Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Curses! Albertson's screens zap-proof

The manager of our local Albertson's can sleep a little easier now knowing that TV-B-Gones won't work on those intrusive screens flickering over the checkout lines.


The bad news came from San Francisco, known to thousands—if not hundreds—as the world headquarters of TV-B-Gone, the handy, surreptitious pocket remote that zaps off intrusive TVs.

Mitch Altman, the inventor of TV-B-Gone, e-mails that the gadget works only on TVs with remote controls. That means screens on gasoline pumps are impervious too.

While I was writing Mitch, I asked whether he had hooked up with the annual TV-Turnoff Week, which is coming up on April 23. Seemed like a perfect fit.

Turns out Mitch is a huge TVTO fan. He writes: "We're having a big kick-off event here in SF with TV Turnoff Network (now called "The Center for Screentime Awareness"). I'll be talking at a bunch of schools again this year, too."

Here in Southwest Portland, I'm about to make my organizing calls to the Wilson High School Cluster schools. Other Portland TV Turnoff-istas are organizing school health clinics. The public library branches and the parks bureau have events planned.

Kaiser-Permanente, a big TVTO backer, has just begun offering free kits to download at a special web site. I've seen them and they are great!

In the meanwhile, I'm thinking of ordering a few TV-B-Gones for kids to have some fun with. Mitch graciously has offered me a bulk rate.

Imagine a whole Halloween-like "Zap for Life" TVTO week. Instead of "Trick or Treat (with junk food no less)" this would offer "Zap and Jump (or run or bike or play catch)"

Mitch notes that TV-B-Gone and TVTO have the same goal: Discovering (or rediscovering) the joys of turning off the TV and taking back your time...like from four to six hours a day!

Thoreau's thoughts on television...

Well, OK, not exactly. That was just to get your attention for another Thoreau reference.

Thoreau preceded TVs by a century, of course, but he did offer choice words about the mass media obsession of his day—newspapers. Substitute "Fox News" or your favorite news media addiction for "newspapers" in the following. His point hits you square in the eyes.

"I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter—we never need to read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?"

And this: "I have no time to read newspapers. If you chance to live and move and have your being in that thin stratum in which the events which make the news transpire—thinner than the paper on which it is printed—then these things will fill the world for you; but if you soar above or below that plane, you cannot remember nor be reminded of them."


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