05 January 2011

Clipped napkins and a Russian plasma TV

Simple composition of the alternating current ...

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It started with a piece of paper...

I felt true love in my New Jersey kitchen. The food was served, we were ready to start, Larissa took a paper napkin and carefully tore it in half.  “That’s enough for both of us!”

I didn’t understand the napkin bit until my time in Russia.  I saw a waitress cut folds of a napkin, then cut diagonally to get eight pieces. Two ply napkins would open a new horizon!.  These pieces are placed in a glass on tables of small restaurants and stolavaya , cafeterias.  Sometimes you’ll just find scraps of paper.

Hints about a new TV...

I like that Larissa is frugal... or was for years. In the spring, she said casually that maybe it was time for us to get a larger television.  She had sent money during the ‘90s from the USA to help her mom and daughter.  They bought TVs and these were swapped among us.

I knew a good defense against an unwanted wish of another, is to go along with it and hope it dissipates.  So I agreed it would be nice to get a larger TV someday.  In September, Larissa started to measure the kitchen and large room (a bad sign).

Failed stratagems...

I figured it best to not ask why she used the tape measure in the kitchen.  After a few days, she announced that she liked how our cousin’s wife in Washington DC had a small TV in her kitchen.  I thought, breathing out, maybe she was going to let the idea of a new TV in our living room slide.

We usually don’t replace a working appliance just to ‘upgrade’.  Neither of us ever purchased a color television firsthand.  I figured I had negative momentum going!

Larissa starts a consumer roll!

One day in late September, The Good Wife announced she was off to Technosila to look at TV’s, returned with a 15.3 “ LED Vestel and a plan to buy a large Samsung.  She was frugal for so long, all her life, that I agreed to these purchases.

Electronics are more expensive in Russia.

The Vestel 15” Model VST 16850 LCD TV, was made in Turkey.  It is hard to see much from the sides and the speakers are muffled against the wall. With three years service guarantee, it cost $256.63 in equivalent rubles. 

Our Samsung 26” Model LE26C450E1WXRU, Version SQQ01 was made west of Moscow in Kaluga, Russia at a manufacturing plant which Russia is proud to have.  This model is sold in London, but not in the American market.  It’s a plasma TV  as 1. You can see your reflection in it when it’s off, and 2. When it’s on you can see the screen from the sides.

Changing pounds to rubles to dollars, I was surprised to find a Londoner can get the Samsung at a better price than we can in St Petersburg... $460.83 to our equivalent cost $548.39, around 16 % cheaper in England... and more shipping!  But with corruption so common here (the probable reason), a 16% surcharge as a result isn’t so bad.

Impractical consumerism...

I find these sets  have sort of glaring screens and poor sound when compared to our old tube TV.    They can receive high definition transmission, but the actual signal at times  seems to not be up to that speed yet. I do like that they are thin, the Vestal easy to fit under our kitchen cabinets and the Samsung in our stenka (wall unit). 

We are on the slippery consumer slope!

When we got the TV home with our son-in-law’s help, we placed it on the cabinet where our old tube TV resided.  Looked good to me but Larissa had other ideas.  A new wall unit was installed with half a day’s paid labor, which allowed us to view the TV together on the sofa, instead of from two easy chairs.  I liked that!

I asked about the unmatched bookcase, and Larissa at first said it wasn’t a problem.  But later she was out with her tape measure, and convinced me we needed a newer bookcase that would match the wall unit.  A sequence of economic events before my eyes!

The Samsung is sort of nifty and I like that it isn’t instant-on.  You’ve got to wait a few seconds for a pleasing chime, and then it’s ready.

Change can be a good thing...

My Larissa understands economics, seems at times smarter than me, and has good sense.  I’m happy with the new appliances and furniture... just a little bit surprised!


Have your say about frugality, or let us know your attitudes about television.  Just click Comments at the end of this blog post!


Geek and Gullibility http://www.blokesontheblog.co.uk/geek-and-gullibility/



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  1. We bought a 32 inch flat screen TV last year and it is marvellous. Spain now has an all digital TV system with most channels for free. But the new trick is to get the TV station through the internet (even the ones you are supposed to pay for you can get for free off the net) and then connect the computer to the TV. So now I can watch football or UK TV from the net on the big TV. Amazing.

  2. Hi Rob,

    You are up on the latest technology, while I am slowly trying to figure it out.

    I guess we don't have digital TV in St Petersburg... got to find out. And to add your computer as a work-around to get channels on your TV from the net is intriguing.

    And to think I started life writing with a steel quill pen! The speed of change is accelerating. Hold on!



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