April 29, 2010

A Care Package from New Mexico

A box arrived in the mail yesterday. Plain on the outside, it gave no clue as to the party that was waiting inside except for the return address, LCNM. Our friends there had sent us a care package, a “don’t forget about this place” package, a “can’t wait until you get here” package, and I still cannot wipe the smile off my face.

Inside it was like Christmas, like a surprise birthday extravaganza, a special something cache, all for us. What could produce this much excitement? Well first off was a bottle of hot chile honey. HOT CHILE HONEY! I’m not a tea drinker, but I know a great toast topping if I've ever seen one. MillieJupiter and I made her first loaves of homemade bread last weekend (a pioneer woman’s EASY recipe) that was great and I am going to have to get her to help make it again. I am as happy as Pooh in a honey tree!

Next in the box was some mysterious green powder marked “green chile powder, EXTRA HOT”. I'm wondering if this is a threat or a promise, or simply a warning. We will have to sit when planning next week’s meals and figure out a good place to try it. Perhaps I will make some more of the green chile sauce we had put on hamburgers here. I can’t get great peppers for roasting here yet so this might be the spice to give it some added heat.

The final item in the box, perhaps in the saved the best for last category, was a pound of Pinon coffee. Yes, that delectable drink of the gods I may have indicated I liked and missed from our trip in February. More valuable than gold, it will be lovingly stored in the freezer, brought out for special times like EVERY WEEKEND when I drink my awakener on the front patio communing with nature. I bet it goes well with toast/English muffins and hot chile honey too. Perhaps “Beary” will get a whiff and come a runnin’…

Thanks Clair and Bill and AB, and the Pirate Dogs for the treasures. They will not go to waste.

April 28, 2010

My Experiment

The idea started when I saw an internet story which supposedly detailed a writing exercise done by a college professor. The story was cute and funny and the sort of thing that generally was totally made up except that Snopes actually verified several details of it, even identifying the teacher (Wiki: Snopes.com, officially the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a web site discussing urban legends, Internet rumors, e-mail forwards, and other stories of uncertain or questionable origin. It is the best-known resource for validating and debunking such stories in American popular culture. Snopes is run by Barbara and David Mikkelson, a California couple who met on the alt.folklore.urban newsgroup. The site is organized according to topic and includes a message board where stories and pictures of questionable veracity may be posted).

This story of “The Tandem Story” had appeal to me because it was about communication and interactions and dealt with the sort of thing that we talk about often on the CSA Podcast – social networking and problems that arise.

I decided to try my own experiment (oooh, makes me sound like some kind of scientist… or jerk) using this story as a guide. To open up a story writing exercise to people I know through the podcast and Facebook and twitter, who might not know each other, and see what kind of story we could create. I asked for volunteers to participate and 8 people agreed to join in. I wrote an opening paragraph and sent it with the following directions to the first person and some general directions to all. This is what those directions said:

This is my experiment in creative writing and social networking. We are going to create a tandem story, written by people who may not know each other or may have an acquaintance relationship. In a tandem story, one person starts with a paragraph, which is sent to another person to add to. The two paragraphs are then sent to a third person and the process continues. You will NOT know who is writing the paragraphs before you or the ones who will follow you. If appropriate, I will add a concluding passage and then post the whole thing. I will write a paragraph and send it to the first person on my list. That person will add a second paragraph and send it back to me. I will then send it to the next person on the list. After they write their paragraph, they will send it back to me and I will forward it to the next person on the list. This is to keep the anonymity of the writers. Please make sure you read all the paragraphs written before yours so that the story has some continuity. However the story line with its twists and turns is entirely up to you.

As I write this, the story is more than half way completed. I will post the entire story here, and will pose some questions for readers to try and answer about it. I also will reveal to all, who the writers were although I will not pair writers with their own paragraphs. Perhaps an interesting idea would be to create a matching game with the 10 paragraphs and nine names to see if anyone can identify them all. Then again, maybe not – my experiment, my rules, my game!

