How do I love thee, TiVo? Let me count the ways


Long time readers may know that we’re not rich… but we’re not poor either.

Comfortably middle class, the American dream!

We have;

  • 2.7 cats (Shadow needs his teeth worked on… $700 for a tooth extraction because of kitty gingivitis?! Woah!)
  • .9 kids (Alex is kinda skinny)
  • 2.8 adults (I am a BIG bear butt, after all)

We also have a cheap car and a minivan. I someday aspire to being a soccer dad. I can hope.

I even have a lawn to mow, which I can then stand in to chase kids out of. It’s pretty cool.

The budget is a nightmare, but we are very blessed, and I am grateful every damn day of the summer when I can turn that air conditioning on, sit down in a chilly basement in front of WoW, and remember two things; Columbian jungle and desert heat. 

And while I can’t help think of those Marines that are right now suffering in those extreme conditions… I still send a little heart felt “Thank you” up to heaven. And turn the thermostat down.

And then go back and turn it down again since Cassie turns it right back up.

But there is one area upon which we hate spending money; cable television.

Oh lord, do we hate giving our local cable company money.

We have cable TV. And we get our cable internet from them too. And oh, do we complain about the cost.

Don’t get me wrong, I dearly love our internet speed and reliability.

So we pay it anyway.

We keep looking for ways to get the few channels we actually USE, plus internet, for under, say… $100.

Stop laughing! We can dream, dang it!

A few months ago, we went so far as to try to drop cable TV for satellite, at least as far as TV was concerned.

Why did I want it so badly?

Well, for what we were paying now, we could get Satellite HD… plus a digital video recorder.

As a man that has multiple VCRs in differnt rooms because some shows we watch are scheduled for competing time slots, a DVR sounded great.

Well, the Satellite folks took our money, but when they came out… they didn’t like the fact we had a tree in our backyard. In the suburbs. Well, yeah. We live in the suburbs. There’s a tree in the yard. What, you want I should cut it down?

Oh, I could install a cemented steel pole in the middle of my front yard that would extend 50′ up to clear the tree?

But… then I’d have a 50′ steel pole in my front yard.

Hmmmm…. “can I put a flag on it?”

“No? Screw that!”

Amusingly enough, Satellite dishes don’t receive through a tree… go figure.

So, dreams of DVR went poof.

Until Cassie said, that for a teensy weensy bit more, we could get a DVR though our cable provider. And also HD.

And by now, I had so set my hopes on a DVR, that I jumped at it.

Remember, we started looking for ways to save money. In the end, I made us upgrade our cable to an HD DVR.

Thus, reinforcing the concept that I’m an idiot, and cannot be trusted with money.

So we got an HD DVR. And life went on as normal.

Now, I can’t live without it.

It’s not just that I can set it to record Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations when it’s on. Or Top Chef.

Or that I can tell it to record shows such as Fringe or Sarah Conner Chronicles, or One Tree Hill or 90210 or Army Wives for Cassie (and she has a well organized, extensive list, you should ask her about her fall schedule spreadsheet).

No, the true joy of that DVR is that I can hunt down an old TV show that I loved, that vanished from the airwaves… and tell it to record that show whenever it is broadcast again, if it is ever broadcast again, even if the times change, or the days change, or it has a marathon all day long. And to not double up on shows, so it only records a single episode once. No duplicates.

It will patiently sit and wait, for months if necessary… but if that show pops up, it grabs it. There is no “oh shoot, I missed it”.

What show?



Oh glorious day, oh happy day, oh joyful day.

Junkyard Wars is on, occasionally, on the Science Channel… and every single time that it pops up, I grab it!

I must have 10 episides waiting for me, right now, as we speak.

I measure them out carefully, just one a day. The desire to consume vast quantities is strong, but I shall prevail.

Tonight, oh happiness, my favorite Junkyard Wars team was on, the true Junkyard Wars (or Scrapheap Challenge, as it is called in the UK) team, Robert Llewellyn and Lisa Rogers.


I heart Robert Llewellyn.

Hell, I heart the Welsh, those bloody crazy red dragons, but I especially heart Robert Llewellyn.

From what I’ve heard, Robert is leaving the show next season. Since they don’t show the darn thing’s new seasons here in the States, that just means that eventual reruns that might someday make it will be short my favorite Red Dwarf.

Seriously, few shows have ever given me the joy that watching the UK Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars episodes do.

Tonight, during dinner, Alex and I watched an episode filmed in 2003, as two teams of people that remarkably enough looked like real people and not extras from a Hollywood soundstage took the field, to design and build from scratch massive spear lauching machines to throw a spear to nail a distant target.

One team made a crossbow of reasonable proportions, using a steel I-beam for a center rail, and a mass of plywood sheets layered a foot think for the draw, and a winch to pull. The other tried a fancy design that I thought was very exciting in concept, using a quarter wheel and compression springs, but was too poorly executed to do very well before it fell apart.

The crossbow launched it’s second missile in a deadly flat arc that not only struck the target but penetrated and blasted clear through to carry on a good, long range. Awesome!

On the crossbow teams’ third try, they overcranked and the plywood draw shattered.

And of course, I was backseat judging the run, wondering aloud while they were building, “Why are you using plywood? There are trucks all over the damn place, go get a pair of leafsprings, damn it! What’s with the rope, go get some steel cable! Grab a winch! Arghhh!!!”

