Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stuff

It feels like a whole lot of nothing has been happening lately, but some stuff has been worthy of note.

I finally went to the retina specialist that my cute optometrist recommended (she actually contacted Dr. Chen, and his office finally contacted me to find out when I was going to make an appointment). To make a long story short, the final outcome was that I don't need surgery. It seems nearsighted eyes have an oblong shape rather than round. In some nearsighted people, this causes the retina to stretch which can result in thin spots that show-up on retina scans as spots. It is possible for these thin spots to develop a hole, so it's important to watch for any significant changes. So the only thing I need to do is to make sure I visit with Dr. Beck once a year, like I have been doing. Aside from the discomfort of having my eyes dilated (mucho discomforto for me) it was a good doctor visit. So the retina stuff is over for now.

There's a 46 inch Sony XBR4 HDTV that has been calling my name lately. I have come very close to purchasing this expensive television set at least three times in the past two weeks. I'm one of those people who tries to avoid filling voids in my life with stuff. While I know I will eventually get this, I have, for the third time, decided the timing is bad. I've been in an especially depressed mood lately and deep down I know that the TV is simply a gadget that I'm using to provide a diversion from the real problems that need to be addressed. It doesn't help that the usual hypocritical commercialistic holiday people call "Christmas" seems to be starting early this year, and the "buy stuff" message is coming from everywhere already. A HDTV would be nice, but getting this creates a snowball effect of stuff that will need to be bought...
  • The TV doesn't fit in my existing entertainment center, so at the very least the shelving unit I made into an entertainment center would need to be significantly reworked (and I'll likely need a new TV stand).
  • I'm still using the stereo system I bought when I was a student in college over 20 years ago. Getting the most out of the new TV really requires that my audio system be updated to a surround system.
  • I currently have no source of HDTV programming except for over-the-air without getting more expensive satellite service or cable TV (which is seriously lacking in HD content). DirecTV can be persuaded to give discounts on a HD DVR, but I'm not really excited about giving up my TiVo for an inferior product.
  • Getting over-the-air TV will require me to get an antenna, set it up in the attic, and do wiring to get it down to the TV. After that, I'll be able to view live TV but without a DVR that can record HD content over-the-air (my TiVo can't handle HD and only works with DirecTV) I'll have to watch any programs when they air with no commercial editing.
  • If I want to make a DVR that can record live TV, I will need to buy a new computer because none of the systems I have are up to the task.
If I just got the TV and didn't do something about getting HD content, then it would be pointless to have a TV that is designed to display HD content. So this purchase of an expensive TV creates the need for a lot of extra stuff I'm just not prepared to purchase (or work on) right now, even though it is cool.

I have some stuff to say about Christmas. I used to love Christmas. I saw it as a time of year where we played happy music, created cheerful light displays, and got together with friends and family and did fun things. What better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ than to be thankful for our good fortune and be with people we care about. It just doesn't seem that way anymore. Many of my friends disappear for the holidays to visit their extended families. Everyone is running around trying to buy the perfect gift. The stores are mobbed and the roads are clogged with idiots who are only thinking of themselves. The stores are pushing the buy-buy-buy mentality earlier every year. So much to the disappointment of some of my extended family, I have decided to not buy gifts and have asked for them to not buy me gifts. I don't need more stuff. It is hard to buy something for people you see once every couple of years and who (by their own admission) don't really want stuff either. "But it's the thought that counts." Absolutely. I think about everyone all the time, but buying stuff doesn't bring me any closer to them. Say, "Bah humbug." Whatever. What's meaningful to me is getting together with friends, driving around looking at the neat light displays, meeting for dinner, and getting together to do fun things. I can't think of any better way of celebrating the holiday season.

Speaking of stuff ... it's almost Thanksgiving and time for my favorite food -- stuffing.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

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