Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cutting the Cord

So the basic idea behind homesteading is to turn one's home from a zone of consumption into a zone of production to whatever extent you're comfortable doing it, relying on "grid" technologies as little as possible. You make what you can from scratch, you don't buy what you either don't really want or don't really need. There's varying levels of sacrifice and denial of techno-pleasures on the scale, but everyone gets to set their own personal levels and limits, which I like.

I don't know anyone who lives entirely on what they create and grow on their land, but the beautiful thing about the movement is that there are no requirements on how much you do or do not do. We did a lot while the kids were growing up, but now that we're empty-nesters, I fully admit to the fact that we indulge ourselves a little bit more (not many homesteaders will admit to buying a Roomba, for example). 

The point of the movement is that if everyone did just a bit -- grew some food, raised a few chickens, used three ingredients to make something at home that the Industrial Gods would use 25 for in the same item in the freezer section of the supermarket -- everyone would be helping to be part of the solution, instead of blindly and unconsciously spending, buying and putting God-knows-what into our bodies and our homes.

In that spirit, Big Ag and I are discussing cutting the cord. After four years with satellite television (Cable is not available in our rural location), we are thinking of getting rid of it. We're also looking into cutting the cord to our landline and the DSL internet it's attached to, and going with a satellite company for that, because with faster internet, we can stream cable shows online.

The reasons are financial, although they are more on principle rather than based on need. We can afford DirectTV and ATT without any problem. But why give these companies $120 (each!) a month if we don't need to?

Anyway, it's early on. We'll need to look into getting a good antenna, a DVR to record shows we're not here to watch, and of course a new way of getting our internet. But I'm always in favor of something that gives us a little more independence, and free Antenna TV certainly provides us that.

One thing I find myself wondering in the back of my head though is whether or not these steeper fees are in place for house phones and cable/dish-based TV because older people (like myself) are sometimes not as comfortable utilizing new technologies? Is there an age-related price gouging going on? (as in, "the old folks don't know how to do it more cheaply, so we'll use that to our advantage.")

Not sure how true it is for the general population, but the one thing you can say about homesteaders is this: Crank up an expense too much on us, and we will find an alternative, just because it goes against our grain to fork over money blindly. 

There's no age limit on ingenuity and stubbornness, which for homesteaders are their most defining and useful character traits. So sign me a homesteader -- with a Roomba yes, -- but still a homesteader at heart. Cutting the cord soon.


  1. I would love to get rid of AT&T but there isn't a good solution for us other than satellite. If we ended up slower or less reliable than DSL, we wouldn't be able to stream at all. Kind of crazy that we are smack dab between LA and SF, so close to Cal Poly, yet we don't have fiber. My sister lives near a small town in VA, and they have fiber! Strange.

  2. Denise, the two companies used by my neighbors now are 1) Outback or 2) Ranch WiFi, neither of which were around when we moved here. Both are supposedly a vast improvement over the old satellite companies like Hughes and the others who were the main players a few years ago. I'll let you know what happens!

  3. It is ridiculous with cable how it is still so expensive despite their increasingly weak grip. Around here they do free landline with cable and then very low priced Internet for two years. It seems like the industry will need to change very rapidly in the next few years. also after reading your roomba post I realized I was not utilizing mine nearly enough and have run her everyday since reading! It does make a big difference in a daily routine. Thank you for the nudge. Though I still can't totally understand why she will spin in one spot for a minute and then practically do a 180 to avoid picking up a visible tennis ball shard (a signature Barbie momento despite the fact that I always think there are no more tennis balls in the house. She has hidden reserves of them).

    1. I think it's a case of them being in denial that their time has almost come to a close. Streaming TV will change everything, and they haven't gotten on board nearly fast enough. So they'll go the way of the dinosaurs. So I use my Roomba almost every day too! When I do that things missed on Day One are generally taken care of on Day Two. They do have their own little personalities though, don't they? Adele will periodically become obsessed with the library but will then completely ignore it for a few days. I wonder if that's an algorithm they have to ensure the whole house gets cleaned properly? They are a little mysterious sometimes!