There’s Been a Change in the Weather, and a…

—Addendum to Original Posting—

I didn’t have time to check out my “downgraded” cable services fully yesterday morning, but I might just end up like Br’er Rabbit saying, “Please, oh please.  Don’t throw me into the briar patch,” when in reality that is where I am most comfortable & secure.

I hooked up the coaxial cable directly to my HD TV (returning the HD Cable Box & remote) and started the Channel Search.  Well, when I start to manually surf through the channels, the first thing I find is that 4.1 UNC-TV is in HD.  This is one of my favorite channels and I get it in HD under Broadcast Quality Cable.  Next, I found that 5.1 WRAL was also in HD.  Probably the local channel that I watch the most including both morning & evening news.  Several other local channels are available in HD.  And, I still get SyFy and AMC, but in Low Def.  So, heck, “throw me in the briar patch.”

I also watched another Netflix movie, an old “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and part of an “Inspector Lewis” (PBS episode).  And… I don’t have to watch a bunch of useless commercials, nor have the Lower Third of the screen have their channel logo, or some other animated advertisement going on while I am trying to stay focused on the show I am wanting to watch.

— Original Posting Below—

Whether the Economy is going to improve or not, I have been spending in key areas which amount to major changes for me.

Just before Christmas, I decided that I would purchase a BluRay DVD player. I had put off getting into this technology since I had not “been into” buying DVDs as I once did. Early into my research I read a posting that said that the PS3 game machine had a excellent BluRay player. I am not into gaming, although I’ve wasted many hours, in the past, playing assorted games on my PC. So, I thought, “Hmmm… a BluRay player and a game machine for just a little more than a player.” I really had not priced low-end BluRay players, so the price of the PS3 sounded reasonable.

I bought one “shoot/kill” game and a BluRay remote for the PS3 when I purchased the PS3 just before Christmas. The game was okay and I enjoyed playing it, but I’m not addicted to them as I have been in the past.

I had told Deb that a BluRay movie would be a good Christmas present for me, “Quantum of Solace,” the sequel James Bond film to “Casino Royal” (Daniel Craig as Bond.). *I really like Craig as Bond. Watching the Bourne movies, I had thought to myself, “Now this is the way Bond should have been portrayed.”

Surprise, Deb got me “Quantum of Solace” on BluRay disk. *I do not see a difference between the HD TV stations and the BluRay movie quality, but the crystal clarity of visual objects is fantastic. I need to get a sound system for my TV again.

Today (maybe yesterday) was the last day of a two year contract with Time-Warner for which I got all three services, Cable, Home Phone, and Internet for about $135 a month. A few days ago, I called the Time-Warner rep and downgraded/changed my service to just “Broadcast” stations (about 25 local) and upped to RoadRunner High Speed (10Mbps). This is supposed to be about $80 a month.

I don’t know if anyone will ever survey me on why I downgraded, but here are some of the reasons:

  • Over 200 channels, including some HD channels, of which I only watch about 20 channels (“Chiller” being the only non-HD channel that I regularly watch.)
  • The increasing invasiveness of the number and length of commercial breaks during movies/shows. Not only are there more commercials played, and played between shorter and shorter content segments, but they play the “same damned commercials over and over again,” often back to back.
    • I managed to get into the habit of muting the TV audio during commercial breaks. This is something that both relatives and friends have been doing for years.
  • The “SciFi” Channel became the “SyFy” Channel… moronic, but okay, until… the majority of weekly content became “ghosts & wrasslers”. What in the Hell does wrestling have to do with Science Fiction? *I know, it’s the audience demographics. I guess they could have added NASCAR racing and really made it a pleasure for me to not watch SyFy.
  • *This is not a reason for dropping Cable, but something that I do:  I “hate” the NC Education Lottery.  It’s just a sleazy process that has tied itself to a worthy cause.  So, when a Lottery commercial comes on WRAL, I automatically change the channel.  I often forget to come back to WRAL, even if I was engrossed in a show or movie.  I’m only one person, but if more did the same, maybe the State would finally get the message, “We don’t want a ‘damned’ lottery in this state!”

So, I had seen that I could play movies directly from my PS3 system. I hadn’t tried it (until last night). A week or so ago, Leo Taylor, a friend, mentor, & former boss, called me up and started telling me I should get Netflix. He was overdosing on watching movies. *Now this was unprompted. I hadn’t told Leo that I was thinking about trying this, and his call was “out of the blue.”

So, last night, I figured that I would see if Netflix movies via PS3 would work on the existing Earthlink High Speed Internet connection I had. I wanted to try it out before switching over the RoadRunner. It worked fine, once I figured out that the login name & password they were asking for (after I clicked on the Netflix icon on the PS3 screen) was a PS3 account (which I had not yet created) and not the Netflix account & password I had created the day before. *I watched “District 9” which was somewhat disappointing. What was the James Caan movie and then spinoff TV series about aliens (humanoid like) who came to Earth much like the aliens in D9? “Sam Francisco” being one of those alien-human appellations. You’ve got to know how to develop characters quickly, so that even though you’ve only seen them on the screen for a few minutes, you can cry when they die as if they were old friends. This rarely happened in D9.

Before I left for work this morning, I turned on the TV and noted that Time-Warner had already made the requested changes to my service (although I didn’t check the RoadRunner portion yet). I’ll have to hook the cable directly to the TV now and fish out the TV remote instead of using the Cable remote, which along with the HD box, I need to return to TWC this week.

So, I’ve dropped home phone (and let no friends or relatives know yet). On my birthday, I finally got online at and ordered a HTC Hero (Android) phone for 1 cent, with a $69 plan that eventually will probably cost $80 or $90 dollars a month, if I don’t call land lines. This plan gives me unlimited data, which is after all what I use the phone for anyway. *I’m going to see if I can make it easy to re-route my office phone to my cell nightly.

The Saturday before my birthday, I drove down to Lumberton. I was only going to take a test drive, but ended up buying a new white Honda Civic (with sun roof and 6 speaker system). I’m planning to give my Dodge RAM 1500 truck to my sister. Going from a 16 MPG to hopefully 36 MPG vehicle. The truck is larger and supposedly safer, but the little white Honda feels comfortable. Reminds me a little of the MG Midget that I had for a short time in my twenties. That was the lowest to the ground vehicle I’ve ever driven, and a lot of fun (a lot of headaches too).