One of the things that I have really been excited about recently is the return of Cosmos. I’ll reserve judgment of the series, the scientist and the topics until it’s made a run through its first season, so this post isn’t about Cosmos. If you want to know more about Cosmos, Dr. Raywat Deonandan wrote a very upbeat article on Huffington Post Canada. I was excited because I love science and I think everyone should know more about science. On the other hand, I have to be honest; I’d rather not stay up until 10:00 pm to watch this show. I like to be in bed by 10:00 on a “school night” and it’s hard to fall asleep after watching science. No problem, that’s what the DVR is for.
Our DVR is integrated with our cable box which means it’s integrated with the remote for the cable box, which makes recording a show dirt-simple. Pull up the COX TV guide, highlight the show, press Enter and then select “Record this show” from the little pop-up menu. I can do that. I could program our VCR back when there was no on-screen program listing, and no special codes to key off of. Back when you had to know when your show started and what channel it was on.
Remember programming your VCR to start at 8:58 and end at 10:02 because there was no guarantee that your VCR’s clock and the cable company clock were going to reach 9:00 at the same time?
So, my problem isn’t recording the show. My problem(s) begin once the show is recorded.
My first problem is remembering that I recorded the show. After I set the DVR to record the first episode of the new Cosmos, I came home on Monday eagerly planning to watch the recorded episode around 7:00. That worked well. The following week, I recorded the second episode and forgot all about it. Tuesday night, I saw a commercial for Cosmos and I thought “Aw, I forgot to record that” then I remembered that I had recorded it. Unfortunately, it was already well after 8:00. Then it occurred to me that the show is probably only 42-45 minutes long if I skip the commercials.
If I skip the commercials
Yeah, just like it says in the title, I stink at fast-forward. There are three symptoms of stinking at fast-forward, and I exhibit all of them.
First, I forget that I have a fast-forward option. I’ll be watching Cosmos, and the commercial comes on and I start watching the commercial. That’s normal. There are always commercials and I watch them unless I need to use the facilities or unless I’m watching TV Land which is really a long series of commercials that are punctuated by tiny segments of some old TV show. So, I’ll be about three commercials into the break before I realize that “I can skip these!”
The second symptom I am known to exhibit is that I’ll overshoot the runway. I have a good friend that I used to car-pool with. He and I both liked arriving an hour early for work (I know, what are the chances that there would be two of us) but he really liked to leave on time. We were allowed to leave at 3:30 and he would stop by my desk at 3:25 and say “let’s not overshoot the runway” because he knew that it took me a few minutes to shut down my computer and load some backup tapes. Overshooting the runway means that I slip past the return of the show before pressing Stop and then Play and I hate that.
Yeah, yeah, I know that you can just press Play, but that almost never works for me.
So, having overshot the entry point, I will press Rewind (which reminds me to dig up the notes for that blog post on aging metaphors. I mean what exactly are you rewinding on a DVR?) But then I drift back into the commercial. I Stop comfortably inside the commercial break press Play and then continue as if I had never tried to skip them. Actually, given the delay in pressing Fast Forward and the struggle to stop and start and rewind and stop and start, it probably is as if I hadn’t skipped them from a time saved point of view.
While some of you may exhibit those symptoms occasionally, I seem to be alone among my family and friends on the third symptom.
I stop for commercials that I like
You see, to minimize the damage incurred by overshooting the runway, I use the slower of the two fast-forward settings, the one where you can still make sense of the video. As I get 15 seconds into the Bushes Baked Beans commercial I think “whoa, that’s the new Bushes Baked Beans commercial, I wonder what Duke is up to now…aw that little scamp” and I stop. Of course I press Rewind because I’ve overshot the start of the Bushes commercial. And, yes, I rewind past the start of the commercial I want to watch – kind of a reverse overshooting, and then I watch the end of the previous commercial and then “my” commercial. Then, because I forgot how many commercials I managed to skip, I just watch the rest of them.
The combined result of a failing memory, poor reaction time and a fascination with “good” commercials (see also Hellman’s Dijonnaise) is that watching a recorded episode of Cosmos took me 58 minutes.
Roll that beautiful bean footage!