Friday, September 07, 2012


Staying current with what is happening both locally and in the world is possible without TV, a smart phone and the digital social media such as Twitter, and Facebook.    The circumstance of my television suddenly no longer receiving audio and video the morning of Great Britain’s Summer Olympics opening day ceremonies prompted me to spontaneously decide to conduct a “grand experiment” – daily life without television.   These London Olympics have long since ended (7/27 – 8/12/12,) but I’ve continued without TV well over a month now, discovering I’m not really missing much that I truly care about.

Not having TV available has significance, since the medium has had importance to me for a variety of reasons all of which I won't attempt to describe here.   When I did work in TV, during the days dominated by the big three networks, a few independent stations and public television developing, I made it my business to know the programming of all the area stations/networks.  Even when I left commercial television I was conditioned and genuinely interested in continuing to know the business, since I thought at some future time I might want to return to the medium wherever we lived.  

I was thoroughly disgusted as I watched the deterioration of quality TV news reporting which, actually, had begun to start in the mid-1960's before I left the business -- our local station, as did others, discovered more viewers would watch TV if they aired blood and guts car crashes,  than viewers who would want to know what laws were being considered in our State Legislature that would impact their lives.  So, with Nielsen and ARB TV rating numbers, instead of personal human judgement, time pricing and ad sales pretty much dictated what became the most important news for airing.   Programmers rarely were promoted to the top administrative positions, it was generally sales people.

During ensuing years with the advent of cable and continued expansion of media I've long since been unable, or even tried to track all programming, advertising, etc.  I content myself with choosing a few programs I enjoy, on selective channels, and take a cautionary approach to all so-called news programming.  Time and technology changes have brought me to the point I view this broadcast medium through different lens.

So, when my TV expired, or whatever happened, I promptly went out to a store to look at TVs -- prepared to arrange for purchase of one of those thin wall-mounted types, or a big screen on a pedestal. I probably could have had it installed that same day, or the next at the latest,  plus arranged for cable connection which I’ve long declined.  Then, I recalled reading of an expectation that, perhaps within a year even better new TVs would be on the market which had much simpler, more superior technological integration of both the Internet and  television programming, plus other features all in one unit (superior to and much less complicated for installation and operation than what’s currently available.)

The thought occurred to me, that “why didn’t  I just wait to purchase a new TV until then?” – if I discovered I wouldn’t miss the few programs I watch.  Thus the seed for this TV-less experiment sprouted.  A family member had planned to do without cable TV a year or so ago, but then relented after a few months because they couldn’t be without their sports broadcasts.

If my husband was still living that would be true in my household, too, but my enthusiasm for sports became somewhat diminished when for too many days, weeks, months, years I was drowned in TV sports of all kinds to the point of over-saturation.  (Sports inhalation wasn’t that excessive before we wed over forty years earlier.)   Actually, I’ve come to miss the sound of sports incessantly on TV, ‘cause the silence can be emotionally deafening.

I’ve gradually come to viewing a few select sporting events we enjoyed together before we wed, and in the early years afterward – or watching parts of games.  But missing them is not a loss for me – I find reading the final score, or about a special play can be almost as satisfying as watching the game – plus there are bound to be multiple replays of those spectacular happenings somewhere on the Internet.  In some instances I enjoy other blogger sports enthusiasts posts about them. 

My current news information sources are not necessarily listed in their order of importance,  but include a Los Angeles area all-news radio station that offers a few select excerpts and/or entire audio news shows broadcasts from CBS TV News, in addition to area traffic and weather up dates, plus all other pertinent news. 

My car radio is always on when I’m driving, and I often listen to the radio at home as I go about other business, sometimes even while using my computer.  If any news item is mentioned that I want additional information about, I simply do a computer browser search – also, I can always refer to ever-up dated Internet news  items listings and stories.   Finally, I continue to subscribe to that old-fashioned print medium called a newspaper – I receive two papers published seven days a week, plus a third -- my specific hometown’s bi-weekly paper (they are all also available on the Internet.)   I may purchase other newspapers and/or magazines on occasion.

