Kickin’ TV

Recently I realized that the all the television I’ve watched this fall has consisted of: Local on the 8’s a few times a week, Dennis Kucinich emptying his pockets on the Colbert Report, my kids singing the Spongebob Squarepants theme to wake me up one Saturday, a cool show on extrasolar planets, and a few instances of random channel flipping. I’ve heard that the average American watches 6 hours of TV a day, but I don’t see how that’s even possible.

It’s gotten to the point where I generally find TV difficult to watch, largely because of the constant interruption of commercials. I always mute the ads, but even so.  More an more they go for disturbing, just to get me to buy things I don’t want. It’s like thought control from a Kurt Vonnegut story. It used to be when I was a kid there were 4 ad breaks an hour, totaling about 10 minutes an hour. Now it’s about 50-50 each of show and ads. It makes is hard to tolerate even if a show is good, and most of the shows out there are not. And with cable it’s even worse than regular TV. You’re paying twice to watch the show, cuz you’re paying for the channels and then you pay again by being shown ads.

I’ve been wanting to get rid of cable for a long time. For a few years we were getting our internet via cable in a bundle, so to drop cable wouldn’t’ve saved much money, but now we’re getting our internet thru the phone company via fiber. And the cable company just raised our rates to $650 a year! I’d go for a system where I could pay for just the channels or show I like, but the industry is too greedy to allow that sort of thing and they want me to support hundreds of channels I don’t like, so goodbye.

Plus we have NetFlix and a pretty good shelf of DVD’s so we can watch what we choose without ads pretty easily. I tend to like movies and documentaries. One thing I want to do this fall and winter is watch the entire (13 hour long) Lord of the Rings trilogy. I started in September and now it’s mid-December and I’m halfway thru The Two Towers. So I’m doing pretty good.

Now we’re back to plain old TV with rabbit ears. Have to figure out how to get the weather report from the internet or the radio or regular TV. Other than that I don’t miss it. I haven’t even seen how the channels come in yet. Our house never had a roof antenna but I might look into getting one if we need to. Meanwhile, I can take the $650 I saved and look into buying a drum set!

Bathroom Tile Project, Part 1

Earlier this year we put up some tiles in our kitchen. We were so happy with the result that was decided to do our bathroom too. This project got off to a slow start, because around the time we were getting going with the planning we had to contend with cracked concrete on our foundation and then a leaky pipe in our walls, so those projects took priority. And then we had to go thru several rounds of picking out tile and drawing up plans, only to discover the tile house couldn’t fill our order and we had to change our plan. Also prerequisite to the actual tiling, I had to fill some cracks in the walls. Where the walls meet the ceiling in the bathroom had deteriorated over time, which was one of the motivations for tiling in the first place. I patched it up with joint compound and sanded and painted it, all of which was a nontrivial job in and of itself.

So finally over Thanksgiving weekend we had all the materials and were ready to go. We laid down all the tiles in 2 sessions, filling the area above the tub surround to the ceiling and also creating a backsplash behind the sink. We went with a motif that involved small glass tiles set into the main tile field in a diamond pattern, which called for a fair amount of cutting. Also, the walls were not square and flat, so we had to compensate for that. Luckily, compared to the kitchen there was very little in the way of obstacles, just the shower head and one electrical outlet.

This past weekend we did the grouting. All that remains is the sealant and caulking, and then we’re gonna paint the walls which did not get tiles. Going with a light green. Should be nice. When that’s all done we’ll do the second bathroom the same way but in blue, sometime after the New Year.