Winter Is Here: Time To Bring in the Plants and Pour That Cup of Hot Tea

The first, and maybe only, pickings from the winter garden. Perhaps fried green tomatoes will be on the menu soon.

The temperature was right at 70 when I got home from work last evening, but after I let Annie out, I started carting all the potted plants that I could into the garage, knowing that the temperature was supposed to drop dramatically.   I tried to hurry, then walk Annie and put together something for supper, because Monday night is 90210 night.  It was a new episode; sadly without any of Teddy’s coming out adventures, mostly just a show focusing on the girls, in which they went on a yoga/sweat lodge retreat and dug their nails into each other in various ways.

This morning before six, I awoke to mean drops of rain pelting the windows and by the time I headed out it was around 40.  I don’t think it got much higher than that, and the car ourside temp went from 40 down to 34 by the time I reached home, where the thermometer on the back fence already was saying 31.  I dragged a few more plants, which I hadn’t felt so sorry for the previous evening, into the jungle inside the garage, and started to cover the one too big and my precious two tomato plants that I had put in last November. 

With it already getting so cold, I pulled off three of the green tomatoes, realizing that with a night of probably more than 12 hours straight below freezing and several similar days coming, even wrapped in a couple of layers of sheets, dropped cloths, and plastic, it’s doubtful that the plants are going to make it.

Even though I was somewhat bundled up (I know for you people who have real winters my being “bundled up” is relative), I was ready to get inside.  And Annie, having spent the time in the yard, while I was trying to cover the plants and wrap the outside faucets in the blustery north wind, didn’t seem in the mood for any walk either.

Tonight was a night for soup–a duke’s mixture of leftover homemade with a can of Progresso something-or-other tossed in and hot tea.  I rarely drink hot tea these days.  When I was kid on the farm, there were two evening meal drinks:  iced tea, which started its season somewhere in May, and hot tea, which, came along during the cooler football days of the fall.

So after all the outside puttering, and with downstairs being on the cool side with all its windows, tonight was night for hot tea.  

Soup and tea were ready just before seven–just in time to see my Tuesday evening standby, but, alas, no new Glee episodes yet.  They were trying to string us along with the re-run of the “Rocky Horror” episode.  And as good as that one is, I had been primed for something new, so I just switched over to ESPN and had my soup and hot tea along with some NCAA basketball.

Yeah, this is winter in Houston, Texas, and enough winter for me.  Even though hot tea is a nice change now and again, it’s nothing I want on a long-term basis.

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I Want My Gay TV (Part V): Satellite TV–Read the Fine Print and RuPaul–Draggin’ in Another Season of Reality Television

When I moved to my house, I decided that I wasn’t going to lug along my bulky Zenith TV, which I’d had for about 13 years.  It worked well enough, but I had been browsing the electronics aisles for more than a year ladmiring the flat screens.  Anyway, there was a small set with a built-in DVD player in my bedroom that I could take along and use for a while.

But when I had most of the furniture in place,  a desperate corner in the living room just longed for a big-screen TV, so I made excuses to myself about why I didn’t have to wait and could shell out the money for another expense to add to all those others that came from moving into a new place.  The Sears near my old neighborhood had an even-better-than-online price on a Sony that I had been reading up on.  And result is obvious.  They didn’t have one in stock, but would have by the following Saturday, so  I’d have to wait a few more days with the internet and a small radio made to be used in the shower, which had been given to me as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and that I had stumbled upon hidden in some drawer during the move.  My God! More than a week without TV!  Had Hurricane Ike returned?  And what about the small TV?  No luck there either because I hadn’t yet ordered any type of cable service.

There were a number of choices, but finally I decided on satellite with DirecTV, which I ordered through AT&T.  I was trying to bundle up with my cell, internet, and regular phone services.  Also the house already had the DirecTV dish in place with all the wiring.  The price was right for the Choice Xtra:  $29.99 per month, and with all those HD channels.  I like as many ESPNs as I can get and I wanted Logo (the gay channel), and the Choice Xtra gave me those.

I scheduled the DirecTV installers for Saturday, so that I would be off from work; it was one of those “they’ll be there between 1 and 5” deals.  The problem was the new TV wouldn’t arrive at the Sears store until some time that same afternoon, so I wouldn’t be able to pick it up until after the installers had been there.  Of course, like many of those situations where you have a time slot to wait for service people, these didn’t come until between 4 and 5.  It didn’t take them long to get everything hooked up and the little non-digital TV was tossing out the various channels.

Not long after they had left, Sears called and told me that my Sony had arrived, so I hopped into my car and went to pick it up.  When I got to the store, it seemed like everyone was picking up something, so I had a wait for my TV to come out.  I was a bit surprised by the size of the box, but it fit into back of the hatchback.  Even though the screen size is larger than my old TV, it must weigh about half as much, so while I had to maneuver a bit because of the size, it wasn’t long until I had it out of the box, in place in the corner which had been waiting for it, and finally hooked up to the satellite dish cables.

