Cutting the Cord
May 15, 2016
I have truly been having an ordinary life as of late. I have not been traveling much. I did do a touch and go in Hawaii for ten days in the fall. I have been out on my boat and out on my bike, just not to any place that was remarkable. I am thirty something games into a new softball season. I am just about to go on stage with one of my plays. All of that has kept me busy but it has not resulted in anything worth reporting on.
Except cutting the cord. First, you must understand that I am an unapologetic TV watcher. I justify this activity by watching many historic series but that is mostly because I am too cheap to pay for porn. I binge watch fictional series like ‘Shameless’ and ‘Californicate’ because I find them over the top. And they are in effect soft porn.
I do not watch commercials. I may be missing the best part of TV but I find it incredibly perverse to pay for a cable service and then be subjected to 12 minutes per hour of commercials. I record everything and buzz through the commercials. I do watch Fox news live and there are those annoying commercials. Since I only watch the news 20 minutes a day, I have been able to tolerate it.
I hate the business model of cable providers where they continually raise the rates of existing subscribers while giving free credit cards to new subscribers. I have been changing my provider every two years just to piss them off and to get the introductory rate.
After years of paying for 250 channels that I never watched, I cut the cable. I am now on Amazon Fire which costs me $107 per year vs $100 per month for cable. In addition, the content is much more interesting. And, I get free shipping from Amazon.
First, I subscribed to Amazon Prime, which I should have done years ago to get the free shipping. I bought an Amazon Fire TV box, which cost $100 and is the size of two decks of cards. I glued it to the top of my TV, plugged it in and started watching streaming TV over the internet. No wires, no two-year commitment, no monthly bills, no hassle. How does it work? Hell if I know. It works very well I must say.
The Amazon Fire is to the right. The deck of cards is to the left.
I now watch Fox news 20 minutes a day but without the commercials. Someone has conveniently removed them for me. They have also removed all of the non-essential news stories of ducklings being rescued from sewer grates and other such nonsense. Cool. I now have a continuous stream of news stories telling me how Hillary will not be the next president of the US. That is comforting. It is incorrect, but comforting for the time being.
Now I have everything I need except sports. I don’t watch a lot of sports but I do like to get the big events. For ten or twenty dollars a month I could subscribe to a sports feed but then I would be climbing right back onto the horse I just got off. I decided to go another way.
I bought an antenna. You might think that I am right back to fifty-year-old technology and you would be somewhat right. I bought a $50 antenna from Amazon and got my free shipping. I stuck this thing in my attic since homeowners restrictions don’t allow me to put it up outside. Then I used the cable that used to run to my satellite dish and piped the signal to my TV. Using the satellite cable for over the air TV was a very satisfying experience. Take that you cable dill weeds!
Once I had that hooked up, I was in for a very pleasant surprise. I have always known that ‘high definition’ is a term with no real meaning like ‘high fidelity’ or ‘organically grown’. Once I had the free antennae piping uncompressed digital signal to my TV the picture got remarkably sharper. Yes ladies and gentlemen, if you want to get full value out of your expensive ‘high definition’ TV, you need to hook it up to an antennae from days gone by.
So now, I have about 30 channels of free TV with all of the major sporting events beamed in at high definition. Sadly, I am back to being subjected to commercials. I could not abide that so I bought a Digital Video Recorder to replace the one I had been paying the cable company $12 a month for two decades to rent. This recorder now records all of the sports events I am interested in so I can zip through the commercials. By doing this I have loss some of the clarity of my high definition signal but not as much as I had loss with the cable provider.
The DVR is that thin device under the deck of cards. The hard drive is next to the deck of cards.
Everything is working well. I invested something on the order of $500 for the equipment. My subscription rate is $8.91 per month. (And I get free shipping from Amazon!) The available content is great. There are many add on subscription services available like Netflix and Hulu, but I have no need for these. They cost $10 or $20 per month so one would have to subscribe to a lot of them to get back up to the cable rate.
I have not been wasting my time completely.