A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gimme a Fox and Eggs, Tattoo Removal, and a Little Privacy Please.

I confess to having an irritation with the intrusion of electronics, especially of TV,  into my life when it's  not by my choice. Since I am a modern guy,  I will focus particularly on HDTV, the newest and best of our video options so far.

Just so you understand my position in all of this, I do love owning a wide screen, High Definition TV. Sports contests, football, baseball and basketball games, even golf matches never came into my home with more color or clarity, more intimate presence.  Not only can I see the action on the field, links, or stadium--players, refs, and fans--but HD lets me check out cheerleaders and fans in the stands across the way. I'll admit that on occasion the clarity is almost embarrassing as the camera zooms in on short-skirted beauties standing and cheering on a colleague's shoulders; on athletes who find it necessary to rearrange their private parts or hawk up  "lungers" in full view of the camera;  and on fans whose personal grooming, demeanor,  or choice of clothing may leave something to be desired. However,  I will gladly accept these "side effects" of HDTV viewing just to be at a contest, to have a great seat  in my chair in my room--with a rest room close by, temperature and climate controlled, crowd limited to my choice of guests, and abundant food and drink available mere steps away.

So why am I ranting about HDTV? My irritation stems from regularly finding myself in a position where I am forced to listen to, and watch, another person's choice of programming, and this appears to be more and more prevalent and nationwide.  Here are a couple of notable examples, but certainly not an exhaustive list.

During our "Sentimental Journey" (see previous blogs) several weeks ago, I was overcome with the omnipresence of flat screen, HDTV's, blaring someone else's choice of programs in settings where I was forced to watch and listen.  The most flagrant offense occurred in an Applebee's somewhere in the middle of the country. We were tired after a long day's driving and sightseeing,  and simply wanted a calm environment in which to have a meal which was at least predictably average/inoffensive. We were ushered into a room which had a horseshoe bar as its main feature. Once seated, I looked for the source(s) of the noise which flooded the room. Check it out: there were no less than 6 large HDTV's going full bore as they loudly displayed six different sports contests. So, you ask, how was the meal? What meal? What food? Our senses of taste and smell were literally overwhelmed by our senses of sight and sound. I guess there was too much going on to be able to focus our attention on gustatory processing, so the meal, while eaten, was virtually unnoticed and mostly unappreciated.

Another example. Yesterday, I went to a medical clinic to have a simple blood test to see whether the Coumadin was working well, or too well. (Incidentally, taking this medicine makes me existentially uneasy because I used to sell lots of it as Warfarin, a very effective rat poison, in my Agway feed and grain store.) There was no one in the waiting room of the clinic except a receptionist behind a partially closed, cloudy glass, privacy window.  At the far end of the room, high on a shelf, perched an older TV, turned on, volume up, featuring what I took to be a cooking show with lots of inappropriate laughter by the cooks at their own "insider" humor. I had brought a book to read and saw immediately that it was going to be impossible given the ambient noise. I asked the receptionist if she was watching the show (how could she through the opaque glass?) and she said "no." I asked if she had a remote to turn the TV off, and again she answered in the negative. I inquired whether it would be OK for me to turn the set down or off, and she said "Sure" and instructed me about which button to push (high above my head). Of course, the buttons were black and so was the TV case, so I had to  do a little braille action until I found the correct one. The blaring sound died and my relief was instantaneous. As luck would have it, of course, I got one page into the book when the technician arrived early to guide me back into the exam room for my test.

A final example of intrusive HDTV that plagued us repeatedly on our trip occurred in the so-called breakfast room now featured by motels where "free" continental breakfasts were laid on by allegedly grateful hoteliers. I won't comment at this time on the quality of the food offered for us to break our fast. However, the new item showcased in virtually all our motels was a gleaming  HDTV turned on in the breakfast rooms, and tuned into--you got it--to Fox Network. In contrast to the Coumadin lab, these breakfast rooms were packed with every sort and condition of humanity, all hell bent on getting their money's worth of "free" food to offset the exorbitant price of a night's use of a relatively small room and bath. It was depressing to see how many of the "guests" were absolutely glued, riveted to the TV, soaking up the "Truth" purveyed by the highly paid Reynards and Vixens who were waxing eloquent about matters of state etc. My irritation came less from the Right Wing commentary than from not being able to escape the visual and auditory bombardments from programming which someone else arbitrarily chose to share with me; all I wanted was some coffee and a hard boiled egg. Instead I was subjected to blathering of Gretchen Carlson, et. al.

If you think I'm exaggerating, as you go through your day keep an eye out for the ubiquitous HDTV, strategically placed almost anywhere you have to sit for a time--and have little or no choice about it--such as: auto repair waiting room, ER waiting area, doctors' and dentists' offices (In a dermatology office last week, I had to watch a full 15 minute commercial touting the various treatments available for those with skins blemished by sun, age, tattoos, etc.), retail stores, coffee shops, beauty salons, the gym, and on and on.

My personal solution to electronic intrusion may come to this:  take off my glasses and take out my hearing aids.  Somehow that doesn't feel right. I'm not causing the problem! In any case, I'll choose to do my HDTV watching at home, thank you very much, with guests of my choice, and look at programs which suit us all, at a volume which we can enjoy, not merely tolerate. "Goodnight David... goodnight Chet!"

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