Life without television can be tough: Just ask 11-year-old Heath Carlson.
It rained all weekend and he missed the last game of the regular season between the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons. He was reduced to watching his mother make Sunday breakfast, all because his family was one of 300 in town that swore off television for the week."I thought it was stupid," he said. His 9-year-old sister, Elke, had an even better word for it: "It was a horrible idea."
"NTV," standing for No Television, was the brainchild of community activist Dianne Grenier. Her intention was to rouse the couch potatoes, encourage children to be more conscientious about their homework and get families to spend more time together.
The Carlsons certainly did that, and although they admit they caved in and watched the news, a sitcom and a movie on cable before the deadline.
"Since we could not play Nintendo or watch TV, we watched my mom make pancakes, and now we may never eat them again!" Heath wrote in a diary the family kept during the TV-less week, which ended at midnight Friday.
Two hundred families signed up for a week of unplugged TV, but Grenier estimated that 100 other families tuned out as word spread.
The town of 2,500 people, 20 miles east of Hartford, planned dozens of activities to fill up the time, including volleyball, a puppet show, wine tasting and advice from horseshoe enthusiasts on how to throw a ringer.
The TV world seemed fascinated by a town turning its back on the electronic age's equivalent of the living room hearth. CNN, NBC and a French TV company sent camera crews.
The three Carlson children were not alone in their grief. Their mother, Ivy, found the prospect of folding a mountain of laundry grim without her favorite morning talk show.
"I'll sure miss Phil (Donahue) this morning - my folding partner! I listened to some CDs instead . . . it was OK," read her diary entry for Monday.
The family discovered they had time for other pursuits.
On Sunday, "I woke up, did my homework, cleaned my hamster cage," Elke wrote. "After that I played with my friends. I got home and instead of watching `Charles in Charge,' I read and went to bed."