Monthly Archives: August 2013

TV Shows I Adore

I probably won’t write a letter to Jessie extolling the virtue of watching countless hours of television per week but I also won’t pretend I don’t like TV.  After the first time I used Netflix to watch a complete series, I think it was Bones, I realize how archaic it was to sit in front of the TV, at a specific time during a specific day, and watch one episode of a show. After I first streamed shows on HULU, like the Fosters, I realized I didn’t really need the TV or cable ever again.

I still have cable, of course. I went years without cable but when the FCC switched to high definition I couldn’t stand using rabbit ears: the image kept freezing on me and I don’t know how to watch regular TV anymore freeze-free. I want to stop cable altogether and just stream what I want but I like watching CBS Sunday Morning on Sunday morning. I also love watching football on Sundays – what a great TV day! – and the season is just about to start.

I’m working on my cable TV addiction…I’m thinking of at least going down to basic, basic cable…but in the meantime I thought I’d share a few of my favorite TV shows (besides Castle, Bones, CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes):


What a great TV show. I’m not sure I can explain why I like this show so much, just know that I do. It’s well written and believable (as far as any TV show can be). The characters seem real and flawed and they mesh better than a lot of other shows. I’m currently watching this through Netflix and am into the second season.

Tim Olyphant is a joy to watch and his character’s ability to justify his multiple shootings is interesting. I’m also a big fan of Walton Goggins (from the Shield) although I never know if his character is lying or not; makes for good TV. I’m not sure how realistic the show is, as far as setting, but I hope to never find myself in the backwoods of Kentucky.


Another great cable series I enjoy. I love the tension this show creates between the characters and the guessing of who is doing what and why. I’ve only seen the first season, the second season is available from Netflix starting next month I believe, but am hooked by Brody and, especially, Carrie. Claire Danes, as Carrie, is the main reason to watch this show. She is Carrie with all her neurotic twitches and delicate tightrope dance between sanity and the abyss; sometimes she falls off the tightrope.

The acting in Homeland, to me, is some of the best on TV right now. I know a show is good when I get lost in the storyline and forget my surroundings. Homeland grabs me by the lapels and doesn’t let go for the entire one hour ride. My emotions run the gamut and I’m exhilarated and drained by the end of a disc.

The Big Bang Theory

Where have I been for the last few years? I’ve been watching this show frequently now since it’s been on syndication and had no idea how funny and clever this show is. I had seen Bang a couple of times and thought it was cute but never managed to watch it on a regular basis until now.

The main five characters (Penny, Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard) are fun to watch and have great chemistry together but I believe the addition of Bernadette and Amy Farrah Fowler have made this show great. Sheldon is a hoot, the smartest emotionally and socially stunted character I’ve seen, but Mayim Bialik, as Amy, is a riot dressed in her grandma’s clothes, rolling one liners off her deadpan tongue causing me to laugh out loud every time I see her.

Bang is one of those shows which starts out good and grows and evolves into one of the best TV series I have seen. Definitely the best show on the big three. The humor is clever, the characters are endearing, and even the peripheral characters are fleshed out and interesting.

The Fosters

Finally, a TV show that kinda sorta resembles my family: with a much nicer house and way more children. I’ve been waiting for this show for a very long time and I didn’t even realize it. I love the way this lesbian couple and their five kids are written as a ‘normal’ family without all the gay drama usually associated with LGBTQ shows.

I like the fact the couple, Stef and Lena, with not much rewriting, could be an opposite sex couple just as easily. I admire in-your-face lesbians and gays; their work has brought us to the brink of equality in my lifetime. But I also think families like the Fosters, and my own real family, have also done a lot, in our own quiet way, to bring about the world you see today. Not a perfect world, no, but getting better for a lot of us.

Shows in my queue to watch next:

Breaking Bad – Don’t tell me how it ends! I haven’t started watching yet, but have heard wonderful things about this show.

Game of Thrones – I’m not sure if I’ll like this one, but the fan base is rabid, so I’ll give it a look.

Orange is the New Black – I’ve only watched one episode but Janet has raved about this show for days. I can honestly say I’m not thrilled about the premise: women in prison. Surprisingly, that doesn’t appeal to me.

Walking Dead – I’ve thought about this one since it first aired. I’m a little scared but if my 65 year old mom can watch it so can I. I’m tough! No really.

House of Cards – I’ll watch anything with Kevin Spacey.


