Cable TV Experiment

Saturday 11 September 1999 - I finally had my cable television disconnected today. This was a decision that was several months in the making. Since I got back from Germany in July I had really started noticing what a distraction television was to me. When my motivation was low, I would just flop down in the La-Z-Boy and start flipping through the channels. I used to rationalize this inactivity as productive "research" that in a subtle way would further my professional career in television.

But when I got home from Germany, I started realizing that this was merely an excuse; an excuse to be lazy and put off projects and things that I had been meaning to do. Granted, there are some programs that I regularly watch and enjoy, but most of the time it was just crap. And when it wasn't crap, it usually was a movie. And the movies cost money.

That was the thing that I think really put me over the edge - the cost. I was paying more than $50 a month to be distracted from the real world. That's more than $600 a year. I started to think about what I could buy for $600 a year. Things like plane tickets, computer toys... So, a few weeks after getting home I made up my mind to have the cable pulled.

Now, keep in mind there was a wide gap between making up my mind to do this, and actually having it done. It wasn't untill the end of August that I finally made the plunge and sent an e-mail to Cable TV Arlington asking to have my service disconnected. It took them about two and a half weeks to reply to me.

This was another reason I cut the cord. Their service sucked!! And this wasn't the only time. And when I would call to complain about quality, and channels being overmodulated, and audio not being matched on all the channels, the "service" reps would get this tone of voice as if they were talking to some crazy person, not one who actually knows what he's talking about. That and the fact that my neighboorhood would be the last to get the digital upgrade, and their total unrespnsiveness to my inquiries about cable modems. The bottom line - I was paying a lot of money for a product of marginal quality that for the most part kept me from worthwhile prusuits like reading, and my photography, and this web site.

So, today I got disconnected. I played around with the TV for a little bit to see how the reception is. It's not that great. I'm already starting to think about getting some rabbit ears. Or maybe I'll see if I can put in a DSS system here at the apartment. Are these signs of TV withdrawl? I turn on NPR and listen to Click and Clack and try not to think about it. Later in the evening, I put in a laser disc and let myself be distracted by "Grumpy Old Men."

Sunday 12 September 1999 - I spent the morning monkeying around with the TV, trying to get a half decent picture for my sunday routine. My sunday routine being to get up, make a pot of coffee, and watch Fox News Sunday. Not only is it a good program, but it's also really really cool to see your office on network television. But I never really got the picture in, but did eventually get clean audio. Once again, I flip on NPR and listen to Garrison Keillor.

Tonight I am watching the giant circle jerk called the Emmy's. I call it a giant circle jerk because all this stuff is about money, for the most part, and most of the good stuff doesn't get recognized. Neither do all the folks like me who work their asses off so all these people can bask inthe limelight. I guess that is the difference between techs and the others - we do it for the love of doing it. Maybe I'm just ranting a little too much. It's just that this stuff isn't real life folks. And the show really really sucks. They keep plugging the actors and presenters, and have this running tab of which network has won the most awards. Like it really makes a difference to anyone outside of advertising and programming who won the most. It's another reminder that for the most part this stuff isn't real, and it isn't fantasy. It is pure and simple money money money. Granted, news is for the most part about money, but there is at least the concept of journalism as a public service. But the awards show still sucks. Such is day two without cable television.

Saturday 25 September 1999 - So, I left off with last sunday. Monday I got rolled to cover the Hurricane Floyd. So, I didn't really miss my cable for that week. Then I got home, and was exhausted, so I really didn't miss it that much either. The only programs that I really make an effort to watch are all on Sunday. My Sunday routine is to get up, watch Fox News Sunday, catch a few of the other Sunday political shows, then goof off until The Simpsons and Futurama are on. Futurama is the funniest thing on earth. This is TV that makes me roll out of the recliner in hysterical laughter. I love the billboard for "Bachelor Chow." But stuff is still a little fuzzy, and I think I need to get some rabbit ears. I think I have made big progress in weaning myself from cable addiction. This, of course, has been replaced with increased addiction to coffee and cigarettes as I spend my new found free time mindlessly surfing the web and playing a mindless video game called Escape Velocity. So much for escaping the shadow of cable television for a world of increased productivity. But at least I am saving money!

Monday 08 November 1999 - Well, I'm two months into this test of my resolve and will to exercise my mind with such old techniques like reading and writing. And it has been fabulous for me. While I still regularly tune in the TV on Sunday's for a little football and the fabulous program "Futurama," I find that I don't really miss TV anymore. Though my reception sucks, I think that trying to fix it would only get me watching more TV again. I've come to realize that it isn't the end of the world if I miss a program. While my reading hasn't increased it's pace, it has become a regular thing to me. And I've come to realize on of the great things about book. When one is picked up after a pause, you start right where you left off. You can take your own commercial breaks, even go back to parts that have been missed as the mind wanders while the eyes track the words.

And the whole effort of turning off the cable has been a good process. Now when I find myself watching TV, and not getting into a program and just starting at the screen, I look back on the reasons why I quit cable TV. And then I hit the off switch, and move on to something else. The same thoughts have even been coming to me now when playing a computer game or surfing the web. The question for me has changed from what can I watch today, to what can I learn today.

Monday 03 July 2000 - Quite a while now without cable. I've sort of forgotten it. I guess that is to say I've adapted to life without it. I don't really have any new thought, I just thought I'd put a little update on this page so say I haven't neglected this dark corner of the site, and that I still live without cable television!