Sunday, July 26, 2009

TV-Free Family Fun: The Dublin Irish Festival

This weekend is the Dublin Irish Festival. Great Family Fun. Great Entertainment. Opportunities to Volunteer and (more importantly) introduce your kids to volunteerism. And... there won't be a television anywhere near it.

Weekly Status: Week #8

Weekly Status

Eight weeks in and we're still going strong. I'm now more convinced than ever that this was the right thing for us, and this week I raised a question to the TV-Free family that they probably knew was coming all along.
After the summer is over, do we want to go back?
The question was answered with some thoughtful looks and some non-committal shrugs. We'll let that one stew awhile, and come back to it.

An Interesting Poll Result

Since there's not much else going on, I'd like to share this with you. It is the results of a Time Online Poll. The question was asked:
Now that Walter Cronkite has passed on, who is America's most trusted newscaster?
The winner was Jon Stewart...

Our most TRUSTED NEWSCASTER is Jon Stewart from the Daily Show on the Comedy Central Network. Umm...that's CCN, not CNN.

Sure, it's a unscientific, online poll, and the demographic of respondents is probably skewed to the young, liberal, and tech-savvy, but still... It makes me wonder whether CNN and the rest of the mainstream media types are really paying attention. They should be.

The Complete Results

Friday, July 24, 2009

You absolutely CAN go TV-Free, too.

"Are you frakkin' CRAZY?!"

This was the reaction of a good friend of mine after I explained to him our family's TV free experiment. His prediction, if I remember correctly, was "I'll give you until the first rainy day."

Well, we've managed to persist through the first, and several more, rainy days, and it hasn't been nearly as difficult as he might have expected. In fact, it has even been easier than I expected. A quick poll of the TV-Free family is unanimous -- "Easier than we expected."

At Momma and I's golf league this week, a quick conversation broke out after I once again explained the experiment. It's inevitable really. It happens every time. One side of the marriage looks at the other and asks slyly, "So..could you do it?" The answers are generally a boastful, "Absolutely! No sweat!" -- and then "... for about 4 hours." is added. Then, we all laugh.

But here's the thing, you CAN do it. You absolutely can DO it.

Talk it over with the family. Just talk about giving it a shot. It'll be fun. It'll be interesting. It'll be something different. It'll be temporary... for a week.. or a couple days.. or just a few hours. Get together as a family... toss your hands in the huddle. Work together as a team. Go Team!

Then, just go down in the basement and disconnect the cable. You'll be surprised how easy it really can be. Good luck and shoot us a message to let us know how it's going.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Subscribe, Share, and Tweet

With the help of a few "How To" articles found on other folk's blogs, I've added some features to the TV-Free blog that some might find useful.
Over there right... you should see some new subscription links so that you can have new posts pushed out to you instead of coming to us.

Down below thatlower right... you'll find the, always fun, reader poll. Asking the question, were we cheating (as one commenter suggested) when we streamed Tour de France coverage over the net?

And.. down therebelow.. for all you social media, Web 2.0 types, there are links to Digg, Stumble, and Tweet, etc., as desired.

It was an interesting diversion to learn how these little sniglets work. I hope they come in handy for you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Can you believe it...

Can you believe it.......As so stated by Sara, I too haven't been on to post a blog lately. I've been on to read what the rest have blogged and frankly, I think they have done well...

Like those noted before me, our summer vacation was perfect (once we got the car situation worked out - borrowed a vehicle that ended up needing repairs that prevented us from using so had to reach out and find another vehicle - very grateful for the help !).

Headed out of town early and decided to stop in Cool Springs, Tennessee on the way down to Destin, Florida and spend the night. It was about 6 hours from Dublin and we weren't going to check into condo in Destin until the next day so had plenty of time. Mike found a famous breakfast joint that we all wanted to go to so we got up early and headed out to the Loveless Cafe & Motel. They are known in the area for the biscuits, and boy were they good. We all got souvenir t-shirts and headed back out of town....we could hear the water and waves calling our names....

Our condo rocked...... 3rd floor with 3 separate balconies (each bedroom and family room) and view of the ocean.....The Mediterranea was the perfect place for our family, close to the ocean, had a pool, restaurant close by, what more could you ask for.

We rented scooters, and took them all over the area. We went to Henderson State Park and hung out on the beach and played a little in the water, then back off to check out the area and see all the beautiful huge houses and scenery. All so pretty. We had the scooters for 2 hours that went by really fast.

Spent a lot of time on the beach and in the pool. Something about the salt water in the eyes and mouth that none of us could get used to....we'd run up to the pool and swim awhile then go back to the ocean and enjoy the huge, huge waves.

Mike snorkeled late one evening and I was very uncomfortable as I didn't want him to end up as Shark bait, luckily the sun went down pretty quick and he headed back to the shore...

We ate at some cool restaurants (Hard Rock Cafe, Pompano Joe's, Kenny D's, Fud Pucker's) and did some awesome outlet shopping (Silver Sands Outlet Mall, Destin Commons). It did rain a few times, but, doesn't it always.....and then the sun would come back out... I love Florida and it was hard to pack things up and head home, but like everything else in life, you gotta do it....

It was nice to have the following week off for vacation too, just we were at home. We were able to visit my parents in St. Mary's and do some boating while there, went to the movies, played some golf, watched a live band at Benny's in Marysville and also one at the Dam Jam in Dublin.

