Sunday, September 21, 2008

Timber! HDTV escapes crashing poplar

Val called in a panic. A majestic nearly 100-foot tulip poplar had come crashing down in the front yard. The urgency in her voice left me confused about the damage.

“Is the house okay?

“Everyone’s fine,” she said.

“Good, but what about the house?”

“It just missed taking out the whole front corner by a couple of feet,” she said.

I breathed a sigh of relief. When she told me the tree had fallen I immediately imagined the worst.

I was fearful the tree had taken out the 48-inch big screen HDTV. That would have been tragic.

Sure, the kids getting nicked would have been bad. However, ever since they were old enough to crawl and crash down the stairs, I’ve drilled it into them that life ain’t for sissies. None of us is going to escape without scars.

They know that to get though this life you got to be quick and practically bulletproof. I’d trust their cat-like instincts to dodge any crashing tree trunks.

But the poor, majestic TV is utterly defenseless. Had that mighty poplar tumbled down into the southeast corner of our little cottage in the woods, it surely would have taken out the large screen HDTV days before a huge sports weekend.

And that would have left me numb and mumbling in grief.

My credentials in some guy categories are admittedly sketchy. I don’t belong to any fantasy sports leagues. I’d rather kill time than a 12-point buck. And all I know about cars is how to drive ‘em and wash ‘em -- and I don’t wash ‘em.

But in one important area, I’m solidly in the all-guy camp. I’m crazy in love with my big screen TV.

It’s 48-inches of 1080p pixelated wonder. Ever since we got it last year, I’ve found myself watching things like the Food Network and The Weather Channel the way I used to watch, say, the Godfather trilogy.

“Notice the vibrancy of the colors. Marvelous! See how they enhance the drama inherent in the storyline?”

One of these days, probably when I’m about 50, I’m intending to become an avid pot smoker and when I do I plan on tuning into the weather channel for hours of mindless viewing. It’s just so perfectly soothing.

I feel sheepish admitting it, but despite their destructive capacity, I find myself watching hopefully for when the announcer will gravely intone that those lava lamp-like satellite pictures indicate the latest tropical depression has been upgraded to a “Cat 2” hurricane.

I felt this way even as Hurricane Ike roared into Galveston, a city where I know one of the three confirmed and regular readers of “8Days2Amish” resides. In fact, it’s her job to persuade people to travel to and enjoy Galveston (although I’m sure she didn’t extend any such gracious invitations to Ike).

Maybe I just like hearing meteorologists say, “Cat 2!”

Then, of course, there are the sports. Just this weekend, we have some great NFL action, foremost being the Steelers playing the Philadelphia Eagles. Then there’s the Ryder Cup with the team of pampered pretty boys from the USA again making it difficult for me to root for them over the beer-swilling pranksters from Europe. Throw in some major league baseball pennant races and the last game in Yankee Stadium history and I could conceivably cocoon myself for nearly 48 hours of great sports viewing, all in glorious high definition.

Previous to HDTV, this was the pivotal news season I’d normally devote hours and hours to election coverage and the shrill debates over whether the Democratic or the Republican candidate is telling the bigger fibs.

But I’ve really cut back on watching the news. It’s just so depressing. The financial crisis is among the worst in history. Wars are raging on two continents. Food and gas prices remain high. I’m sure all the newscasts are saying things are looking pretty bleak.

Maybe so.

But from where I’m sitting, things have never looked better.

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