Thursday, February 28, 2013

#126 - Filling a Sinkhole

From time to time, I'll read, see, or hear news reports about an ongoing or impending food shortage of one sort or another. Invariably, one of the following causes will be cited: war, drought, harsh winter weather, or rising fuel prices. And I'm sure each calamity has its own part to play in all of this.

But I think I have discovered the real cause of the food shortages we seem to suffer through on a regular basis.


Think about it. Have you ever watched a teenager eat? Every meal seems like the last meal of a condemned man. They eat and eat and eat, then as soon as they've finished they ask to eat some more.

It's incredible, really, watching them shovel food into their mouth like a train engineer stoking a coal fire. There's almost a terrible, grotesque, and hypnotic beauty to the entire process. It's a bit like watching an accident unfold in slow motion; you want to look away, yet you are inexplicably drawn to the horrific spectacle taking place before your eyes.

I come to these observations from the vantage point of having a teenager of my own. Just as CNN is representative of the 24-hour news cycle, my son is indicative of the teenager's 24-hour eating cycle.

Even before we've finished breakfast, my son will invariably ask "What's for lunch?" No sooner have we cleared the table after dinner than he'll ask, "Can I have a treat?"

I have, from time to time, asked him, "Don't you ever get full?" The answer, all too obvious now, is no.

Even though I drive a large truck each day that gets in the neighborhood of 14-miles per gallon (of diesel), my largest expense each month is for food, much of which ends up in the stomach of my teenage son. Such is the price of parenthood, you might say.

I've hit upon a novel, if I do say so myself, approach to resolving the expense issue and, in the process, helping to stretch food supplies and reduce shortages. Ban teenagers.

By doing so, we'll cut costs, save money, make dwindling food supplies go further, and improve the overall mental health of adults the world over. Sounds like a workable solution to me.

There's just one snag in this plan. Getting rid of teenagers would also have the unintended consequence of basically ending the human race as there would be no next generation to take our place. A serious drawback, I grant you, but I haven't given up hope of finding a way around this.

In the meantime, though, I guess I'll just hope for more overtime at work so I can afford to keep stoking the unquenchable fire. I just need to make sure to keep my hands clear. It wouldn't be a pretty sight.

Monday, February 25, 2013

#125 - Pulling the Plug

We recently made the decision to get rid of satellite television. Although the day has not yet come when it will actually be gone, I can't say that I'm worrying about missing it. I'm sure I won't.

When we lived in Illinois, we had DirecTV and enjoyed it for the most part. When we moved to Idaho in 2003, we had cable, then we moved to Dish Network. We weren't satisfied with what we got versus what we paid for cable. If anything, we're less satisfied with Dish.

We talked off and on for months about getting rid of Dish, complaining about the lack of watchable programming for what we were paying, but we did nothing to change or upset the status quo. Instead, we watched less and less and complained more and more.

Several months ago, we signed up for Amazon Prime, which gives free next day shipping as well as access to a number of free movies and television programming. We began to think more of a satellite and cable-free home. We had also checked out Hulu, although we were less than thrilled with the commercials, not to mention the interface through our internet-ready DVD player.

Then we decided to give Netflix a try. Between Amazon Prime and Netflix, we found a wealth of programming to watch, without lame commercials. The selection seemed much better than we were getting on Dish, and the cost was much less. The decision was becoming easier, especially once Dish announced it was raising our rates.

The rate hike solidified our decision to pull the plug, or the cable if you will. Dish begged and pleaded, but we said we're leaving. They do not make it easy to leave. They are charging us $15 to disconnect and making up ship our DVR and the LNB off our dish back to them. Presumably, the $15 charge is to pay for shipping on the box they are supposed to send us for returning things to them, but who knows.

As I write this, we should only have a few more days of Dish service. I can't wait. Aside from missing the occasional college football game, there is little to nothing I will miss about not have satellite television. It will mean more time for reading, for writing, for watching movies, and for discovering or re-discovering programs I had not seen before or had not seen in a long time. I see no down side to this change, except perhaps for another company that won't be getting my money.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

#124 - The More Things Change

Wow! Another two months has gone by without a new post to this blog. I am slipping big time. I have been thinking about writing something for several weeks. The main problem is that I'm not quite sure where I want this blog to go, what direction it should take.

When I was younger, I was very political and very opinionated. As I got older, I tried harder to get people to like me, so I tended to modify my opinions, suppress if you will a big part of who I was. Now, as I get older, I find myself reverting back to some of what I was when I was younger.

So, I suspect this blog will become more opinionated but hopefully do so in a respectful way. One thing I have tired of as I have gotten older is the opinions that basically say "f*%# you" to anyone with a differing point of view. I can swear with the best of them, but I'd rather not. It doesn't get me anywhere, nor does it really serve to advance the discussion.

Insulting posts are something else I am not a big fan of. I can be as insulting as the next person, and while these can be entertaining, they tend to be more preaching to the choir and, again, do not help to advance the conversation. Nor do they help to get anyone else to consider your point of view, at least not seriously.

At the moment, I am up in the air about the direction in which this blog will head. For now, at least, I guess it will remain random in terms of subject matter. I hope it will become more random (at least in terms of frequency) now that we have pulled the plug on satellite TV. (That decision may well be the subject of my next post on these pages.) As we were told never to say in television news, time will tell.