In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Can't Be Too Soon for Me | Main | I'm Nick-Free »

October 06, 2003


Friedrich --

When we last left off (here), I was bemoaning my lack of prowess with electronics. The Wife and I have a temperamental Sony Wega that puts out annoyingly bad sound. What's someone who loves watching DVDs at home to do? Feeling overambitious, I ordered up a home theater -- an amp and a speaker array. The boxes arrived, and there I sat, stymied, surrounded by bits and pieces of mysterious this and that, watching my wallet grow thinner and hoping that my freelance-wiring-guy Oscar would prove up to the challenge.

Well, Oscar has visited and I'm pleased to report that Oscar has prevailed. The whole mess seems to work. It even looks orderly and companionable, if only from the front. From behind, though -- good Lord. And this is after Oscar did his best to minimize the area's rat's-nest quality.


I post these pictures as a public-service announcement too -- as a let-this-be-a-lesson warning to anyone else (especially of a Lib-Arts bent) who's contemplating getting a home theater. Just look at the number of plugs and wires! The Sonys and Panasonics of the world say you can put these things together for yourself. They lie. Oscar has been doing wiring chores professionally for more than a decade, and even he was left scratching his head in puzzlement a few times before licking certain problems.

By the way, Oscar was charming, sweet, prompt, and fast. And, bless him, his price was reasonable, by NYC standards anyway. If anyone in the area is looking for someone to hook up home-stereo or home-tv electronic equipment, I'd be happy to put you in touch with Oscar. Email me at the address at the top of the blog.

Last night, as The Wife and I settled back into DVD-watching after a couple of weeks of DVD-deprivation, I luxuriated in the lovely sound quality and sighed with relief at being able to understand all of a film's dialog for the first time in years. I also noticed that part of my brain was busy with calculations; it was totalling up how much I've spent on this mess of flickering, pulsing boxes and wires. Let's see, including wiring, including Oscar, including the table it's all stacked up on ... Gettin' mighty close to $2500. And then there's the monthly cable bill. And the DVD rentals ...

Lordy. I'm going to have to start putting in some serious overtime if I want to be able to support our home leisure habits.



posted by Michael at October 6, 2003


Leisure costs money.

Typepad subscription: $14.95/month
DSL: $42.50/month
Yahoo! Email: $24.95/year
Satellite TV: $45/month
Netflix: $19.95/month
Blockbuster: on average, $3.99 a week
XM: $21.99/month (for 2 radios)
Rhapsody: $24.95/quarter
Earthlink Email: $19.95
Cell Phones: $140/month (for 3)

And this doesn't count books, magazines, movies purchased, etc....

Posted by: courtney on October 6, 2003 10:11 PM

Well, leisure doesn't have to cost quite so much.

Juno Web: $9.95 / month (includes e-mail)
Cable TV: $45 / month
Sneak Reviews video: $4 / week
No cell phone.

I do spend too much money on CDs and DVDs, though. That's not to say I spend a lot -- just that I spend too much.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on October 7, 2003 12:01 AM

Simple or not simple, I still find it painful to see it laid out like that. Good though it is to face facts from time time...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 7, 2003 1:49 AM

Well, it's also worth noting that as my fiance is an entertainment journalist, the bulk of it is tax-deductible.....

Posted by: Courtney on October 7, 2003 10:27 AM

all those wires were giving me a headache.
That's a major investment! And a couple months to
travel around a third world country (which I am saving
to do in 6 months time).
Advice: try Netflix. I rarely ever pay $4 for a DVD anymore (plus all those late charges; I was known up and down Avenue A as the "video bandit"). $20 a month and you got yourself loads of DVDs to choose from which are mailed to you in a flash. They are super quick. And there's Greenscene for anyone who is more of an artsy type. Personally, Netflix offers just about everything I'm looking for. I'm a reformed bandit - and my wallet is lookin' pretty good, too!

