Friday, September 18, 2009

Summer without a television

Well, this blog has obviously been on summer break. We've had plenty to do, and we've done it without a television for three months now. Sometime in mid-June, the television signals in the United States switched from analog to digital, and all of the sudden our TV just started replaying a program of a man explaining how to hook up a converter box. A converter box we didn't have and didn't want to pay for.

Perhaps we were secretly anticipating an excuse to get rid of TV. "Just give me an excuse..." is a threat I occasionally toss at my children. The TV itself has provided plenty of excuses for us to turn the thing off, including rude and mindless sitcoms, unrealistic and predictable dramas, and raunchy commercials. What would I miss by not upgrading my TV?

Before the great signal switch, the only programs I watched were sports events (mainly college football), the final 12 rounds of American Idol, and occasionally, the news. Let's address these concerns in order:
  • I now have plenty of sports to watch, including dozens of college football games, on ESPN360.com, a streaming online sports site that comes free with certain Internet providers. Instead of paying for cable to get ESPN (which was not even included with the basic package), we just upgraded our Internet to high-speed Comcast and, voila, many good games to watch each Saturday, with the option to replay any of them. All the ads are for ESPN, Honda, and Gatorade. It's nice.
  • Last season's judge juggling, poor production, mediocre contestants, and crazy rule changes were all pretty good evidence that American Idol is headed out the door, and I'm not afraid of missing much next year. My wife and I had gotten in the habit of taping the episode and fast-forwarding (now I really sound like a dinosaur) through the commercials and, sometimes, the judges comments. In this way we could make it through a two hour episode in about 40 minutes, but by the end of last season, we didn't even watch the final round.
  • The news is available online and I can get it from the website of my choice with much less spin and no interruptions for commercials. Admittedly, it's interesting to watch live breaking news coverage, such as when we were among the wildfires in Southern California and it was incredibly smokey outside, or when the Iraq invasion occurred. However, I can also follow this type of news on the Internet, and with Twitter, there are plenty of eyewitness reporters that can give me the news before the TV crews even get there.

So why don't I just upgrade to cable TV to get some shows that I really want to watch? Well, suppose I plunked down between $30 - $40 a month for a nice cable package. Now suppose that between two jobs, church responsibilities, raising two children, taking care of the yard, spending one-on-one time with my wife, and other critical stuff like eating and sleeping, I was blessed enough to sit down twice a week to see a program I really wanted to watch. That's like plunking down $4 every time I want to watch TV and I still have to watch advertisements for that privilege.

Anyone have a good book recommendation?

3 comments:

jtsnake said...

We just finished Fablehaven 1-4 and thought they were great, entertaining books.

Annete said...

Hi There !!

Yep, you are right, a life without television is impossible. Nice article, well written.

gregg + camille said...

I just read 'the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' I would give it 3 stars out of 5.

I liked reading your thoughts on TV. It would probably be closer to $50 for basic cable. We have gone with out it since April :)