Monday, April 18, 2011

To keep or to cut: Cable TV

I'm thinking about cutting my cable. Now, before I get started, I am not ever going to be one of those people who is all "I don't even own a TV." Eff that, I love my TV. I love both of my TVs, even the little guy in my bedroom who isn't hooked up to cable but plays my 30 Rock DVDs while I'm falling asleep.

The only reason I'm considering doing this at all is to save money. I have a good job, but it's not exactly high-paying. And with the looming possibility of grad school and the associated student loans in my immediate future, saving $40 or so a month by cutting out cable seems like my best option. My plan is to cut out cable, but keep my high speed internet. I'm just guesstimating at my costs here, but I'm paying over $100 a month now, so by cutting out cable let's say I cut that down to $60. I already have Netflix and I can stream it to my TV through my PS3. I have the 2-DVDs-at-a-time subscription so that's $15 a month. This will absolutely be kept, because I love the selection and the instant streaming. I also feel like I have to prove that yes I can finish a queue that long before I die. Basically, you'll have to pry my Netflix subscription out of my cold, dead fingers. Now, if I cut out cable, I will add a Hulu Plus subscription for $8. I used my free 2 weeks a while ago but cancelled it because I felt like I was paying $8 extra for something I could get for free online or On Demand. Now I'm seeing how it would be beneficial to someone without cable. Yes, Hulu Plus can also be streamed to my TV through my magical PS3.

Here are some of my pros and cons:

PRO: I'm already really bad at remembering to watch stuff when it airs, so I usually end up having to watch stuff online or via On Demand anyway.

CON: If I get rid of cable, so goes my On Demand.

PRO: Glee, 30 Rock, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, 16 and Pregnant (shut up), and Teen Mom (SHUT UP) are all available through Hulu Plus.

CON: Project Runway, Mad Men, and The Killing are not on Hulu Plus. If I remember correctly, Lifetime's streaming video player is crap, which I really hated all those times I forgot to watch ProjRun when it aired. They may have improved since the last time I watched, though. I haven't watched video on AMC's website, so I'm not sure how it will work.

PRO: I'll probably get more reading done, because I won't be able to go "I could read, but there's this Criminal Minds marathon on..."

CON: I know it sounds silly, but one of my favorite things about my cable is the ability to catch an episode of Law & Order, L&O:SVU, or Criminal Minds at pretty much any hour of the day. I don't own any of these on DVD (and why would I? They're always on).

PRO: L&O is streaming on Netflix, and if I'm saving $40 a month by cutting cable, I can buy a couple seasons of Criminal Minds to keep myself entertained.

CON: My DVD shelf is already completely full, and I live in a tiny apartment so I don't really want to expand. I could buy them from like iTunes or Amazon Instant Video, but I'm a huge nerd who loves the special features on DVDs.

PRO: I'll probably get more use out of the DVDs I already own. I have movies on my shelf that I haven't watched in years, and that's really sad.

CON: Award Shows. This is my biggest con. I love that cheesy shit. I love watching a group of actors get all fancied up to pat each other on the back. If I get rid of my cable, I really think that this is where I'm going to feel it the most. As far as I know, there's no where to stream the Oscars or the Emmys online, so to watch I would either have to go over to my parents' house, or just not watch. Honestly, the idea of just not watching gives me a case of the sads.

Those are all the pros and cons I can think of at this moment. I'm going to run an experiment, actually trying to go a couple weeks without watching my cable to see if I can do it. Please leave comments and suggestions.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

There are Ghosts in my Bedroom

A few weeks ago I bought some VHS to DVD software when it was Amazon's Deal of the Day. Since then, I've been slowly going through my family's VHS tapes and transferring them. I've only finished Christmas 1986 and 1987 so far, and I'm getting started on Christmas 1997. Watching each video is strange. Of course I was expecting to see my relatives and pets who have been gone for years, but it's still a little odd when they first appear on camera. It's like watching a ghost materialize. I was surprised in Christmas 1997 when we cut from my family's living room to the living room at my paternal Grandfather's house. I thought he had already died by then, but this must have been his last Christmas with us. It's strange now to watch that scene and think about how there is now a different family living in that house.

This sort of nostalgia is to be expected, of course. You don't think about it at the time you're recording it, but the entire reason for videotaping these special occasions is so that you can look back on them later. You can revisit the past and see again those who have gone. In Christmas 1986 there is an extremely brief glimpse of my great uncle Elmer. It's quite possibly the only video we have of him at all. But the most important thing about Christmas 1986 is the fact that my Grandma Marge is there. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about the time that I was born, and the only clear memory I have of her from my childhood is going to visit her in the nursing home. She had no idea who I was. But in Christmas 1986, she's there, she knows who I am, and when she's playing with me you can see the type of Grandma she would have been. The Christmas 1986 video is the most important one for me, because that is how I choose to remember my Grandma Marge, even if the "memory" is really just a videotape. I would rather think of her as a Grandma who played ball with me and laughed at me when I spit on the living room carpet (long story) than as a sick woman in a hospital bed.

Ok, enough with the depressing stuff. Watching videos of yourself as a toddler is one of the most hilarious things you will ever watch. It's also interesting to watch yourself so young and see the moments where you can tell how you became the person you are now. 2 years old, and I refused to open any other presents because I had just opened a book and needed it to be read to me NOW. In my defense, it was a really cool book about the circus and those other presents could wait. That same year I had a really bad cold and my dad filmed my sleepyhead in my bedroom, where the humidifier is running full-blast. I point this out only because in 2011 I had just turned off the humidifier moments before hitting "play" on my VCR. Some things never change: I'm still a huge book nerd with bad sinuses. Watching Christmas 1997 isn't as fun because I'm 12 and I'm fully aware that I'm being filmed. My sister and I are playing to the camera, and it isn't as entertaining.

So, I don't know what you're doing with your weekend, but I'm spending mine with old friends, family, and pets, and enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Click Clack Google Books

I think Google Books may be suffering from the same... whatever the hell it is that Netflix has. I mean, Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type and Sheep in a Jeep are great books I'm sure, but I'm not sure there's anything super techy about farm animals writing letters to the farmer. Unless it's in the Technology and Engineering section because the animals have been genetically engineered to be able to use a typewriter. That actually makes perfect sense. Carry on, Google Books, carry on.