When I first started flipping the channels, I thought the picture looked a little fuzzy, but I decided that it probably was because I had been watching the smaller TV earlier.  I was so enthralled with the new TV and involved with figuring out the channel line-up that I really didn’t pay that much attention.  I thought the image should be better with an HD TV but because I hadn’t had one before and because satellite reception was also new to me, I figured everything was the way it was supposed to be.

Then about a week later, I was visiting someone who also has a Sony HD, and I thought “Wow, this picture is so much better than mine.”  They said to me, “Are you watching the HD channels?”  “I think I am,” I replied doubtfully.

When I got back home, I started looking at the manual the installers had left me and found “need HD equipment for HD channels”.  I thought that’s what I had.  I looked at the box but couldn’t see any indication.  Then I went back online to the DirecTV site that had the offer for the various service choices and, of course, at the bottom in special notation it says this:

††To access DIRECTV® HD programming, HD Access fee ($10/mo.), a DIRECTV® Slimline dish, DIRECTV® HD receiver and HD television equipment are required. Number of HD channels varies by package selection.

No mention of that option had been made when I talked to the salesperson when I ordered the service.  I’m really surprised because she had tried to get me to buy other services.  I definitely want the HD but I haven’t ordered it yet.  I’ll need time to be at home, and, I’m sure, to wait another four hours for the service people, and there will be charges for the installation for that Slimline dish, I bet, and for the HD receiver box.  If the picture is a little fuzzy until there’s time in January to do that, no big deal.

There’s another charge to watch out for on the DirecTV special offers.  When I got my first bill, I checked for all the specific charges.  One item was for Equipment Protection Plan.  I even got another letter from DirecTV telling me that I had signed up for the Protection Plan @ $5.99 a month.  I knew that I hadn’t signed anything, since I had ordered over the phone and no mention had been made about any such Protection Plan.  There was a number to call if I didn’t want this plan, and they told me if the dish or the receiver had a problem if I didn’t have this plan, it would cost $49.  It seems to me this protection plan is no different than those the stores like Sears and Best Buy try to sell you when you buy some type of electronics; it’s just another way to get extra money out of a customer.

Anyway, for the most part, I like my new TV.  The channel line-up isn’t much different that what I had with TVMax (read my post about TVMax) at my old apartment.  TVMax also had several ESPN channels and Logo.

Even though Logo has a lot of re-runs and shows I don’t watch, I like having the option of watching gay-themed TV shows and movies when I want rather than waiting for “a glimpse of gay” on other channels.  One of the hits of last season on Logo was a reality show called “RuPaul’s Drag Race”–sort of a transvestite  “American Idol” a la “Project Runway”.  The host of the show is RuPaul, singer/drag queen, most known for his/her hit song “Supermodel (You Better Work)”.  It’s similar to “Project Runway” because not only do the contestants perform, and ultimately, there is a winner, but they share living space, so we see also how they interact when they off the stage and out of drag.

I’ve never been one to really get into watching drag performances (lip-synching) in clubs, but the contestants on this show have been well-selected both for their talent and their personalities, so it’s not difficult to be lured into watching the show week after week, pulling for one favorite or another.  The first episode of season two will air February 1st at 8 PM (Central).  Check out some teasers here.  I couldn’t stop laughing at this promo for the show which takes a jab at Sarah Palin’s book cover.  There are drag queens and there are airheads, and RuPaul is certainly not the latter.

Nathan Adrian’s Swim Helps the U.S. 4X100 Relay Team Earn Gold in the World Swimming Championships

Nathan Adrian--his speed in the final split helped pull out the win for the U.S.

Nathan Adrian--his speed in the final split helped pull out the win for the U.S. Want more of Nathan? Check out the Vid Box on the right.

Sunday TV usually doesn’t have much. I never have the stamina to get into “Meet the Press”. Otherwise, until later in the evening it’s just old movie re-runs and infomercials. (Check below if you’re looking for more Nathan Adrian.)

By chance though today, I turned on NBC in time to watch part of the World Swimming Championships taking place in Rome. The highlight of the day for the U.S. swimmers was the 4X100 meter relay. Even with Michael Phelps back into competition a year after the Beijing Olympics and his little misdirection with marijuana, the team to beat according to the commentators was France.

Phelps led off the U.S., but only managed to keep the team in third place. The star of the day for the American swimmers was Nathan Adrian, the fourth man in the relay, who really kicked it. He finished the relay with the fastest split of anyone to touch in 3 minutes, 9.21 seconds for the U.S., beating out the Russians, who finished second, and the French, who got only third.

Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, and Matt Grevers watch as Nathan Adrian swims the final leg of the 4X100 relay.

Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, and Matt Grevers watch as Nathan Adrian swims the final leg of the 4X100 relay.

The ESPN article had this to say: “The French were the ones who cracked. The Russians touched second in 3:09.52, while France — which sent out four of the world’s fastest sprinters, at least on paper — were relegated to the bronze at 3:09.89.”

Check out all  about the Roma09 Swimming Championships hereLooking for video of Nathan Adrian beating Cesar Cielo in the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships?  Go here.