"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quality Television

I envy anyone that might have had the opportunity to watch the BBC historical television series Tales From the Green Valley. Although I think I will take a pass on their choice of attire.:)

We have only two TV channels thanks to digital "government" television and, on the rare occasion, that I do or am persuaded to watch the box I am left with very little intellectually stimulating content. Dancing with the Stars (speed dancing?), Deal or No Deal (a mindless greed show?), and a huge amount of horrific sitcoms. Even the local news has become a comedy of errors. Is this really what people want to watch, is this how we stimulate ourselves in this day and age? I can understand why, after a long day, one might want to plop down in front of the tube for some non-thought provoking entertainment...but does every show have to be zombie inducing dribble? I suppose that it's just me and that I can always shut it off if I don't like it, and do. Honestly, I'm a hair's breadth away from tossing the box out the door and using it for target practice so that I could at least stimulate myself with loud noise as my neighbor does with his cannon.

For an un-hip person that has never even owned a cell phone putting up with these worthless boxes (TV, VCR, DVD, digital converter) has been most challenging. Fortunately, we now have to actually slap the larger box on it's side in order to get sound so perhaps when it finally dies...it dies. Oh jeeze, "Ya knows yur a redneck ifen ya has ta slap attair TV in order to make et work and then done threatins ta shoot et efen it don't."

As a child, I grew up watching the Waltons, Little House On the Prairie, and lots of good PBS shows...the only programs I was allowed to watch. All of these were decent forms of entertainment, nothing compared to a good book but still not too bad. Thank goodness for the Internet, at least I can decide on what type of content I choose to partake in, like a whole slew of most wonderful and often informative blogs. Thank you all for for sharing a version of "quality" and enlightening entertainment with us, and if I just bashed one of your favorite television shows I apologize. Really now, how many people besides myself care to watch Dick build a cabin or children in funny pantaloons chasing hogs through the forest...maybe I'm the strange one.

Here is part of a PBS show that was able to watch many years ago and again recently thanks to a video from the local library. When I grow up I hope to be just like Dick.:)

Dick, twenty years later↓

More on Dick Proenneke - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Proenneke

If you like Alaska you might also enjoy this film about the Yukon - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llr_k3d1h1I


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Great post! I know I'm a redneck because I worried about how we would stack a new TV on our latest thin one that we won in some contest!! Maybe lay it on its side when it gives out?

Haven't succumbed to the cell phone marketing either, guess I'll continue to "manage" without one.

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way- Thank goodness for the wonderful blogs we have!
I've watched the show about the guy in Alaska building his own cabin and staying there all by himself. I could watch that over again also and never tire of it. It was amazing what he could make out of nothing. Thankyou for the great post

Heiko said...

Hey man, Mr. H!
Thanks for a short evening's good TV experience. We've got sodding hundred and something bl**dy TV channels with nothing but shite on them. I'd like to hire Dick to help us rebuild our shed on our land! Just needed a bit of easy TV after a hard day's olive picking.

Robbyn said...

Ha! we have only old non-digital TV sets and haven't had regular TV reception now in years. We just use the box to watch old VCR tapes (yeah we're dinosaurs?) and DVDs. We get our news from radio and internet. And frankly, there's little we feel we've missed out on when we do see programs on TV elsewhere.

And hey, we LOVE that sort of show and it's the sort of thing we look for at the library...Dick Proeneke, wilderness survival anything, those "reality" shows about being put back into a certain time in history and living in a setting without the modern things, etc. Guess you're not alone :)


It's me ...Mavis said...

I would be a VERY HAPPY WOMAN if there was not a t.v. in the house... It's all crap... well... 98% of it anyway. I would shoot my tv too if I didn't think my husband would have me committed.

Mr. H. said...

Throwback at Trapper Creek,

I knew that my wife and I weren't the only ones struggling through life without a cell phone, if only it could make our TV turn off and on I might consider getting one...not really.

Yes, the TV thing's a tough one, I wish they would make them more square for stack-ability.:)

Mr. H. said...


Dick Proenneke was a very impressive human being, he lived out there by himself, as far as I know, until he was 82 years old. A life worth living.

I remember watching more PBS specials about people living off the land, I only wish I could remember what they were so that I could hunt them down...there are lots of good books about such things though.

Mr. H. said...


I'm always more then happy to help provide quality television to my friends in Italy.:)

Dick would have built you a most wonderful shed for sure...what a great carpenter.

We had many TV channels once, for a short while, but soon realized that it really makes little difference whether you have 1 or 200 they all pretty much play the same shows. That, and my hands became cramped switching through the channels looking for something to watch.

Mr. H. said...


That's great, we also get most of our news from the radio and love our old VHS tapes.

If you have not already seen them you might check out the 1992 National Geographic's "Braving Alaska" and "Yukon Passage" (1998)...both excellent documentaries of people living and trekking through Alaska.

Mr. H. said...


Cool, I'm so glad that I'm not alone in my disgust of modern television. It's not the spouse so much as the neighbors you have to be careful with when shooting your TV box.:)

Michelle said...

LOL, that was a good laugh. My TV (an old 19" Sony that all our friends laugh at) seems to be stuck on 2 channels. Golf channel (NOT ME) and PBS. Actually, most of our TV viewing seems to be stuff that we rent through Netflix, old PBS shows, movies (we never go to the theater), etc. Seems like we can't get through more than 30 minutes of anything without falling asleep anyway...

granny said...

I have been trying to buy the "Tales from Green Valley" dvd for soo long now!
I will not give up!!
We have the same taste in TV entertainment Mr H.