When I scroll down through Internet news items I rarely find a major local, national or international news item that I don’t already know about.  I know about earthquakes almost as quickly as they occur anywhere in the world, but those in California where I live are always of special interest -- also concerns about tsunamis and/or nuclear radiation plant leaks (we have one about 50 miles away that's shut down now.)   When we have a shaker I ask myself, is this a foreshock, with larger ones to come and other questions those of us in earthquake country ask ourselves?   Nearby Pasadena earthquake specialists are soon on the radio to explain to us -- what they know about the quake and what they don’t know.  If we have a serious emergency we need to be on the radio anyway.

This time of year, especially in such a dry season, fire warnings are of concern.  My home is not in an immediately threatened type environment, but we have had fires a mile or two away in the more brushy forested foothills above us that have resulted in ashes falling like snow on our rooftops and driveways in years past.  Fortunately, when we re-roofed the first time years ago, we replaced the shake roof with shingles as did most other homeowners.  Tile is nice but some weather conditions can result in tile breaking. 

Also, we have more wildlife sightings in our communities this year, which had pretty much been limited to coyotes who have established dens in our city.   Coyotes did away with the feral cat population, (people used to bring cats up here and dump them.)  Residents have to carefully watch their house pets now, even if they have what they think of as high fenced backyards.   Good-sized dogs and cats have been victimized when all they've done is gone out at night to potty in their owner's backyard. 

An occasional bobcat, mountain lion have been reported, but this year we’ve added bears to the list.  Our local paper now provides free coyote and bear sighting posts with streets named and it’s none too comforting to recognize some of the street names not being too far away from my own.  I’ve long accustomed to sometimes seeing the coyotes racing down my street in the wee hours, so am careful to have a noise alarm of some sort in hand if I go outside other nights – though I’ve never seen any coyotes on the  occasions I’ve stepped outside. 

This year our city has installed an automatic phone alert system that serves to inform citizens of emergencies.  I’ve received two recorded messages to date.  The first was a month or so ago when we had unusually high temperatures way over 100 degrees with very high humidity,  advising where cooling stations (one at a multi-use park area building only a mile from my home) would be open.  I had no need to avail myself of that service but it was comforting to know of the availability. 

Fortunately, Southern California residents have observed voluntary electric power conservation measures. so we have not experienced power outages  -- unlike years ago when our State was ripped off by manipulative electrical grid companies obscene pricing.   One greedy company man was recorded saying words I still bitterly recall:  "Burn, damn you burn" -- when fires were downing power lines, burning homes, jeopardizing human life of residents and firefighters trying desperately to save all life, people and animals.

Our government's FERC did little to see our State was compensated for this injustice when corporations literally stole citizen taxpayers money -- all in the name of rigged immoral and unethical business practices -- simply being legal due to manipulation of intent isn't good enough.   So, when I'm told corporations are people, I am enraged, because obviously even some individuals within corporations adopt inhuman 'company-think' attitudes.  I could only wish that person's abode would be threatened in the future, but my humanity does not allow me to wish that disaster on anyone or their loved ones however despicable his behavior.  Surely he was identified, though I never knew.  I hoped he was fired from his job, but I've become cynical enough to think that, privately, his superiors gave him a bonus.

Just this week a fast-burning fire in the Glendora foothills west of my city, traveling east toward us and our mountain winter ski community, Mt. Baldy Village, was and still is out of control.   Nearly 1300 firefighters have been battling the blaze since Sunday and as of  yesterday,  Thurs., it was just over half contained.   The emergency phone message I received Tuesday was that some planned burns and backfires would be occurring above our area in an effort to halt the fire, but the result might mean extremely smoky air to breathe that was dangerous to residents health.    We were told when we awoke Wednesday morning if we saw these smoke-filled skies to stay indoors.   

