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Updated 12:51pm - Jul 29, 2014

Home arrow Opinion arrow Columnists arrow From the Publisher's Desk arrow From the publisher's desk: Freeman Street Unplugged

From the publisher's desk: Freeman Street Unplugged

When I told them what I'd done, Rick nodded approvingly and my sons weren't surprised. I've done it before.

Have you noticed how everything is "bundled" these days? Try and buy just one battery. I have an alarm clock that uses only one AAA battery but I always have to buy at least a two-pack. Then, of course, I can't find the spare when I need it.

Software is bundled. Sometimes we decide we want a particular program and discover it's a better deal to get the bundle. We end up with programs we might never use because we're sucked in by the offer of savings that costs more.

When Rick and I moved into our home a year ago, we responded to a promotional offer for bundled television and Internet service. The "special 12-month offer" expired February 1. We received a form letter telling us our monthly bill would be going up – considerably.

I called the customer service number and, to make a very long story short, didn't get much empathy. Our rate was going to nearly double and there was no other promotion available. Period. I decided to exercise one option that left the customer service rep speechless. "Unplug us," I said. "Keep the Internet on, but disconnect the TV."

I was born and raised with television. In 1950, the year I was born, my parents bought a new car and a Motorola console television. Every picture of me as an infant is either next to the Olds 88 or in front of the TV set.

Where we lived, about 30 miles from Hollywood, we got great reception on seven channels: 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13. In 1950 the minimum wage was 75 cents an hour, a postage stamp cost 3 cents, gasoline was 27 cents a gallon and television was free.

Growing up, some of my favorite programs featured bundled stars: Amos and Andy, Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans, Lassie and Timmy, Ozzie and Harriet, Lucy and Desi, Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody, George and Gracie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto! Mr. Ed talked to Wilbur, Fred and Ginger danced, and Roy and Dale sang "Happy Trails" right in our living room for free.

How are we surviving these days without TV, you ask? For the Super Bowl we were in Salem with my sons so we didn't miss a pass or a punt. On Super Tuesday, we stretched out on the sofa next to the pellet stove with the lights out listening to the election results on the radio.

Tonight I'm writing at the computer and checking facts (like the price of gasoline in 1950) on the Internet which we still have. Ironically, by breaking up our bundle we're not saving much. You'd think it would be half, but it's not.

So the service provider's making a bundle on us, but I know in the big picture we're the winners. It's peaceful here on Freeman Street. We have more time to talk to each other and more opportunity to listen. I've finished "Water For Elephants" that had been sitting on my nightstand gathering dust. I've studied the current issue of Consumer Reports and picked out our next vacuum.

I've lived without television before and I find it liberating. If you've never experienced it, getting unplugged is like taking a vacation. It's an escape from the cacophony of bundled sound bytes coming from a flashing box that sits like an elephant in the room. Stay tuned for further updates.
 


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