Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ties Have Been Severed

Well, we did it. We no longer have cable TV or digital phone. I took what I needed to take back to the Spectrum place in Hanes Mall. The irritating thing, they moved the Spectrum store. So, I ended up hiking upstairs where I had to rest there at the Hanes Mall summit. Once my strength had been replenished, I finished the rest of the hike through the J.C. Penny’s and around the corner where I could see the Red Robin through the glass doors. I was a bit perturbed that the location hadn’t been changed on the Google Maps. Yeah, I checked before heading out.

I managed to have it all and we’ll only be charged for Internet from here on out.

If you know me then you may have an idea that I’m a bit of a TV junkie. We finally went with YouTubeTV for our live TV needs. The indoor antennas just weren’t cutting it and plus, I need some DVR like service. And I just didn’t want to hoist up a pole with an outdoor antenna. I’m sure that all of the adjusting for maximum picture quality would drive the MIL into thinning her already thinning hair out even more. Believe me. If you handed a laptop to an Aborigine child that has never seen one and have him race against the MIL to turn it on, the child would win. Just learning how the Roku remote worked turned out to be a few hair-thinning moments for me.

We ditched Hulu. They have some things that I liked, but the only real use of them would be for watching the OTA (over-the-air) network shows because we don’t have a DVR for that. We definitely kept Netflix and the MIL is watching so much on there that I’m astounded. ASTOUNDED! She’s binge-watching all kinds of things. She really got into ‘Grace & Frankie’. And finished up just before the new season drops in a few days. She’s also found a good stash of murder porn on there too. But I just couldn’t get her on ‘Mindhunter’ or ‘Breaking Bad’. She tends to have problems with series that aren’t linear and have to explain things like ‘Criminal Minds’ does to the audience. While watching ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ she felt confused and clueless. So, I would pause things and ask, “What do you think is going on?”

Most of the time, she was on it. But since the timeline was spread out all over the place, she was having a hard time knowing where she was in the storyline. She’s not dumb. But she has gotten so used to being spoon-fed every tiny detail from the characters of ‘Criminal Minds’ that her ability to think while watching a television show just needed to be dusted off.

Overall, the transition from cable TV has gone over smoothly. When I called to cancel, oh they had a deal for me. I could get all the locals and ten channels of my choosing for a comparable price. I asked, “Where was this deal when I asked about the lowest tier available after losing my job?”

“This offer only recently became available,” he said.

I politely declined because I’d still have to pay the rental fees on the boxes. Plus, I love having six profiles on YouTubeTV with no hardware to pay rent on.

If you’re thinking about ditching the cable company, I cannot recommend getting a Roku along with Netflix and YouTubeTV enough. Now as streaming apps are on the increase with things like DC Universe and the Disney app, content will greatly diminish on Netflix. But Netflix has some really strong original content and I just don’t expect that to change.

I’m so pleased with it what we have now that I don’t miss the cable at all.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Trash Tension

Aside from the dogs barking every time they hear a possum pass gas within a mile radius, the house is usually a quiet place. Oh sure, the MIL has the TV cranked up but that’s quite normal. There’s just one day that really stirs the pot around the Big House. Trash day.

You see, we live in the county and there’s no trash service provided by a municipality. So instead of paying for trash pickup like many of our neighbors, we drive 6.5 miles to dump it off at one of the county provided sites. It’s not a big deal, but someone around here MAKES it a big deal.

If you’re a regular reader of this award-winning blog, ahem… then you probably guessed that the someone is the MIL.

Now don’t get me wrong. The woman is a vital cog in the machinery that makes up our home. I just don’t understand how she goes about doing some things.

Today, for example, I’m going to take our trash and recyclables to the dump site. When I said that last night, the MIL nearly jumped out of her housecoat to begin wrangling all the trash within the walls of our home.

