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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Unplugging – sorta, kinda, a little bit.

Once upon a time, long ago, back in the day, before there was dirt, you only got about 5 channels on your television set. You didn’t pay anything for this – except the electricity to power the TV, and of course, the TV itself – and mind you, there was only one TV in the house. You didn’t have a remote control – so you had to get up and walk across the room from the easy chair to change the channel. If you were very lucky, you watched at best no more than two cartoon shows on Saturday morning (but not every Saturday – daylight’s burning – go out and play) before Dad took over to watch a football game. You watched maybe one hour of TV of an evening – but not EVERY evening. On Sunday evenings, you might get a little extra time – to watch the beginning of the Ed Sullivan Show after Disney. But only just a little, and only on special occasions. After all, that Ed would sometimes show some pretty racy stuff and besides – Sunday is a school night. It wouldn't work any way to stay up too late watching TV: the networks shut down every evening around midnight. Stations would play the national anthem, show a picture of the US flag, waving majestically in the wind, and then the screen would go grey and black and fuzzy until 6AM, when the local, early morning news shows would start up.

Yeah, for you youngsters – it must sound downright primitive, eh? Can you imagine?

These days, almost every household in America has at least one TV (even if you’re dirt-broke poor – you’ve got TV), and little over a third of us have more than one. The average American watches close to 4 hours of TV a day. We surf through these channels as we sit on our butts – you never have to get up to change the channel. And you can watch 24 hours a day if you like. And the number of networks and channels? There’s a gazillion now.

I have an expanded, basic cable plan and I receive about 100 channels (some folks get 500). But what am I watching? I channel surf amongst maybe 10 channels at best, watching mostly reruns, movies that are edited to death (to spare my innocent ears and eyes of foul language – but not of sex and violence), and stupid news/entertainment shows. Now why am I paying a bundle of dough for 100 channels of crap when I’m really only watching 10 channels of crap? And why am I watching this crap? Aren’t I worth more than that? Don’t I have better things to do with my time, my brain?

I decided to make a change. But I work slowly.

First, I researched what shows or clips of shows I can watch online. I love the Daily Show and the Cobert Report – but I can get that online. I like Countdown with Keith Olbermann, but again – I can get that online – for free.

For what’s new and fresh with pop culture- I can go to You Tube. Again, free.

Then I investigated the radio – wow! What a wealth of possibilities the radio offers. I listen to the radio anyway- time to expand my options. And I can listen to radio either on my computer or my stereo.

Being anal, I made a list of shows online and radio productions I’m interested in. The list is posted prominently in the middle of my refrigerator. Random pictures of my kids and friends have been pushed off to the side to make room for this ever-so-important list.

And then I signed up for Netflix. I can order Rome, The Sopranos, etc. I have 100 selections in my queue: documentaries, foreign films, and yeah – reruns (some of shows I’ve never seen): Rome, The Sopranos, 6 Feet Under. I have the cheap plan, so I only get three DVDs at a time. I’m trying to be moderate.

In the Bay Area, you can’t get regular channels (local, PBS, and the basic networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC) without either an antenna (always temperamental and ready to scorn you at will) or cable. I called the cable company – and discovered they will charge me to downgrade - cause a tech has to come out and block channels from entering my home. Yeah, these channels, they just willy-nilly enter homes at will.

Of course, the tech can’t come for several days, and at that, it is a WINDOW (you know this drill – he’ll arrive anywhere between Monday at 10 AM and Friday at noon – that’s what it feels like, right?).

I am scheduled to go bare bones on the televised media next week.

In the meantime, I am watching as much crap as I can!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


good for you, bird

i keep threatening to throw
my TV out the window (that's the aggravation of only about 40 channels of crap -- i can't get less...)

then there's blogging, but let's not go there

good luck /w yr new found luddite ways!


June 20, 2007 6:25 PM  
Blogger onandon said...

I remember the way it was in the first part of your post.
we are yet to catch up with having 100 or 500 channels.

Thanks for the 'heads up'.

June 20, 2007 6:51 PM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...


June 20, 2007 7:06 PM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

There's always an iPod to plug into your ears. giggle.

I found that with time and effort I can almost hit the off button every other time.

I do agree, there is a lot of crap on the box.

Good luck. I bet that in about 20 minutes you will wonder what all of the fuss was about.

TV, what's tv? giggle

June 21, 2007 4:12 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Most excellent, Bird! Honestly, the only reason why I have cable is to watch the Yankees...that is it. I suggest lots of NPR after you unplug. :)

Birdie, you like ROME? I love ROME.

