This will have very little Medieval content and contains much more information about my personal life than I am planning to habitually post but it may interest some people.
My TV blew up yesterday afternoon. I’m not a huge television watcher. I have exactly two network TV shows I try to watch every week with three others I try to catch but am not disappointed when I miss them. I watch the local news at home in the morning – always – and often in the evening. “Watch” may be too strong of a term. Generally I’m on the computer with the TV serving as background noise and if something catches my interest I’ll look into the living room to catch it. And here’s the biggie – I watch football (American) on Sunday afternoons. I’m also a fan of the NCAA basketball tournament each March.
Cable doesn’t run where I live and I haven’t bought a dish. I get exactly two stations – the local NBC and CBS affiliates. Actually those are 5 stations because the CBS affiliate also has a radar site and the NBC has a local weather network and Universal Sports. So my television watching is already minimal. Also, while I have high speed internet this is through a wireless phone company receiver (there’s likely a technical term for this – I call it my, “USB Internet phone thingy”) with a data limit so watching over the Internet is not an option.
Still, not having it leaves a hole. After some consideration, I’ve decided not to replace it, at least for the short term. I’m going to live two weeks television free, with an option on permanence.
This will change my life habits. I like having background noise. TV used to do that even when what was on was garbage. Right now I have NPR on (tried several stations and didn’t like ’em) but this won’t work for a long-term solution. I have CD’s of stuff I like in the car and am not packing that in and out of the house. I think I’m gonna go classical indoors. I’ll leave Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin, etc., in the car. I also have XM radio in the car and am debating a receiver inside but as of this moment I’m staying away from that.
The one negative of no TV is that every now and then, probably every 3-4 weeks, I want to completely veg in mindless non-reflection. You may think football fits that description but I usually have a good history book on the coffee table, start off reading it during commercials and end up reading it and only watching football when an announcer sounds excited/during key moments. My mindless vegetative state is achieved by, almost always on a Friday evening, renting 2-3 DVD’s of dubious quality which I won’t much care about if I fall asleep during. Did that this week and yesterday morning I was completely refreshed. I think this aspect of my life is worth keeping. Some people meditate, I watch bad movies. And very occasionally, I watch one I think might be good.
So this is something I need to deal with – but there is a solution. I have a laptop at home with a 22″ screen. I could buy a larger screen for the living room and, when I want to watch a movie, hook the laptop to it. I don’t think watching movies in my office is an option – this is my total mindless relaxation time and the chair doesn’t cut it; neither does moving the recliner in here – the floor’s already covered with books. Though having a 32″ or larger screen to work on has a sinister appeal.
So this brings me to reading. I already read a lot. Almost everything I read at home is on Medieval History – exceptions are my subscriptions to Discover and National Geographic. When I first started reading history I took breaks from the Middle Ages by reading fiction. Today I take breaks from reading about Late Antiquity, Early Medieval and Classical (usually on early Christianity) by reading something Medieval from out of my period which I don’t feel compelled to take copious notes on.
I expect my reading will increase and that I’ll read more productively. I also anticipate exercising more and being more productive around home; at the very least on Sunday afternoons. Possibly I’ll start working on my languages again – I’m in Mexico for 9 days next April and my Spanish needs to be serviceable by then.
The week after Thanksgiving I’m going to take stock. The hole left by the departure of my television may have closed by then – or it may not. If not, I’ll re-subject my home to low grade (likely harmless) radiation. If it has, I’ll likely throw in a follow-up to this post explaining the (I hope) improvements this has made in my life. For the moment though, it’s on to the books.