Sunday, April 23, 2006

Satellite of Love

Okay, here at the Birdhaus we have cut the cable cord that linked us to Adelphia, mavens of corporate corruption and shitty signals, and moved onto a satellite dish and DSL modem. This all took place yesterday, so the jury is still out on how we will fare under this new technology. Mrs. Birdhaus glazes up whenever the ins-and-outs of this system are explained, so I am trying to keep it all fairly simple for now. (I have to admit though, she has been the one to figure out VCR programming and TiVo operation much faster than I.)

I will say that the High Definition picture and sound are truly amazing, and even the regular channels that we have received all along look better in the digital signal we are getting. Being a film buff, this is no small matter to me. The images I saw in a recent broadcast of "Robots" put our DVD copy of the same film to shame.We had quite an adventure sinking a post to mount the dish (pictured here). I have never done such a thing, but many of my contractor and handyman friends had specific and wildly conflicting advice as to how to do this. This, coupled with the wife's addiction to the home and Garden network and Toolbelt Diva, led me to believe it was a pretty simple task.

The first hole I dug filled with water (it's still very wet here in Northern CA), so I thought I would mix a bit of concrete in the hole first to sink the post into. Bad idea. The stuff started to set before I could finish mixing it, and Mrs. Birdhaus had to run to the local hardware store minutes before they closed to buy a couple more sacks of Quickcrete while I dug another hole. (Here's a Harry Homeowner tip: mix the Quickcrete in a bucket and pour that in around your post---works much better.)

Anyway, the dish was mounted by a curmudgeonly serviceman who had to crawl around under our house in what he called his "fun suit" while I drilled a hole he could see and fed the line down to him. He cussed and grumbled, but he got the job done. I still have to bury the line (which we fed through 3/4 inch conduit), but the system is working and seems to be a vast improvement over our prior setup so far.

As you can see by the photo, we are a eclectic mix of the old and the new, with our satellite dish set up by our wood pile (under the tarp in the background.) In the old days, a satellite dish by a tiny cabin was a sure sign of white trash, but now it's just the nature of life in the "northwest nowhere."

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