~my thoughts about life~

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Evolution of Television

When I was a kid, we had a big, square TV that sat on a stand.  You had to turn the dial to get one of 4 or 5 stations.  We got channels 3, 5, and 8...the big networks.  There was PBS in the middle and then our favorite, channel 43.  That was the one that had cartoons after school.  We were very limited in our TV watching.  After school, we were allowed to watch one show.  That meant that my brother and I had to agree on something to watch together.  Anyone under the age of 30 has no idea the significance of Saturday mornings to a 1980's kid!  We had free reign on Saturday mornings.  We got up, probably around 8:00 and watched cartoons until they went off.  It seems like that happened around 10:00.  We were even allowed to eat breakfast in front of the TV.  That was a huge deal and made us love Saturdays so much more!  On Saturday nights, we ate dinner, took our baths, and I got pink sponge curlers in my hair for church the next morning.  My brother and I had to learn our memory verses.  We had to have all this done by the time The Muppet Show came on at 7:00 PM.  It was the best show of the whole week!  When it was over, we went to bed!  It was routine.  It was expected.  It was normal.

On occasion, something magical would happen on an unusual night.  There would be a SPECIAL on!  I can still remember the animated graphic of the word "Special" that would turn around on the screen.  It had some sort of techno/drum music that played with it.  When you saw that graphic come on, your anticipation heightened nearly to the extent of Christmas morning!  There were going to be cartoons on at night!  It might have been Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin.  It might have been The Cat in the Hat.  Whatever it was, it was pure bliss.  We would usually get with our cousins so we could all watch The Special together.  

My kids don't get that excited about anything in life!  They don't understand how spoiled they are!

When I got a little older, we were the first in the neighborhood to get a TV with a remote!  Wow, we were big time!  My dad broke his back and was confined to a hospital bed for six months.  My mom went out and bought him a TV.  I guess it was around that time, when I was 10, that we got a VCR!  Oh wow....the history of television changed forever!  I was always slightly jealous because we didn't have Beta Max, but VHS was perfectly acceptable.  Everyone wanted to come to our house to watch TV because my dad had a huge antenna on the roof.  We didn't mess with rabbit ears on top of our TV set...no ma'am.  That was small potatoes.  We also had added channels 61 and 19 by this time!  There was also channel 17, but I think that was mostly a Hispanic religious station.

On Sunday nights, the Disney Sunday Movie came on with host Michael Eisner.  We had church on Sunday nights, so we videotaped it.  My brother and I would watch those movies over and over.  We got to the point where we could quote them.  Some of our personal favorites were The B.R.A.T. Patrol, Mr. Boogedy, and Ask Max.  If anyone else has ever heard of any of those movies, I would really love for you to comment about it!!!

At this point of my life, I only knew two people who had cable.  One was a poor family in our church.  They lived in a crummy house, had shabby clothes, and even smelled bad.  But they had cable!  They would videotape countless movies and let us borrow them.  No matter how bad they smelled, I was willing to borrow those tapes!  The other person who had cable was my grandmother.  She lived next to a high-rise apartment building and could get no stations with an antenna.  She was forced to get cable.  This made going over to grandma's even more exciting!  She watched her "stories" during the day while she ironed.  As the World Turns was her program of choice.  But in the evenings, the cousins and I would watch Nickelodeon!  That was the greatest thing since sliced bread!  There was a show called You Can't Do that on Television where they would slime people for saying "I don't know."  More than anything, I wanted to meet Allister and get slimed!

As a teenager, the world of sitcoms broke out.  There were shows like Who's the Boss? and Growing Pains.  There was never a shortage of a good, family show to watch in the evenings.  A couple of my favorites were Small Wonder and Alf.  A couple years later, The Wonder Years premiered and it was our go-to Saturday night entertainment.

I miss those wholesome shows.

