Archive for the ‘TV’ Tag

Computer Gaming Problem   Leave a comment

One of my goals set back in August was to cut my TV watching down to 2 hours during the week and 2 hours on weekends. That was the explicit goal. The implicit goal was to read more, and get to sleep on time easier. Well, I made the explicit goal easily; but missed the implicit goal by a long shot. How’s that? Well I gave in to a computer game itch. I have a somewhat addictive roleplaying game on my computer that I’ve been playing for the last 10 years. I found version 2 way back when and pretty much spent ALL my free time playing it. At the time I had an absolutely horrible job and was depressed, so the escapism it offered was a relief. Even playing it for hours every day, it still takes several weeks (months?) to finish a game. Version 3 came out and I played that for a while, but then I met Mike and life got busy. Eventually I found out that version 4 had come out, read the description and caved in to get it (these are cheap shareware games). I played it a couple of times and then set up a couple challenging scenarios that out-challenged/bored me so I stopped playing for a while (we also started househunting, which might have factored into the stoppage). The files were all still on my computer, but I was effectively ignoring them. Then this past summer I found out they are now on version 6. The itch started, and eventually I gave in a revisited those two challenging scenarios that I had given up on. One of them turned out to be pretty easy, but still has sucked up all my free time and not-so-free time since October. I only just finished the game.

Now I am faced with a dilemma. I cannot let myself get sucked into this game again after we start a family. It is not possible to play for 10 or 15 minutes, I’ve tried many a time, the minimum sitting is more like 30 minutes. And I know myself and my history: I get sucked in and neglect other things in my life. The obvious solution is to delete all the files from my computer, right? But what if I get the itch to play a game like this again? Can I trust myself to be strong enough for a couple decades to not give in? Or would it be better to leave the game on my computer with all my hints, guides, and notes so that I don’t risk starting something new from scratch? I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days and I’m going back and forth. I could honestly use third-party perspective on this.

But while I decide what to do about the time-suck that took my free time after cutting back on TV, I will enjoy playing with my reward for cutting back on TV anyway: a small electric chipper/shredder. After all, I did meet the explicit goal, and implicit goals only count if the explicit goal failed.

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Posted January 31, 2012 by mayakey in goals, musings, self-care

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Junk Reward   Leave a comment

“Everything in moderation, even moderation.” That’s one of my personal mantras. So this weekend, in reward for meeting my goal to no longer eat in front of the TV, I am splurging in a junk food weekend. Truthfully, I didn’t completely manage to stop eating in front of the TV. Just meals and a significant reduction in snacks. And there’s nothing better to celebrate not eating meals in front of the TV than to spend a weekend eating junk food and having no to-do list or commitments. I used to do this one weekend every year or two, but haven’t  in several years. In fact, I think the last time I did this was when my husband and I were still dating and he was going to be gone one weekend. So it was an entirely new experience for him to put “junk food for Maya” on the shopping list. Not that we don’t ever buy junk food in small quantities. Coming home with Double Stuff Oreos, mint Oreos, shortbread, Chessmen, frosted cookies, dried cherries, crackers, Boursin, potato chips, and Terra chips was a new experience for him. (And I can say that my eating habits have improved because I found that I can’t eat as many Oreos in one sitting as I used to; I might not be up for the challenge of the junk food.)

The goal to stop eating in front of the TV is a goal with many roots. The first is that TV just sucks up too much of my time and makes my head spin. Even though the vast majority of the programming holds no interest for me, there is just enough to keep me drawn in. Time gets lost that I could be using to read, or work on any of the many projects always in progress. Theoretically, not eating dinner in front of the TV means I’m less likely to lose an hour or two in an evening to the magic box. Realistically it means some nights the TV stays off and some nights I need a fix.

The second reason is because I’d like to eat healthier and lighter, which is easier to do when eating without distraction. Food is more satisfying when you are actually paying attention to it. Plus, when one pays attention to one’s food, one is likely to eat it slower and fill up on less. Of course, unappetizing food is best consumed with distraction and in a hurry; but who likes to eat food that doesn’t taste good?

