So, we were driving slow down the avenue, in Jeff’s neighborhood, listening to XM 151, Laugh USA. Normally, I’d be tuned in to XM 150, XM Comedy, the edgier, uncensored station, but they were in commercial so I nudged the dial up one station to be entertained by a safer comic. Who turned out to be Kathleen Madigan. Kathleen was in the middle of a routine about math, how challenging it was for her. Her accountant scolded her, told her he couldn’t believe she couldn’t balance her checkbook. Then Kathleen told this bean counter that she couldn’t believe he wasn’t hilarious!

Pretty funny. But what do you do when confronted with a brick wall, the math equivalent of life. Do you give up and phone an expert, or do you dig in?

I’m the dig in kind of guy. I figure if I just sit there long enough and think hard, given the manual, I can figure anything out. Maybe I’ve spent too many years on a Mac, because recently I’ve met my match. I was about ready to throw our new PS3 in the garbage… Hooking it up made me want to tear out what little hair I have left.

But that was an amateur challenge compared to synching three a/v components to one remote. That was my job today. And I just accomplished it. It’s the greatest achievement I’ve had all year.

Felice has been hankering for a new home theatre system. Me? I’m just pissed my 21 year old Sony is on the fritz. For me to make a decision and execute is nigh on impossible. They say that opposites attract? Felice is the kind of person who can go into a store, point at what she wants and be outside in five minutes. I envy her ability to perform. Then again, I’ve got to achieve perfection, I’ve got to get it exactly right.

And based on this quality, I suggested Felice get a plasma flat panel. They’re known for having the best blacks. But Felice already has one LCD, she said no, she wanted an LCD, she wanted a Sony.

But then word spread that Samsung made LCDs to rival the Pioneer Kuro, the gold standard for flat panels. Their images were black! That was the way to go, right?

Well, Cnet says so. "Sound & Vision" says so. Every reviewer says the Samsung is the best. But, to achieve this high quality, it employs a reflective screen. So, if you have windows in your room…

That’s what I saw when I sat on Felice’s couch yesterday… Reflections.

It’s a $2000 TV set! Well, actually only $1752.94 if you buy it through Amazon. No shipping, no tax. Hundreds of dollars cheaper than Ken Crane’s. And the Yamaha YSP 4000 speaker system? That was $600 off list online. Felice decided to save the money, she bought on Amazon.

But there’s a cost to saving money. You get no service.

The TV was delivered Friday. The white glove delivery people set it up and proved it could work. The YSP 4000 sat in a box. That’s where I came in. Yesterday afternoon. It was my job to set it all up.

Well, to make it all work, you need HDMI cables. We thought we had a Monster connection, but it hasn’t come through yet. We couldn’t hook up the components properly without HDMI cables. I would have waited, but Felice was itching for results. So, I ask you, do you buy the $129 ones or the cheapies? I mean you’re laying out all that dough for the electronics, are cables where you want to save money?

I’d say no, despite the online chatter that there’s no difference. But Felice just wanted completion. We left the $129 a stretch wires at Best Buy behind and settled for $39 units at Radio Shack. Once back home, I got down to business.

I can plug, but can I play?

Oh, I got the YSP 4000 adjusted. Which requires setting up a microphone and executing a test. I plugged the cable box and the TV in. But getting them all to work on the same remote as the retailer said? Utterly impossible.

I did what everybody does in a crisis during the twenty first century, I went online. Yes, everybody agrees the Samsung reflects, yet everybody agrees it’s the best picture. The equivalent Sony is lame, and the ones in the pipeline? Will the Sony premium equal Samsung quality? Unclear. Furthermore, checking the best sellers, I found that all anybody is buying is Samsung, so that settled the nagging question in my mind.

But what about that remote issue?

I ultimately slept on that one.

So… Utilizing HDMI cables… Was I supposed to control everything from the TV or the Yamaha? Either way, I found it an impossibility.

The manuals bring you right up to the precipice, and leave you there. There are no easy answers online. You should be able to turn off the Samsung and the Yamaha with one push of a button, which ultimately I achieved, but they wouldn’t sync and turn on together. Should they?

I called Ken Crane’s, where the guy on the phone contradicted what the previous salesman had to say, making me feel good we cheaped out and bought the shit online. I mean, I know how it is with this level of service… They figure the buyer is ignorant, so why not deliver less than greatness, the customer will never know!

He told me he’d send someone to the house for $349, but not confident there would be a perfect solution, I passed, never mind the price.

And I went back to the living room. For hours.

Ultimately, around four, I decided to give up. I’d blown the whole day and had accomplished nothing. Sometimes you have to admit defeat. I decided to call one of the installers Amazon recommends. I was wiling to spend $99, my time is worth more than that, right? Well, maybe, but my ego was bruised.

This guy quoted a conflicting starting price of $149. And while I was digesting that, he started delineating exactly what they’d do. But when I protested that I’d already set up and connected all the components and all I wanted was someone to sync them all together on one remote, he started treating me like a girly-man. He wanted to get into it, find out how he could be on the line with someone so dumb. Not ignorant, that’s what they built their business on, the connection challenged, but dumb. Someone diving into his area unprepared.

Finally, exasperated, this gentleman told me all his worker would do was enter the codes from the manuals into the Yamaha remote…

Eureka! Half my problem was solved! The Yamaha was the master, not the Samsung… I’d thought so, but I couldn’t make the Yamaha work at all.

But when I went back to the couch, I found out I was synching to the codes of Samsung DVD players! And finally, the fifth out of six TV codes worked!

Then I got the Motorola cable box to sync up, and I’m yelling and screaming. Hearing me in the other room, Felice probably thought I was at my limit, but I was exuberant! I’d found the Holy Grail! I’d triumphed!

Wouldn’t have made me happier to finish Grand Theft Auto IV.

Which reminded me, I had to hook up the PS3

I won’t say the process was glitch free, but with my new finely-honed reasoning skills, I had it up and running in under five minutes! And it looked so damn good!

I don’t know whether it was the technology or the whole day of work, but I was dazzled by the images, the sound… Sitting on the couch I felt like I was living in "The Jetsons"!

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