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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Watching television.

This is a story about cable.

Back in 2004, when I thought that I was going to be laid off, I started cutting our expenses like crazy. One of the first things to go was all the frills from our phone bill (caller id, call waiting, call forwarding and many other things I didn't even know we had), but shortly thereafter I decided to go from Standard to Basic cable. What this meant was that we were going to have only 20+ channels, mostly made up of the local network stations. Yes, we would giving up such television classics as Iron Chef and Trading Spaces, but since our cable bill was going from $50+ to $12, it was well worth the sacrifice, even though we risked being ostracized by our friends and family. To this day, my mom still doesn't quite understand how we don't have The Food Network.

Well, I never did get laid off, but we had gotten so used to not having all those channels that we didn't go back.

Fast forward to last year. One day we came home from work to find that we could no longer tune in the HD channels. I called the cable company to report the problem and found out that the reason that we didn't have access to the channels was because, unbeknown to us, you actually had to pay for them. Through some glitch, we had been getting them for free for a year. Oops.

So we started to pay extra for HD. Because we now had a cable box, we could access On Demand shows, so Lauren could now watch some episodes of Dora The Explorer and Go, Diego Go! like any normal kid with cable. We also got the DVR option. This arrangement worked very well.

Then last month, we had a recorded message on our answering machine from Comcast informing us that unless we upgraded to their super expensive digital package, we would lose access to On Demand. I felt bad because Lauren had gotten used to watching those shows, so I decided that for an extra ten bucks a month to add Digital Classic to our cable package. This would give us all the pre-school kids channels like Noggin and Sprout in addition to Sci-Fi, VH-1 Classic, and all kinds other obscure channels like SOAPnet and The Game Show Network.

Now that Lauren has 24 / 7 access to her shows, it's been challenging to monitor her television habit. The photo above was taken the day we had the new channels installed. I left the room for a few minutes, and when I came back, I found her like this:

Watching a REALLY good show.

Not even a day in and she had already OD'd on Noggin. This makes me fear for the day when I actually have to learn how to configure the parental controls. Maybe we could just hide the remote for the next 15 years?

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