I missed going last Friday because of some issues with plantar fasciitis. I thought that I’d get to it on Sunday, but I still wasn’t up to the task. Monday, it got even worse. Then the dump site is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The recyclables were running over, but no one seems to understand how to gather them all in the large garbage bag that I use for a liner in the smaller receptacle of the two that we have in the house. So, I pulled those out and combined it with the others to keep the peace. You’d be surprised how quickly all those little Lime-A-Rita cans are able fill a standard office trash can.

Thursday has arrived and the dump site is open once again. Since the trashcan outside is getting full, it needed to be done today instead of waiting for the usual day that I do it… Friday. Jamie also chimed in on the recyclable stuff with her sarcasm. “I guess that I’LL have to do it on my day off Friday.” Yeah, she’s a subtle one.

Again, the MIL sprang into action last night after hearing of my devious plan to go off the standard protocol. She doesn’t move that fast until you mention taking the trash. Then she becomes Sonic the Hedgehog zipping from room to room snapping up any trash that comes into vision. She gathers all the little bags from bathrooms and bedrooms. She even pulls out the liner from the tall kitchen can whether it needs it or not. IT ALL MUST GO! It wouldn’t surprise me if she went through the dirty laundry to search for things in pockets that need to be discarded.

Personally, I don’t understand the overwhelming sense of urgency to get every scrap of refuse out of the house. It’s not like we’re never going to the dump site ever again. But for the MIL, the urgency is real. I don’t know if it’s from some mental scarring as a child. Perhaps she lived in a home filled to the rafters with trash. Maybe she believes that the garbage will all gather on its own while she slumbers to create a trash monster. One day the monster will wake her while standing over the bed just before crushing her to death. I don’t know.

I just need to add it to the long list of the MIL’s irrationality and start ignoring it instead of trying to understand it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Possible New World Record

I have put off and put off our decision to cut the cord. I wanted to make sure that I got everything watched on the DVR. And I’m practically there… I think that I have 2 episodes of ‘Riverdale’ on there and maybe less than a handful of some other series.

We flirted with indoor antennas and it was what I expected. It’s hit or miss depending on the weather and placement of the antenna. So yeah, nothing has really changed with digital TV.

I checked out all the live TV streaming services. They give me the basics of what I actually needed. I don’t need the multitude of channels that Spectrum offers on its lowest tier plan. I’d say that we only watch about 30% of what’s offered in that plan.

I settled on YouTube TV. Forty bucks a month with up to 6 unique users, what’s not to love?

I get the locals and channels that I NEED. That also means that I won’t be blowing the cord-cutting savings on beer when hitting the local bar to watch some of the NASCAR races on Fox Sports or NBC Sports.

And they promise UNLIMITED DVR! Oh yeah, I could use that when my returning shows overlap. But then again, I don’t think that we ever got over 50% on our DVR. Nonetheless, it’s exciting to know that they have me covered should I require 101% one day.

The most difficult part has been the learning curve for the MIL (mother-in-law). I knew that it would be. I purposely allowed the cable to remain for one more week during this learning curve. She could use the cable as a failsafe should she take any wrong turns using the Roku remote.

She got along pretty good last Friday, but I noticed that she was back to cable on Saturday. But I didn’t fight it. I didn’t have time to invest in order to straighten out her learning curve. The remote for the cable also operates the TV and believe me… It took some time to give her an understanding on how that all worked. Just imagine handing a cat a road map with the grocery store clearly marked and asking them to get their own food. Yeah, the learning curve has been steep with that remote.

The Roku has a LOT LESS buttons on the remote and it seems fairly intuitive to me. But for the MIL it’s like the instrument panel of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. And when I try to explain what she needs to do she just starts hitting buttons. I have to say, “Stop. Don’t hit anything until I tell you where to go. You’re not learning how to do it on your own so take some time to listen to me, please.”

But the biggest problem is the fact that she doesn’t keep her reading glasses nearby. We’ve suggested those cords that you can attach to your readers. Putting them in a case to carry around in her housecoat. But no. She believes that wearing them in any fashion makes her look old. You know, as if being 72 years old and holding out objects as far as possible couldn’t possibly make you appear old.