Now Alex is walking around, coming up saying “Look! I have a welder!”

Proud moment a week or so ago, we watched an episode about building catapults, and he designed and made one out of legos that worked. Ah, I am so proud. “Daddy, look at my catapult!”

God I love that show. You bring joy back to watching TV.

Thank you, TiVo. Thank you.


21 thoughts on “How do I love thee, TiVo? Let me count the ways

  1. BUT!!!

    I have like 6 episodes of the British one right now!

    Yes, they only came up in the last week, but there is hope, Rile. There is HOPE!!!

    Plus, I now have the inspiration to investigate… other options.

    Now who do I know in the UK that gets channel 4….


  2. Yes, it may seem strange to upgrade when you were looking for ways to cut back… but if you think about it, you actually get maximum use out of your cable now. Unlike me and Blu, who sit down in front of the TV day after day and say to each other, “There’s never anything GOOD on!”

    And then we go log on WoW.


  3. I enjoy watching junkyard wars too, is it just me or does it show on weekends? If it’s british you could also see if its on BBC (assuming you get BBC)

    I can’t imagine living without my DVR anymore, it seems like there’s nothing on TV when I actually feel like watching and recorded shows make up 95% of what I watch now.

    No Reservations is also a good show, though I wouldn’t recommend watching it with Alex for obvious reasons.


  4. I can’t agree more about TiVo. I finally decided to pony up for one because my wife and I both love our TV….just not the same TV. What with about 18 awesome shows starting in the next couple weeks, and most of them in competing slots, we just had to do it!

    Oh….and Junkyard Wars was one of the first things I made sure to have it hunt for 😉


  5. Yeah, DVR is the source of much of my happiness. Eureka, Fringe, Terminator, Heroes, Sanctuary, Scrubs (I haven’t seen every single episode yet… I think). So amazing. Before I moved to college, we had gotten a DVR box because my mom’s work schedule changed and she couldn’t watch her soap operas live anymore so she wanted to record them. When I moved over here, it took about 3 weeks to convince my roommates to upgrade and now they can’t live without it.


  6. For Elton:

    Scrapheap Challenge was made by/sold to Channel 4, so the chances of it being on BBC are very low. However, Channel 4 does seem to do some sort of internet “catch-up” facility, where you can rewatch online anything from the last 7 days, it seems. Just looked and couldn’t see Scrapheap Challenge in its list, but might be worth watching out for. Might also be available on DVD, but not checked.

    I’m more disturbed by the fact that if it’s the episode I think it is, I know, in a friend of a friend way, one of the “real people” who was in it, and yes, he really is just a normal person.

    Best wishes, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Pbem.


  7. Scrapheap Challenge (I’m British I’m going to use the proper name) is one of the best shows we’ve got over here and even the repeats are worth watch for the sheer joy of watching people make things that work from all that discarded junk.

    I’m still slightly gutted that I was unable to hear Robert Llewellyn come and give a talk at work (damn real job stuff getting in the way). Apparently he was just as cool and funny as when on the TV program.



  8. Brilliant show (Scottish/British btw). There are dozen of episodes for it (including the international ones where we woop other countries in different engineering challenges).

    You might be interested to know that although Robert Llewellyn is leaving the show its almost certian that he’ll be re-appearing on a certain scifi/comedy show.

    Yep Red Dwarf, the best comedy show ever (well the 1st 5 seasons of it anyway), will return 🙂


  9. Just to defend myself on the 90210 thing – I did DVR it for the first two weeks to check it out since I was a fan of the original. But sadly, this new version is just not good (or maybe I’m just too old to think it’s good) 😦 So it has already been removed from the lineup.

    But yes, I do in fact have a spreadsheet of all the fall shows that we can’t wait for including when they are on and which new HD channels we can watch them on. 🙂


  10. I didn’t know there WERE new episodes! And I thought Robert Llewellyn had already left the show. And no clue episodes were out there on cable these days. Oh how happy this post makes me! I can’t wait to search the schedule tonight!


  11. I spoke to Robert Llewellyn at DragonCon in Atlanta about Scrapheap Challenge. He said he loved doing the show, but he thought that 10 years of hosting was enough.

    He also told my Wife and I that he has been asking the production company to release the shows on DVD. They claim that the demand is not high enough to make the DVD’s profitable. Perhaps they are only considering the more limited British market. Perhaps we Americans need to weigh in on it.

    The people to write to are:
    RDF Media USA, 1790 Broadway, #9, New York, NY 10019

    Or the parent company:
    RDF Media Group, The Gloucester Building , Kensington Village , Avonmore Road , London , W14 8RF

    On the subject of DVRs, have you connected an external hard drive (ESATA, SATA II) to increase the capacity? I don’t know how I survived before I added external drives to both of my cable company DVRs.


  12. Alex: Daddy, Daddy look what I made…it does ranged dps!
    John: I am so proud.

    I just saw that JYW episode again recently, loved the big bow.

    Has anyone watched Weapon Masters on Discovery? very cool


  13. Oh man I have had Tivo/Tivo like for about 15+ years, dont know what to do without a DVR. When I find myself in the car listening to live radio, sometimes I miss something said and I start to reach out to push the 30sec rewind button, Doh. Now I listen alot to podcasts instead of radio in the car, so I can rewind – Yea.

    Red Dwarf baby, I had all 8 or more years on VHS at one time.


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