The third reason is that, like many people in decades past, I grew up eating dinner with my family around the dinner table every day. That’s one of the best ways for a family to bond, and I have to say those family meals are very fond memories. I want to be able to do that with my future family. Shutting off the TV and sitting myself down in the dining room is the first step.

Posted February 12, 2011 by mayakey in goals, self-care

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Stupid Cable Box   Leave a comment

I have hated the cable box since the moment that it first entered our house. Maybe even earlier, actually. We were one of those hold-out families that didn’t  jump to digital until forced. It was a joke to me watching cable channels slowly move from the basic cable package to the digital package, and watching the price differential slowly decrease. We waited until the price differential reached $0, at the time of the digital switchover. Unfortunately, the cable box is large, and there wasn’t a good place for it in our entertainment cabinet, so it is balanced on top of the TV. The day we hooked it up was a grumpy day for me because I hated the thought of being forced to add an extra cumbersome piece of electrical equipment that would draw ever so much more electricity for no other purpose than entertainment. To add insult to injury, it is harder to watch TV using the cable box because there is now a lag between channel changes. Yes, I know I could have chosen to stop watching TV completely, but neither my husband nor myself really wants to do that.

In our old house the power strip for the entertainment cabinet was not easily accessible, so we only powered down completely when leaving for vacation. In the new house we were able to arrange the furniture so that the power strip was reachable and we could turn off the power every night. I don’t know if everyone understands phantom power. Many pieces of electrical equipment are always drawing power. Sometimes it’s obvious, like a microwave with a clock that is always lit. It may not be drawing a lot of current, but unless you unplug the microwave, it is always using electricity. Often it is not obvious, like a TV, which appears to be completely “off” when it is turned off. However, in order to be able to use a remote control to power up, the thingy that receives the signal from the remote has to be on at all times. Phantom power load can add up in a typical house: water heater, thermostat, refrigerator, freezer, microwave (with clock), stove (with clock), alarm clocks, cell phone chargers, computer power adaptors, TVs, VCRs, cordless phones, cable boxes, modems, CO monitors, doorbells, etc. To figure out your phantom power load, you can read your electric meter at night right before you go to bed when all of your lights, etc. are off. (and during a time of year that A/C and heating are not required), and then read it in the morning before turning anything on. Or do it while you are at work, or anytime that everything is “off” for several hours. In the summer of 2005 I did a personal energy audit and determined that my phantom power usage ranged from 0.15 to 0.3 kWh/hr (this did include some lights and occasionally a fan, which might explain the range). That comes to 1300 to 2600 kWh/yr. At my current electric rate that is $125 to $250 per year.

I wanted to start off on the right foot in this new house with lower energy usage, hence the reason we made sure that the power strip for the entertainment center was accessible. In the fall, after getting ourselves settled, we started turning off all of the power strips every night, including the one for the entertainment center. My husband complained a little bit about having to wait a minute or so for the cable box to reset itself the first time it was turned on each day, but considering how much heat it gives off when “off” it was obvious that it sucks a lot of electricity even when not in use. After a while, though, we started noticing that it took several minutes for some channels to come back on line; and then some of the channels didn’t come back at all. Unfortunately a couple of our usual channels got lost as either blank error screens or super-pixelated sound and picture. This week I finally got around to calling Comcast to schedule a technician. We had already tried power cycling, checking the wiring, etc. and determined that a technician needed to come out. So yesterday the technicians spent about an hour to determine that the box was broken. They replaced the box and we have all of our channels again. Unfortunately, when I asked if turning off the cable box was the culprit, he thought that it might have been. Apparently it is not uncommon for them to see this problem after a power outage.

So we now have TWO power strips for the entertainment center. One for the cable box and modem that will always be on (I’m sure the modem would be fine with shutting power off, but we use internet constantly, and often while the TV is off), and one for the TV, VCR, etc. that will be off when we are not at home. It’s not perfect, and now I really hate the cable box, but it’s what we’ve got to do for now. I just wish they could build a hard switch on appliances so that you could choose to shut off the phantom load. I’d be perfectly fine turning the TV on at the TV, and then settling down with the remote.

