In the winter of 1980, two very memorable events occurred in upstate New York: Lake Placid was on a national stage as it hosted the XIII Olympic Winter Games, and my dad came home with a color TV (a big upgrade from our 13-inch black-and-white boob tube).
For my entire childhood, I lived without many of the current-day electronics, like video games, microwaves, garage door openers, VCRs, and touchtone phones. Instead of buying the latest newfangled gadget, my parents would wait approximately 20 years before making a purchase to ensure that the technological kinks were resolved. My brother and I would often lament our life in the Dark Ages. While my neighbors played Atari and microwaved their grilled cheese sandwiches (they called them “mush sandwiches”—made with Velveeta cheese), we played Monopoly and had to actually grill our cheese sandwiches … on the stove. Every time we wanted to “channel surf” through our four channels, we had to get up, walk over to the television, and use the dial. Whenever I tighten the gas cap on my car’s gas tank (click, click, click), I am reminded of the sound of changing the channels on that old TV set, which was our new color TV in 1980.
Thirty years later, on the cusp of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, it appears that I haven’t evolved much from my childhood. My cell phone is not an iPhone, I use my library card to borrow books rather than read them on a Kindle, and I am without any sort of television reception at all. I will, however, have the chance to watch the Olympics live on a giant screen in the streets of Vancouver and, with some luck, witness some “live and in person” at a venue since I will be in Vancouver for the last week of the Games. And, my parents are upgrading their television for the Vancouver Olympics and giving me their cast-off 13-inch color TV (this one comes with a remote and will be my fourth hand-me-down television from various sources) so I can watch borrowed library videos. I am thrilled.