I showed her how to go to Netflix from YouTube TV. Easy. Just press that white button with the Netflix logo on it. “Is that the white one?” she asked while trying to focus. “Yes,” I said.

She got to Netflix and I told her that she should devote some time there to find something to watch when she can’t find anything on the YouTube TV. “I will,” she said. “Now how do we get back to YouTube TV?” I asked.

“I hit the back button?” she asked. And before she asked, she had already hit it and the Netflix menu popped out from the left.

“The easiest way is to hit the home button,” I said. “Now where is the home button?”

She held the remote to allow as much light to shine upon it as much as possible and it was taking a few moments because she couldn’t see the marked button with an outline of a “home” on it. “It’s the top right button with a picture of a home on it,” I said.

“Is it this one?” she asked while pointing to the “*” button near the center of the remote.

“No, Linda. It’s the one on the right at the top. It has a picture of a home on it,” I said.

“It’s not this one?” pointing to the “*” button again.

“Is that button at the top of the remote?” I asked. “Perhaps you could see better with your glasses.”

She just pressed the button and went back to the home screen. Glasses? She don’t need no stinkin’ glasses.

“Now that you’re at the home screen, how do you get back to YouTube TV?” I asked. She immediately made a beeline to YouTube. I let it go.

“This doesn’t look like it did before,” she said.

“That’s because you went to YouTube instead of YouTube TV,” I pointed out. I tried not to be sarcastic about her ability to see and read at a distance. “Now press the home button again.”

Lo and behold she remembered where that home button was… “Oh! There’s one that says YouTube TV,” she said in a surprised voice.

“Yes, YouTube has a completely different purpose.”

So, she finally got back to where she wanted to be so that she wouldn’t miss ‘Days Of Our Lives’.

Yesterday I surprised to find her searching and watching some programming on Netflix. She didn’t even need help navigating back to YouTube TV. I felt like calling Guinness to see if it was a new World Record with women her age.

Thank the gods for Kentucky made bourbon! I'm going to need it when we get to Amazon streaming.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Holidays Make No Cents

My wife decided to put up a Christmas tree this year. And for the record, I’m opposed to Christmas trees. I don’t understand the point of cutting down a live tree that wasn’t bothering anyone… Unless you count allergies or providing lots of oxygen for creatures like you and me to breathe… Just to drag it into your home to gaudy it up for everyone to “enjoy”. I have never understood that.

At least the wife purchased a fake tree that will serve her for years to come. The last one needed to be retired to the landfill.

And that brings me to seasonal or holiday decorations. I’m having trouble understanding it. Why do some people feel it necessary to decorate the house for seasons or holidays?

Valentine’s Day is light on the list. There’s not a whole lot going on with that holiday. Easter is also on the lighter side when it came to decorations, but it meant new church clothes for me and my sisters. St. Patrick’s Day is also on the light side. I mean most people can get away with just turning their beers green and wearing green. The Fourth of July gets a pass only because being patriotic can be a year-round kind of thing. There’s no time limit on being patriotic. Halloween isn’t my thing, but I know A LOT of people that love it. They can go a little crazy with the decorations and costumes. The costumes I support especially the slutty female costumes. Thanksgiving involves not only turkeys and pilgrims, but all things that represent the fall season. And then there’s the granddaddy of them all… Christmas. Some people go ALL OUT for Christmas.

People spend a large sum of money to decorate for holidays. And usually the decorations get dragged out of some attic, garage, or a closet for about 30 days of year. What is going on with the other 335 days?

That’s right! People spend all that money on decorations to store them away for most of the time they possess those decorations. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve never understood it. Especially those folks that like to light up their house like an ELO concert. Those lights have to be stored somewhere and those in that particular spirit get the added benefit of a larger power bill. But LED lights are getting around to take care of that aspect.

