I’m calling him by his initials, because this is how he was introduced to me by the Dish Network technician who brought us together about a week ago. His full name is Personal Video Recorder (is there an impersonal version, for people who are afraid of intimacy?), but I prefer PVR, though that is a bit hard to pronounce, since it lacks a vowel. No matter how you say it, it starts to sound like “pervert” (which he isn’t at all, so far as I can tell by what he has recorded for me so far, but that might change as we become more open with each other).
PVR is the Dish Network’s answer to TIVO, whatever those initials mean. We needed a new receiver so Laurel could do her daily stretching and floor exercises while watching a different channel from whatever was being recorded at the time. So PVR joined himself to our main TV, while old receiver got banished to the TV on the other side of the house.
PVR has a 60gb hard drive instead of those horribly crude videotapes, which now seem like something out of the Dark Ages. He does just what he is told and can record 60 hours of programming. Even more, now we can actually find what we’ve recorded instantly, rather than me rewinding tape after tape, looking for that elusive critical episode of Six Feet Under that I forgot to mark down.
The only anxiety I’ve had with PVR came right at the beginning of our relationship, when the technician was introducing him to Laurel and me. The technician was standing between us as we stared expectantly at the TV set, waiting to see what marvels would be revealed. The technician began his explanation by leaning over toward Laurel, and for a moment I thought that he actually was going to hand the new remote control to her so she could try it out. I was prepared to quickly leap and grab it out of her hand, as this would have been a travesty, an unforgivable insult to my inherent male right to control the remote control.
Fortunately, the technician began by saying, “With this PVR you can pause live programming, then go back and catch up on what you’ve missed.” Laurel, bless her heart, blurted out, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I then said, “Oh, so the PVR must continuously record what is on the TV for a certain length of time,” which was exactly right (it records an endless 60 minute loop on its own). At that point the technician ended any pretense of paying attention to both of us equally, and spoke almost exclusively to me, recognizing that if he was going to be able to quickly transmit the sacred secrets of the PVR to the Hines household (he was late for an appointment in Woodburn), this would happen man-to-man, electronic gadget aficionado to electronic gadget aficionado.
It’s a marvelous thing, our PVR. You can sort of play Master of the Universe with it, the only small difference being that you are controlling TV programs rather than the universe, and you aren’t really the master even of those. But you can indeed pause live programming, and record a program after you’ve already watched it. The PVR guide book recognizes that users are prone to get carried away with their newfound power. In several places it cautions: “Remember, you can’t fast forward through a program that hasn’t happened yet.” Darn!! You mean I have to wait for the future to become the present before I can experience it, after paying $199!!!