Posted by: turbokitty on October 7, 2003 11:00 AM

Are we counting costs for hobbies here aside from the techie sort? And I noticed no one fessed up to book costs. And what about what you spend on movies in the theater....

DSL: $25.95 per month
video rentals: $20 per month
TV, no cable access available: priceless

Posted by: Deb on October 7, 2003 1:15 PM

Some European prices:

Cable [Television and radio]: 13 a month
Cable Internet [1 Mbit/s down 512 KBit/s up]: 45 a month
Mobile phone: 12.95 a month for 100 minutes [more than enough, and what I don't use isn't lost], no costs for incoming calls.
Landline: 35 every two months.

DVD's renting: 2 a piece at the local library, 4 at the only videostore with a decent selection of European movies.

Posted by: ijsbrand on October 7, 2003 2:07 PM

All prices naemd are in euros, but Movable Type doesn't seem to recognize the euro-sign.

Posted by: ijsbrand on October 7, 2003 2:09 PM

Most of the books I read come from used bookstores (of which there are many in Charlottesville), so I don't spend very much on reading.

The CDs and DVDs are the big expenses, but they vary widely from month to month. Over the past month I've spent much more on music than usual, but for the past six months I bought hardly any CDs at all. DVDs are another story; I probably spend an average of $75 a month on them. Again, that's probably too much, but at least it's a fairly cheap vice.

I haven't been to the movies much since about mid-August. Frankly, there haven't been many films in my area worth seeing.

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on October 7, 2003 8:54 PM

Hmm, the euro symbol shows up ok in my browser, maybe it's some sort of character set issue, which would be ironic as you undoubtedly have an OS that's setup to use euros. MT might just be using a different encoding (my copy of Mozilla Firebird on Windows is set to 'automatic' character sets I believe).

Good to hear the sound is nice michael, glad I at least called that right!

Posted by: David Mercer on October 8, 2003 6:43 AM

The euro symbol shows up in my browser as well.

Posted by: Courtney on October 8, 2003 11:50 AM

I can see euro sign in the pop-up comment screen, but not on the permalinked page where the comments are visible as well.

Posted by: ijsbrand on October 8, 2003 1:58 PM

Um, Deb?
Where do you get DSL for $25.95 a month?
That's crazy inexpensive.

Posted by: turbokitty on October 8, 2003 9:23 PM

rural Southwestern Wisconsin where folks are just now joining the rest of the world with technology. I suspect as the demand increases, prices will increase but right now it's dirt cheap. And the installation was free! There ARE some advantages to living in the boonies.

Posted by: Deb on October 8, 2003 10:36 PM

Is that $25.95 for both the ISP and telco portions of dsl? Sometimes its all rolled into one bill, sometimes not. If it is both, that IS cheap!

Posted by: David Mercer on October 10, 2003 4:54 AM


No, the telco is separate--that's about $15 per month. Honest, I am not making this up. It's a locally owned and operated phone co that serves 2 or 3 towns, has no connection to the larger conglomerates and sets it's rates based on what the consumer will pay and what they need to make a profit. When you call in for service, you get Hazel at the desk who does the bills, sets up the orders and talks to Bob or John out in the field. In the 10 years I have been there my rural service has never gone down more than once or twice when someone took out a pole down the road.If I make a mistake on payments, Hazel send me a handwritten note in the mail telling me how to rectify it on my next billing. The one time I got in a financial bind due to my husbands's layoff, I called her and asked her if I could make partial payments every month and she laughed and said, I am not making this up, "Just send me $10 a month and when he gets a job pay it off as fast as you can." And because I live where I do, my toll calls are virtually nil except for the rare time we call someone outside our LATA.

There are advantages to living in a small town.

Posted by: Deb on October 10, 2003 10:58 AM

That's a decent deal for a rural market, and is about the same ($39.95/month) as my cable modem service.

Broadband looks to be settling in at around double the traditional $19.95/month dialup rate.

Posted by: David Mercer on October 14, 2003 4:44 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?