Adios DirecTV, Hello Roku

In October of 2013 we, as in our family, said farewell to DirecTV.  I will admit that the reason behind this was the ever increasing bill that we had been paying to the satellite company.  My family watches more TV than I, and it impacted them the most.  While I’m the one writing this, I have seen the evolution happen within the home.  Cable TV is nice, don’t get me wrong.  Turn on the TV and cable box if required and there is an assortment of channels waiting for you.  More than likely accompanied by a guide of what is on.  I’m aware than some of the basic channel packages do not come with a cable box nor do they have a guide.  I was once a subscriber to such package with Charter.  This ever ready guide and always on channels are what we as a family needed to change our thinking when it came to using the Roku.

I didn’t abandon broadcast television completely.  For $45 I bought an over the air antenna.  A trip to the local hardware store costing about the same, $45 enabled me to mount the antenna in the attic.  I also needed to run coax down to the master bedroom from the attic.  Fishing the wall while being in the attic was fairly easy.  My daughter was kind enough to tell me when the fish tape hit the coax junction box in the wall.  From there, I basically reversed the wiring that carried the satellite signal up to the bedroom, allowing me to feed the bedrooms, and downstairs with free programming.  Using my trusty compass and the location of Shoreview as provided by http://www.antennaweb.org, I aligned my antenna.  Off to the TV to scan for channels.  I believe it found 30 channels that day.  Reviewing the quality, I made another stab at the alignment.  There are 2 broadcasting points near Shoreview, MN.  I changed to the one that carried the major networks (Fox, CBS, etc).  In doing so I lost a few of the government stations.  It was a trade off I was willing to accept.

There we were, a few days til I would tell DirecTV to kiss off.  We had over the air local channels, Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.  Possibly the biggest challenge was finding something to watch.  Granted with access to a number of movie and show options, we had a tough time finding that one thing to watch.  It was easy with cable.  Turn on the TV and what was on, was on.  Pick something out that you wanted to watch, or pick the least likely to send you packing.  With Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, it took effort to find something to watch.  This just didn’t affect one person in the house.  All seemed to struggle with it.  Granted we could flip over to live TV but with the major stations carrying what we hardly watched anyhow, it didn’t get much attention.  I found myself throwing on the local channels, in fact I still do.  Once I come home from work, I find myself with Judge Judy on while doing work or assignments.  Its noise.  While browsing the selection on Roku, I end up trying to decide if I really what to watch this or that.

The problem with Roku.

The main issue I brought up is looking for content to watch on the Roku.  Sure you can get different channels to watch.  Like TED Talks, there is a channel you can add for those.  Listen to Pandora?  There is a channel for that as well.  Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime?  All those too.  Plenty more as well.  The biggest draw back has been those other channels.  Not quite as useful as they market them.  Sure they have their audience but it wasn’t us.  Digging for content wasn’t what we wanted, nor was it what we were used to.  We tried to find avenues to watch cable TV shows on the Roku.  It wasn’t as easy as advertised.  Even paying a small amount for Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, we still needed to look for stuff to watch.  Those 3 don’t cover everything either.

Netflix:

The most watched by my family.  We have had Netflix for a while.  Back even when we did the 2 movie thing, perhaps it was 3 disks.  I can’t remember.  I only really remember watching envelops of movies come in with none of my titles ever showing up.  We have watched the first season of The Following, many episodes of Law and Order SVU and such.  Good interface on the Roku, we have Netflix smart app on the Vizio and it blows.

Hulu Plus:

Most watched by my daughter and for that it met it’s demise.  I’m not a fan of Sam and Cat nor Shake it up but somehow when I walked out of the room, that is what it was on if I came back.  Other than that, it was never used.  Sure I tried to find shows I would watch but when you are stoked that it found something on a title, only to find out it has a bunch of clips.  I was not impressed.  Additionally full length episodes and movies have commercials that rarely change.  Ads 1 of 3 when they all end up being the same, talk about mind numbing.  We canceled the service after 3 months.

Amazon Prime:

My favorite, not really used by anyone else.  Additionally this is not a month to month.  You pay for the year.  The bonus is free shipping on Amazon, from Amazon itself, not third party peeps.  Many movies and shows.  Some content is free if you have Amazon Prime with exceptions.  Such as if you really want to watch Hot Fuzz, you have to pay 2.99 for the rental.  Convenient but I wouldn’t bother.  Just because you can find it, doesn’t mean it’s free on Amazon Prime, there is a lot of overlap between Netflix and Amazon Prime.  Mainly it’s around because we get stuff from Amazon, especially textbooks, and that 2 day shipping helps pay for itself.

So, there we have a brief look at what it took for us to cut the cable.  We are not entirely free from cable, that coax is feeding live broadcasts as well.  The thing is, the broadcast is free.  The down side is not seeing anything live on those cable channels.  Sure if I dug enough and added a few private channels on the Roku, we might be able to see them.  Or there is the laptop.  I’m happy with the service we have.  We are out $14 bucks a month on average for Netflix and Amazon Prime.  The local channels come in if we want to watch something there.  We have 2 Roku units.  Roku 3 in the main room with Roku 2 in the bedroom.  Speaking of Roku, they really try to sell the device as something that will give you an obscene amount of content.  Unfortunately I haven’t found myself overwhelmed with content.

