Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Free TV Doesn't Look Good For Sturbridge

Last week I received a letter from Direct TV offering me a great program for receiving satellite TV. the price was remarkably less than what I currently pay to Charter Cable, and the "freebies" they offered, such as the HD DVR was impressive.

There was a caveat though, the prices are only good for a year, and then they go back to their normal price range, which isn't too far off from Charter. Direct TV does offer many more HD channels than Charter, but as much as I don't like our current cable company, it doesn't go black when it snows, or rains.

I had Direct TV for years before I moved to Sturbridge, and the times you would most want to sit and watch the TV, times like when there is a blizzard, or a strong rain storm, you are just out of luck.

So, as much as I would like to change companies, I am stuck with Charter.

But, Charter recently declared bankruptcy. Maybe, another company, like Comcast, will buy them out if they can't recover.

Sounds good to me.

This past winter I called Charter to book an appointment to have an HD hookup, and DVR installed. We had recently purchased an HD TV, and an HD signal was something we needed to get the most out of the new TV. When I expressed concern about the price I was already paying per month with cable and internet, and now wanting to add the DVR, and HD, Charter accommodated me and lowered my monthly fee by almost $30.00 for one year!

It will probably be $60.00 more after the year is done.

One thing I do enjoy a great deal, and don't know how I had gone without it for so long, is the DVR. Like a TiVo, I can choose a program, record it when I am not around, and view it at my leisure. I can even choose to record the entire season of a particular show. With my schedule this is so cool. Mary and I will watch a show together the next day after supper that was recorded the previous day when I was either at work, or snoring.

I feel as though I have a TV Butler.

Mary enjoys it as well. American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and all those movies she finds on the TLC are now awaiting her review. I have to admit, I watch Idol, and Dancing With the Stars, too. It's great diversionary TV. An escape, and anything is better than the news, although I do need to watch that as well.

There are some families here in Sturbridge that still receive their TV signal free, and over the air with big TV antennas mounted on their homes. There aren't many, but a few. At one time, TV antennas were on every home, and then cable came, and made those snowy, poor pictures clear, and bright.

Some resisted. They refused to pay for something that had always been free no matter the picture quality. Now, with the change over to Digital TV coming on June 12, these folks will not only need a converter box to capture the signal on their non-digital TV's, they will also need a new DTV antennae.

But, there is a problem with that here in Sturbridge: We ain't gonna get a decent over the air signal from any of the local channels with the exception of WUNI in Worcester. If you would like to see just what OTA (over the air) signals you will receive at your hme, click here. Just plug in your address, and a map, and chart will appear with the TV signals in the area, and just how they will be received at your address.

Here in Sturbridge it is as if we are in a hole. Actually, a valley.

We're just out of luck.

With so many people being hard hit by the economy, and looking for ways to cut back monthly expenses, cutting the cord to cable, or satellite TV seems like a no-brainer. However, unless one just wants to view "snow" on that flat screen TV, or give up TV altogether, there is little else that can be done.

You know, many communities around the country have, or are currently installing their own fiber optic cable TV systems.

(sigh) Maybe someday.

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