Actually, I didn’t see as much sky-filled smoke that Wednesday morning as I had been prepared to expect, but I hadn’t arisen until mid-morning, so maybe some of the smoke had dissipated.  Though my house has A/C I did notice as soon as I awoke the acrid smell of smoke which had somehow penetrated the interior to some degree – maybe through fresh air the A/C pulls in, or through one of two fireplaces that I think are shut which we haven’t used for many years.   

Naturally, having had no therapy patients for a few days, I received calls that morning to see two new patients, but their swallowing problems had nothing to do with fire-related respiratory issues, though one was coughing a lot -- but had been doing so long before the fire and smoke.  (These calls are what I refer to as the ‘feast or famine’ nature of my part time work – no patients or suddenly, several – but I’m on call every weekday – so my schedule is unpredictable.)  Fortunately, I had only to go a few steps to my car, drive about a couple miles and could enter the facility from a parking lot space only a few hundred feet away, so excessive smoke or air pollution is not a major problem for me if I have to go out.  

Writing of emergency services available in my city, I'm reminded that our local Red Cross chapter has had to consolidate with some other local communities.  They've had to give up the cute little house they've long occupied since before I lived here in the northern part of our city.  I periodically took my CPR classes there with excellent instructors.  An active ninety year old acquaintance who has long served our local Red Cross on their Board and been a coordinator for disaster situations will continue her involvement, but is being involved in various other Red Cross volunteer activities.   Our nation's economic situation continues to have long term repercussions even as we go about the process of recovery.    

I’ve wandered a bit astray from my TV-less tale, but the point is I’m getting along just fine without it.  I really appreciate having this local emergency information phone service to add to my news sources.   I did notice the first four weeks or so some sort of behavioral conditioning caused me at certain times of the day, when I was home, to suddenly get an unexpected thought/urge to turn on the TV when I would normally have watched the PBS News Hour (I do miss that program.)   Then, mid-evening that impulse to turn on Charlie Rose came, BUT I found that I can watch his programs free on the Internet the next day at a time of my choosing.  There’s nothing so urgent about what’s said on his program that can’t await a next day viewing. 

Some of you probably already know this, but my sudden unplanned lurch into the blogosphere only six years ago, and subsequent involvement, as I adjusted to my husband’s death, left me little time to learn what all was available on the Internet.   I had also just started acquiring computer operating skills and knowledge – on an old desktop that had me spending hours on the phone correcting problems through tech people in India – sometimes I’d be up all night just trying to correct the basic technical functions.  The hour was too late, or early, to phone for help to my family tech gurus in the Midwest or on the East Coast.  A couple generous bloggers provided me some nurturing assistance.  

Some computer problems were possibly user error, but many others likely weren’t.   Having a newer device, laptop, has helped, though it’s old now, too, as technology development goes -- every two years changing, but who can afford to constantly purchase new tech items, or even want to learn all the new features?   Having wireless capability is a definite plus that everyone should have, with a laptop, tablet, smart phone, or some device they can use anywhere in their home and elsewhere.

I’m still learning what is likely common knowledge to many of you.   I have been delighted to discover that there are actually “best of…” YouTube compilations of various music artists.  I can  listen on the computer all evening to a favorite artist’s music while engaged in other activities, including on the Internet, since seeing the video – which often is just an album cover, or art work the person put together who posted the videos – generally doesn’t really matter to me.  I've never played any computer games with others on the Internet, nor have I gone into chat rooms, so don't know if those are activities I'd want to do, or if it's better to avoid them. 

I’ve also discovered some free videos to view that I don’t even have to download, sign up or join some site to access.  For example, a pleasant break from  political convention live streaming video viewing allowed me to enjoy a movie my daughter had long ago recommended as lots of fun:  “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

I know there are some sites I can join and view movies for a slight fee, including Netflix.  Also, I’m interested in some HBO series, maybe some Showtime Specials.  I prefer watching the movies/shows without downloading, but may have to do so in some instances.

I also always welcome any knowledge, links and views all of you have learned through your computer use experience.

