Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Okay, a Few Withdrawals

Couple-a months ago, Mrs Elliott and I cut the cord on our cable TV, discontinuing all TV service and exchanging the buggy* Alpha cable box for one of Bend Broadband's simple cable modems. Our technical problems went away, and our cable bill went down faster than a six-pack of Mirror Pond.

Through our Roku box, we're watching the shows we care about (Boss, Louie, Breaking Bad, Episodes, and so forth) -- maybe not as soon as you who are enjoying paying your cable service $100 or so a month, but we got them in glorious high-def.

So while that's pretty satisfactory, there are two areas where I feel a lack:

HBO programming, shows, like Game of Thrones, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Lena Dunham's Girls (shows we like), are simply not available streaming without an HBO subscription, and the only way to get that is by signing up for cable so what's the point?; and football: the NCAA and the NFL don't make live streams of the games available no where, no how.

Jack can't afford to go to a sports bar every time there's a game on. A couple appies, maybe a burger, add in a few glasses of wine, then a nice tip for the nice waitress, and I'm out half a C-note.

So I'm already resigned to missing some games because I'll be camping, backpacking, or in Canada where football is just weird. I'll also miss those I would ordinarily have been able to easily watch in the old cable days from the comfort of our sagging and macassar-smudged sofa**.

(Note to those who are television-savvy: we can't get direct tv broadcasts because there is this great big heap of lava, Awbrey Butte, between our house and the transmission towers, even the ones on top of the butte. We are in a shadow area.)

I was talking to a friend about this yesterday, laying out my woes.

"You complain about this. This is nothing," he said, stabbing at me with his cigarette.

"First world problems. White man problems," he said. "You are very lucky. In Algeria, 'Parks and Recreation' is not available. To see Ron Swanson's mustache is costing over 1600 dinar."

Point taken. It could be worse here.


* The Alpha cable box has issues with port forwarding, a technical term that means that outside services, such as BendTel, who operate Mrs Elliott's office phone system from their office, could not access the equipment in the house through the box, nor could Mrs Elliott or I contact our home computers when out of the house using common services like Remote Desktop or VPN. BB's tier 1 tech staff said that the manufacturer of the box knew they had a problem with Port Forwarding but could not provide a fix. This after I banged at the problem for hours then asked the very capable Paul "The Computer Guy" Spencer for help hammer on this stupid problem. "Broken Port Forwarding" is all he had to say after a couple hours of trying workarounds.

** Or "chesterfield" as I am told some in Canada call it -- further proving how weird it is in Canada.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Are These Blue Skies???

After far too many days breathing air that smelt like the inside of a chimney, under skies looking like coastal SoCal-grade white-outs, today we saw brilliant blue skies with charming puffy white clouds. Rain early this morning washed the air, washed the streets, and washed our house clean.

It is understandable that my readers in Sisters who live downwind of the Pole Creek fire,  may find my whining about the impact of the current fires here in Bend laughable, and they are right: y'all are dealing with hellish conditions.

But even here it's uncomfortable.

Watching the Ducks shutter Arizona last night at Sidelines, H. Bruce Miller and his lovely wife Sharon said that this has been the worst air quality they've seen since they moved here in 1965.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This Pleases Us

Out of the cold war atom bomb tests era comes this gratifying news: Beer is totally fine even after being nuked. Read it here.

Those were my parents' tax dollars at work and I am going on record here to say that however much my old man and every other working person in the US paid in 1955 dollars to investigate whether you can safely drink beer which has been blasted by an A-bomb, it was worth it.

Out of the Gym Laundry Basket

I read that tomorrow is expected to be "much cooler" than today.

Couldn't have happened soon enough for me.

I know, I know, there are plenty out there that conflate "warm" and "nice," and I'm real sorry for y'all. But for the past week I've felt like I have been stuck under a pile of dirty laundry in a stifling closet. Close, stuffy, stale and airless.

The gym sock of weather.

Reminds me of when Mrs Elliott and I went to Hawaii a couple years ago. The "balmy" air felt tired and stale to me. Maybe that's why most of the Euro-Americans I saw there also looked tired and stale. Sticky, too.

The smoke hasn't helped, of course. The Pole Creek fire is said to be 40% contained as of today. A bit of rain would help. A lot of rain would help a lot. Wash off some of the ash that's fallen hereabouts, clean the skies, give me back some crispness and energy.
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