My New TV Rules and National Geographic's Hawking's Universe

Not that I have a TV problem mind you, but I came to realize that living alone, I do turn on the TV when I get home at night. I have talked to other single home dwellers who say they do the same thing. It’s company. But, if I sit down to watch, I can sit there all night. Or an entire weekend afternoon. And, what’s with me watching the same movies over and over again? Can we talk about Pretty Woman, which is on at least once a week and I watch maybe once a month? Or Silence of the Lambs? Or You’ve Got Mail? (I only like the last half of You’ve Got Mail.) So, if I watch one or two movies a week that I have already seen once, that’s four hours a week, times 52 weeks, that’s 208 hours a year, or a final tally of more than 8 full 24 hour days, or 16 ‘waking’ days, or one half a month, or 1/24th of my life watching something I already know most of the words to. After running the math (I’m such a math whiz since working at a big company), I decided I needed to take control.

Rule #1 I, Christine, will only watch one movie a month that I have already seen.

Rule #2 I, Christine, will watch only one reality show a season. (Hard choice between Biggest Loser or American Idol.) Good news is that Rule #2 does not                                     begin until the fall season because I’m already ‘in’ more than one of those shows.

Rule #3 I, Christine, will look at the TV Guide on Sunday mornings and plot my television course for the week which must include one interesting show where I                   actually learn something I didn’t know, and one talk show. (I hope I go with Rachel Maddow, not Oprah – I’m getting over Oprah.)

Rule #4 TV goes off by 9:00 pm (I Tivo everything and watch it on tape without commercials). Reading or walking Luke will take over from 9:00. Or writing.

Those are the new rules and I like them already.

This leads me to National Geographic’s Hawking’s Universe, which I watched a few nights ago. You all remember Stephen Hawking and the book he wrote, A Brief History of Time. He also suffers from ALS and has lasted years and years longer than anyone thought possible by his sheer determination to see his theories become truths. I, like the rest of the country, bought the book when it came out, but I never actually read it. Nor, I suspect, did most of the other people who bought it.

So, here is his book’s content on National Geographic where they explained it all in the kind of layman terms that even I could understand. It was fabulous. For the first time I understand what a black hole is and what causes it. I get what gravity really is and how it’s not as strong as we all thought. I sort of understand the string theory of additional dimensions, and just writing these things down makes me feel smarter than you already.

I was at dinner with friends last night, and I was telling them about the show. Victor (you remember my friends Victor and Cathryn. Cathryn is the one who keeps maple syrup in her car for when she stops at IHop.) Well, Victor is very smart, and he actually read the Hawking book cover to cover but pointed out to me that it was very difficult for him, and he needed to really focus when reading it. What he was really saying was that I shouldn’t bother buying it again. I told him I had no interest in reading it.

Here’s the thing. I’m 57 years old and I don’t want to read his book now. It’s not a topic that totally spurs me on to greater knowledge, but I’m so glad I now understand what a black hole is and what causes it. And, all that in one TV show for one hour. Who knew? And, without my ‘rules’ I would never have watched it. If we are totally honest here, I watched it thinking it was more about the man than the theory, but who cares what led me to the Kool Aid, because what matters is that I drank it. And, if I had watched Silence of the Lambs one more time instead, not only would I still not be an FBI agent, but I wouldn’t understand black holes either.

So, the long and the short of this lesson is that rules are very good for you. Set some.




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