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By Staff | Dec 10, 2010

A month ago, my wife and I upgraded our cell phones after owning the same pair of phones for around five years. She went the whole route to a phone that connects with the Internet and I went the low budget way of “what can I get for free?”

My phone is a very adequate model that places and takes calls; and whatever else it does, I do not really care.

You can send me a text message but I may not answer with a text message. I will just call you back. What a tedious job texting is.

Late last week we crossed another technological threshold when we brought home a flat screen television that replaced a still watchable television that I believe we owned for close to 20 years. Where did that time go?

In general, I find television generally annoying. There is an hour each week I try to be sure I watch Modern Family and The Office. After those two shows, if my wife asks, “What do you want to watch,” my answer is “Got something with a car chase?” I have simple tastes.

This new television arrived with all its initials in place with a few I recognize such as HD, USB, JPG, and MP3, plus a new one, HDMI. I enjoy those first moments of a new object, figuring out what all the buttons do and, if electrical, trying to connect all the wires in the right place for maximum enjoyment.

Once that is done, the honeymoon moments of “Gee whiz, look at that” end, it becomes another piece that blends in with the other gadgets around here, and complacency sets in. That happens in about a week’s time.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that we are back to watching television from the outside antenna instead of the satellite dish because the local stations are more fun to watch with the better quality picture and sound.

Content, unfortunately, has not changed. The crap that was on our old television is still crap, just better looking crap. I am still looking for a good car chase.

What that really means is our next step is an upgrade in our satellite television receiver so it can access those HD channels.

When that is accomplished, being snowed in for a couple days has a nice sound to it. Once the new satellite receiver is installed, bring on the blizzards.

Here we are oohing and aahing over our recent purchases of the latest in high tech toys. It also reminds me of something Garrison Keillor said many years ago about the early days when those first black and white TVs arrived in our living rooms.

Keillor said, “We were so excited about this new thing called a television. We thought it would give us a new life. Instead, it took it away.”

I hope my connected world of satellite television, satellite radio and satellite guidance in the GPS I use to drive from place to place – along with fertilizer placement, planting, spraying, and harvesting – does not let me lose sight of the people around me.

My wife comments occasionally that I spend a lot of time looking at the computer screen and she is right. This from a person of whom I believe watches too much television.

As much as I enjoy my new fangled toys that let me see and do things much more easily than I have ever been able to do before, they come with a price.

I do not want to become so absorbed in them that as Keillor said, “Instead, they took (our life) away.”

Our first Christmas greeting arrived in the mail yesterday with a hand written message. As good as technology is and will be, there will never be a substitute for a smiling face and a hand-written note.

Plus, if the situation allows it, a cup of coffee or tea is recommended to go with the gift of those minutes of time and attention.

Christmas is coming and it is a good time to come out from behind the computer, turn down the television (off is a better idea), and appreciate all those people around us we call our family, friends, and neighbors.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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