Okay Doak

Thoughts & unsolicited advice on work, life, food, pop culture and more...

Category: Living

How to Cut Cable When You’re a TV Addict

My love of TV started early when I was sneaking episodes of “Salute Your Shorts” and “Hey Dude” after school and has truly never stopped. Every fall, I look forward to receiving the Entertainment Weekly Fall TV Preview issue and make a new grid of what shows I’m going to watch.

This fall will be different, however, since Jeff and I cut cable a few months ago. It took a fair amount of research and I wouldn’t say we have the perfect solution at all, but I feel like we’ve hit the perfect balance of:

  1. Still being able to watch the shows I liked
  2. Watching less TV overall and ultimately reading more

So… how did we do it? I’ve outlined our process and approach below  and will stress that this is the approach taken by someone who loves TV more than any other form of entertainment and may seem extreme for more casual viewers.

Research

I created this spreadsheet of everything we (I) watch, what network it’s on, where I could find it on streaming, if there were any caveats (like for example, it’s on Hulu but with a 3 week delay or a 2 day delay or a full year delay). THEN, I looked at the gaps, determined if it was a show I still wanted to watch and if yes, what it would cost to pay for it on iTunes, etc.

A general note that the biggest issue is with CBS shows. They’re not available real time on any streaming platform. I ultimately decided they weren’t really that critical. CBS is launching it’s own subscription service for real time access on their site but it seems ridiculous to pay another $6/month just for CBS all things considered. And since it’s not available on Apple TV, there’s no easy way from a tech standpoint to watch it. If you have Roku or Chromecast instead of Apple TV though, it’s available as an app.

After doing the above, we crunched the numbers and saw that even if I spent $20 a month on iTunes (which would be subscribing to 6-12 full seasons of a show), we’d save $60 a month with the change.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, if you’d like to see my spreadsheet, you can view it here. Just remember any show you’d like to judge me for watching is probably something Jeff picked.

Subscriptions & Equipment

We already had an Apple TV and our DVD player is a smart DVD player that connects to Amazon streaming. In addition to that, we subscribe to Netflix and Hulu. Given my addiction to Bravo, that still means I have to subscribe to my Housewives (just NYC, Beverly Hills and Orange County) on iTunes.

Lastly, we got a digital antenna for live events. We barely use it but it means that for things like major events, we’re still able to watch and given that it was under $40 the ROI is pretty high.

Set Up & Tracking

However, given that we have shows on Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime and don’t have a single or convenient queue for what to watch, I was still seeking some sort of resource to turn to to answer the question “what can I watch right now?” I researched apps and services for that and picked Episode Calendar. It’s far from perfect, but Jeff and I needed a shared account (a number of the top-rated solutions were apps tied to an iTunes account) and it covered all the basic needs. Now, we can go to the “Unwatched” section and it shows all the new episodes of current show OR we can add older shows and check them off as we watch episodes.

Case Study In Poor Adulting: Making Friends In Your 30s

If the worst conditions under which to make new friends were ranked, I’m confident that being childless in your 30s and being a transplant to Michigan would battle for the top slot.

I moved to Michigan two years ago for a boy and a job and was struck immediately by the fact that it felt like everyone in Michigan was from Michigan. Thank goodness this was actually proven true with data which, incidentally, is often my hope but rarely the case. The problem with this is that no one here needs to make new friends — if you are still living near your elementary school friends, high school friends & college friends, you don’t need to make new grown up friends. That said, I really have tried!

Here’s an exciting list of things I’ve done to try to make friends:

  1. CrossFit — I thought I’d get in shape & make friends simultaneously so I emailed for more information and never heard back. It’s unclear if they were disorganized or if they found out that I never passed a Presidential Physical Fitness Test in my entire life. I actually couldn’t even reach 0 on the “V Sit & Reach.” I like to think of it as the way that my mental inflexibility manifests itself physically.
  2. Pure Barre — I heard this was “cultish” which seemed like a decent possibility but after 14 classes, I had a 24 year old former MSU Dance Team Captain tell me it was nice I kept trying. #notsomuch
  3. Junior League — yeah, this was a swing and a miss. Signed up for more information and learned the first meeting involved a “crazy hat contest” and a scavenger hunt. Neither activity seemed ironic.
  4. Host work friends over for dinner — had a 33% success rate with this and found out another 33% deemed me “not cool enough for weekend activities.”
  5. Yell at my husband for not having more friends of his own — I felt better after this but didn’t actually make any friends.
  6. Wine tastings — met a lovely 72 year old recent widower who told me about a restaurant that’s now my favorite, but I am, again, in need of more friends and probably fewer carbs.
  7. Cooking classes — went solo and ended up having some aggressive housewives take all the good macarons and talk about a trip to France while mispronouncing words.
  8. Volunteering — just kidding, never did this. Until there are volunteer opportunities for people to make sarcastic asides, I’d rather be lonely.

