I take great pride in the fact that I don’t pay for television. Call me old-fashioned, but I grew up in the 50s when the popularity of television exploded in the United States. Programming was free across the airwaves. While I accept change gracefully in most cases, I still can’t fathom paying for television.

My rooftop antenna receives the three major broadcasting companies, public television, religious programming and several Hispanic stations that help me learn Spanish.

I’m ready for the big switchover from analog to digital. I like my set-up.

Ignorance is bliss, they say, and that fact was hammered home during a recent stay in South Padre Island. My wife and I rented a condo to enjoy the island during off-season. The condo had a television set in the living room as well as both bedrooms. All of them were hooked up to cable. Little did I know about what constitutes television programming in the 21st century.

There were over 100 channels at my disposal.

I felt like The Bachelor with 25 women to choose from; a retiree at an RV show; a compulsive eater on a cruise; a motorcycle lover in Sturgis.

After a few hours of channel surfing my always on-point spouse suggested we purchase a TV Guide. I dug into the guide with the passion of new discovery.

Some shows I was aware of like “Dirty Jobs,” where the host visits all kinds of disgusting places. I watched him explore a maggot farm in Idaho. Fun stuff. “Animal Planet” has always been a favorite. My wife and I enjoy Anthony Bourdain on his travels around the world in search of the very best regional food.

I learned about other shows. “Survivorman” drops the host off in some remote location and gives him a week to make it back to the safety of his companions. “Bridezillas” exhibits brides-to-be in over the edge, meltdown status. It makes one wonder why the man is even considering marriage. My favorite new show is “Man vs. Food” with Adam Richman. Viewers send in suggestions and Adam travels across the county visiting restaurants to take on a particular eating challenge. His latest is a 15-dozen oyster challenge at Acme Oyster House in New Orleans. I’ve eaten their delicious oysters, but come on, 15-dozen?

I discovered that if I positioned myself strategically in the hallway of the condo, I could see all three television sets at the same time, enhancing my discovery experience. I came to a critical junction in my life when at one point I was watching “Sex Change Hospital,” “Redneck Weddings,” and “Animal Cops: A Cat With a Hole in its Neck” all at the same time. Like a spectator at a carnival sideshow, I couldn’t look away. It dawned on me that perhaps there was a better way to spend my time.

While vacations are fun, it’s always good to return home.

I’m back to free television.

I think I’ll tune in to Telemundo and catch a game show. Now that’s quality entertainment!