April 25, 2010

PenguinPolozza: A brief history of music in my life Part 2 College Life

(On the right hand column is a Playlist music player which has some of the songs I will mention in this series. Feel free to play them in the background as you read, for the very popular multimedia effect)

College and young adulthood brought me a tremendous diversity of sounds, so much music, so little time. There were a number of people in this period who introduced me to different sounds, styles and musicians that still are the face of the music I listen to today. Let me begin by saying that almost every musician or group I am going to name are well know and were getting radio air play at the time. When I say someone introduced some music to me, what I generally mean is that it was through their influence that I began to listen deeper, began to get to other album cuts, rather than just the stuff on the radio.

My first college roommate Kevin got me hooked on Todd Rundgren. A bit off beat, as was my roommate, many evenings and early mornings were spent with Kevin, Todd, Thoreau, and discussions about philosophy or religion or where we would be sometime in the future. He also introduced me to Cat Stevens, someone I had very little knowledge about at that time but ended up listening a lot to in the college years. I can remember the anticipation of waiting until the next Cat Stevens album got released.

Jim and Ron, college friends a couple years older than me, brought the counter-culture feel of music into my experience. Among the most prominent were Jethro Tull, George Harrison, and John Lennon. Tull was the hard rock I hadn’t listen to before. They were sex, drugs and rock-n-roll and I enjoyed every minute of them. I went to my first concerts with Jim and Ron, several Tull shows in NYC and Long Island, and each was a treat. As for the Harrison and Lennon connection, Jim and Ron showed me there was life after the Beatles and that it didn’t need to be the syrupy Paul stuff. Harrison had a unique sound and did causes while Lennon lived his life in the very public and condemning eye, and allowed his followers glimpses into the pain he experienced. Give peace a chance. Unfortunately there are no Lennon songs on Playlist, license issues. One final influence by these two guys was a Texas singer named Shawn Phillips. Again counter-culture, with long blond hair and a wild voice, I listened to him for hours and still play his stuff today. Not well known, he had the ability to hook you and bring you in.

Another college buddy, Billy got me started into Yes. At a time when most music was pretty straight forward, Yes was doing crazy things and again hours were spent listening to them What was remarkable to me now looking back at this is the fact that Yes music was so different from what you would have guessed Billy liked. He was always one to go off in a different direction than you would have expected.

A final college influencer was MHG, aka Mark. He was a big guy with bit thoughts, dreams and ideas. He was the planner of the 3 am trip to Nathan’s in Coney Island, a driving force behind the amateur shows we did in college and the planner of NY Times Sunday afternoons with bagels, coffee and good music. One of those musicians was Jackson Browne. First a side note; as a college freshman MHG offered a bunch of us a chance to go see some new guy at a local NYC club. I passed on seeing Jackson Browne that night and regretted it later. One other note; Kevin and I drove cross country after college graduation and stopped in Winslow, Arizona to stand on a corner to wait for a girl driving a pickup truck. Mission accomplished! MHG also introduce me to the various configurations of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Such tone, harmony and musicianship there. Saw Stephen Stills and Neil Young in concerts – Young at MSG in NYC, Stills in a college auditorium on Long Island. 18,000 fans to maybe 1000. Very cool. MHG also introduced me to Monte Python but that's something completely different!

April 24, 2010

PenguinPolozza: A brief history of music in my life Part 1

(On the right hand column is a Playlist music player which has some of the songs I will mention in this series. Feel free to play them in the background as you read, for the very popular multimedia effect)

When I was a kid, I didn’t listen to much music at all. My transistor radio, under my pillow at night, had either the Yankee baseball game with Mel Allen at the mic or WINS, news radio. Every once in a while we would listen to WABC and Cousin Brucie but that was it. It wasn’t until the early 1970’s, high school age, when music started to become a bigger part of my life. This is going to be a series, three distinct eras, when different people introduced specific music and musicians into my life. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed thinking about it and writing it all down. I begin with the early years.