Maybe I’m a little bit of a grinchy mofo. I’ve been called worse. But I feel that I'm just being practical. Purchasing holiday decorations seems like a colossal waste of money to me. But hey, if you want to waste your money and storage space just like my wife then by all means, knock yourself out. It’s your money. It’s your space.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Winter Storm Diego Highlights

I’m hoping that the term that I have coined makes it to some kind of popularity with folks like myself that do not dread snow, sleet, or freezing rain in any amount. The term is “snowdeo” and it rhymes with “rodeo”. I feel that calling these types of things “snowpocalpyse” stirs fear in to the hearts and minds of friends and neighbors. Hell, the MIL is anxious and she has been “wringing” her hands since Jim Cantore stepped onto North Carolina soil.

“Snowdeo” makes it sound more fun. It gives you something to look forward to. So yeah, if you’re like me, feel free to start using it. I’m really not sure why people fear it unless they’re just fretting about more time with their families. I don’t know. Even with the threat of losing power, I’m not that concerned. We have Monopoly to play that’ll give me the joy of slaying family and friends in a friendly game… Unless, they gang up on me. They certainly don’t do any wheeling and dealing with me out of their fears of going bankrupt. Perhaps I play the game with too much of a cutthroat style.

And for the record, I play by the rules. The game moves much faster that way. But folks have their own house rules that prolong the game and that’s why most respond to playing with a sigh so heavy that it can crush ice.

As I write this update, I’m waiting for the neighbors to throw the green flag for us to go over there or come over here. We have a growler full of beer, canned beer, bottle and boxed wine along with some heat and serve ribs from Lowes Foods.

The dogs went out first thing this morning with trepidation. CJ reluctantly ventured out into the yard and then took off like a gazelle. She was running and jumping. She stopped for a squirt and decided to come inside. She has ventured out a few times since.

Lucy made it about 8 feet onto the deck. She decided to let her water flow as she stood in snow that was up to her shoulder. Lucy has been secluded in our bedroom under the bed… Just like any other good little neurotic dog.

I just got word that our guests are about to venture out into the snow for some Monopoly action. I have to clean off the game room table. I have my money bag token ready slaying the competition.


Now it’s 4 days later and the Monopoly didn’t happen. Everyone gathered at “The Big House”, but the conversation and music got so good that we ditched the game. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to slay everyone, but there will be other times.

My apologies for getting back so late. Jamie had to work from home on Monday and Tuesday. That makes it kind of difficult to use this very computer to write and update. Plus, when she’s home we tend to spend as much time together as possible.

We got about 14 inches of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. And luckily, the power never went out. Oh sure, it flickered here and there. Jamie and I would look at each other with big “Oh $#!t” eyes, but thankfully the TV remained on to keep the MIL occupied.

And speaking of the MIL, I’ve never known anyone with absolutely nowhere to go get so bent out of shape about the precipitation. Oh yeah, her anxiety levels were right up there with what Kennedy was probably dealing with during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The woman had no plans to get out of her nightgowns and housecoats, but the threat of a large amount of accumulation nearly sent her over the edge. She was snippy and ready to lash out. If we didn’t have to live with her it would have been sheer comedy. The woman was at DEFCON 3 from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning.

As it turned out, she was afraid that she’d miss her appointment to get a “shot” from the doctor on Tuesday. I ended up taking her because she gets panicked incredibly easy. And the last time she got panicked, she hit two cars in a CVS parking lot. It would be easier to take her than let car insurance companies get involved and then drive down to court to have the ticket dismissed. As it turned out, they made a mistake and the approval for her “shot” hadn’t been received even though her medical insurance sent her a note that it was a go. But what are you going to do?

So, we left the doctor’s office and dropped by the grocery for 2 things that I needed in order to prepare dinner. Wouldn’t you know it? She had some shopping to do as well. She had no list or knowledge of the store’s layout. That had us bouncing around the Food Lion like an aimless kick ball. We’d go down one aisle and she would remember something else that she needed at the other end of the store where we had been before. Believe me. I was totally ready to break some law and get banned for popping open a tall boy straight from the beer case. I found that when shopping with the woman, there are no sweeter words than “That’s it. I’m done.”

So yeah, that was my highlights of Winter Storm Diego and luckily none of us are in county lockup.