Once upon a time the Icelandic nation was blessed with only a single television station – the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Broadcast hours in that faraway time were from approximately 6pm to midnight. There was no television on Thursdays and no television for the whole month of July. Families bonded, couples coupled. Happy, carefree days.

Day before yesterday, EPI and I picked up our new digital de-scrambler for the TV. A very snazzy looking unit it is, too – all metallic grey with space-age buttons and whatnot. ‘We’re experiencing a slight malfunction at the moment,’ informed the smiling service rep who handed it over, ‘so just keep trying until you get it to work’. So we brought it home like a new family member and hooked it up. Cable here and cable there, – damn! Flip flip through the manual and no matter what we do we can’t get the frigging thing to work. ‘Must be the malfunction,’ we say, ‘let’s have another go tomorow. At least the stations are showing up unscrambled’. (On account of the ‘malfunction’).

Come yesterday, hot damn! all the stations are scrambled again and our new unit still ain’t working. Phone the service hotline. Busy. Phone again. Busy. Phone again. ‘You’ve reached Northern Lights Corp … blablabla … you’re number 18 in line’. Wait patiently. ‘You’re number 13 in line … number 8 … number 3 … 2 … 1…’ 22 minutes later – Hello?

So we get some kid on the phone who by the sounds of it doesn’t know a lot. ‘Malfunction’ – this, ‘keep trying’ – that, blabla; it soon becomes pretty clear that here we have a case of the blind leading the blind. Up at Northern Lights Corp., it seems, the Northern Lights are on but nobody’s home. Or, as the Germans so charmingly put it, ‘They don’t have all their cups in the cuboard’.

As I write, we have 42 television stations on our TV and counting. This includes a few that undoubtedly will revolutionize our viewing habits, such as Polstar (Polish TV), DR1 and 2 (Danish TV), Extreme Sports, Chelsea TV (as in the football club), and a handful of others (forgive me for forgetting – I’m just too overwhelmed!). But there are still lots of glitches – the kind that infuriate – technology should be about making life simpler, not tear-at-your-hair maddening! Already I’m thinking with massive nostalgia of those days a mere two days ago when we sat with our plain old ugly grey de-scrambler and flicked easily through our limited selection of channels, happy as clams.

Weather: overcast with periodic heavy showers. Temps 3-10 degrees but getting colder tonight. Sunrise: 9.19; sunset 17.03.

Incidentally, it has been decided that the results of the presidential elections in the US will not have an impact today on Iceland’s weather.