Ruralrose said...

great post, i giggled at your words and watched all your shows what a lovely visit i had! i watched those shows growing up too, and Grizzly Adams remember that one - coming from a dysfunctional family I thought the rest of the world was "waltons and ingalls", what a surprise i was in for!! it is wonderful to know there is a community of people who treasure life off the land and value a rich life over riches, thanks for sharing, peace for all
ps of course there is nothing on tv

karenandjeff said...

We're with you on the disgust with most of whats on TV. Oh, and we liked watching Dick build a cabin too. We got rid of our TV 6 months ago and have only missed being able to tune into the news now and then, particularly since we can't get NPR out here.

Mr. H. said...


Good for you, as you are not missing a thing. Our poor old TV is a 19" as well, I'm pretty sure anything bigger would really be much too invasive.

Don't feel bad about not being able to stay awake, we never do either.:)

Mr. H. said...


I glad to hear that you also enjoy "quality television." It seems they do sell the "Green Valley" series through Amazon but not in a format that will work on our DVD player. I hope you find it.

Mr. H. said...


Ha! I grew up with Grizzly Adams as well, I had forgotten about him and Mad Jack...I bet the grandson would get a kick out of those shows.

Yes, the world is pretty much the opposite of the Ingles and Waltons, I'm glad that you were able to drift in that direction.

Mr. H. said...


Many years ago we purchased a Grundig radio to take with us camping. Many of our camping spots are way up along the Montana border where a normal radio will not work.

Trust me, you have not missed much in the last 6 months. Watching those wonderful little seedlings of yours change every day is much more entertaining anyway.

Silke said...

What a great post!! I waffle between wishing for a simpler, more wholesome time and loving the conveniences of modern technology! I like how my family can reach from Germany me anywhere I am because I get to have a cell phone. I like Skype, because I get to see my nephews grow up in Germany - for free. I like my computer because it connects me to the world. I like PBS and there are a few crime shows that I enjoy (I'm a mystery fan). And I like my MP3 player because I can listen to audio books while doing housework.

On the other hand, I grew up without a television until I was well into my teens and even then, programming in Germany (three channels), was so poor that we would go for weeks before a good program was on. I'm sure that's why I love to read as much as I do.

Hey, thanks for your comment on my blog post. I should mention that I changed the recipe slightly (I need to mention that in my post). I used whole flour, part quick oats, part rolled oats and added walnuts for some crunch! Delicious!!

Have a wonderful Friday! :) Silke

Heiko said...

As you suggested it, it's yours: the knickerbocker carrot award for my favourite blog! If you decide to make an exception and accept this one award and would like to pass it on, pass it to like-minded people. I'd love to follow it around and discover other blogs that way.

Mo said...

This is a great blog. Thanks for sharing!

Robbyn said...

Ha! re-commenting here...we bought a box set a while back entitled Alaska: Into the Wilderness, a 4 CD pack, which included Braving Alaska, Alaska's Last Oil (meh), Bear Island, and Giant Bears of Kodiak Island. Braving Alaska was the best of the bunch, but there was non Yukon Passage...we'll definately look for that at the library. Another GREAT GREAT GREAT thing I love is reading the original journals and diaries of folks from long ago, something I'm getting back into more recently. My Grandma used to work for the publishing company that originally printed REader's Digest back in the day, and each year they gave their employees limited edition copies of diaries and journals of american explorers and such from at least 100 years ago...I used to make whole afternoons of scooting under a hawthorne bush near their farmhouse, with canteen and cookies, and read those books to my heart's content.

Mr. H. said...


Well it sounds like you already did your "no TV time.":) My parents went without a TV for many years while I was growing up as well. So at least you know that it is definitely not a necessity. I have a feeling that you would agree that a good book trumps any form of modern entertainment anyway...at least I think so.

I will check out your updated recipe!

Mr. H. said...


I will contemplate the prestigious "Knickerbocker Carrot" award and get back to you real soon my friend.:)

Mr. H. said...


Thank you so much for visiting and letting us know that you are out there watching and reading.


Mr. H. said...


I love reading the old journals and writings as well. Did you see that I added a 500 page PDF journal of Dick Proenneke to the knowledge section of my side bar?

Also, you can watch the entire episode of Yukon Passage (Narrated by the great Jimmy Stewart) on my video sidebar. I just found and added it. Just page down about 18 pages and look under "videos" or check out the link I just added to the bottom of this post.

WeekendFarmer said...

lovely post...

they still tap the TV on its side and plough with oxes and cows in Bangaldesh : )

I could watch these shows ALL day....so much to learn and understand.

I am thinking to build a cabin by the creek so that I can start writing...I think I will do the roof that way. Looks very interesting. They still have houses with room like that in Japan. It looks like an ancient art.

Hope you are keeping dry..its pouring down here!

Mr. H. said...


How easily we forget that much of the rest of the world continues to practice small scale farming techniques.

My dream is to someday own a small cabin way out in the middle of nowhere next to a stream. Write, read, and contemplate the simple things in life...how perfect. I hope you do build that cabin.

We have been getting snow, not too much but enough to cover everything in a blanket of white.

Mama JJ said...

We do not have a TV, but we have a (long-term) borrowed TV/VCR affair. I slap its side to make it work, but my husband insists that I need to squeeze its bottom instead (the TV's bottom, not my husband's).

Mr. H. said...

Mama JJ,

A good squeeze? Perhaps that is all that our box needs.:)

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