Million Pounds of Squats total: 67808 lbs

Goals

IMG_20131001_105611_222Success and failure.  Both are possible outcomes when setting goals.  In October 2013 I set out some goals for myself in weight lifting.  Deadlift 300 lbs for 5 reps, overhead press of 135 for a double, and squat 260 for 3 reps.  Then immediately after tearing a ligament in my ankle, I set out to complete a round of Smolov Jr for the back squat.  The goal then was to break 300 lbs for a back squat at the end of the Smolov cycle.  Was it smart to squat on my ankle at all let alone 4 days a week?  Probably not.  It did allow me to remain focused on physical activity while not able to go to roller derby practice.  The Smolov Jr cycle ended on Friday Jan 3rd.  Yesterday, Jan 6, I took to the very cold garage gym to attempt a 1 rep max.

October Goal: squat 260 for 3 reps.  Result: not attempted.  After completing the Smolov cycle, I know I can hit this.  I won’t say this was successful, it was something to shoot for when planning the next few months in October.

End of year Goal: squat 300 or more.  Result: failed.  I was disappointed that I didn’t hit 300 lbs or more.  I ended up setting a new PR of 290 lbs.  My PR before was 269.

What happened there?  I didn’t even try to complete one of my goals and ended up failing on the other.  Do I take this as a complete failure and contemplate why I am even going to keep trying?  Of course not.  If I look back upon the 2013 year in total, I have taken myself from someone who had hated squatting because I had become weak from struggling with my weight.  When you drastically change your diet and end up driving yourself in the ground, something has to give.  I have to give credit to David Deckhim, fellow Minnesota Men’s Roller Derby skater for providing a catalyst in getting back to squats.  Getting back in the squat rack I found out how weak I really was.  Even more surprising was the idea that I did a half ironman triathlon and tough mudder in this condition.  When looking at how much I could squat, it was disheartening.

I had to change how I looked at what I could do.  Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I set my goals on what I wanted to do.  Critically thinking on how I could plan to get to the next goal.  I would love to squat 500 lbs.  At this point it’s not realistic as a short term achievement.  I can make it an overall goal of something to work toward.  Being engaged is the main idea.  Set a goal, even if it’s a bit out of reach but also create a plan that will get you there.  This leads me to my goal for 2014.  It’s an effort that will take all year.  Squat a collective weight of 1 million pounds.

A million is doable.  Just over 19,230 lbs a week.  Imagine if 225 lbs 5 sets of 5 reps, 3 times a week for a year.  That comes to 877500 lbs.  I’ve planned the next 12 weeks, squatting 3 times a week.  Each week will have a heavy near max day, light with speed, and medium 5×5.  As I get stronger, the weights will go up and I will low crawl closer to that million mark.  Now I didn’t really set a smaller goal to hit within that million.  That’s because those other goals I missed out on for 2013, they are on the front burner.

Set those goals, push toward them.  Don’t beat yourself up if they don’t happen.  Look at how far you’ve come, use that as motivation to carry on.

A cold start to the new year.

It’s cold.  Woke up to a outside air temperature of -25.  The Govenor of Minnesota closed the schools statewide for the children.  Not a bad idea since it was colder than normal.  I can only image that if there had been school, I would have seen short sleeve shirts being worn by middle school children when picking up my daughter in the afternoon.  I get that kids don’t get it why they can’t run around in that kind of attire but parents, come on man.

It was an adventure this morning being so cold.  Yesterday, I parked my Jeep in the garage, knowing my wife would be staying at home today.  This would provide me with a warmer vehicle as my WJ seems to take an eternity in warming up.  What I did not anticipate was the effect nature would have on my wife’s Jeep.  Newer with less miles than my own, I expected a easy time starting it and moving it across the street so I could pull my Jeep out of the garage.  Not so.  Start it did.  Move, it didn’t want to.  Given time to properly warm up, it would have been fine.  Since I didn’t have time, I forced it.  Braking, moving forward and backward was crazy slow.  Inching it into the stall across the street and back averaging 3k in rpms was bothersome.  Parked the wife’s Jeep in the garage.  I knew it was going to happen when I pulled into the garage.  I said “The garage door isn’t going to shut”.  Sure enough, it didn’t.  The garage door, like myself, has a streak of being a pain in the ass.  Having zero patience due to the weather conditions, I pulled the release handle and dropped the door.  Bid farewell to the family and off to work I went.  I did mention the garage door situation to my wife.  I’m sure the obscenities let her in on the happenings before I trudged upstairs. 

It’s cold and this morning was slightly abnormal.  Then again, this is Minnesota and it is normally cold at the beginning of the new year.