We sure haven’t come very far, have we? What was I doing after adding yet another component to my stack of overheating television set-top boxes? Standing outside whacking my satellite dish with a wrench.
In a previous fit of techno-rage I had tried to remove the dish completely. Unfortunately for me, it’s mounted on a pole that is secured to the planet by means of a deep hole and lots of cement. I threw myself against this contraption trying to pry it from the ground… only to come away a few minutes later embarrassed, defeated and bruised. Even worse, tired and sweaty. The physical dish removal was the last stage of removing satellite television from my life altogether. It was supposed to be cathartic, not aerobic.
Of course the dish company made it impossible to remove their equipment. The one-armed gray scarecrow in my backyard lived on. Months passed, football season came and I signed up again for my yearly fix of addictive programming.
After enough prompting from commercials and colleagues I even upgraded my service. A new satellite became much more important and, lo and behold, the all-out assault on my dish months earlier had knocked the thing out of whack.
I consulted various Web resources and a realignment seemed to be in order. My technical advisory board (Texaspete1212 and Dishmancometh -– very trustworthy) mentioned using an “azimuth” of 233 degrees. It went something like this: “Yeah, have a technician come out and do that. He’ll realign the dish and azimuth and blah blah blah.” I’m a guy. I stopped listening at the part about calling for help.
I still don’t know what an azimuth is, but that’s beside the point. My keen sense of direction and knowledge of satellite placement told me to move the dish slightly to the left. If that didn’t work, I’d move it slightly to the right. There’s beauty in such simplicity. And, sometimes, great danger.
Out I went with my trusty wrench and after some wrestling I had succeeded in bending the dish slightly. Not much movement of an azimuth variety so I adjusted my grip and got serious. There was a little more movement and some more warping of the dish itself but definitely nothing to worry about in my new role as homegrown dish installer.
I realized the stupidity of my plan quickly. Why grasp the dish itself and attempt to twist it? Why not just grab the arm and push against that in the proper direction? Why not, indeed!
Here’s why not: I broke off the dish’s arm. A creak. A snap. A moment of bewilderment. I was left holding the severed limb in my hands. Two cables still held the arm to the main body but all was lost. A rusty connection between dish and arm betrayed me.
Well, there was that and my decision not to: a) loosen the bolts holding the dish to the mounting pole, b) re-adjust to my heart’s content, and c) tighten the bolts again. Hindsight is 20/20, right? Sometimes in the heat of the moment you have to go with your gut.
The conversation with the dish technician was interesting. Something about my case was unique. I tried to be helpful.
“How did this break again?” He hadn’t held many broken arms in his time. Amateur.
“It was a bear. Azimuth bear, I believe.”
“A bear. It ran through my backyard. I know, I know. I couldn’t believe it either. Not many bears in suburbia, am I right?” I think he bought it. “This thing was in quite a hurry. Just clipped the dang dish. And I just thought, ‘Well I’ll be a son-of-a-gun’”
He tilted his head. “Well, you’ll be son-of-a-something.”
I watched the rest of the proceedings from the porch, wrench and pride hanging limp by my side.