Posted January 29, 2011 by mayakey in energy use, home

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Refreshed   Leave a comment

It’s amazing how much of an energy boost a refreshing holiday weekend is. I feel absolutely invigorated, and my ability to be productive is back. That’s one thing I’m horrible at: quality relaxation. Especially when things get busy, and I need the relaxation the most, it is hardest to make myself really relax.

Like many people, I tend to come home tired after a full day at work, and after running and making dinner I end up sitting in front of the TV to “relax”. For me watching TV is not particularly relaxing, though. For the first few minutes of an enjoyable show it is great to lean back in the couch and let go. After about a half hour I’m as relaxed as I’m going to get in front of the TV, and from there on out I’ve got diminished returns. Unfortunately, most dramatic TV shows are an hour so I spend the last half hour torn between missing the end of the episode and wanting to do something. That’s not conducive to relaxing. Plus, I’ve seen newspaper and magazine articles summarizing studies about TV watching that basically find that the visual and auditory stimulation of the TV does not actually allow the brain to relax. So apparently it really is more relaxing to sit and read than watch TV, but we are just drawn to that stimulation.

This past holiday weekend was full of hiking, family time, couple time, reading, puzzles, running, walking, getting massaged, singing, yardwork, a little bit of TV, and just plain introverted home/me time. Plus with “no” pressure, I started working on my winter purge, which always makes me feel lighter, and one of the projects that has been looming over me, thus hopefully making this week less stressful.

Posted November 29, 2010 by mayakey in musings, self-care

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Unplugged Weekend   1 comment

I’m back now after a short vacation. I haven’t posted in a few days because I was enjoying an unplugged weekend. I flew across country for a cousin’s wedding, and decided to leave my computer at home and keep the TV off in the hotel room. This was a long weekend dedicated to spending time with friends and family, and catching up on my reading in-between. Unplugged weekends are a rare event for me, as I am guessing they are for most people. When I’m home, the temptation of the TV and the computer is huge, and when I’m in a hotel for some reason I cannot resist turning on the TV and channel surfing. This weekend, though, I pulled it off. Granted, I did watch the end of the Giants-Phillies game 6. However, I was hanging out at a bar with my cousins and my uncle “enjoying” the karaoke while I watched the game, so I don’t think it counts.

Unplugging can feel so good. There’s a certain amount of liberation in the act of just walking away from the digital stimulation and constant digital communication, even if it is just for a short time. A few weeks ago we had a wellness challenge at work to reduce TV watching. For a real challenge I could have made myself go two weeks without any TV, but I just didn’t want to. I did, however, average only a half hour of TV per day for those two weeks, and boy did it feel good. I suspect that a typical week would be an average of about 1 hour a day for me, but I haven’t actually tracked that in a couple of years. The computer is even a bigger temptation that the TV for me, especially since I started reading blogs. I can spend hours on the computer working with spreadsheets, doing email, reading blogs, playing games, looking at/working with photos, and much more. It used to be downright painful to leave my computer for a week to go to my mom’s house for Christmas. We’ll have to see what happens this year that I have a laptop.

Posted October 26, 2010 by mayakey in musings, simple living, travel

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I Just Can’t Cut the Cord   4 comments

One of my goals for the first half of 2010 is to stop eating in front of the TV. It is part of a bigger goal of gradually cutting out most TV watching, so that when we have a baby I can go a couple of years without TV. The problem is, I’m failing; I’m failing badly. When our DVD/VCR broke months ago we had to give up our ability to record TV and that was actually a relief because it meant that I could start disengaging from CSI (my choir practice once a month is during CSI). I thought I was making progress weaning myself off the idiot box. However, I didn’t continue my progress by cutting out TV while stretching after my runs and eating, so I got myself hooked on NCIS instead (thanks to USA and three hours of reruns almost daily). And then Comcast forced us to get a digital cable box and now the VCR can record TV again. I am anguished to admit that I recorded a show today and I’ll do it again next week since my prayer group moved to Tuesday and NCIS is currently doing a very riveting story line.

Usually progress on my goals is kind of a “two steps forward, one step back” thing. I know that and I plan for that. I am not happy with two steps forward and two steps back. That’s not progress at all.

Posted May 18, 2010 by mayakey in goals

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