All in all, it was a great time for our family and great memories were had by all... Only one question though, where is the warm weather ?



Okay, so I know I haven't wrote a blog in a while. I'm sorry for that and lets move on.

When my parents told us we were going to Florida I was really excited. Warm, 24/7 sunshine, warm water,white sand, and beaches...What every girl wants! It was the perfect vacation. Unfortunately, the flag (which I will explain later in the blog) was waving red 6 out of 7 days. Literally, I was knocked off my feet from the waves. Which, was great if you wanted huge waves for surfing, boogie boarding, or even skim boarding. By the end of the day I was sick of the salt taste always in my mouth! But, I got over it and had a blast the rest of the week.

The Flag Key:
Green: No worries
Yellow: Caution
Red: Dangerous
2 red flags: Ocean is closed
Purple: Marine life

Luckily, we had the yellow flag waving on the last day which was really nice.

Wednesday, we decided to rent motor scooters which was a blast, if i do say myself. We rode our scooters down from Destin to Henderson State Park. The park had beautiful beaches, white as could be. We didn't stay there for long because we didn't have towels.

Overall, it was a really fun vacation and I would totally recommend it to any family.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Family Fun: An Authentic Beach Vacation

We just completed a nice, long summer vacation. This year we spent a week on the beach in Destin, FL. I was very much looking forward to nibblin' on sponge cake and steppin' on pop-tops, etc., etc.

Destin FL, in the panhandle, is a very well-established and beautiful beach town with all of the typical beach town adornments. You could rent scooters, wave runners, and boats. You can parasail or surf. You can fill your belly with fresh grouper and boiled shrimp.

We went to Pompano Joe's beachside restaurant. We went to AJ's on the wharf. We went to the Back Porch restaurant. All highly recommended by recent travelers. And, all pretty good -- but just pretty good. The food was pretty good, the service was pretty good, the price was pretty good (although there must be some sort of city ordinance that prohibits the sale of a long neck bottles of beer for under $4). The location of all of these places was incredible. You can't just sit there and eat. You have to sit there and eat and look over the beautiful emerald coast. The views were truly gorgeous.

But something was still missing. While at the Back Porch, I discovered what it was. I checked the very bottom of their menu and found that Pompano Joe's and Back Porch were both owned by a company called the Southern Restaurant Group. They're corporate. Then, I started to inspect all of the menus and information on the places we were going. They were all corporate.

Maybe I'm naive, or maybe I'm just getting old. But when I stop into a little sun-drenched, beach side restaurant called "Pineapple Willy's" or "Pompano Joe's" or "Seaside Sally's" --- I'd like to think that Willy, Joe, and Sally are back in the kitchen sweating over the grill and making sure all the food is just like it was when their momma used to work in the kitchen.

This authenticity is vanishing I'm afraid. Willy, Joe, and Sally are no longer real people, just caricatures that fit nicely on a t-shirt available for $24 in the gift shop (apparently there's an ordinance on minimum pricing for souvenir t-shirts, too.) These restaurants are all stamped out like cookies using age old formulas.

It was a really nice time in Destin, but I'm still on the look out for the truly authentic, truly American beach town vacation. I'm afraid, though, that in order to find it -- I'll have too look outside of America. If you know where Margaritaville went -- please drop me a comment let me know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weekly Status: Week 7

"Lance Time" is back!

I've wandered through the knee-deep internet information forums to come up with a way to be able to allow the family to watch live or re-broadcasted, or summarized video reports of the Tour de France.

Actually, this was fairly simple, and I'm sure all of my tech-brothers are saying "Well, yeah - you knucklehead." The cheapest way to connect a TV to the internet is just to connect the TV to a PC or laptop. This cost me about $20 for a VGA cable and a audio cable. The quality of the picture isn't great, but that's more a function of the source than the method.

This gives the family its nightly dose of "Lance Time" just in time to watch Lance destroy the field in the Alps. Shortie has also become a Mark Cavendish fan. I have, too.

For those interested in various aspects of the internet video to TV connections... Here are some fairly good resources...

A discussion of resources that offer video streams of mainstream television programming:

Some detailed information on scan rates, resolutions, and the like:

A comparisons of different methods and available products:

YouTube video showing all the necessary connections:


Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekly Status: Week 6

This week, the TV-Free Family was on vacation in lovely Destin, Florida. We watched some TV. The condo we rented was well appointed, and well...

The programming choice is my current rationalization. We watched the coverage of the Tour de France on the Versus channel. Normally, I would have slapped the remote and turned it off, but Lance Armstong's story is such a shining example, I considered the broadcast a rare gem. (By the way, the commercials for "Fanarchy" then went forward to reinforce my TV-Free views - what dreck!.)

Annnywho... we're back from vacation, and now there's no "Lance Time". So I started to consider how I might still follow the Tour without the aid of the demon box. Watching it on the Internet is the obvious choice, but each family member watching it individually from the small screen really shorts the appeal. Lance time was actually family time.

So, I'm off on a journey to discover how truly feasible it is for the average Joe to hook up his bright new shiny LCD Flat screen to a computer for delivery of content. Hmm.. I'm probably going to need some type of cable...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reader's Digest asks the question "Which would you give up?"

Well, there ya go. You see our little experiment might just have become a "movement". Imagine that! We're trendsetters!

Which would you give up? TV? Cellphone? or Web? Around the World!