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I need new rabbit ears for digital age

Date: 3/3/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

So did you get your television converter box yet? I suppose admitting that you had to shell out $60 or so is some sort of admission that you re a Luddite holding onto antiquated technology.

Don't worry. I'm not judgmental.

I mean, come on: rabbit ears in the digital age? Do you remember constantly adjusting those things when you were a kid based on the station? How holding the antenna always made the picture better so you would try to con your little brother into doing that while you watched your favorite show? How about the creative use of aluminum foil wrapped between the ears to improve the antenna?

Did your dad ever get up on the roof to adjust the big attenna and you or your mom had to watch the set to shout instructions out of the window?

And don t get me started about having no remote control in those days and actually having to get up and turn a dial to switch channels " the horror, the horror!

Well, I made the switch to satellite a number of years ago and have had no issues with it other than I neglected to get a new dish installed so I could get the local channels.

I was watching movies on Sunday and realized I would have to pry myself out of my La-Z-Boy to go to a Radio Shack and buy a converter box so we could watch the Oscars later that night.

I knew I was going to have to buy one box for a little television in the bedroom that isn t attached to the satellite system, so I didn t feel too guilty about my procrastination.

I made the purchase, hitched the thing up and entered the brave new age of free broadcasting.

It was fascinating to see this new technology completely messed up by the wind. The Oscar show s picture broke up and lost sound constantly because there was a steady wind outside. I should note we never have problems with the satellite signal unless there s damn near a hurricane going on.

Some local stations had an image that filled our set, while others had a window-boxed image and still others had a letter-boxed one. Naturally for the best image I needed to buy a new television set.

Overall I wasn t impressed and wondered if I needed to wrap some aluminum foil around my rabbit ears. I bet someone will be selling a new and improved digital antenna. Probably Billy Mays will be the pitchman.


My friends Brad Shepard, Bo Sullivan and John Binky Baibak over at WHYN posted an online petition against the proposed 19-cent increase to the gas tax. Shepard wrote the text of the petition which reads: We the undersigned of Western Massachusetts formally state our objection to any proposed legislation that results in any increase of taxes or associated fees of gasoline in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

We submit that any increase in said gasoline taxes at this time will not benefit taxpayers in the Commonwealth, in any appreciable or meaningful way, especially with the current state of the economy.

Furthermore, we believe it s not fair to put the burden of overspending and mismanagement of projects in the eastern part of the Commonwealth on citizens of the western part of the Commonwealth. Western Massachusetts citizens rarely, if ever, use these projects (Big Dig, MBTA). Therefore, we don t feel we should be responsible for digging these agencies out of this financial burden.

We respectfully submit this request in the spirit of continuing to exercise our ability to purchase gasoline at a price that allows us to work, take care of our families, and in every other way contribute to the common good of the economy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

As I write this column, there have been 7,000 people who have signed it. Shepard intends to hand-deliver this to Gov. Deval Patrick. Good for him.

Increasing the gas tax is just not the answer to our transportation woes. We need true transportation reform in this state. We need to eliminate the waste and cronyism that are part of the culture of state funded transportation. We need rail connections to Boston in this part of the state. We need to have our regional transit authorities all on the same kind of funding system.

I m happy to pay my fair share for my area, but I don t want my tax dollars to subsidize to make some Boston guy s ride a little cheaper.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., E. Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.