Posted: April 15, 2020 in Life and Memories, My view of the world
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I was walking through a big box store today and saw an enormous TV…it was elephantine and appeared to reach to the sky. I don’t know the size of the screen, but it looked like it was 50 feet across. It wasn’t, of course, but as I walked past it I started thinking about how quickly we get used to the unordinary so it swiftly becomes ordinary, normal and unexciting. As I continued to think about it as I walked through the store, I recalled that when I was a young adult on my own for the first time I had very little. One of the things I owned was a little 13 inch television set that my parents had given me and it served me very well. At the time, a 25 inch set was considered huge and very few households had one that large.

Within a few years I was able to afford a larger television set and I happily graduated to a 19 inch table-top unit and I felt I was stepping in high cotton to obtain such a big tv. Man, that television set was gigantic compared to the little 13 inch set I used up to that point. When I acquired the 19 inch tv, the largest set generally available was a 27 inch model, but occasionally you would see ads for 32 inch televisions but they were much too expensive for most Americans to be able to afford. The only televisions available at this time were CRTs…cathode ray tube units that were deep as well as heavy…I think the 27 inch televisions weighed in around 50 to 60 pounds. If you had a 27 inch television set you had a very big piece of furniture (several years later I acquired a 32 inch television set and that monstrous tv was also monstrously heavy, weighing in at close to 90 pounds). Today the flat screen tvs are generally less than 4 inches deep, but decades ago when televisions had a cathode ray tube as the main component, these things were at least 2/3 as deep as the were wide. A 27 inch television would likely be 24 inches deep and would occupy floor space in the family room as a center piece of furniture. At some point I bought a 25 inch set and I remember watching it and wondering how I was able to watch anything on that little 13 inch set and at that point after getting used to the additional 6 inches of viewing area, the 19 inch television seemed small to me also.

Fast forward to twelve years ago and as I unboxed and plugged in my first flat screen tv that was an astounding 42 inches diagonal I was completely blown away and awe-struck at the size of it. Today we enjoy super sharp images on a 60 inch unit and when I saw a 42 inch television set the other day, it looked so, so small. If I were to build a room that had a wall large enough to fit a 100 inch screen onto, I’m sure that I would look back on the puny little 60 inch screen and wonder how I was able to watch anything on that seemingly minuscule surface.

So, today have we come full circle? I see the younger generation watching movies and gaming on a screen they hold in their palm while those of my era seem to want to bring the stadium jumbo-trons into their homes. Is it all perspective, or could it be something else? Up until I was 35, I could watch a honeybee’s path in the sky as it flew across a field, but today? No, I have to have glasses to read a book and I lose sight of the honeybees after a few feet. It could be that those of us with failing eyesight compensate with larger and larger screen, but after a short while even those screen don’t seem so large anymore…so I think it is a combination of both…age and perspective.


(I mentioned the weight of that 32 inch tv. When I got my first flat screen, nobody wanted CRTs and I eventually was able to give it away. The guy that came to take it off my hands was a big guy that arrived in a tiny car that was leaning to port (left) as he drove up. We struggled, sweated, cursed and stumbled but were finally able to shoe-horn that thing into the passenger side of his roller skate, which left him hanging out the driver window. As he drove away the car was no longer leaning to port, but it was squatting very low to the ground…he would have been right at home in East LA…)

On a side note, When I was younger, I kept the 19 inch television set for several years and as a bachelor, I often would lie on the couch on my side watching tv…so even though the TV had a horizontal aspect sitting on the shelf, my eyes were positioned vertically when I would lie on my side. I started wondering why the television shows looked normal with the difference in aspect…the set being on a horizontal plane and my eyes on a vertical plane, so I decided to experiment and I turned the television set onto its side so the tv and my eyes were on the same plane. That was so weird…I tried to watch the shows from this angle for a few nights and it was so unsettling watching the cowboys on their horses seemingly galloping straight up and straight down a grassy wall that I couldn’t concentrate and had to right the tv back to the proper perspective. So even though I was turned sideways watching a television set sitting on a shelf, my brain compensated for it to the point that when they were both vertically aligned, my brain was still viewing the tv set as horizontal, throwing everything off…strange…


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