Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cutting the Cable Update

Readers of my blog know that I recently decided to save money by no longer subscribing to cable tv. I cut the cable about 3 weeks ago, so I thought I would share my experience.

I really have not missed cable tv. If I had cut the cable years ago, I probably would have missed it, but with so many shows on the internet, I have not missed a single show that I wanted to watch. Every show that my wife and I watch is on or When we had cable, we usually recorded shows on the DVR and watched them later, after the kids were in bed. Now, we basically do the same thing. The only difference is that, instead of using the remote control for the DVR, I have to plug my laptop into the tv/monitor, find the show on the internet, and click play. If I needed to control something, I initially missed the remote. After a few days, I discovered that my USB wireless mouse will actually work from the couch while the laptop is on the table by the tv. The wireless mouse makes a great remote. The bottom line, I have not missed any shows that I like to watch and the inconvenience is minimal. To me, cable is not worth the money.

After cutting the cable, the next step was getting and installing an antenna. This was a bit more difficult. I found a reasonably priced antenna at "" While I wanted to install t in my attic rather than the roof, my initial attempt was a failure. The pictures kept stopping; it was not acceptable. Having no time to fix it, I left it for later. I wanted to watch the Daytona 500. So, I worked on it before the race started (not really a good time when the race about to start). I moved the antenna around in the attic, but nothing worked. The race is now starting and I still cannot watch it; I am in a panic. I may have to mount he antenna on the roof, but I want to make sure it works before I go to the effort. So, I get the antenna outside and lay it on the roof. Still bad reception. As I am checking the antenna, the race appears to be more of a slide show (a series of still pictures) rather than a video, and I think a see a still picture of Jeff Gordon sitting in the grass in a wrecked car. Well, it looks like I can't watch the race and it does not really matter because Gordon is already out. I return to the roof to retrieve the antenna and take it back to the attic. Discouraged, I do not even try to get it to work, but just lay it upside down on some boxes of Christmas decorations. When I return to the family room, the reception is great. All of the channels are working just fine. I guess we cannot use those Christmas decorations any more because I cannot move that box with the antenna on it.

Sports will be the major thing that I will miss. I did see the Flyers play the Rangers on NBC. I watched a Temple basketball game on ESPN3, that I get through the internet. So, I will make due.

We are using our free month of Netflix. I do not know if we will keep it, but it appears to be a good substitute for On Demand. At $10 a month, it is not cost prohibitive. I like the fact that it operates through the Wii, so I do not have to use a computer. It has more Bob the Builder episodes than Verizon's On Demand. We found several episodes of Veggie Tales and other kid shows that we like. Past episodes of other shows we like, such as Monk and Psych, are available. The movie selections are better than On Demand. I do not think that I would want to pay for cable and Netflix, but Netflix instead of cable is a possibility.

So far, the experiment of cutting the cable is a success.

Monday, February 21, 2011

God's Word

As a child, I remember memorizing a lot of Bible verses. One of the first verses I remember is Psalm 119:105, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." I memorized verses for Sunday School, for AWANA, and for school. Adults were making me, and other children, learn verses because God's Word is important. As an adult, I have encouraged kids to memorize scripture because it is good for them to know God's Word.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped memorizing scripture, and I suspect that most adults do not memorize scripture either. What a shame! If I needed to memorize scripture as a child, why not memorize now? If I thought, as an adult, that children should memorize scripture, then why not me? Psalm 119, which is neglected by most people because it is so long, emphasizes the importance of God's law. Verse 97 says, "Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day." This is very convicting. Do I really love God's law? If so, wouldn't I spend more time with it and memorize it? Do I really meditate on God's law? Generally, no. But, when I am memorizing scripture, I end up meditating on it. I am constantly reviewing the verses and this causes me to meditate on His law.

Because of the importance of God's Word, I have committed myself to memorizing scripture. For this year, my goal is to learn 2 verses per week. Two verses a week does not feel like very much. It seems to be a very reasonable goal. If I accomplish this goal, then I will learn over 100 verses this year. Two verses does not seem like much of an accomplishment, but 100 verses will be.

