Guilty Secret

Yes, I have a secret vice. Actually, I share it with my husband. He's not the least bit embarrassed, and will share it with anyone. I tend to go into denial and get a little defensive. We love television. Whew! There, I said it! It runs most of the time that we're home. We were raised during the 1950s when everyone loved TV. Children were parked in front of the TV every afternoon after school. We grew up on Howdy Doody, Pinky Lee, and the original Mickey Mouse Club. The one with Annette Funicello not Briteny Spears. I owned the original mouse ears and had the theme songs for every day of the week memorized. When our daughter was a toddler, I taught her TV trivia. She can even now at age 22 still sing the theme from "Rawhide" and quote Buffalo Bob correctly.

Life before television is a faint memory for me. The small Kansas farm town where I grew up was considered a fringe area until the mid-1950s. My husband is from Carlsbad, New Mexico. It really took some time before they got reception. For you young ones, a fringe area was one where you couldn't get TV reception because you lived in such a remote location. These were the days before cable TV. You had a huge metal antenna that went up the side of your home. If you were lucky, you had a box that sat on top of the black and white TV. You could turn a dial on the box and it would rotate the antenna until, hopefully, you got better reception. If you weren't lucky enough to have a box, some family member had to go outside and rotate the antenna by hand until you got the best reception possible. Best was a relative term. Getting it usually involved an open window or door, and the antenna turner shouting, "Is it better?" The insiders then yelled back things like, "More to left!" The antennas also doubled as lightening rods during thunder storms. When the weather was bad, huge fights could ensue over who got the antenna turning job. If the weather was really bad, there was no reception or the picture was covered with snow. No amount of adjusting the set would fix this static. You considered having reliable sound a real plus, as it went out all the time for no apparent reason. Remote control had yet to be invented.

In 1954, this was considered a miracle. We got one of the first TVs in our town. It was a huge square box that sat in a room that my parents made out of an enclosed porch. It was never the den. It was the "TV porch." My mother was pregnant with my younger brother at the time and was put on bed rest for the end of her pregnancy. She was a reader, but did need breaks. My father gifted her with the television. At not quite four years old, I got parked in front of it to keep me from killing myself, as she wasn't able to watch me constantly.

The odd thing is that, while I don't recommend doing this with small children now, it helped me develop my creative side. Early on, I learned that television doesn't have to be a passive experience. I ran it while I read. Later, I sat in the dining room doing homework while it ran on the TV porch. My brother, a champion high school debater, always had it running while he wrote his speeches and did research.

These days, the news is running while I do all my digital editing and uploading. Most days I can multi-task. Start a fractal rendering or uploading onto a site, put on laundry and listen to the news all at the same time. Later in the day cooking is added to the mix. Without TV, I'd be crawling the walls with boredom. Music is nice, but I want to be wired into the universe as much as possible. Without television, I'd probably be out photographing the same amount, but I'd get way less editing and uploading done.

This has all made me wonder, what vices or tricks people use to help them get the boring parts of their work done? Are there generational differences? Anyone want to talk about their first ipod? Just curious.

Pat Ballard

Photo credits: , Aurelko, Kutt Niinepuu.

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June 24, 2008


I do that around the holidays. This must be a secret vice of many creative people. We have to be alone to do much of our work, but we need some sort of other stimulus. Television is perfect for that.

June 24, 2008


Yep, I keep mine on the news just blaring away...unless there's a NASCAR practice, qualifying or I remember 20 years ago when I left it on M-TV just to hear all the new music...but that's not the same anymore. But I can put the TV on XM channels for music and that's a change.

June 23, 2008


Arrrgh! You're better at it than I am!

June 23, 2008


I'm Right there with you, I keep the TV on Just for the NOISE. I can "watch" my TV, edit photos, run my ebay store, Wash & dry Clothes, washdishes (Dishwasher), cook dinner(crokpot) Vacume the carpets(Rumba)and talk on the phone at the same time. And all usually while babysitting a couple grandchildren. Now if I could just find some time to take MORE Photos!!!!!

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