Before we started our own streaming revolution I read a Wired article, Cutting the Cord is going to Suck in 2016. It lowered my expectations and I’m glad I read it. We’ve been streaming television for several years (mainly Netflix) but about six months ago we began making some major changes to cable services.

Partially Replacing Cable

First, we dropped my premium cable package and went with something like basic. We still get broadcast channels plus CNN, Fox, CNBC, SyFy, History, and so forth, but rarely watch any of them. WE find commercial television impossible to watch. I still watch CBS live for “Survivor” though. *smiles*

Must Haves: HBO Now, Netflix, Hulu

HBO was the only premium channel and it was dropped, but we began streaming HBO Now through Apple TV. I mean, HBO means “Game of Thrones”!! Netflix is still very prominent, but we also added Hulu. We even stream CNBC during market hours rather than watch over cable. Oh, and we even dropped the cable DVR (yeah, this was a whiskey-tango-foxtrot).

Buying Season Passes

With the savings from the reduced cable costs I’ve felt much better about buying season passes to a lot of my fave shows like Bates Motel, Gotham, Better Call Saul, Turn: Washington’s Spies, and many others.

NFL Football… Hopeful

The main thing I don’t know yet is how life will be come football season. We no longer get NFL Networks, which I really liked. The plan is to buy a $99 NFL GamePass which gives you all 256 games of the season. The catch seems to be that I’m going to have to stream from my desktop computer, although there seems to be some activity aimed at bringing it to Apple or maybe Xbox (we use this also, btw).

UPDATE: I didn’t realize that NFL GamePass can be streamed through Apple TV’s AirPlay from my iPad. I think there’s something similar on Xbox also. The question in my mind is: will this be HD based on the iPad or TV? Even if it is good quality, it’s still just one more wrinkle in the effort to cut the cord from cable. 

Withdrawal Symptoms

All of the changes felt weird for a while. Brains had been wired to those six commercial breaks every seven minutes. So it took some getting used to watching shows uninterrupted. Even now, occasionally, I’ll turn on the local news just to have some chatter in the background. However, we binge a lot now. That means, open a series and watch several episodes in a row. If you love stories, this can become pure addiction. And I’m already backing off from this a bit.

The War Rages On

The changes that streaming is introducing to television is epic. And there’s a war raging in the ranks of broadcasters, cable channels, cable providers and production companies because they are on the verge of losing a lot of advertising revenues. Broadcast television was built on advertising dollars and the roots run deep. If you at program development, you can’t help noticing that many shows were created for advertisers.

Anyway, it feels like that wild west. And some content providers are still determined to make you will regret the day you even heard about streaming.

For example, we found CBS especially punitive. First, in order to stream CBS you have to have a cable service account. But they also want an extra $5 a month for the streaming app, and there is no option to buy a pass without having a cable provider. WTF?

Equally incomprehensible is the History Channel. It’s app requires a cable provider account, but there is no commercial free service. And their hit show “Vikings” isn’t available on their app. They will let you pay $45 for 10 episodes (on Apple TV, at the start of the season). They’ve reduced it since the season ended to about $38 but if you pay for the individual episodes it’s only $24 for all ten episodes. WTF? Is anyone doing the math? We’ll watch how this plays out, but we may just wait an see if Netflix or Hulu pick this up.

UPDATE: Hulu came through with the latest season of “Vikings”. Each time you score one like this it helps justify the $11/month fee. 

That leads to the question of how much you should pay for a season. We’ve decided that a cost greater than $2.75 an episode is provider gluttony. And many of our favorite show we enjoy can be purchased from much less. The key to living in this new environment is to simply wait. Like, I enjoy “The Walking Dead” but not enough to pay for it. I’ll wait for Netflix or Hulu to pick up the season.

Why Bother?

I know several people who never watch television. And who could blame them if you look at commercial bombardment as a kind of attack on your mind. But since turn of the millennium, television programs have gotten better in every possible way; movies also. It is truly a golden age of television.

I don’t watch “Real Housewives” anymore or any of the reality stuff, so I can’t be sure about every genre. I did watch a couple episodes of “Kardashians” once. Some football player was going to marry one of them. I wasn’t drawn in.

Then there’s movies. Apple TV has provided something new, bundles. You can buy all of “The Hunger Games” in a package, so I snapped it up, along with “Hobbit” and Christian Bale’s “Batman” and other cools stuff. The prices for bundles range from $20-$40 or thereabouts. HBO Now includes “The Godfather Saga”, all three movies. It’s a must watch weekend marathon every few years. One more reason I love HBO.

End of an Era

It would be shameful to blame advertisers for what the old system has become. They invented the past fifty years of television; well, prolly even longer. But they began implementing their demise when they started increasing the number of commercials that can be crammed into three minutes. Check it any evening, I routinely count over eight commercials in three minutes.


Back on the Sea

It was one of those wonderful moments. Back in 2012 I was racing my speedboat from the Blake Sea toward my dock at Sailors Cove. When I’m speeding like that I have my mini-map open so I can see and avoid crashing into other boats, but I noticed something seemed to be just behind me. I looked back once but saw no one. So I finally stopped and realized that an Apache helicopter had been tracking me. I looked up and the pilot started chatting with me. He asked to come aboard and while I’m standoffish far too often, I also love that kind of spontaneity. So I said, sure. He came aboard and held on while I continued racing through the canals that lead to the docks.