I’ve not been living in a vacuum, am sincerely concerned about this coming election, and did watch the political conventions about which I’ll comment at another time.   I also visited both my Republican and my Democratic (which opened at a later date) Campaign Headquarters.  I’ve managed to visit some blogs and scattered a comment here and there.  Some of you have written some pretty powerful, insightful, thought-provoking posts and/or comments about the vital issues of this election.  I sincerely hope others seeking all views on issues read them. 

Previously I've noted here at times that so many of my close friends and family members have departed this life in the past decade or so.   So I'm acutely sensitive to having my thoughts and time still focus to some degree on a lifelong friend whose husband died only weeks ago.  I've continued a several year long process of traveling her road with her through his illness and now her widow's adaptation process.   Our East Coast to West Coast contact has also tapped into stimulating my own personal loss continuing reflections and adjustment experience, through our intimate sharing about which I'm writing privately.   She does not blog, only now is using a tablet, but occasionally has read some of my posts.

Also, I want you to know I’ve welcomed reading the comments of those who've managed to take the time to come here with my erratic publishing.  I do wish more of you had time to read the short story link on my previous post, then leave a comment specifically about the story for this uniquely talented author, but I know everybody has a busy life, must prioritize their time – especially during this current critical political season.   


  1. I am glad you find it enjoyable to blog periodically. It has definitely opened my world to different ideas from so many people around the world. I think I can do without TV and radio and a smart phone, but definitely need a COMPUTER in my life. In November, David and I will have dinner with 2 bloggers in India. I met them on my blog. They will be taking a 2.45 hour flight from Assam to Delhi to meet me. That is true friendship and I can thank my computer and blog for introducing them to me!

  2. Californians are leading the country now in so many ways. I happened to be in San Francisco during the big blackout, and that event changed the minds of many about the need for sensible energy policies. We pay very high energy bills here, but we personally have sidestepped all that by putting in solar water and electricity.
    You say so much here, and it's all of interest. I enjoyed reading about your life and how you are coping with your local situation and the Internet as well!
    Stay safe from the fires.
    Oh, and I am thinking a lot about Spanish! I will look up the things you recommend.

  3. Enjoyed reading your marvellous essay after seeing your name on Hattie's blog today. There's so much in your essay, I'll have to read it again. Death of a spouse seems to be a sub-theme in your entry, which is what happened to me two months ago. I'm still reeling and trying to get things organized. I got a puppy who is slow to be housebroken (she better shape up soon!) and I'm slow to get to my bills and other obligations out of basic inertia. I'm going to get to them today, I swear I am! :-) My TV watching has become pretty limited to MSNBC and occasional sports. I have an old-fashioned TV that weighs a ton. No chance that I'll forego TV with the election campaign heating up. Good luck!

    1. Welcome, pleased to have you visit and do return. Sorry to read of your spouse's recent death. I certainly recognize the "...reeling and trying to get things organized" state, also the "...slow to get to my bills and other obligations out of basic inertia." Housebreaking your puppy may absorb all your energy for awhile, but should be a fun companion dispensing unconditional love between "accidents." ;-) My TV, too, was older and would be quite heavy (it still sits in the room.) I may yet succumb to TV again before this election ends, though Calif. is not considered a critical electoral college State(but I think our votes matter!)

  4. We watch re-runs of British comedy or mysteries. For news, I watch PBS, our local channel here in DC (WUSA), Fox and CNN, depending on the time of day. Fox is a good channel. We watched MSNBC for years until 2008 when we got sick of the hate spewed toward Hillary from various commentators like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olberman. Ed Rendell, who worked in Hillary's campaign said on FOX, "you don't like us, but you are fair." Imagine that....

    To me it is just plain ignorant to attack something you never watched, and I can tell when someone has never watched something. It would be like me attacking a movie I never saw.

    I don't like some of the things I hear on FOX, but I think they do try to be balanced, which they must do to stay in business. There is a reason they have the highest ratings among the networks I think.