The first time I heard it on the radio with my friend Tom and brothers Mike and Anthony, I was captured. The guitar, the story, the haunting tune, all made Don Mclean’s American Pie my first musical crush. It was the first album I bought at the local Woolworth 5 & 10 store and cost as I remember about 2 bucks. It got hundreds of plays on the ol’ Victrola, and still today brings up emotions of losing something, even though then, I didn’t know what was lost.
Tom also gets credit for introducing the Beatles and later, Steely Dan to me. As for the Beatles, yes, they were popular (there is an understatement) but they didn’t have meaning to me until Tommy would bring over the White Album for our Saturday night penny poker and pizza nights. (Yes CollegeBoy, my first V I Pizza reference; more on that in another blog in the future). Tommy was really into his music and as his taste matured, by the time I was going to college, he was listening to some Jazz. The music that I think sort of helped shape his taste and influenced me was Steely Dan. Their jazz influence is obvious and most of their sound is much more than just guitar and drum.

April 21, 2010

Sheeeee's Back !

Just in case there was any doubt that spring has officially hit North Brookfield (and I know there could be some doubt; I mean we had the damn heat on just a couple of days ago!) our little furry friend is back. No, not Interloper Cat (more about him later…) but our mother black bear (see The Bear Story). No sooner than when Mrsfabp restarted her early morning walks with a friend now that the weather is nicer, we got the call from the neighbors. The black bear was back; she had again wakened them at 3:30 in the morning and had done so by destroying 3 bird feeders. The Great Seed Robbery! Couldn’t we just get her a gift card for “Feathered Friends” so she could pick up a couple of tons of sunflower seeds?

(Not our Bear, but an incredible simulation of the great seed robbery!)

As I begin my early weekend coffee drinking on the front deck, I will again be on the lookout for her. I think we have to give her a name and I was thinking back when my kids were young and collegeboy was a baby, his first teddy bear that he was able to name himself was “Beary”, a large abused bear he used to sit on all the time. My offspring had a way of understating the obvious. Remember, milliejupiter called the first cat she could name “Black Coat” which we shortened to BC because we didn’t want to have to pay for his therapy bills (See a history of our cats). So Beary it is, at least for now.

I will continue with the up to the minute “Beary” updates when they become available…

April 20, 2010

The readjustment of my threshold

So, the first part of our retirement plan was to find someplace to relocate to. Las Cruces, NM fits that bill. Step two involved going there to see if this was THE PLACE we wanted to be. Yes, to that question also. Step three was to decide what we would locate to and this is where the DW and I are now, hashing out the details.

When we first committed our lives to each other (boy oh boy, is that sappy!), we rented. An apartment in Ozone Park, Queens. An apartment in Southbridge, MA. It was great for us to be together but I hated the thought of giving someone money and not really getting anything out of it for ourselves. Thus we moved up and bought our first home – West Brookfield, MA here we come. It was an old farmhouse, 2 bedrooms, ½ acre plot. Nice neighborhood, good town, nice neighbors and we loved it. But we had a lot of work to do. There was painting outside, paint and paper inside, some new windows, wood/coal stove and hearth, remodeled bathroom. There was now grass to cut, snow to remove and utilities to pay but it was all ours. In the four years we were there, we more than doubled our money while figuring out that the house was too small to raise a family in unless one of the children we planned to have would consent to living in a small, tilted ceiling closet. Hey, it had a door and a window!
This led to house two, a ranch on 3+ acres, only 3 miles away. Still nice neighborhood, nice neighbors bit more grass to cut, more snow to move including a long, long driveway.

The problem with an old house in general is that there is ALWAYS some work to be done and any work done leads to more discovered work. Replace some windows and see how drafty all the rest are. You get the idea. Well we found out this was true for any house, it’s just that the jobs are different. In our ranch over the years we have had to replace the heating system, hot water system, water pump, all the appliances, washer and dryer…you get the picture. Then when I lost my leg, there was a new bathroom to put in and a ramp out front.
In my original threshold to move to Las Cruces, I wanted to live maintenance free while making some equity on our investment. No new windows, no appliances, no repairs. Las Cruces landscaping is most often Xeroscape (my lawn is 6000 pounds of rocks) and there is no snow. (Advantage Las Cruces!) So I set my sights on a new home being build or almost done, where we could get some needed modifications easily. However this dream faced its first challenge in the 2 months since we visited New Mexico.

