How a cold led to a new TV

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate being sick?

Well, add to that a very sick and very pregnant wife, and a sick toddler (which I suspect led to Alex and I becoming ill), and you’ve got a pretty miserable household. This is all part of parenthood and families — one goes down, chances are the rest are going down too. (How my parents managed to never seemed to be ill when I was a kid is beyond me.) But it also tends to cause problems when you’re supposed to go places. Like, say, a baby shower.

No, it wasn’t our baby shower. Baby showers are to bestow things for the expectant mother that she probably doesn’t already have. We’ve got it. Lots of it. Tonnes of it. A room and a half of it. This particular shower was for Jeannie, my cousin-in-law, who is due in late March.

So. A room full of people, one of whom is very pregnant. Walking in there, coughing and sneezing, would probably be regarded as highly inappropriate, bordering on homicidal. Naturally, we weren’t too keen on spreading “the love”, so to speak. But we did want to at least drop the gift off.

Now, for those of you who don’t live in Calgary, you need to understand the rampant confusion common with most Calgary suburbs. City planners here need to be lined up and shot for allowing subdivisions to bear repetitive non-sensical names, with all the roads starting with a portion of the subdivision’s name. It might sound good on paper, but sometimes you need a GPS to figure out where you’re going.

Conveniently, we got a GPS for free back in early 2008 when we bought a new washer and dryer. We never really put it to use, as we never really ventured into those dark recesses of Calgary — we stuck (generally) to the grid (where things make a lot more sense). So it seemed a heck of a waste not to put it to the test, and see if could actually get me to where I was going … considering the map is over three years old, and Calgary grows like a hungry amoeba.

Well, surprise of surprises, it worked. Gift delivered (at arm’s length), and soon I was back on the road … with a devilish plan to totally confound the poor device, going on roads that opened only in the last year, and going every which direction but the one it was telling me to go.

Oh, come on — if you had a GPS, you’d do the same thing!

Anyway, in my attempts to piss off the calm British voice telling me to “keep right”, I found myself in front of the Northlands Best Buy. (Honestly, I hadn’t a specific plan in mind. These things do happen.) Then I found myself inside the Best Buy, looking at new TVs.

You see, we have — or rather, had — an old tube TV sitting in our living room. A 22″ (ish) beast, with a built-in VCR. It’s a reliable thing, but I’m not too fond of CRTs, and have longed to ditch it. (I also long to ditch my uber-reliable Hitachi rear-projection, too, but it’s replacement is currently about $5,000, and although I technically no longer have a biological need for my testicles, I don’t want to give Alex reason to remove them.) And since we’d used LCD TVs in Costa Rica, I really wanted to move to something more recent.

The need? Well, as much as I would love to stand up as the Totally Awesome Parentâ„¢ that never uses the TV as a babysitter … well, I’ve come to the realisation that the TV can, in fact, be the Necessary Diversionâ„¢ when you need five frakkin’ minutes to have a shower, bowel movement, or other short-term event where you’re utterly occupied and cannot prevent your child from wandering into the iron maiden stashed in the closet. It sucks, but it’s a reality. Now enter the situation where a new mother who must regularly breastfeed must also wrangle a toddler. It adds up.

(That, and we bought an Apple TV, and had no TV that I could actually plug it into. Both our TVs predate HDMI and component video, s-video is now obsolete, and you get laughed at if you say the word “composite”.)

Enter the Samsung LN32B460, a 32″ HD TV. Those of you who’ve already googled the specs are probably already laughing at me. Why would I waste my money on a 60Hz, 720P, with a 6 ms pixel response? Have I officially gone mad?? (Short answer, yes, but that’s another story.)

Let’s be realistic: It’s a milestone better than the old TV, the primary audience is the Monkey, who doesn’t know 720 from 1080, and hasn’t seen anything Blu-Ray as a comparison. So, for now, this is the best TV in a cost-benefit situation. (This is pretty much the way I live my life these days, with few exceptions.) A few bucks later (including an HDMI cable and a wall bracket), and we were watching Pixar’s Up! on our new TV.

All the while, sniffling, blowing noses, and coughing.