2008.03.05 Antennae still standing

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When I’m out walking, I’m often glancing up. I wonder if people notice and wonder why. What I’m looking for is the presence (or absence) of a TV antenna.

It’s just something I find interesting, one of the many odd things I find interesting.

The dwindling number of people in the U.S. who still use their TV antenna (at least the number who still aren’t cable subscribers) stands at 14 percent.

As a member of a household that still has a functioning and useful antenna, I’m in a very small minority.

I think it’s interesting to see how many antennae are still standing and to look them over. Is it a massive, multi-fingered piece of metal standing tall alongside their house? Is it one of those small jobs that probably never gave the best of service? What sort of UHF antenna is included? Is there a rotor motor to spin the thing around? Is there a strong, tall tower or just a small, utilitarian antenna attached to the chimney?

So now you know, I think about these things now and then and I thought about antennae quite recently when I was directed to the website Obsolete Skills.

One of the lost skills listed is this: Tuning in TV stations by using an antenna rotor. You turn the knob and wait for your program to look good. And of course you overshoot it and have to turn back the other way, overshoot it again, etc., until you finally get it right.

But that was for people with a functioning rotor. When we moved into this house—OK, for the first 14 years we had no TV at all—we inherited an antenna with no rotor control.

For us, it was a matter of climbing the antenna and yelling directions out the window. Did that really happen? Maybe I only saw that in movies, but I do recall yelling down into the basement to someone connecting the broken ends of the antenna cable, getting it just so for the least amount of “snow.”

We still use the antenna and it works just fine, depending on the weather. Remember those days, all of you in the 86 percent with cable?

Another obsolete skill listed is the now mysterious task of adjusting the rabbit ears on top of your TV set. And how about these two: Adjusting the vertical and horizontal hold; adjusting the TV color and hue. And when was the last time you got off the couch to change channels? That answer is obvious: It was the day you lost the remote.

Television repair is another old skill on the list. I hadn’t thought about that, but I guess it’s true. There used to be more repair places around. Maybe the sets are more reliable now. Maybe people just throw them away rather than pay the cost of repair.

An obvious obsolete skill is dialing a telephone. We have a dial phone in the back of the Observer and sometimes when I walk by I dial it just to hear the sound. It’s like an old friend.

There’s a very funny thing about the obsolescence of dialing. Many times when  you listen to a recorded message on the phone, the person tells you to “Dial 1 to place an order, Dial 2 to speak with a representative,” etc. Nobody but oddballs like me can dial anything, and if I tried to dial 1, it wouldn’t work.

Under the “C” grouping of obsolete skills is the act of changing the ball or the ribbon on your Selectric typewriter. I’m feeling more and more obsolete as I read through this list. We still have a typewriter. It’s electric. We’re not so old fashioned as to own a manual typewriter.

This ancient beast still gets used every year about this time for college scholarships because there are a few organizations using the nearly obsolete approach of printing applications on paper rather than creating fillable electronic versions. Do they think there’s still a typewriter in every home?

Programming old car radios by pulling out the button, figuring a square root with paper and pencil, writing e-mail offline, smelling a freshly mimeographed test paper, waxing cross county skiis.

Wait a minute, I still use wax and I wish I could still crank my car window by hand since the up/down switch is malfunctioning.

 This list will continue to grow, of course, some for the good and some that make you long for days gone by.

As I look up, I wonder why no one is out collecting all that obsolete scrap metal.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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