First off, the realtors informed us that the economy has done more damage to our house than we thought. I had originally hoped to get about a 200% return on our house. Heck we had gotten about 250% on the old farm house after 4 years. Four years ago we had our house appraised to get a loan for handicapped accessibility and they had pegged the value at about 225% of what we paid. Sweet dreams came crashing down however as each of the 3 different realtors told us the same thing. House value was down to about 140% which did not leave us enough for a down payment on a new build.

What was left to do was re-adjust my threshold – that is what I am willing to accept in order to realize our dream. The results are still good, they get us to New Mexico as quickly as we can and still promise us a nice place to live out this next chapter of our life. So we have re-added condos and town houses to our considerations after eliminating them earlier in the process. We don’t need a new house. We just need a sturdy home with nice roof over our heads, good light, space for visitors, friends and each other. Our friends there bought a nice old adobe home with kiva fireplace. I can hope we will be as lucky.

In a soon to be written post, I hope to flesh out a bit more of a timeline for the Great SouthWest Adventure, Part 2 – How we move to Las Cruces, NM, because adding some deadlines or at least goals make the dream seem more real and attainable.

April 18, 2010

Feeding Birds

I love feeding birds. I like to see the different common varieties come and partake. I like the glimpse of the occasional rare or outstanding bird that happens every once in a while. I like to think I am helping out in some sort of way. I like the colors and activity and the glimpse into the social lives of the little feathered guys.

During the winter it is fun to sit near a window and see who shows up. During the summer, it is fun to see just how many regulars there are. To see who likes what kind of seed, or particular bird feeder or perch or dining spot.

During the summer I especially like watching the hummingbirds. I like the courting dance in the air, the aggressive males keeping others away from their “nectar”, the bringing of the youngsters to the ol’ watering hole. Unfortunately we only have one kind of hummingbird here in the north east, the Rufous hummingbird. It’s great to see them early in the spring and sad to realize they have left in the fall but there is little variety. I understand there are a number of hummingbird species in New Mexico and I look forward to being able to spot and identify them. I also look forward to counting how many little hummers there are at any one time.

When we took the kids to California, we stayed for a few days, with my aunt and uncle in the hills north of Los Angeles. They had a wonderful back yard with orange and avocado trees, desert turtles and a great trellises and flowing vine. On any given afternoon there were 20 or more hummingbirds checking out the flowers. Grand!

One of current favorite They Might Be Giants albums is “The Else.” On it is a song about the hummingbird moth which they call an insect that thinks it’s a bird (hummingbird) acting like a bee. The lyrics:

Bee Of The Bird Of The Moth

Everyone is crying at the dread hypnotic flying
Of the bee of the bird of the moth
You can't walk, you can't ramble 'cause you're gonna have to scramble
From the bee of the bird of the moth

Catbug is a cat, but he's got bugness in his veins
Manhouse lives within himself with thoughtful human brains
Neither one is equal to the challenge of the freak we'll call
The bee of the bird of the moth

Now the moth defeats the mouse and man
It's messing with the plan, it can't be believed
'Cause it's just a hummingbird moth
Who's acting like a bird that thinks it's a bee

Got a brand new shipment of electrical equipment
It's addressed to the bottom of the sea
Send a tangerine-colored nuclear submarine
With a sticker that says 'STP'

Windshield wiper washer fluid spraying in the air
Head lice under hats lie in the headlights everywhere
Subatomic waves to the underwater caves
Of the bee of the bird of the moth

And the moth defeats the mouse and man
It's messing with the plan, it can't be believed
'Cause it's just a hummingbird moth
Who's acting like a bird that thinks it's a bee

Is it us or it that's messed up?

Everyone's deforming in the presence of the swarming
Of the bee of the bird of the moth
Protozoa, snakes, and horses have enlisted in the forces
Of the bee of the bird of the moth
All are irresistibly directed by the section of a hypnotizing tractor beam
presenting a prediction
Of the sleep of reason corporation in association
With the bee of the bird of the moth

I’ll miss the chickadees, the cardinals and the rest of the New England crew. I will enjoy seeing the most common LCNM birds and maybe spotting a rare one or two

April 17, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Today is Mrsfabp and my 28th anniversary. On Sunday, we will have known each other for 29 years. As I always tell her these have been 21 of the happiest years of my life. Love you!

