shelter-at-home television

I’m pretty old-fashioned about watching television programming. Not quite as old-fashioned as when we were growing up in rural New England and managed to get all three major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS), albeit not very clearly, with an outdoor antenna. We have a standard cable package but we don’t have any premium channels like HBO or Showtime. We do have a DVR, which replaced our VCR for recording shows to watch later and without commercials. In fact, my usual way to watch television is to watch things from the DVR so I can see the whole show in two-thirds the time as watching it live.

Notice that I also talk about watching television. I don’t usually watch shows on my computer. I can’t even imagine trying to watch something of any length on my phone. I like to have a big screen, although our television is nowhere near the size of what is considered a “big screen” today, so that everyone in the room can watch together. We also only have one television in the house.

There are a few series that we record, but the bulk of my television viewing these days is news programming. Those who read TJCM frequently probably had already figured that out…

When E was living here, she had a Playstation, along with Amazon Prime and Netflix, which I generally ignored. When she relocated to the UK, the Playstation stayed behind. We still have the Netflix account, which I still generally ignore. In truth, I can’t even figure out the Playstation controller.

As a gift for the millions of people sheltering in place, CBS All Access offered a one-month free trial. We signed up specifically to be able to watch the Star Trek franchise shows, the first season of Picard and the first two seasons of Discovery. B and I had watched all the other series in the franchise, but had never seen either of these two paid-access ones.

It’s been fun.

We didn’t do the binge mode, where you watch hours and hours on end. Instead, we would watch a couple of episodes each evening, with maybe a bit more on the weekend when B wasn’t working. B, T, and I have all enjoyed watching the series, revisiting some old favorite characters and meeting many new ones. We even watched some of the shorts, interviews, and behind-the-scenes videos.

Now, we are going to cancel before our free month is up.

After the next season of both shows has completed, we may pay for a month so we can watch everything like we did this time.

Maybe, by then, I will have learned to operate the Playstation.

Probably not.

three anniversaries

Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of the the terrorist attacks by plane which cost over 3,000 lives in New York City, Arlington, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks have cost additional lives as those who were exposed to debris and air pollution in the following months went on to develop serious health issues.

Many, many more lives were destroyed  – and continue to be destroyed – by the fifteen years of war which have followed.

On Friday at Binghamton University, there was a presentation on the aftermath of the attacks entitled “9/11: What have we learned? Where do we go from here?” Featured speakers were Ray McGovern and Donna Marsh O’Connor. Video is available here. The theme was building peace, not war. Donna Marsh O’Connor, who lost her daughter who was pregnant with her grandchild, spoke movingly about not wanting the death of her daughter to be an excuse for violence and war. Ray McGovern, who was once a CIA analyst, recounted the way that the situation after the attacks was manipuated to spread the war to Iraq. Mr. McGovern is now a peace activist.

Peace.

Something that I want desperately.

For all of us.

Wherever we are.

Whoever we are.

At church on Sunday, we sang, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” I cried.

Adding to the emotion is a local anniversary. Five years ago, we were suffering from a historic flood after the remnants of tropical storm Lee dropped about ten inches of rain. Parts of my town were underwater, as were other nearby towns along the Susquehanna River. At my home, we had no power and only avoided a flooded basement because we had a generator to keep our sump pump operating. There were flooded homes and standing water three blocks away. In the five years since, we have seen some neighborhoods decmiated as homes were torn down, unable to be replaced as the land was considered too high-risk to inhabit.

Every time there is a flood in the news, we have a good idea what those people are going to go through and how long the process is.

As we watch coverage of floods, blizzards, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and other weather-related disasters, we are painfully aware that their increased frequency and severity is related to global comate change. There is a new website that shows how much impact global warming has on weather events. It does a good job showing how particular events are tied to changes in the atmosphere brought on by global warming.

It is sobering but a good tool to help explain the science.

Which leads to a third – and significantly happier – anniversary.

This is the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek. There have been marathons of episodes of the original series and interviews about it and its cultural impact as a franchise that spawned many television shows and movies. In their version of the future, earth is a peaceful place with a thriving natural environment. Poverty has been eliminated. There is racial and ethnic equality, although, while improved from the 1960’s reality, they still have a ways to go on sexual and gender issues.

In an odd way, though it is fiction, it does highlight that we can improve lives and health through science, knowledge, learning from past mistakes, ingenuity, co-operation, and good will.

Let’s get to work on that.