Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Newest Addition to the Family

Two nights ago, I alluded to the fact that we’ve added a new member to the family’s brood, and I may have exaggerated a little or perhaps loosely interpreted the definition of family member. But make no mistake, we pay quite a bit of attention to this new member, so much so, that getting Natalie to even peel her eyes from it and glance in your general directions involves yelling at her and tugging on her hair.

Yep, we got a new TV. Now, I’ve been in the market for one of these flat-panel plasma hang-on-the-wall-like-art televisions since I first saw them a few years ago, but shelling out the oodles of money just to have one could never have been justified until now. This is only because this was a rare deal, purchased at about half the original cost from a friend who got it from a friend who got it from a friend, etc. Nothing illegal, mind you; everything’s on the up and up, but its original source was a gift, which allowed the price to plummet down into my acceptable range.

Even though we don’t need a fourth television in the house.

Even though we don’t really have a good place to put it yet.

Even though we don’t have a decent TV stand to set it on (well, we do now).

This has to be, bar none, the most high-tech television I have ever owned, much less sat down and tried to use. It comes with software, firmware, demos, loading instructions, enhanced pixel definition, a USB port to play music files (and to upload software/firmware upgrades), a convertible digital sound package, seven adjustable viewing formats… a mechanical arm comes out of the top to dust off the screen and scratch my back in that place I can never reach.

Plus, it was brand new in the box, never been opened. It was a deal I just couldn’t pass up. All I need was to hire an engineer to explain all of the functions, an IT wizard to program it for me and someone to pop me some popcorn while I put in a DVD.

Of course, since the TV stand that we were currently using to keep Kara’s old college-era 27-inch television from sitting on the floor was starting to seem a little rickety, especially after I balanced a 49-inch-wide TV on a 36-inch-wide stand. Frankly, I don’t remember exactly where I got the stand, but I know it was nearly 20 years ago, and if someone was going to put together a display of early furniture at The Museum of Ryan’s Life, they would be hard pressed to find a piece of furniture that I personally bought that is older and still functioning in a house in which I live. This chair I’m sitting on right now is from 1994 and there’s a small fire safe for documents, etc., I got when I 12 or 13, which I would argue is a contemporary to the TV stand.

It makes me feel old to think about the decrepit age of furniture.

At Best Buy, I found a new stand that I liked, and it was specific made for flat-panel TVs, long and narrow. It didn’t cost too much and I felt it would make a fine addition to the newly renovated upstairs bonus room, which is where the TV will be housed until the living room gets its Extreme Home Makeover sometime soon. The space on the wall where I would like to hang it on is blocked by a T-intersection from another wall—so I get to demo! Yippee.

I brought the TV home on Wednesday (Thanks Brian for helping me lug it upstairs…it only weighed 100 pounds, but it was awkward), and yesterday was the day to assemble the table, hook up the wires and fire up the 42 inches of sheer glowing delight.

Marvelous display of modern technology.

So, why wouldn’t I call this another family member? Really, when was the last time Matthew had an HDMI for full high-definition connection or Natalie’s plasma WXGA display was integrated to receive digital HDTV?

One tiny detail made a profound impression on me as I was going through the mountain of paperwork and manuals is a small folded information packet simply titled: “Information Philips.” Unfolded, it is a regular 8.5x11 piece of paper, but on it is printed the same thing—something about contacting the company if you have a problem—in 25 different languages. Everything from the expected, Spanish, German, French and English, to ones that seem to only have a few speakers in distant parts of the world, Estonian, Croatian, Latvian, Maltese, Slovenian. I didn’t even think the people that spoke these languages even watched television!

So, I can say “Thank you for purchasing this Phlips product.” in 25 languages. “Paldies, ka Jus esat legadajies so Philips produktu.” That’s Latvian, and here’s Slovakian: “Dakujeme, ze ste si zakupili tento product od spolocnosti Philips.

Upon pouring over the various phrases—I enjoy only three things about people from other countries: their food, their language and their maps—I decided that this is the modern Rosetta Stone. I took a moment and pondered that this scrap of paper would be discovered by some intrepid archeologist 10,000 years from now and he’ll be able to crack the code to decipher the world’s ancient and dead languages, long lost through the ravages of time.

All from my TV too!

**Note that two of The Three Stooges were on hand to help me set up the TV. Natalie insisted on plugging in some of the wires while Matthew had his heart set on tearing up the directions so I had to put it together using what little Norwegian I know. Then he chipped away at a block of Styrofoam until it was in a million pieces...two days later, I'm still finding it in the carpet.

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