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Words from Winterbilt

Technology and Free Television?

Shannon Bohrer

(1/10) Technology is, or can be wonderful thing. Computers, cell phones, satellite internet and television have the potential to connect individuals to the world. The electronic revolution has changed the world we live in, whether or not we want to change. I like the change, at least the parts I understand, but there are other issues that confound and perplex many people including myself. Frustration has new meaning to many of us.

My wife and I have had a computer for several years and when it works, it's nice. When it does not work, frustration does not really describe the feelings. I have a cell phone, provided to me by my employer. Sometimes I turn it on. Several years ago we went to the dark side, as my wife says, and got satellite television. It was not really much of a choice as we could no longer receive television from an antenna and cable is nonexistent where we live.

My wife and I have been married for 37 years and our first television worked fine with a rabbit ears antenna, for at least the first ten or twelve years. When the inside antenna no longer worked, we hired a local installer to put an antenna on the roof. The roof antenna worked for a while and after several years, it no longer worked. The local installer came out and put a booster on the antenna and it worked again. After several more years the dial on the television no longer worked and it was not repairable; they did not make them anymore!

We then purchased our second television, a wide screen (27inch) color television. For several years this worked fine, then the no-reception infection returned. I don't remember what the local installer said, but the problem perplexed him and he mentioned something about a dead zone. My wife's theory is that all of the cell phone towers interfered with our reception. She may be right since the only thing to change was the addition of cell phone towers.

We then purchased the services for satellite television. The installer showed up and put a ladder to the roof. The installer said he was going to install the system on the roof. I said NO. The installer then replied he did not have a pole to set the system on. I furnished the pole; I dug the hole and I dug the trench for the wiring. The installation was free. After the installation was complete, the installer called someone at another location, probably Dave in India, the same Dave I talked to about computer problems. The installer then scanned the receivable channels in the television. According to our contract we were suppose to receive the local channels. However, the satellite provider gave us the Washington D.C. local channels? I requested the installer to call Dave back and provide us with the Baltimore channels. I also advised him that WE LIVE IN MARYLAND. They did give us the local channel in Hagerstown, but that's it.

My wife and I decided that when the contract was up we would switch to the other satellite television provider. This was a decision based on the fact that my wife's sister lives just north of Taneytown and they have the other provider and they receive the Baltimore channels.

Fast forward two years - high definition television is the norm so my wife and I purchase a third television, probably our last. We decided to change to the other satellite television provider and a friend told us we should be able to get an outside antenna to pick up the Baltimore channels. I advised [should this be asked my friend? He's the one telling you to change providers right?] my friend that the satellite provider would furnish them. He said no. I called the satellite provider, but I got an answering system and had to push buttons. That's impossible with a rotary dial telephone. I changed tactics and tried to use the internet to go through the process to purchase the service. While there, and I was there a long time, I clicked on the icon for local channels. I put in my zip code and enter. Our local channels with the new service will be the Washington D.C channels! I emailed them and requested the Baltimore channels. They responded that I was not allowed to have the Baltimore channels - because of a marketing law. Local channels are determined by law, and are based on zip code. They referred me to a marketing web page and I emailed them - no response.

The new service has not been installed yet and in the interim we have had two high definition antennas installed. The first one did not work at all and the second one gave us Channel 11 in Baltimore, but that's it. Also the second antenna resembles a skeleton of a T-Rex. Recently I read that a professor from Harvard said that a kitchen toaster has more federal regulations than some of the financial instruments (why do they call them instruments?) that almost collapsed our financial system. Maybe congress was too busy regulating who gets free television. I employ all of my readers (both of you) to write and call your congress representatives and tell them to repeal the law that prevents me from receiving the Baltimore channels. As a protest to technology, my new year's resolution is not to text message while driving, Ha.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer