Studio711

Goodbye Comcast TV

I grew up with an antenna on top of our house. We could get some channels from Chicago in addition to the local channels so we had a pretty good selection. But I still remember going to college and having CABLE TV. I was in awe of ESPN. I’ve had cable ever since then, but since Elijah was born our TV watching has gone way down and most of it is via Netflix or Amazon Prime. So last week I took the plunge and totally canceled my TV service.

It wasn’t quite that simple though because we host football parties at our house so I need some way to watch local broadcast stations. I went to antennaweb.org and picked up one of the antennas that they recommended for my location. I mounted it up in the rafters of my garage pointing the direction recommended on the site. The picture looks beautiful! Unfortunately, some of the channels have small glitches every few minutes. But I’m still going for it.

Our cable TV plus 150Mbps internet was $82/month. When the annual contract ended, it jumped up to $98. I really didn’t want to sign another contract that included TV since I’ve been thinking about canceling for so long, but I don’t mind signing a contract for internet since there aren’t many other options around here. I did drop our speed down to 60Mbps to save even more money. I signed a contract that locks in the price at $45/month including fees, etc for 2 years. So even if we go back to cable TV in four or five months, I’ll still come out ahead with the hardware that I purchased for the antenna solution.

And here’s a breakdown of that hardware…

That tuner purchase was a surprise. I forgot that the InfiniTV card in my Media Center PC doesn’t have an ATSC tuner built in (that’s the over-the-air signal format.) Thankfully I was able to find the older model of the HD Homerun for a pretty cheap price. It hooked up just fine to the Media Center PC. I also played around with the DVR/Live TV features of Plex but I was frustrated that I couldn’t watch a show while it was recording. I’m sure that will come along eventually though. Once it does, then I can ditch the separate PC I have just for running Media Center.

So what happens if we’re having a football party and the signal is too glitchy? Thankfully, there are plenty of online cable providers that I can flip on in just a few minutes. In my area, most of the Seahawks games are on FOX and only DirectTV Now and Comcast Instant TV currently have my local FOX affiliate. So I can sign up with them and be back in the action very easily. The Comcast offering is interesting because it’s only $18/month and includes all the local channels that I’m interested in. The Cloud DVR from the Comcast service was a mess to figure out, but I finally realized that you can only schedule recordings from the Roku app. I think that’s due to a patent war that they lost with Tivo which made them remove any kind of browser or phone DVR scheduling. I get why it is like that, but they are definitely not forthcoming about that limitation.

Yada yada yada, now I’m saving ~$50/month and it feels great!

Lego Downtown Diner

Elijah loves Legos. (And yes, I know the plural is technically “Lego” but too bad. This is ‘merica and most people say “Legos”.) We watch JANGBRiCKS YouTube videos daily. I guess all the Legos floating around the house and the videos got to me, because I finally caved to one of my childhood dreams and bought an enormous set.

Lego has a set of modular buildings in their Creator Expert series that are extremely impression. The detail is beyond anything I’ve ever assembled and it seemed like a fun project to work on with Elijah. It was fun to see the look on his face when the 2480-piece Lego Downtown Diner arrived in the mail.

He sat with me for most of the assembly, but a lot of it was too complex. He had fun looking through all the pieces and finding the new ones that we haven’t had before. It took us 6.5 hours to assemble the whole thing.

I thought about taking pictures, but then I realized that it’s exactly the same as the one that everyone else has built. If you want to really dive in, check out the JANGBRiCKS video review. I’ve also posted some photos below.

If you stop by for a visit, remind me to show this to you! We will be leaving this one fully assembled.

Twin Falls Hike

Up until this year, I’ve been carrying Elijah in a hiking backpack when I go on hikes. He finally got too big for it, so this is the year he transitions to walking. While I enjoyed being able to take more adventurous hikes last year, I’m excited to see if he’s still interested in hiking when he has to do the walking.

I decided to start off with Twin Falls for his first hike. I believe I’ve done it three times before and there is a lot to see along the whole trail. It starts off following a river, climbs up a hill through some big rocks and then quickly ends up at the falls. He did great on the entire hike, never complaining. I had told him that he could say when he wants to turn around and he asked for that about a tenth of a mile from the first waterfall. I encouraged him to keep going and we made it. That first set of falls has about 100 stairs going down to a great lookout, so I told him that if he walked down, I’d carry him back up. We didn’t make it to the bridge a little farther up the trail but I’m still calling it a success because, other than the stairs, I never had to carry him. He hiked quite a bit faster than some older kids who started at the same time as us too. I didn’t have my Garmin watch with me, but I’d guess we covered about 2.5 miles.

He hasn’t asked for another hike yet, but I’m hoping to get him out at least once more. I picked up a hiking with kids book to get some good ideas. Maybe next time I’ll work on picking out clothing that doesn’t clash so badly.

Good Brewing Company Taproom

“My neighbor brews beer in his garage.” When I say that, people usually have a picture in their head that doesn’t equate to what is really happening. Five houses down from me, Kevin is making some epic beer. He has over a dozen taps in his garage and some fancy brewing equipment. He’s had his license for a little over a year and he’s already won second place at the Washington Beer Awards for his Pink Boots Double IPA. He makes a lot of great beers, but that one is my favorite.

His garage is a very convenient walk from my house and Elijah loves taking bike rides to see “Mr. Kevin”, but now his garage door is closed a lot more frequently. That’s because he has taken a big step and opened his first taproom! It’s located northwest of the Woodinville Costco and we headed there for the grand opening. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it certainly was NOT what we actually witnessed. There were well over 100 people there with live music, a BBQ trailer and tons of people in line for beer. Kevin seemed happily in awe of the turnout.

I’ve been back a couple times since then and he always seems to have a good crowd on hand. In addition to a big variety of beers on tap, he also has some limited food (pizza and pretzel bread) available for sale. I’ll have to see if I can convince Tyla that this is a viable dinner location. Pizza, beer and cornhole? How could she say no?

Congrats to Kevin for an incredible start to his taproom. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing what the next year brings!

Web: https://goodbrewingco.com
Instagram: @goodbrewingco
Facebook: facebook.com/goodbrewingco

Four Sheets

I first stumbled across Zane Lamprey when he had his Three Sheets show on a now-defunct cable channel called MojoHD. If you’re a Hulu subscriber, you can still watch the whole series and I highly recommend it. After Three Sheets, he had a show called Drinking Made Easy and then a Kickstarter show called Chug. All of them are travel/alcohol shows that mix comedy and learning about other cultures and their drinking customs. It’s a great formula that never seems to quite stick with the people writing the checks.

Now he’s off filming again for something he’s referring to as Four Sheets.There’s a Facebook page for it, but I can’t find a lot of other details. I know a few of you are fans as well, so you might want to follow that page and his Instagram account in hopes of finding out how we’ll be able to watch these new episodes.

Cheers!