Me. At Pure Barre. (Source: Disney.Wikia.Com)

What’s worse, I’d really like to cut some existing friends loose since I’m trying to reduce the crazy and drama in my life, but if I don’t have a healthy farm system, I feel like that’s not the wisest move. [If you’re reading this, it’s definitely not you].

In the meantime, I’ll be grateful for the wonderful friends I do have (albeit spread across the country) and try to be better about staying in touch with them.

I am not a dog person – I am a MY dog person

I have two toy poodles: Sam and Pepper. No, I didn’t rescue them. I know that’s admirable  and gets you a bumper sticker that says “who rescued who?” but I like purebreds and lack of dander and no emotional baggage from past owners. I post frequent photos of them on social media because I think they’re cute and they make me laugh. I spend a healthy amount of money keeping them healthy, walked, well fed and buying them toys that are mildly ironic… only to have them prefer to play with pens or batteries or other items that could kill them.

Samuel Seaborn Doak (L) and Peppermint Patty Untereker Doak (R)

Samuel Seaborn Doak (L) and Peppermint Patty Untereker Doak (R)

The thing is, people like to assume that because I love my dogs, I love all dogs. This is not the case; I probably don’t love your dogs. I don’t like big dogs or dogs that slobber or ugly dogs. I definitely don’t like dogs I haven’t met and you describing your dog’s antics is less amusing than you think it is. In fact, human impressions of dog faces make me uncomfortable in an “I pity you but don’t want to bond with you so I’m trying to hide my emotions” kind of way.

Poodle sculpture I bought that does not help my "not a dog person" rep

Poodle sculpture I bought that does not help my “not a dog person” rep

Today I was trapped in a 25 minute conversation with my dog walker learning about the differences between her two dogs and listening to her compare her dogs (who I haven’t met/will never meet) to my dogs (who I pay her to take care of) and couldn’t for the life of me extricate myself early. I found myself, about 10 minutes in, wondering why this doesn’t happen to Jeff. How does he get out of these conversations? How does he avoid learning about Toby the Goldendoodle’s asthma medication ($300+ for three months and insurance doesn’t cover it)? Until I crack the code, my plan is to park down the street and hide in my car until I see she’s gone. That’s the grown up and mature thing to do, right?

Blooming where I’m planted

Next month will mark three official years of living in Michigan which is both scary to me and a reminder to take a pulse on promises that I made to myself and my friends. When I was in NYC, I blogged regularly and loved that even though I was terrible about calling friends and family, there was a touch point for me with the people I cared about most (as well as acquaintances, internet strangers and a number of spam bots).

Work travel when I moved to DC made it tough to keep up the blog and once I moved to Michigan, I had trouble knowing what I’d say or share — it’s been more challenging than I thought it would be to make friends, I’ve taken on a husband and a whole new family, I’m not sure where the boundaries are with some of these aspects of my life (never an issue before), I’ve started asking larger questions about my intention and purpose professionally and personally (is there such a thing as a one-third life crisis?) and, frankly, my life seems more boring. “Sat on the couch and watched The Voice” doesn’t really feel like much to write about.

Image credit: http://www.katiemakes.net/

Image credit: http://www.katiemakes.net/

When I worked at Ogilvy, my incredible and inspiring boss, Virginia, once mentioned that there was a mural at her elementary school that read: “Bloom where you’re planted.” While I can’t remember what it applied to at the time, it pops up in my head a lot. Frankly, I’m planted somewhere new and I owe it to myself and those around me to try and blossom a bit. Or at least not be a disgruntled and angry person. Or at least try and turn my complaints about the general ineptitude around me into somewhat humorous thoughts.

My hope is that this blog will be a bit of what Unterekless.com used to be — a random collection of thoughts and things I’ve found of interest around the interwebs. I have a vision for some sort of structure to posting but will wait and see if it happens before committing to it right now since my 30s have clearly brought a more relaxed approach to life… which compared to my previously tightly wound self doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Hopefully the dogs don’t get sad that this means fewer conversations with them.

Me. In full bloom. And, since you're wondering, sober.

Me. In full bloom. And, since you’re wondering, sober.

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