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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Recovery From Cardiac Bypass Surgery: Day 13

I woke up a little late, only around 8 AM. Today, I started packing. I was supposed to take a bunch of magazines, novels, etc. back to the US for my mother-in-law. My mother was a little concerned whether I would be able to take everything I wanted given that I had only one large and one small suitcase. After some initial packing, I was quite confident everything would fit because the heaviest stuff (the magazines and novels) fit comfortably in the small suitcase, and weighed only about 25 lbs. All my clothes and the rest of the stuff I need to take back would fit in the larger suitcase without much of a problem. I also had a backup plan of what to leave behind in case I ran out of space or free baggage allowance.

Right from the day after the surgery, my father's leg (the one from which the replacement vein had been taken for the cardiac bypass surgery) had been bound in a crepe bandage from below the ankle to just below the knee during the day time to prevent edema and swelling of the leg. The doctors had told him that there was no need to bind the leg if there was no swelling in the leg. On the first day I saw him at the hospital, there was a little bit of swelling in that foot. But after that, I had not seen any swelling, but we had kept binding the leg anyways just as a precaution. In another sign of getting back to normal, my father decided that there was no need for me to bind the leg starting today.

After lunch, I switched on the TV, and by chance some channel was showing "Harry Potter And the Order of the Phoenix". So, I watched it while I worked on my laptop, had fruits, snacks, etc. I quickly realized though, why I had given up watching TV a long time back: there were too many commercials, and most of them were loud and noisy with no redeeming value whatsoever, promoting useless overpriced products that had no redeeming value either. In short, just a complete waste of time.

People are very surprised when I tell them that I have not watched a TV program in more than 10 years. I think the last time I remember actually watching TV regularly was when Seinfeld was still on. No other program since then has really captured my attention enough to warrant me devoting time to watching it. That was also the time when my children started go get interested in watching TV, so my wife and I made a conscious decision to keep the TV off as much as possible. To complete the perfect storm that worked against TV in my household, I got a laptop right around that time, and quickly found that I liked watching movies on DVD on my laptop much better than I liked watching movies on TV with all the myriad commercial breaks, the editings for content, and so on. Since then, my TV watching has been restricted to a few major sporting events (such as the olymipcs opening ceremonies, a couple of years of Wimbledon finals, US Open finals, etc.).

It was a little difficult initially to come home from work and not sit in front of the TV by habit, or to not switch on the TV while having breakfast. But over time, other habits took over and pushed TV entirely out of my life. I have also never subscribed to cable or a satellite dish or anything other than over the air broadcasts received through rabbit ears mounted on top of the TV. This has been the case ever since I moved to this country, and that is another source of surprise to may people.

When the digital TV transition was announced, I promptly applied for and obtained the government's $40 off coupons for a couple of analog to digital conversion boxes and hooked them up to my televisions (I have a 27" model in the living room, and a smaller 19" one in the family room). So, I have kept up with the technology to some extent, but I have made no other concessions to technology when it comes to my televisions. My older TV is about 19 years old now (it is the first television I bought after coming to the US), and the second TV is about 10 years old. Both of them are CRT models housed in entertainment centers that were designed for CRT TV's.

Over the years, we have considered replacing the TV's with newer models, but have always found excuses for not doing so. First of all the current TV's work. Secondly, the newer, larger, wide-screen, flat TV's would not fit in my entertainment center. Third and most importantly, the TV's hardly get switched on, so why even bother?

When my children go on play dates and/or sleepovers, they sometimes come back and ask us why we don't watch TV or why we don't get certain channels on our TV when they try to watch specific programs. I tell them that not watching TV gives them more time to do other fun things like going swimming, ice-skating, etc., and also, we don't have cable, so we don't get all the channels their friends watch. It has not been much of an issue because my kids have never been used to watching TV since they were born, but I assume getting kids to quit TV cold-turkey after they have been used to watching it on a daily basis since birth could be more difficult.

There are some disadvantages to not watching TV. I don't get to contribute much to water-cooler conversations at work about TV programs. I am a very visual kind of person when it comes to sports, so once I stopped watching TV, I stopped following sports too. I used to be a big fan of basketball and football (I never was and still am not a fan of watching baseball, either live at the stadium or on TV, though I like playing it when I get a chance). Now, I don't know even the names of the major players in these sports. You could say that I am stuck in the 90's as far as sports are concerned. I also used to know the winners of the major tennis tournaments, at least the 4 major ones for each year going back to the late 80's. But I have lost track of that also and pretty much do not follow tennis either.

I don't have the time to sit and read newspapers from cover to cover, so most of my news now comes from the internet. My home page is set to display news headlines from a variety of sources and I keep abreast of most of the news around the world that way. I also listen to NPR on my commutes, so being abreast of the news has not really been a problem in the absence of TV. In fact, I think the quality of news I get has improved a lot since I gave up on the stupid, sensationalistic TV news programs that are more propaganda than news.

But, TV is a visual medium while reading news on the internet is mostly not (unless you have the patience to sit through streaming video broadcasts, which I don't). So, I find that I am not as good at identifying people in the news by picture as I used to be. If I bumped into Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the street, I probably wouldn't even know who they were even though I know what they are famous for, what the latest news about them is, and so on. Unless the internet news story contains photographs of people in the story, I don't get anything visual to associate with a given story. I don't know whether it is really a disadvantage, but that is pretty much the only disadvantage I can think of that results from my not watching TV.

Once again, today, I slept in the guest bedroom and my mother was quite comfortable not having me watch over my father during the night. I went to bed rather late after reading through most of Dan Brown's novel, Digital Fortress. I was not too impressed with it, but having started it, I decided I would read through and finish it anyways.

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