I bought a new TV over the weekend.

Don’t jump to conclusions. I’m not a big TV-watcher in the first place. In fact, the TV I’ve owned for the last six or seven years still has clunky round dials to turn to change the channels; one for VHF and one for UHF. I always just left the dial on channel 3, and used the remote that came with my VCR (yes, an analog video recorder… that saves its data on tape, magnetic tape like you’d see on some antique computing device) to change the channels.

But at some point in the last week or two, the TV finally stopped working. I’d received it, gratis, from a neighbor when he’d “bought” a newer TV from his work. He delivered furniture and appliances, and always had a great deal on stuff like that, stuff that had come in, used, and had to be moved to make space. He never actually said that they’d “fallen off the back of the truck” but the implication was always there, if you get my meaning. I also got a washer and dryer from him. The dryer I still have, but the washer died several years ago and I had to replace it out of my own pocket, for around $100.

Less than six months after that, my neighbor, who smoked copious amounts of weed, got involved in a car accident while working (caused, in part, because of his addiction), got fired, spent all his unemployment money on pot, became the center of lots of violent, drunken and drugged fights in my apartment building, and was finally evicted. I haven’t seen him since. He was a good kid – at least at first. I wonder what happened to him? I hope he learned his lesson.

So, my new TV. This weekend I simply couldn’t bear the thought of missing new episodes of “The Simpsons” so I set out in a trusty FlexCar Honda Element to hit the stores. I’d done just enough Googling to discover that new, 25-30″ standard-def TVs run under $300, and was hoping to find a Christmas-season deal.

Standard-def? Sure, the FCC has mandated that all TVs over 25″ have an ATSC tuner in them, making them capable, in theory, of receiving High Definition broadcasts, as of March 2006; and sure, by sometime in 2009 all television stations will be broadcasting in High Definition… but in the meantime, there’s lots of television to watch that’s still in analog. Plus, I’ve got other uses for my money this month.

I went to Fry’s, I went to Best Buy, I even went to Fred Meyer’s and Target, but they didn’t have a lot of selections in the SDTV category. Finally I tried Stuff, a local used electronics store, and found a decent Sony Trinitron 27″ tube that looked like it worked OK. $229, which may or may not be a good deal but it was in my price range and it was getting late. The sales girl, a cute redhead, helped me load it into my FlexCar, in spite of her fighting off the effects of a flu shot, and I headed home.

I tried enlisting my youngest nephew to help me carry it into my apartment, but I couldn’t reach his parents to confirm that it’d be OK for him to help out (there’s been some miscommunication in that area lately so it’s better to be clear). I was able, though, to carry the thing in myself, in stages.

And then I sat on the couch for the rest of the night… surfing… TV is so hypnotic.