As the husband of my wife and father of my children, God has called me to be a spiritual leader in my family. As the spiritual leader, I need to memorize scripture. I cannot expect my children to memorize scripture if I am not setting an example. In addition, I should lead my family in memorizing scripture. So, on a weekly basis, I am giving my children 3x5 cards with verses to memorize for this week. It will be a great opportunity for me to lead my children and for us to memorize verses as a family.

So, where do I start. I decided to begin by building a strong foundation. Navigators has a Topical Memory System with some basic verses that every Christian should know. They have 30 subjects with two selections for each subject. Each week, I will have my family learn both selections for one subject. The first subject is "Christ is the Center" and the selections are 2 Cor. 5:17 and Gal. 2:20. While we may already have some of these verses memorized, there will be some new ones and it will be good to memorize the familiar ones. It is amazing how easy it is to forget even the familiar verses.

While I am looking forward to memorizing scripture, my children are very excited about it. This is going to be a great year.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cutting the Cable

I think most everyone experiences this feeling, probably several times a week. You are tired and just want to sit in front of the tv and relax. You turn on the set and flip through the channels or scroll through the guide. You browse and browse, only to discover that, just like most other nights, there is nothing good on tv. To add insult to injury, the cost of cable tv is ridiculous.

This caused me to think more about whether tv was worth paying such an extravagant fee. My wife and I enjoy a few shows each week. However, we almost never actually watch them on tv. Instead, we DVR them, watch them at our convenience, and skip the commercials. These same shows are available online to watch for free, most with limited commercials. While it may be a little inconvenient to pull the shows up on the internet, I can watch my favorite shows whenever I want by using the internet. Again, why am I paying for cable tv?

I finally got tired of paying for television that I do not watch. Last week, I called Verizon and canceled my cable tv. To do it, I had to talk to two customer service representatives. They both asked why I was terminating the tv and I said that there was nothing good to watch; they both agreed with me. I kept my FIOS internet, but went with a lower speed (15mbs). I kept the FIOS home phone only because Verizon charges more for the internet if you do not have the phone. By making these changes, I am saving $93.00 per month. I like saving $93.00.

As I said before, I am still watching my favorite shows online. I can plug my laptop computer into the family room tv and still see the shows on the tv. I am going to install an HDTV antenna, so I should get regular broadcast tv. For me, the biggest loss will be sports. That will be somewhat limited since football is mostly on broadcast tv. Since Verizon is my internet provider, I have access to ESPN3, which carries many sports events online. As I write, I can watch the Villanova basketball game (they are losing 9-6) right now. While it costs about $100.00, I will probably buy the MLB package, figuring the cost is offset by one month of savings by cutting the cable. I will miss Comcast Sportsnet since that is about the only place I can watch the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies. But, I rarely watch those games anyway. Often, I will turn on a game and watch a few minutes, but I do not have the time to watch an entire game. The little bit that I watch is not worth $93.00 a month.

My new antenna came today. My first instinct was to install it as soon as I can. But then I thought "Why?" There is nothing good on tv anyway, that is why I cut the cable. My goal is to have it installed by the time they race the Daytona 500; that is something that I want to watch.

I am also curious to see how the change effects my family. The other night, I sat down to feed our baby a bottle. I usually flip on SportsCenter, but I realized I have no tv at all. My world did not end without SportsCenter. The children have not yet missed tv. For some odd reason, they are even excited about cutting the cable (since they do not pay the cable bill, I do not understand their excitement). Two nights ago, Laura brought her guitar downstairs and played while some of the family sang along; I listened since I do not sing. I am trying to read a book for a mystery book club that I am in; now I have more time to read. I helped Matthew with his latest Kinnex project. Perhaps, we will play more games. I am excited to see how the lack of tv changes us.

Has anyone else "cut the cable"? If so, what was your experience. Has anyone else thought about it, but just hasn't pulled the plug yet? If so, why have you kept cable? I am not judging, I am just curious.