April 14, 2010

A few things I want to do after we move to LCNM

As we move closer and closer to livin’ the dream, I’ve started a list of the things I want to do soon after getting to New Mexico. Some will have to wait a while due to the season, but all are on my radar. So with no fanfare, just simple wishful thinking, here they are:

-go into the desert after a rain to smell the air; I understand it is sweet and unique
-go to some NMSU basketball games
-take the Rail Runner to Albuquerque and Santa Fe
-watch the desert sunset with a nice glass of wine (did it with beer already, want a changeup…)
-try some other NM wines; my friend Maqz thinks they can’t be too good because it is so dry there. I’m out to prove him wrong or get tipsy trying…
-expand my beer making dynasty by adding a new beer to the Blue Canary Cream Ale we make already; another cream ale perhaps, a different ale, a lager…who knows?
-be around for a chile roasting day; I have done some of my own on such a small scale, I want to see it done in the giant cylinder roasters
-get a small freezer to store all the green chilies we are going to buy; plan to save a small space in it for Caliches (see The Great SouthWest Passage aka Chronicles of Las Cruces: Part 12 - "Ending on a sweet, sweet note…”)
-try some different green chile foods – like GC spring rolls, GC meatballs. I plan to work on a recipe for GC meatballs and a GC Meatloaf…my friend Bill in LCNM was talking about hot chile powder on frozen custard. Wow, could be the best of both worlds – green chile topped Caliches…
-see another road runner
-feeding birds
-walk the Farmer’s market to buy Christmas presents.
-go to some NMSU baseball games
-go ATVing in the desert
-feeding humingbirds


April 11, 2010

My First Meltdown

It started as a typical spring Saturday morning with just a few chores to do – grocery shop, spend time weeding out the computer room, and waiting for the junkmen to arrive. Little did I know just where this day was headed. (Please buckle your seat belts, turn off your electronic devices and put your lap tray in the upright position…)

I found the junkmen in a recycle/freecycle post. They were looking for old batteries – car, lawnmower type things and I fit the bill. Let me add a note here. By “junkmen” I do not mean anything pejorative or mean or uppity. These were two hard working locals who fit a wonderful niche in our community. When I connected with them about the batteries, the guy told me they were looking for any kind of scrap metal and again I fit the bill. Over the years we have collected an atrocious amount of junk – used junk, borrowed junk, stored junk of others and it just filled up our garage and basement and shed and you get the idea. When the junkmen said they were looking for scrap metal, little did realize the scope of their work. They mentioned they took any metal from the smallest scrap to large piece. I mentioned I had an old pop-up camper in the yard and they jumped on that like a Rottweiler on a pork chop. They looked at our garage as the mother lode and proceeded to take anything made of metal, not nailed down.

Like in the Princess Bride, this memorable exchange:

Miracle Max: See, there's a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead. Now, mostly dead: he's slightly alive. All dead: well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing that you can do.

Inigo: What's that?

Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

Even if something was somewhat metallic in nature, it was loaded into their truck. They worked hard for an hour there and then moved to our woods where the metal lode was bountiful, including an old Nissan car engine, there when we move in, and now covered in pine straw. They were like the biblical locust, tearing into everything in sight. So now 90 minutes in to a job I thought was going to be picking up a couple of car batteries, things took a turn and my life flashed before my eyes.

