It’s funny how you never realize how much something has woven itself into the fabric of your life until you sit down and try and figure out the best way to smash it to smithereens.
Ever since I was a little kid, I've wanted to smash a CRT. The more I heard and learned about the implosive, exhilaratingly dangerous possibilities of a compromised evacuated tube, the more enticing the prospect became.
Yet, for some strange reason, it never came to pass. Maybe I was too cautious and took the warnings of flying shards of glass and toxic chemicals and coatings too seriously. Or maybe I figured I’d just "get around to it" some day. But that ‘someday’ needs to be now. CRTs are disappearing fast and I may have the last one I’ll ever own. This is it.
A year ago I finally succumbed to my wife’s pleas and bought a big-screen TV to "get with the times". She’d been asking me for years to replace my 17-year-old 27-inch Panasonic CRT (CTP-2784SF) and so I ended up buying a truly massive, 61-in Samsung LED DLP. It’s great! I’d highly recommend it. And the surround sound system to complement it.
So, now I have this orphaned 27-in CRT behemoth sucking up space and dust in the corner of an unfinished, barely used upstairs living room (my new “media room” is in the basement). I started to think about smashing it, but then realized why I still hold on to it, a year after buying its replacement. I’m actually attached to it.
By nature, I don’t get attached to gadgets, they’re too transitory. I get attached to tools. All the way from my Dad’s old wooden-handled screwdriver (he was a carpenter and died when I was a kid) to my ever-present set of miniature Stanley electronics screw drivers. I won’t even start a project without the latter. In fact, they’re right here on my desk next to my keyboard.
Yet, I’m attached to this TV. Why? Because I've lugged it everywhere from an illegal basement apartment (or two) on Long Island, to addresses in New Jersey, to two houses back on Long Island. I’ve spent bachelor evenings quietly, peacefully, alonely, in front of it and later used it to court (trap?) my wife:
"Want to come to my place to watch a movie? Just a movie. Honest!"
One memorable Saturday afternoon, I was sitting back watching a game and the TV died. I looked behind it and a cat I was babysitting for a neighbor was resting on the back of it, over the heat vent. Turns out it had ‘littered’ all over the back of the TV and said litter had dribbled inside. I 'encouraged' the mangy ball of fur to find somewhere else to rest and took a look inside the TV. The boards were completely soaked in this brown muck and had short-circuited. I figured it was dead but cleaned the boards anyway.
I started looking for a new TV but two days later I turned the dead one on again, just in case there was some kick in it, and it sparkled back to life. I was shocked! The boards had dried and no chips were blown.
The cat wasn’t so lucky. I had a fight with it a few days later and it almost tore my mop to shreds. It escaped into a closet, got through a hole and hid behind the kitchen wall. After tearing off half a wall’s worth of sheetrock, I finally got it out, opened the back door and it made its escape. Cat-sitting was done.
The owner came home a few days later, had some choice words for me and we haven’t spoken since. Oh well. At least the TV was fine.
Fig.1: Vertical view of TV, showing path of cat 'drippings'. Most of the boards got covered and short circuited out, but darned if the bloomin' thing didn't work again two days later.
With marriage came a lot of evenings indoors, then when the kids arrived, Sesame Street, SpongeBob, Animal Planet and the Smithsonian Channel became required viewing, with a special dose of an hour of Jimmy Neutron on Saturday mornings. We’ve watched Olympic Games, World Cups, moments of triumph and disaster. 9/11 and later the space shuttle Columbia explosion really stick out.
We were only a week in our new home in February 2003 and I clearly recall staring in disbelief as the shuttle explosion was replayed again and again on the TV as it sat on the floor in the corner of the living room.
While the TV made it through years of change, it was inevitable that technology would catch up to it. After finishing our basement I bought its replacement and now it lies discarded. But I want it to go out with a bang! And, like I said, it’s probably my last chance to do this.
So, my question to you is: How should I do it? I’m going to video this for posterity and post it here, so I want to do this right. Off hand, I'm thinking:
--Sledgehammer swung from afar (tied to overhead branch)?
--Dropped from side of house?
--Bowling ball ‘strike’?
--C4? I don’t have any..but if you know someone who does (legally), let me know!
Fig.2: It's my last chance to smash a CRT. How would you do it? I'll video the event and show it here.
Either way, this TV is going down in style. Drop your suggestions for how to do it in the comments box below and I’ll pick the one most fun and doable.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Patrick Mannion (Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org).
PS: If you’re a fan of irony, it’s worth noting that the big new 61-incher just sits there in the basement most evenings now, except for the odd movie or special show here or there. Lots of reasons why that’s the case, (such as 'real' life getting in the way) but it’s still ironic.