Lee the satellite guy came over on February 6th and installed a satellite dish for us. I met Lee in August 2009 when my next door neighbor had him over to do a satellite job. I grabbed his email address and contacted him in January to set up an installation appointment. Lee is an American who retired from the Army while stationed in Germany. He had married a German so he decided to stay and live here. He does lots of satellite installations for Americans living in this area.
There was already a metal pole on the roof but I had no idea how to install a dish and Tina didn't want me climbing on the roof. We had him set us up with access to three separate satellites. We get channels from Astra 1 at 19.2 degrees, Astra 2 at 28.2 degrees, and Hotbird. European television channels are mostly state-sponsored and the overwhelming majority of the channels are free-to-air (no encryption). Astra 1 has German language channels, Astra 2 has English language channels from the UK (notably the entire suite of BBC channels), and Hotbird has the AFN channels. The AFN channels are encrypted; a special receiver is required to decode the encrypted signal. Sale of these receivers is restricted to Americans living overseas on military orders (we qualify). I bought a used one from a coworker who was returning to the States.
Here are some photos of Lee on the roof. Our house has a basement, a main level, and then two upstairs levels. He was probably 35-40 feet up in the air at the apex of the roof.
We have really enjoyed watching the Olympics on BBC. They have no commercials and skip all of the lame feature stories that NBC seems to think I want to watch. One night BBC showed 31 consecutive downhill skiers compete in the giant slalom. Another night we watched every athlete in the field compete in the men's half-pipe competition.
The boys have also liked watching the German-language cartoons on the KI.KA channel (Der Kinderkannel = The Children's Channel). They have a blue rabbit called Kikaninchen who sings a pretty catchy jingle -- "Ich bin da und spiele hier. Komm doch mit und spiel mit mir. Wir spielen jeden Tag, alles was ich mag." This is roughly translated: "I am here and play here. Come with me and play with me. We play every day everything that I like." It sounds better in German because it rhymes. Kikaninchen also likes to say "Dibedibedab" -- a word that, as far as I can tell, is made up and has no meaning in German (or any other language for that matter). The rabbit's name is a cute play on words; the German word for rabbit is "Kaninchen". The KI.KA channel also has a mascot called Bernd das Brot -- a curmudgeony piece of bread.
We have also watched Sesamstraße (Big Bird has been replaced by a large bear called Samson that likes to dance the Mambo), Franklin, and "Coco, der neugierige Affe" (Curious George). The boys are learning some German words and I have learned quite new words myself. What fun!