Saturday, August 04, 2007

Earning Man Points

It turns out that you can justify just about anything. In our case it was a 52inch LCD TV.

“We never go to the movies,” we bemoan. The last 5 movies I’ve been to were either Disney or Pixar. If we go to a movie it’s usually a kid flick, something that the whole family can see.

By the time we pay for a babysitter dinner and movies the night cost’s us about $100.
Turns out that dating one’s own wife is more expensive than dating her when she was the girlfriend. So, over the years we’ve fantasized about getting a big screen TV. Using the above-mentioned justifications we continued our fantasy until, finally it has manifested itself into the Sony Bravia 52 inch behemoth glass idol to the gods of TV and movies.

Okay, okay, stop where you’re at because in my case just getting a big screen wasn’t that simple. In my case doing something to the house never is. You see, we live in Arizona. All of the houses are new. So instead of having any sort of accommodations for a widescreen most house designers have taken it upon themselves to design what I have dubbed the plaster disaster. Take the focal point of a room where a television would go and with drywall create a series of useless indentations, shelves and niches. It seems as if there are a series of geniuses that consider themselves to be a sort of Michelangelo, but instead of using marble they have chosen drywall and plaster. The results are lame, useless and nauseating at best and the valley of the sun is full of such architectural genius.

In our particular case, around the fireplace were two nieces and an excuse for a fireplace surround. The mantle above the fireplace stuck out only 3 inches from the wall. You couldn’t hang anything off of it, couldn’t set anything on top. Most items would just fall off.

Upon deciding that I was going to get a TV for my birthday we decided to call a company that specialized in creating niches into cabinets, entertainment centers, etc. A sales person for “Cure for a Niche” came over and evaluated the situation. A few weeks later he came back over with a picture and a quote of $6000 to create something that looked like a giant headboard. Factoring that with the cost of the widescreen TV itself would put us well over $10,000. I was against spending that much on principle alone nevertheless not having that much money to begin with. So I decided to do something that scared the hell out of myself. I decided that it was time to earn some man points. I decided to do it myself.

With some basic calculation and minimal planning I figured that I could do the demolition, route the stereo cabling, move the electrical outlet, frame the hole, hang the drywall, texture the wall and paint for less than $600. Turns out with some help and advice from friends I was able to do the job and buy the tools needed to do the job for about $400.

The only failure was that I drastically underestimated the time that it would take to do the job. I thought that I could do it in a weekend. Turns out that it took two weekend days and my mornings before work to finish the job.

With phase one of the plan complete it looks great. The TV and Bose jewel cubes float off the wall. It looks techno and modern, a sight to behold.

Because of time and experience (or lack thereof) Jill has asked me to stop the project and hire a woodworker to finish building the fireplace surround and the stereo cabinet in the remaining niche. For me to do it would cost too much in the way of tools and would take way to long. School starts in a week and it normally cuts down on my available time drastically. We had two professional woodworkers come over and take a look at our setup. Both said that I had done a good job and that they could easily create a surround and mantle for the wall. Jill and I noticed that both of them were missing fingers from their many years of crafting, perhaps it is a good thing that I leave the finishing work to a professional.

For now the TV is up and it looks fantastic. I also upgraded to digital cable and it is incredible. The picture quality on HDTV is unmatched. So far there are only a dozen channels in HD, hopefully soon there will be more. Regular NTSC TV looks pitiful in comparison. Movies that are not hi-def but wide screen look pretty damn good and with The 300 fresh out on DVD I’m just in time to enjoy a movie that I’ve always wanted to see in the theaters but didn’t get a chance to on my new TV and over the Bose speakers in 5.1. When we tuck in the kid tonight I’ll make sure that she has her stuffed animal and a set of earplugs.