, which is why it was so cheap.
Elizabeth and I drove to East Nashville — not a very safe part of town, so Tara reminded us not to get shot. The seller's 94-year-old mother was out on the front porch to greet us — in the freezing cold. Maybe that's the trick to long life?
If she was packing heat, I didn’t notice.
Anyway, the guy, Jim, brought his mother an extra blanket then took us inside to demonstrate the TV's good clear picture. I called Tara, asking her to measure the opening in the armoire where it would sit. The TV was 34 inches wide, the armoire space was 42 inches wide. Plenty of room. I bought it, and Jim and I put it in the back of my Nissan Pathfinder. Bringing it home, I backed into the garage for easier off-loading into the house. It was Elizabeth who had the brilliant idea of using the ladder as a sort of bridge/conveyer between the back of the SUV and the door into the house. Genuinely impressed, I told her, “You are a smart, smart, smart girl!” She ate that up, beaming with pride. It reminded me of the look she gave me three years ago in Russia when I first told her she was my daughter: (phonetically) Tea moy doach.
Once inside the house, I was going to use the dolly/hand-truck to move it into the bedroom, but it ended up being easier sliding it across the carpet. The thing weighs 120 pounds, according to the seller — and I believe him — and is difficult to handle alone. Once in the bedroom, I needed to lift it onto the shelf in the armoire, about three feet high. I was wearing my back brace throughout all this, by the way, due to my history of back problems — herniated/ruptured disc, but that's another story. So, trying not to hurt myself, I deployed another one of Elizabeth's earlier ingenious ideas. I would use my “back stretcher thing” — an arch-shaped piece of exercise equipment with padded rollers on which I lie backward and stretch my back. We would use that to roll the TV up to the armoire's three-foot height and lift it into place from there. For that last bit, I finally got Tara to help me. Couldn't use Elizabeth. She's only five. No, wait, five and a half.
Once in place, I connected it to the coax cable coming out of the wall, but only Channel 2, the local ABC affiliate, was coming in. That made no sense because the other TV was getting about 10 channels (and their .1, .2, etc. “sub-channels”) over the air. We don't have cable or satellite service, having turned it off to save money. This second TV was getting its signal from the same roof antenna, albeit from a different cable, wasn't it? Where were my channels?
Going outside and checking the antenna cable connection box on the side of the house, I saw that the old satellite TV splitter was still in use and this second TV cable was disconnected.
Luckily, I already had a proper splitter (not quite the same as satellite splitters) from when I originally setup the roof antenna and other TV. Putting that in place, I was ready to tell this “new” TV do another scan for available channels.
Scanning, scanning, scanning.
I thought this must be a good sign, it was taking so long.
I was wrong.
It still only gave me Channel 2. What the …? Then it hit me that the antenna connection was going through the VCR first, then over to the TV.
Simplifying things, taking the VCR out of the equation — connecting that to the TV via RCA cables, instead — and connecting the TV directly into the antenna cable, I had it do yet another scan for available channels. Much better this time! Still not as good as the main, living room TV for some freaking reason, though. The “new” TV now receives almost everything but Channel 2.
Did I already say “What the …?”
Actually, what it gets are channels 4 (NBC), 5 (CBS), 6 (weird local stuff) and 8 (PBS). It doesn't get 17 (Fox), 28 (Ion and Qubo) or 30 (UPN). I still don't know why, especially when the other TV does and they're tapped into the same antenna on the roof! It's just weird.
Oh well, the best thing is that I learned my daughter is an engineering genius. I told her she would grow up to be an engineer. “What's an engineer?” she asked. “Someone who figures out how to make things work,” I said.