June 21, 2007 6:39 AM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

Most excellent, Bird! Honestly, the only reason why I have cable is to watch the Yankees...that is it. I suggest lots of NPR after you unplug. :)

Birdie, you like ROME? I love ROME.

June 21, 2007 6:39 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Well at least get in a few episodes of Hell'e Kitchen if y'all can before plug pull.

Helpless without his Howard TV.
yer pal,

June 21, 2007 12:31 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

regards to all - thanks for dropping by and commenting. i know i am not posting so often anymore - nor as interestingly...i seem to be on some sort of weird blogging cycle.

we'll see how i dowith the cable downgrade. the real test is -- will i chicken out and cancel the cable guy's visit to block the extra channels?

and we'll also see if i can adapt and move toward total freedom (no cable - hence no tv at all).

hey, TN, i did consider not downgrading my cable - because of baseball - of course! i'll only be able to get some of the locally-televised Giant games - everything else, I'll have to listen to on the radio. God help me - the World Series better be on one of the old netwworks - else all of cyberspace will hear my squawks and screeches!
and i begrudgingly send congrats to your team over their victory against us. oh dear god, we suck so much! it's despairing - enough to drive a girl to drink! (of course, umps changing their minds after a call doesn't help. our save suddenly converted to an out - foul play i say.

cj: you and howie agin the world, eh? :)

June 21, 2007 7:19 PM  
Blogger she said...

hi boydie

like onandon you described my life as a child with your first paragraph. ah the good old days when the more physically powerfull decided the programming.
i have a great memory of my big brothers favorite shows.

baseball! it is insane isnt it? but, it IS the perfect compliment to writing wouldnt you say? you look up when you need to, the rest you just listen.

weird blogging cycle. yep.

June 21, 2007 8:29 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

ah, my little heart goes flutter/flutter when someone calls me boydie. :)

big brothers? hahaha! how well i remember Combat - my big brother's favorite show. but sounds like my household was a bit more egalitarian - my sister and i got our turn too (Lassie and Disney Iremember very well. And thankfully, everyone agreed on My Favorite Martian. Oh my goodness...perhaps a new post is coming on

tv shows that have known me and shows i wish i'd never met.

mod squad comes immediatley to mind latter category.

June 21, 2007 8:47 PM  
Blogger Riki D said...

The price to pay for background noise....

June 21, 2007 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

link, pete


tho i enjoyed julie (peggy) a lot more slingin' hash from behind the counter in the diner there at twin peaks -- harder eyes, longer tits, but still as beautiful & groovy as ever -- where does the time go?


June 21, 2007 11:57 PM  
Blogger Mrs. B said...


I am with you in spirit, but the flesh is unwilling. I cannot seem to cut the cord, so to speak. This may be a problem for my generation (mid-twenties). I am an educated woman, and I love to read, but there is something about that magical box that has me hypnotized. That is exactly what the advertisers want.

I am starting with removing the television from the bedroom. Unfortunately, I cannot rid myself of the 500 channels becuase we signed up with a company that requires one year of contracted television service.

Thanks for the inspiration. I will try to make baby steps.

June 22, 2007 10:54 AM  
Blogger Pete Bogs said...

Netflix is great! I remember Saturday morning cartoons... they seemed to go on for hours... Dad wasn't a huge football fan (at least not college), so that was no problem... I remember Disney on Sunday night, but not Ed Sullivan...

it sounds like you are very organized and rational and good at economizing... my female doppelganger!

PS: your tags caught my attention because I saw the words "sucking" and "boob" adjacent to one another... mmm...

June 22, 2007 11:01 AM  
Blogger she said...

"combat" for sure. also "rat patrol"

mchales navy
f troop
gilligans island
green acres
hogans heroes
bewitched and jeannie

when i was a little girl i was like "why in the HELL would a great looking sitch/genie put up with the moronical mates?"

haha..thinking of bogs' post of men as the joke of society...it started early!

i loved loved "the twilght zone" id get all worked up just seeing that little white wiggle thing ...you know the part about how they are taking over the control of the tv?

mission impossible
the avengers

crap! we watched a lot of tv!

popogeezo on ed sullivan
and of course disney. oh boy! here come tinkerbell.

June 22, 2007 12:07 PM  
Blogger she said...

wait! whats up with you wish youd never met the mod squad?

man, like /t says peggy lipton was the shyt!

June 22, 2007 12:08 PM  
Blogger Crashtest Comic said...

tv has turned us into a society of people with ADD...

is that a piano?

look at the f**king clouds!

July 04, 2007 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah, CT - the clouds comment catches me...

for a different reason -

parents who so over-schedule their children with activities, the kids never have time to lay in the grass and look at the clouds.

a priceless activity.


July 04, 2007 8:41 AM  

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