Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1 Year with Elmo and Without TV



He's driven almost3,000 miles over the last year without a single visit to the gas station. We track our monthly electricity usage and cannot discern an increase in our bill. We could be off-setting any increase by the fact that also dropped cable / network TV at the same time, so we do not run the projector very often.

It's very interesting to drive Elmo out among other cars. You realize just how powerful and large the average car is and how fast people drive on neighborhood roads. Few, if any, people drive the speed limit on roads with 30-40 mph limits unless a cop is visible. I even notice a difference in my temperament when I drive Elmo vs Sheila (2004 Subaru Forester XT, 5 speed). I have more patience and calm--I cannot really be in a hurry and I cannot use my car to vent frustration. It makes me wonder how different the roads would be if people could not show aggressiveness through their driving.

Speaking of calm, not having TV in the house for a year has been fantastic. I guess we are in the minority, according to this NYT piece. We can watch online stuff (Hulu, PBS, YouTube) if we want to by connecting the laptop to our projector, but we don't do it very often. Background noise is limited to NPR or music, and I'm finding that I have less tolerance for repeated news and discussion on NPR. If KF wants to watch the Twins, Badgers or Packers, he goes to the JCC (gym) or to the GC (local restaurant & bar).

Many evenings we end the day quietly discussing how things went at school and the gym. We play with the cats and get the kitchen, laundry and other chores done together, rather than fall asleep in front of the tv. Seriously, we've probably slept a year in front of the TV over our 16 years of marriage. No more.

When you are not subjected to a constant stream of talking heads and streaming images, you realize just how much excess noise throughout most of our daily environment. Take the constant stream of information out of your day--most of which doesn't really impact our immediate lives and is stupidly alarmist and argumentative--and eventually you will find yourself with more mental and emotional energy to focus on what is really necessary in life.

The next step is to possibly get a phone that is also a Wi-Fi hotspot and ditch Charter altogether. I'm a little nervous about the quality and speed of service, but you know what, I'm probably better off with less internet time anyway. There's so much more to life than being online.

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