They moved onto our shed, eyes huge with anticipation of more booty. They had already picked up easily a ton of material, yes, I mean 2000 pounds, not “a ton of stuff.” As they worked there, they saw my 4 wheeler, my ATV, my little red midlife crisis. Some guys get toupees, some sports cars or new jobs, I got an ATV. It is sitting in my shed, collecting dust, getting out only occasionally with CollegeBoy and his girlfriend MissNicole on nice days, when he is home from school. They joking asked if they should take the ATV too and before I could laugh a “no” out, my DW was offering to barter it for some work. Before I could catch that offer, my life flashed before me, there was a rush of emotions, and it took some time to figure it all out.
(No, this picture is not me, but is an incredibly lifelike simulation…)

I needed to sit and think, and so while the junkmen collected my metal, I collected my thoughts and feelings. This was emotional for me and it took a while to figure it all out. I was so glad to have my DW and MJ there and an unexpected call from CB helped process this. At first the DW was talking about letting go of our “things” but it was just so much more for me. As I thought it out, I saw that this stupid 4 wheel toy represented so much to me, more than I realized, so much more. I had been very slow to put it up for sale, still clinging to those feelings without addressing them. The fun I had with CB when we first got it and went wildly thru our woods. Getting to teaching my son about safety and responsibility. The sense of failure and guilt I have because of our financial difficulties and the monthly payments for a stupid toy. But maybe the hardest feelings still awaiting my addressing it was confronting the sense of loss this represents. It stood for a time when I was whole, when I had two legs to walk on and could enjoy the carefree nature of this toy. I rarely feel this much about my amputation anymore. I grieved it and really have tried to move on. But sometimes when I go out taking photos it slaps me around a bit (I’ll talk about this in a different post). Confronting feelings about the ATV brought these up to the surface once again in a very strong way. Stupid toy, stupid choices, stupid mistakes.

Again Mrsfabp was there to rescue me. She talked about how we have this dream to get to LCNM, how we have been confronted with a huge task of uprooting and leaving, and how this was an opportunity to move on, to grab some of those youthful feelings we had back in February during our Southwest adventure. She touches my heart. MillieJupiter was there with a hug, a couple of them, which was another kind of support I needed. CollegeBoy’s phone call out of the blue helped me realize just how good I have it despite the adversities faced.

Some doors close and other doors open. Saturday was a day that brought us much closer to a dream. All because of a little red midlife crisis. I’m glad I got it because it helped me get it. Maybe that’s why I kept it for all these years. We decided to barter it away, for work on our property and our basement. To get us one step closer to a different life. Excuse me, I got a little something in my eye…
Meltdown one is over.

April 5, 2010

I'm Number One!!!

Tonight I was looking at comments on my blog and saw that someone had googled to get to my blog. Imagine my surprise to see I was the number one answer. Not sure if that is a compliment or not based on the search subject.

(Click image to embiggen enough to read it!)


Watching Baseball Today

One of the real enjoys of my life is watching a baseball game, and there is nothing quite like watching the opening game of a new season. All that is winter is gone. All those memories of poor past performances are wiped away and replaced by the optimism of youth. That youthful feeling is spring and this day is better than all others.

In the T Fab household, we watch baseball, Yankee baseball. That can be hard, given our geographic location, in the heart of Red Sox nation but we watch it, trust me. Probably my best memories of watching baseball, after going to games with my grandmother when I was a kid, are the memories of watching and talking baseball with my kids – CollegeBoy and MillieJupiter. It has gotten more difficult over the years as they grew up and had other important things to do like college. Imagine being more interested in college than watching baseball…

This was of some concern to me because of the plan for Mrsfabp and myself to move to LCNM. Sure, I know I will be able to still watch the games (we have our ways, muhahahaha!) but how will we watch the games together. Well last night I got a glimpse of that future and it made me smile.

Yankees vs. Boston opening night, check!
MillieJupiter in living room watching game with computer in her lap, check!
T Fab sitting with an iTouch at the ready, check!
CollegeBoy at College with laptop in place, check!
Twitter at the ready, check!
Live tweeting the Yankee game is on!

The game begins and the 140 character twitter messages are flying. We comment on the green grass, the jet flyover, the dumb 5 year old giving the Herb Brooks hockey speech rewritten (manipulated) into a Sox rant, the strikeouts, the hits, the back to back homers, even the atrocious rendition of “God Bless America” by Steven Tyler. Yes, it was a “communication-palooza” if I have ever seen one. Sure, it was rough around the edges as we (and by we here I mean me) struggled with the technology (the auto correct feature kept changing the spelling of ARod to Arid. It’s not a perfect system yet).