    Many of our favorite personalties on Fox have come from CNN, like Lou Dobbs, and others.

    Most of the time, I am on the computer or reading, but I like to listen to TV while I crochet. Around Christmas, I will switch over to the radio to listen to music.

    When David worked for AT&T he was the senior engineer on the project that set up the Public Broadcasting Network, and every year, we make donations to their cause.

  5. Dear Joared, you, I think, are one of the informed citizenry that the Founding Fathers--Jefferson and Adams especially--believed our country needed to keep alive our Republic. The problem is that even with all the news agencies so few people really research the issues. They listen only to the sound bites that are meant to castigate the other political party or to praise one's only party. I so weary of the half-lies and the outright lies and the vague hints and the smear and the tawdriness of the political arena today. For me, this election could be a Waterloo for our country. Peace.

  6. Interesting! (As always) I know you read my blog now & then--your comments have always been welcome and enlightening. You doubtless know I have no TV, either. I couldn't stand it any more, so I gave it away. Have I missed it? I stopped watching "national" news, particularly the Sunday morning "news programs," YEARS ago. In the past, I loved watching a few sports on cable--Australian rules football, for one--the players were rugged, handsome, and played in short pants!! That was on in the wee hours of the morning, but I made good use of fairly intractable insomnia back in those days. I certainly missed the Britcoms on Saturday nights for many months, but they have been available online sporadically. I subscribe to Netflix online and have LOVED watching not only "Downton Abbey" but also (especially!) "Bramwell." My Netflix choices have been limited by needing to watch closed captioned/subtitled movies/series only. Still, I don't lack for input from people and sources I know and respect.

    One of my favorite new/commentary sources is Juan Cole's "Informed Comment." Another is "Al Jezeera English Livestream." My very knowledgeable friends Jimmy & Sandy read MANY NEWSPAPERS ever day/week. From them I learned that the dreaded WSJ, whose editorial pages & policies suck, has wonderful other content. So when I'm in the library, I sneak a look at its best parts now. And so it're one of the bloggers I check often. You don't post daily, but your posts welcome repeated reading. Long may you wave!

  7. It's amazing how well we can function without the media (all types) telling us what to think. I have a friend who doesn't watch any TV but uses two or three fact check websites to get her info.

  8. I cancelled my cable a few years ago and replaced it with Netflix since I'm a movie buff and if I want to watch TV program, they also have DVDs of movies. And even better, a lot of media sites now offer live streaming -- like the Olympics and the recent conventions -- on my computer. MSNBC is my news favorite & the newest segments are in my email every morning. And I also subscribe to a bunch of newspapers and political sites like Crooks&Liars. And oh yeah, C-Span is interesting, too.

    Obviously I don't miss my cable very much.

    1. Kay, reading your blog, clearly you're keeping up with what's going on in the world without TV, too. (See my reply to Dick's sports comment below: My husband would have appreciated your OSU enthusiasm, too.)

  9. And I don't do Facebook or Twitter. Time wasters!!!

  10. After yesterday's inept exhibition by my Green Bay Packers, I considered hurling both TV's into the woods. Seriously, your experiment is to be applauded. There has been a huge change in television programming over the years; none has been positive. We record a few television programs, primarily the British comedy shows on PBS. Otherwise, it is hard to find anything amusing or stimulating. I can get all the news nourishment needed from many sources on the Internet.

    The loss of your husband often seeps through some of your posts and comments. Losing one's longtime companion indeed is a difficult thing. I'm thankful it hasn't happened to me as yet.

    Hang in there, and keep us posted on how your life sans television is going.

    1. Dick, so sorry to hear about your Packers! Glad you didn't trash the TV so you and your wife can enjoy another day -- there's always the next game. My sports commentary thoughts were prompted by thinking of your blog's occasional views and opinions on professional and college athletics which I'm sure my husband would have enjoyed reading. He always felt unified with anyone rooting for the then Big Ten teams -- except when his team, Ohio State,(which became mine through marriage to him) was playing.