Leave a comment

Filed under Lists

Dear Jessie: Live Beneath Your Means

Along with the Golden Rule, I believe living beneath your means is the most important thing you can do in your life. This may seem like a simple statement to you, always spend less money than you make, but you might be surprised how many people can’t or won’t do this one simple thing.

If you make $50,000 a year, and you spend $75,000 per year, (please don’t read these numbers literally, I’m using them for simplicity) can you see a problem in your future? I’ll write to you later about debt and credit cards; just realize most debt is a really bad idea. Don’t try and keep up with your neighbors, focus solely on your finances and limitations. If you’re making $35,000 a year and driving a $40,000 car you are living above your means.

Now, if you made $75,000 and only spent $50,000 last year, saving and investing the remaining $25,000, you are living a life to be proud of, especially if you do this every year. Making more money per year, by a raise or a second job, doesn’t mean you should spend more. If you suddenly found yourself making $90,000 next year instead of $75,000, you should save/invest the extra $15,000. That would be $40,000 a year instead of $25,000 saved.

Let me give you another example. As you might have noticed, Janet and I bought a three bedroom (one of which is yours!) two bath condo (both of which seem to be yours) recently and you may be wondering why we did such a thing. The major reason is this: we believe in living beneath our means. Our condo cost $85,000 and we paid cash for it.

Janet and I could have bought a bigger, much more expensive house and used the $85,000 as a down payment. A lot of people would have done that and borrowed the rest of the money from a bank, in the form of a mortgage, making payments to the bank for thirty years. Having a big house (or expensive car) is only impressive if you’re not drowning in debt to own these things.

You are very young and retirement might seem like a long way off (especially since you haven’t even started working yet!) but it’s not. Trust me: one day you’ll wake up in your forties or fifties and look around at your life. If you haven’t prepared for retirement, and you should start now to make it easier, then you haven’t lived beneath your means. Don’t wait until you’re near retirement age and realize you haven’t saved any money for the future.

I’ve seen people who haven’t prepared financially and it isn’t pretty. Think before you spend money on frivolous things. Realize you are only on one step of your journey; a vast and varied journey through life. Prepare for this by saving and investing in your future. Money can be a great source of security or a wicked shackle dragging you down into the depths. Choose wisely.



Leave a comment

Filed under Advice to kids, Letters to Jessie

Cystic Fibrosis Cycle For Life Ride

I didn’t make the whole 37 miles; I only made 32. I knew going into the ride I probably wouldn’t be able to finish, I’ve never attempted anything of distance before, and I’m pleasantly surprised I made it as far as I did.

I have three strong thoughts about my CF ride: 1. I now know what 35-ish miles on a bike looks and feels like. 2. That wasn’t very smart of me. (For someone who has never signed up for anything longer than a 5k jog, 35 miles was way out of my league.) 3. I am so doing this next year!

The first thing I need to work on is my hydration. I felt pretty good during the hilly part, felt a lot better during the flat part, but after about twenty miles my right leg started cramping up and wouldn’t stop no matter how much Gatorade I drank. I think my hydration problems started before the race began.

I was nervous, to say the least, before the race and didn’t drink much Gatorade or water to begin. When we started out, the first ten miles or so, were rather hilly for someone not used to riding a bike. A couple of the hills were so big I had to walk my bike up them. I sweated quite a bit and only drank water or Gatorade when I stopped to take a break.

After the first ten miles the course flattened out and I hit the first rest stop needing a boost to my reserves. I had a little peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Gatorade, both of which helped me immensely. I felt a weird sensation in my right leg, after the second rest stop, almost like a gas bubble trapped in my quads.

I drank more liquids and felt pretty good until my leg actually started cramping at about the 25 mile mark. When I finally made it to the last rest stop, with about seven miles to go, I almost took the nice lady’s offer to drive me to the finish line but I wasn’t ready to quit. Not yet. She did tell me if I took a left at the light, instead of a right, I could shave about five miles off the route. That I did.

Now I have a much better idea of what I need to do to finish the CF ride. I need to hydrate better and more frequently. I need to actually train for the ride and not think a few 5k jogs and a 13 mile flat bike ride will suffice. I need to increase my fitness level, although I will admit I didn’t feel quite as bad after the race like I thought I would.

Janet and I (mostly I) were at the back of the ride for almost the entirety. That didn’t bug me as much as not finishing. I knew almost from the start I would ride this again next year. I can do better, now that I know what to expect. Next year’s ride will be much better…I’ve already started training.


Leave a comment

Filed under Health