At one point CollegeBoy said this was just like old times except we weren’t drinking beers. I reminded him that he might not have a cold one in hand, being underage and all, but I did. And this is how we watched the game. This is how we experienced the game. Together, all together.

As I sit here writing this, I imagine a giant “Yankee Twitter Party” with lots of commentators – CollegeBoy, MJ, Maqz, Manhattan Man (see the Countless Screaming Argonauts Podcast, available for free on iTunes). Maybe even a few extended Penguin family members or Mrsfabp will toss out a comment or two.

April 4, 2010

Sorry Charter or No cable for you

As part of the plan to retire to LCNM as soon as possible, there is the idea of living more within our means with less debt, less bills to pay. If we are going to retire soon, we are going to have to live on about 70% of the income we have now. And I need to have funds for Caliches! This fact led to several discussions between Mrsfabp and I about how we could cut living expenses. Not surprisingly this discussion led us to look at Charter Communications (CC) as a culprit in our unchecked spending.

Let’s take a look at our CC bill. On an average it totals about $140. That seems reasonable for all the services we use but the question that begs to be answered is “How much do we use each of the services?” My own breakdown:

High Speed Internet: Obviously the most used. Mrsfabp 90 minutes a day, me, 120 minutes a day, MillieJupiter 180 minutes a day, CollegeBoy when home, 24 hours a day. Besides the email and facebook and twitter to keep in touch, there are blogs to read, blogs to write, entertainment to download and podcasts to create and listen too. Cost is approximately $30 a month

Landline telephone: Generally we used our telephone at home less than 30 minutes a day. Less than half on calls out. Cost $30 a month.

Cable TV: It is used a lot for background noise, with very few shows being of the “MUST WATCH” variety. There is Big Bang Theory, The Office and Yankee Baseball in the warm months and Giant Football in the cold. MSNBC and the Food Network take up some time too. My guess is we are talking single digit hours of TV watching weekly although the ON time is probably triple that. Cost for our 2 tier system – basic and one tier up, about 120 channels, is $80 a month. BINGO!

One does not need to be a rocket surgeon (Thanks Maqz!) to see the money being poured down the drain. Well, the solution is obvious. We are going to become a cable-less household very soon. Phase one has been in discussion with current household members and with CollegeBoy who is only home about 35% of the days each year. All seem to be in agreement. We have Netflix. We have DVDs. We have internet. Cable should go. We just need to figure on downloading our entertainment and figure out how to best make it available to all. By this I mean making it simple so that even the lesser technologically savant here can figure out how to watch something. That is the point we are working on now and I expect the cable cancellation of CC in less than a month.

Cell Phones: I add this here because it is phase two of the financial drill down. We have a family cell plan with some data and text added and spend about $100 a month for that. The “youngins” use it constantly and the DW and me much less so but like the convenience and safety factor of remaining in touch with everyone. CollegeBoy is touting the Google Voice application, using VOIP (voice over internet protocol) aka Skype with a hand held phone connected into our wireless internet. Cost to do so might be $25 initially for the phone but we would expect to save $40 a month. Not a bad tradeoff.

So I expect that CC will be getting a call in a few weeks with a cancellation order. We will save $120 a month and I am happy to report that financially we are making a good choice. Entertainment wise we are making a good choice. It keeps us on the path to LCNM.

April 2, 2010

CoME Episode 7: Addendum

Today was a "Landmark Day" in Massachusetts as spring officially arrived at 4:42 PM. How do I know this you ask? These 4 simple facts:

1. It was 70+ degrees today and this came after the beginning of this week, which was cold and rainy and included some snow flurries. You could drink up the sun like a cold lemonade on a hot day...

2. It was so warm that I was able to drive the whole commute home with the windows down and the radio blaring. Oh, I wish I had a convertible!

3. If you listened closely at the swamp near my home you could hear the peepers going to town.

4. Howard's, our local hot dog/clam shack/ice cream stand opened today at noon. At 5 pm as I passed it, the line was well over twenty people deep at both the food and ice cream windows and the parking lot was full.

Yes folks, it is official, SPRING HAS SPRUNG HERE!