His name was Antares and we had a lot of fun times together. He took me flying in his warplanes and boats. We even did air combat with me on the rocket guns. I was pretty bad shot and we got killed a lot. Once we were out in the Apache and came across a giant ship, the Titanic, out on the Blake Sea. Anyway, we boarded her and joined in the party, although I’m pretty sure we weren’t welcome cuz it was a bunch of pirates I think. Anyway, we had fun like that. Like, he was with me and my girlfriends when we traveled from SS Galaxy to go scuba driving. What a great day that was.

Anyway, I left Second Life about a year later (as I’ve long asserted) but just a few weeks ago Antares and I began chatting over Facebook. He thought it would be fun to go out dancing and that sounded great to me also. So on Sunday when met over at Junkyard Blues and spent some time dancing and catching up, but this always leads to that and we talked about planes and boats and before long he took me aboard his new yacht.

Yordie Sands, photographer

Antares taking Yordie out in new yacht.

I can’t say that I’ll be a regular in SL again, but I’m reminded me how much fun SL can be.


Number Nine, Number…

In less than a month I will have been virtually alive for nine years, Yordie Sands that is. This thought was on my mind today when I logged in to Second Life.

I’d been thinking a lot about my first really magic moments in SL, no not virtual romance. It was building my Zen gardens and teahouses, and ultimately the Harvest Moon Café.

I created several gardens and cafes in my first six years and there are many photo albums with pictures of each in my Flickr Photostream (check the seven “Zen Gardens” albums). Many of the photos are old school, but the magic was there.

Creating the gardens brought real joy to my spirit. None of the gardens never really lived up to the expectations I had of them, but my memories of them and the activities that revolved around them are still strong.

Anyway, I went over to one of the sandboxes and rezzed the Harvest Moon Café from Dakota Falls. The structure was created from two POST designs that I’d modified into one, created a stage area.

Yordie Sands, Photographer

Harvest Moon Café (a modified POST design), rezzed again in 2016.

Below, the Café stands over the waterfall pond at Dakota Falls in 2013. And if you look really close you can see me in both photos. In the bottom one I’m Geisha Yordie preparing for a show. Memories are amazing!

Yordie stars as Second Life geisha

As the sun fades in the sky,
the lamps are lit
and the ochaya comes to life.


Slinking Around

I’ve been tiptoeing around, laying low in SL for a few days. I found my way to Book Island and will probably setup a cubby hole there when–well, if–I finish my novel.

Yordie Sands, Writer

I chose this storefront because it has a nice
a nice little path behind it leading to a garden.

I was also delighted that one of my old blog posts delighted a Second Lifer I’d never met, a one SecondBlood Priestly. He’s a wily wolf and was the builder of the “magnificent flying machine” I discovered while exploring, back in my early days in SL.

Yordie Sands Photographer

This is the “Magnificent Flying Machine” I discovered
on my 5th Expedition, 2008, on the Sansara Continent.

Anyway, we met at his place in Lusk, and went to a sandbox to rez the old beauty. I hadn’t had time to actually ride in it when I was exploring, so we took it for a spin. Well, not actually, although it is in the sky and held down but a “single peg” as Blood noted.

Yordie Sands, Photographer

You can see SecondBlood and I aboard
his Magnificent Flying Machine.

I’ve found SL to be very much the same as when I roamed the land, but I doubt that I’ll ever lead a second life like I had in the past.

My novel continues to thrill and confound me. I’m on my fourth draft and the writing is finally going well again. I came to a monumental decision to split the third draft into two books, because the first part of the novel was one sci-fi genre and the second part was mostly a different genre. More to come.

Just Realized…

Yordie Sands

Yordie Sands photo by Strawberry Singh

It happened over a month ago and I didn’t realize I’d missed it until reading Strawberry Singh’s post, “8 Years in Second Life”. Me too. My eighth Rez Day came and passed on April 6th.

It’s not like I’m in Second Life a lot, but I did spend a little time inworld during the past year. I still have a Linden House and bought some new Mesh furniture recently. So I’m claiming my eighth. Yay!

It’s also a good time to introduce a new headshot I had taken recently by Berry herself. It’s for a non-SL project I’m working on and it’s a work in progress, but I think it looks great. So, thank you Berry.

“Whatcha Say”

I’m listening to Jason Derulo singing “Watcha Say” and it has me in the mood to race into Second Life and find some club playing hawt tunes.  Ok, tune just changed to Black Eyed Peas singing “I Gotta Feeling” and it’s making me so frisky. I really miss that about SL. I loved that whole “tonight’s gonna be a good night” feeling. That was so great for me, especially living in that tiny town in northern Idaho. But I also fear SL anymore, I go in and feel the weight of expectations. And then there was that addiction thing, I was really addicted to SL for way too long.

I think I mentioned this in the past but I’ve tried returning to SL using a couple different new avatars since declaring that I’d left SL. Both times it wasn’t the same at all, even though one of my guy friends joined me to play for awhile. Neither attempt lasted more than a few weeks. The thing is, I’m just not me unless I’m Yordie Sands. Sorry to keep bringing this up again and again, but I still find it surprising.

I’ve notice that some of my old friends have faded away. Others are doing new and exciting things. LeLe has a really nice club, and of course, Vaneeesa is organizing new and exciting events. I miss everyone I ever knew. Well, almost everyone. The thing is, the Florida weather and endless sunshine has changed my whole body rhythm.

Oh, oh! Rhianna is wailing “We Found Love”. Dang, if that doesn’t get you going then I just don’t know! Hey, “We found love in a hopeless place!” *smiles* and love to everyone.

Yordie Sands, Photographer

Just me snapping a quckie while I was in SL.