Pulling The Plug On Cable

A while back I said goodbye to our cable provider. This was not something I saw coming in advance. I’d read an article or two about how easy it was to live without cable service and still see nearly all of the quality programming on TV right now but I was suspicious. I’m pretty certain I consume more TV than the average viewer. How could I live without instant access to 100+ channels?  Once I was through working and staying home with Carolina full time, there was no doubt I was going to need cable, maybe even a more comprehensive package than before.

One afternoon, while scrolling through our 100+ channels, something dawned on me. I only actually watch about 5 different stations with any sort of regularity. And when I watch said channels, I’m really only watching a few shows on each one. Especially during the day when the only thing on is reruns of  shows I love but have already seen time and again. These thoughts stuck with me for a while and proved themselves more and more true. I figured that I only watched four channels more than once a month. Some people who find themselves in this situation surely say “there’s nothing on TV, we need more options, more channels” but I wasn’t particularly unsatisfied with what was on, jut with how much I was paying for it. All those extra channels just produce more crap that I’m not interested in watching. This was worth $80 a month?

That’s when I got a well timed e-mail from Netflix. A free trial for returning members. I’d heard good things about House Of Cards, an original series starring Kevin Spacey that they were releasing around that time, plus they were about to make Arrested Development’s long rumored fourth season a reality so I figured, why not? Linn and I dived in and loved it. Here were 80% of the syndicated shows we watched during the day plus plenty of shows that can’t be found anywhere but the most exotic (read: expensive) cable channels or long out of print DVDs. We just saw the movies that were available as a bonus. We didn’t change the input on our TV to cable for more than three weeks. I hooked up the antenna I had in storage and found that we get a great signal on all of the broadcast channels, called the cable company and never looked back. I think a lot of people don’t realize that after the “digital switch” a few years back, all of the broadcast channels are still absolutely free, and they’re broadcast in HD. I promise the picture is exactly the same as the one from your cable provider. If you have a newish TV set, all you need is a $10 set of rabbit ears to plug into the back. I think we get 17 channels over the air but that will vary with where you live and how close you are to the local satellite towers.

So what about all of the outstanding shows airing on cable channels right now like Mad Men, Archer, Breaking Bad, The Americans, and Justified? All of them will be released on DVD in a few months, most of them will come to one of the streaming services next season, and some of them will even air on the network’s website the next day or the next week for free. If you can just can’t wait for one of those things to happen then it turns out that $80 we were spending every month can go a long way. First we subtract the $8 for a Netflix streaming membership and $6 for our Amazon Prime membership. This leaves us $66 each month to buy episodes a la cart from either Amazon or iTunes. At $2-$4 per episode, you would have to be watching way more shows than we do to not end up saving money. If one day we end up feeling like there isn’t enough content, there is always HULU Plus to check out or we can just start buying DVD seasons of older shows that we haven’t seen yet, or haven’t seen since we were kids.

The only real gap with this system is sports programming. I understand that both MLB and NHL have pretty good apps for viewing games (I don’t personally use either of them) but other than that, it’s very hard to find live streaming of major sporting events. This was the worst part for me at first but it didn’t take long to realize that even this isn’t the end of the world. Anything big enough to feel like it is a “must watch” is going to be on one of the networks anyway. If it isn’t, I’m happy to go out and support one of our local bars for a couple of hours. Just take the tab out of that $66 I have to spend on shows this month.

It’s been three months and I honestly don’t miss cable at all. Right now, Monday mornings are actually the toughest because I am trying to avoid spoilers for both Mad Men and Game of Thrones but other than that TV is still great. I don’t think I watch any less TV but what we are watching is probably better. We have started watching shows based on what we want to watch and not how convenient it is to watch. There is no reason to have something on just because it is on. There are no dead hours in the schedule because all of our programs are always available.

If you’ve been thinking about cutting cable, or are just trying to save a few bucks each month, there is no reason not to do it.

Where Have You Been: Part Two

This is the conclusion of my story about why I haven’t posted anything in so long. It was a fun filled, busy couple of weeks. If you missed the first half of my tale, click here for part one.

So it was a successful, fun, and especially long weekend. Family visited, Carolina was baptized, Linn enjoyed her first Mother’s Day, and I had a significant birthday that we won’t talk about any more. All of that, however, was only the beginning of our adventures.

A few weeks earlier, while wondering what we might do to fill time during Linn’s vacation week, she discovered that we could both fly to visit her parents in Tennessee for less than $300 round trip. Even though they would have been here just days before, the deal seemed too good to pass up. We made reservations and immediately started to worry about Carolina’s first flight. I starting reading the nightmare stories about first flights in other dad blogs. The places my imagination went… were not nice places. Out of the two of us, Linn tends to be the worrier so I chose not to share the worst case scenarios I was reading about with her and instead shared some of the helpful hints I had found. See baby, this is going to be easy. Yup, no possible public humiliation and ridicule in our future at all. Continue reading

Where Have You Been: Part One

Hey there team. It’s possible (but unlikely) you noticed that I haven’t posted anything here the last couple weeks. That’s because life has been like, for real busy. And not just stay at home dad busy either. I did actual things. With people!

Let’s begin two Fridays ago. It was the start of what was going to be a huge weekend. Sunday was full of things to celebrate. Not only was it Linn’s first Mother’s Day, but Carolina was going to be baptized as well. Best (most stressful) of all, we were reluctantly  enthusiastically planning to squeeze both of our families into our cozy living space designed for two and a half. My parents were the first to arrive. (Guest count for our tiny apartment:2) They hadn’t been to visit in a couple of months and were more than a little excited to see how much Carolina had changed and to see all of her new tricks. (Not like, tricks we’ve been teaching her for some type of bizarre baby circus or anything, just stuff she has learned to do over the last 8 weeks. Regular baby stuff, I swear) Continue reading

A Day In The Life

A parents job is never done. I’ve begun to understand the true meaning of this cliché over the last couple of weeks. Linn has been working 30 hour shifts lately, made worse by one of her pregnant patients giving birth in the middle of the night this weekend. I know this isn’t fun for her in any conceivable way but since I’m the one driving this blog, I’m pretty sure this post is going to focus on how her unbearable work schedule affects me. Continue reading

Raising A Music Lover

I know this clip isn’t exactly new so I’m sorry if you’ve seen it before but I just found it recently and it really made me chuckle. If you haven’t seen it, the baby girl in the video is crying, the dad turns on Notorious BIG’s Big Pappa and the kid calms down almost immediately. There are two things that immediatly come to mind while I watch this. First, obviously this little girl has already developed exceptional taste in music. And second, she should probably keep an eye out for any little west coast baby bangers rolling past her crib in a ’64 Impala. Continue reading

One Month Down The Road: What I’ve Learned

IMG_0859Well, Linn has been back to work for one full month now. Thirty One days of me being the primary caregiver for an infant. All three of us survived, if not excelled. I look back on all of the things have changed and realized that not much has changed. Carolina may be accomplishing new things every day but the long and short of it is that she still pretty much hangs out and commands both my attention and my affection. Just because there have been no seismic shifts in our household since the day that Linn loaded up her computer bag and headed off to work doesn’t mean we haven’t learned anything. Here is a short list of some things I discovered during my first month of being a stay at home dad. Continue reading

Why Being A Dad Is Not So Different Than Being A Restaurant Manager

It’s been three months since I left my job as a restaurant manager. A lot of people ask me if I miss it or what the best/worst part of being a stay at home dad is. The answer to the first question is an emphatic no. As for the best and worst parts of the job? It turns out that they are not that different from the best and worst parts of my previous position. Continue reading