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TV Can Make You Smarter, 11.19.02 ...

I hate those little questionnaires you get in the mail.

You know the ones asking you to list your hobbies. I'm never sure what to put. I don't do puzzles and after the crocheting incident, I gave up on that in third grade (when my scarf began to look more like a rainbow). I don't like to do needlepoint and sewing is out of the question. I do read, but I finish books so quickly I usually don't start a new one right away.

So what is my hobby? Well, the only thing I can think of is television watching. I mean, I've taken television watching to a whole new level.

When you can watch three shows at once, you know you're good. I wish they would have an Olympic sport involving the remote control, because I know I would win gold.

The truth is, I do love watching television. From the time I get home from work to the time I go to bed, my television is on. Sometimes I don't watch, I just have it on for background noise when I'm cleaning or working on the computer or my personal favorite -- balancing my checkbook. My television is always there for me.

Once, on a tragic day when I was a senior in college, my television stopped working. After placing new batteries in the remote, then moving over to the actual set to push the buttons, I realized the horrible reality of the situation. My television died and I was alone in the world. After a few tense minutes of crying, I finally managed to call my friend.

"Mike, my television's broke," I was able to mutter between sobs.

"So? I don't even have one," he answered curtly.

"But now we can't watch 'Scooby Doo,'" I managed.

"I'll be right over," he said.

And he was, because we all know you can't miss too many reruns of "Scooby Doo". After fiddling with the set, he broke the news, solemnly, gravely, that there was nothing he could do. The television set had gone to the big place in the sky with the reruns of "Batman and Robin" and "The A-Team."

But all was not lost when I finally talked Mike into driving me to a television repair shop down the road. A new picture tube and $70 later, my television returned to its rightful place, and I was content once more.

I think there are more people out there like me than care to admit it. Whenever I go to friend's home, the television set is precariously tuned to some strange show, but my friend doesn't know how the television was programmed to that channel.

"I don't know how 'Buffy' got on."

"I think you do," I smile, then watch the vampire slayer kick a little demon butt.

I like television. I'll admit the tube gives me an escape, but I also get bored very easily at the shows. That's why I found the last channel button. Have you seen this? You can watch one show, then press this one little button and the television miraculously changes to another channel, the one you were just watching.

That's how I watch two and three shows at a time. I'll be watching the rerun of "Buffy," then switch quickly to "Gilmore Girls" to catch up on Lorelai and Rory's lives before tuning to TLC for some medical drama. I've watched four things at once, which was really difficult, but I have to admit, it was kind of exciting.

I know all the studies saying society has become dumber because of the invention of the so-called boob tube. But I disagree. When you can watch the life and times of Henry VIII on the History Channel, then view law enforcement track a killer on the FBI Files, you know you've learned something. The problem is what people watch, not how much. When people only watch MTV or sitcoms, they probably haven't learned much, except who is the father of Rachel Green's baby, or what new skimpy outfit Britney Spears has on. But television also has educational programming, you just have to use the thing called a remote to find it.

My nephews and nieces have grown up on television and I don't think they are dumber because of it. In fact, many of the shows for children are educational. From "Blues Clues" to the classic "Sesame Street," children can learn a lot from the television. My one nephew uses the television and computers more than I do, and can do just about anything on his PC, and he is only 5. And then there are the classics, like "Scooby Doo" (do you see a theme here?) That show teaches how to get along with others and solve mysteries. What more do you need in life?

Now, I know a lot of people say television has no redeeming value, but on a cold winter evening when it's just too bitter to venture out, curl up on the couch, turn off the lights and cuddle up with the remote. You brain will turn to gelatin, but all the day's problems melt away when you watch the Charmed ones vanquish another demon.

I have to go now. There are a few good shows I want to watch. There is a rerun of "Friends" on, and I think this is the one where Joey gets locked into his entertainment center and his apartment gets robbed.

You know the one, you just won't admit it.
Credit: News Journal

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