My parents never got cable.  They felt that it was an unnecessary expense.  After I got married, I felt I was grown up enough to make my own decisions about television viewing.  We got satellite.  Now, I'm not talking about the enormous, swimming pool sized dish that stood on a huge base in the back yard.  (My great uncle in Indiana had one of those....we could never actually find anything to watch on it, but we sure did enjoy seeing the dish rotate around to pick up different stations!)  Hubby and I got DirecTV.  Over the years, the cost grew and grew.  I eventually turned into my mother and realized that this expense was totally unnecessary!  I cancelled it.

Now, I don't think you can call it full circle, but we're back to having only the stations that we can pick up with our digital antenna.  To be honest, it's not much greater than that huge contraption my dad had anchored to the roof of our house.  It cuts in and out quite often, so we just don't watch TV much any more.  I've taken to reading instead.  Life is better, I'm happier.  TV is garbage.

Except for Downton Abbey.  Don't mess with my Downton Abbey!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Happy Ending to a Crappy Story

Something great happened to me a couple months ago and I've been dying to share it on my blog for a while now!

You may or may not remember all the problems we've had with our plumbing over the past two years.  If you scroll down for a while (or click that tag that says "irritating"), it won't take you long to find a post or two about it.  We ended up spending over $10K to fix these issues and they were never resolved.  We finally decided to pursue legal action.

We hired a new attorney, who was just setting up shop in our community.  She came recommended to me by the law director of our town (a friend of mine).  She was young, ambitious, and ready for a fight.  When I explained the circumstance to her and asked if she did this kind of work, she excitedly exclaimed, "Oh yes, I do!"  That's the attitude I wanted.  I hate it when a hired professional acts like they're doing you a favor.  This woman, Angelina, was very grateful for the work and was anxious to begin.

Angelina and I met and we discussed every detail related to the situation.  She commended my organizational skills (which is one of the best compliments a person could give me) and was ready to dive in.  She wasn't haughty and asked my opinion on how I thought things should be handled.  We agreed that she would write a letter to the head guy of the plumbing company.

A quick recap will remind you that, after the plumbers messed up the job, I called them back out.  Instead of admitting their own mistake and fixing it, they tried to charge me $5000 more to fix it.  They also charged me $400 to tell me that they were going to charge me $5000 to fix their mistake.  We declined and they got snarky.  We hired another plumber (who caught their mistake) and a contractor to gut the bathroom and fix the issues.

When Angelina wrote the letter, she requested that they pay for the new plumbing job and the contractor's bill, refund the $400 for doing nothing, pay our family for the hardships of not having a bathroom for over a year, and refund part of the money for grossly overcharging us for the initial $9000 job.  When I tried to settle with the company, I asked for $8K.  He scoffed.  He offered me $2800, I think it was.  Angelina went a little hog wild and asked for $16K in the letter!  I was almost too scared to send it.  She mailed it and they countered with something insulting.  I actually can't remember at this point.,,I think it was somewhere between $5K-$6K.  She countered back at $13K and told them we were prepared to move into court.

Are you ready for this?  They accepted!  I got a check a month later for $13,000!  I wept.  After the worst financial year in our adult lives, we were just thrown a life raft!  We paid the plumber, paid the contractor, and paid the credit cards that were carrying a balance from this mess!  But the best part is, we got a stunning new bathroom out of it!  I'm working on it a bit at a time.  It's nearly done now...I still need to find a mirror for above the sink and a ceiling light.  I'd like to hang some artwork, but I have to find or create it first.

It was a long, painful battle, but we won!  Honestly, I would have rather had the 1970s ugly bathroom we originally had if I wouldn't have had to deal with all this.  But now that it's over, let me say that I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend in there.  Can you say that about your bathroom???  Fights in our house have decreased now that two people can potty at the same time.  God has been good.

Treasure your bathroom today and consider the alternative if you find yourself perched on the throne for a while.  It's a luxury we all take for granted.  Thankfully, this story finally has a happy ending!