Sunday, September 11, 2011

Life Without Cable or Satellite TV: More Time & Money For Good Things!

During the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit debate, the storyline was that elderly people had to choose between buying medicine or buying food. Today, I guess the new storyline is that the poor in America must choose between Affordable Twitter and watching American Idle Idol, or feeding their children home cooked breakfast & home-packed lunchboxes.

I don't know which is worse: the FCC requiring a philanthropic subscriber gimmick as part of a business deal, or the requirement that a family be paying for cable TV while getting "free" school lunches as a requirement for Comcast (aka NBC Universal) "giving" them "affordable" internet as long as they keep getting government handouts.

No wonder Washington can't understand what "Stop spending!" means. They have utterly lost the ability to comprehend true needs.

Well, back to the real world - not that one, the real real one.  The one the rest of us, rich or poor, TANSTAAFL or free school lunch by necessity, live in.

About six months ago, we canceled our TV service.

First we gave up satellite TV. It would have been cable we were giving up, but we can't get cable here, so it was satellite.

I had gradually stopped watching TV altogether, but it was Paul who came up with the idea, after he figured out that he could catch every show he liked ("First 48", assorted sports, Fox News shows) by streaming them on the computer without paying extra - like the old days when rabbit ears or an antenna would pick up the network and local channels for free, like magic, just by plugging in the television set.

Except now it's still like magic, just by plugging in the thing that looks like a television set. Plus we save about $70, $80, $90 a month. Comes in handy at the gas pumps. And when the electric bill comes in during this record heat.

Next, after having a Netflix subscription for about a year, I've watched all their British mysteries on dvd (they aren't available streaming) and Paul has seen all the episodes of Lovejoy (not available streaming).  New movies aren't ever available. The things we tried to watch streaming, wouldn't complete an hour without Netflix (not our DSL internet) going down for extended periods of time. 

So when they announced yet another rate increase, and explained that they were raising rates to manipulate customers into using fewer features instead of compensating for rising costs, we looked at our own budget and cancelled Netflix.

The cost of our subscription now buys us 2 or 3 used dvds each month to add to our collection of favorites (go through your favorite blogger's site link to Amazon). And helps pay the water bill to keep the shrubs and trees alive during this drought.

We are both reading more books than we have in a long time. We've found some wonderful resources for Christian study, and discovered a whole genre of clean stand-up comedy. There's more time to do real things. There's less feeling of being addicted to flickering images and more awareness of bird song just outside our door.

Someday we'll probably join Netflix again, and someday we may get a subscription for TV service again. But for now, we don't miss either one.

And we're glad we took the big leap away from it all.

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