final coke

Cola study #1

As I’ve grown older my diet has changed away from what I used to eat and drink in my youth. One of those changes is my ability to handle sodas, and then diet sodas. I gave up sugared sodas thirty or so years ago in my late thirties. There wasn’t much in the way of diet sodas, but fortunately for me I was able to switch over to Diet Coke, which had been released back in 1982. I didn’t care for the taste all that much, but I didn’t have much choice as I was rapidly gaining weight; my doctor at the time told me to drop the regular Coke habit or basically die young. So with that rather blunt choice I chose to drink diet Coke.

Over the following decades I switched around to various diet sodas as they became available, keeping diet Coke as my fallback soda. The only diet soda I couldn’t stand was diet Pepsi. I just couldn’t drink it. If I went to a restaurant that only served diet Pepsi then I switch to ice water.

Over the last few years I’ve been dropping diet soda consumption to zero. I discovered I was reaching a point of intolerance; I couldn’t handle the taste nor the after effects of consuming it. So I would stop cold turkey, usually for a month or so, then “fall off the wagon” and start drinking it again. After another period of abstinence I picked up a bunch of twelve ounce diet Coke packs (eight bottles to a pack) because a local Publix supermarket had a buy two, get two free sale. So I stocked up and started binging diet Cokes again, usually three or four at a time.

Over the past week I haven’t felt particularly well. I felt tired, wound up napping a lot during the day, and in general felt like I had low energy. I also had a ‘vague’ headache; nothing painful, but annoying. Then I ran down the diet Cokes and stopped drinking any of them three days ago. It was almost magical; my energy slowly returned and the vague headache went away. Right now I’m feeling pretty good.

I think my body is trying to tell me something about consuming diet Cokes, as in, don’t. Since switching back to ice water (you know, ice out of the freezer mixed with water in a glass) a number of little things are better; my mouth doesn’t have this permanent aftertaste, my stomach isn’t bloated, and other minor complaints seem to have just gone. I can comfortably live with my body again.

I’m completely done with the witches brews of diet sodas, especially diet Coke. Ice water, and maybe brewed teas (I used to make pitchers of brewed unsugared tea), are the drinks for me, especially water.

other content i won’t be watching going forward, and why

Since I’m on something of a rant about what I won’t watch, let me continue on with what else I won’t be watching going forward, and why. And then switch to what I am watching in its place, and again why.

Apple TV+

I got a year’s free subscription to Apple TV+ when I purchased my iPhone 11 Pro Max in September 2019. It was January 2020 before I even bothered to set up the application, let alone start to watch anything on it. The only show I remember watching was “For All Mankind,” and I stopped watching it because I’m no fan of alternate history, especially when it involves the space race of the 1960s between the US and the Soviet Union. The whole series is based on what if the Russians moon rocket booster, the N1, had actually worked? I’ve studied the N1 and it was a manufacturing disaster. The N1, on paper, was the most powerful heavy lift first stage every built. That first stage used 30 NK-15 engines, which were considered the most powerful rocket engines in that class of their day. The problem is that the N1 first stage was not static fire tested, the entire N1 program being under-funded and rushed to completion. As a consequence, all four N1 test launches self-destructed when launched. An awful lot of what went wrong in our time line would have had to have been done correctly in an alternate history. An awful log stretching back decades. You can’t just blithely wish it so. Rocketry is stupidly hard, such that the only rocket that even comes close to the N1 is today’s Falcon Heavy, with three Falcon 9 cores, each core with nine engines, for a total of 27 when the Heavy is under full thrust.

I got tired of all the glib passing over of the technical issues so that “For All Mankind’s” writers could write a convoluted soap opera. I skipped around a few episodes in the first season, and gave up.

After several months of light watching I stopped watching Apple TV+ completely. I only remembered I had it when I received an email from Apple that my free subscription was expiring in November 2020. That’s when I unsubscribed.

CBS All Access

That service was offered through Apple TV+ with a free 30 day all-you-could-watch trial, so I signed up. I managed to watch “Star Trek: Picard” as well as “Star Trek: Discovery.” Both shows were fan-service shows. If you’re a die-hard Trekkie then those shows are certainly for you. I’m not in that category. I’m the 8th grader who turned off the original Star Trek, season three, first episode, “Spock’s Brain,” because it was so bad. That episode has absolutely no redeeming qualities; by the time I’d gotten to the mid-point of the episode I’d had enough. I never watched another episode of season 3, and when NBC finally killed it I barely noticed.

Both of those new shows reminded me a bit of that crap. I quickly went through all the episodes, skipping parts that were of no interest to me. On “Picard,” the last episode where Data dies was particularly bilious. “Discovery” on the other hand was just off the scale when it came to overall acceptance of any of the stories or plot lines. “Discovery” is just bad fantasy wrapped in Star Trek technobabble and flashing lights. Once I finished with “Discovery” I killed my subscription.

Netflix

I was an old subscriber to Netflix. I opened a subscription with Netflix back when you ordered DVDs to be shipped to your home, back in the early 2000s. It was cheap, a lot cheaper than going to the movies, and it helped entertain the family, including the girls who were in high school at the time. I stuck with Netflix when they switched over to streaming; I first streamed Netflix with an app I installed on the family Nintendo Wii. When I upgraded the family DVD to Blueray, it came with Netflix streaming pre-installed. Same with my first digital TV, a Samsung 55 incher. Netflix was ubiquitous, and full of video content from the sublime to the ridiculous. It was cheap and plentiful.

Then it got not so cheap and not so plentiful. Other streaming services came along (Disney, for example) and starting pulling movies to show on their services. And then Netflix started to “rotate” movies out, so that if you didn’t watch it, and it was rotated out, too bad, so sad. And then Netflix started to make their own movies, none of which appealed to me. I know my taste in movies can get pretty trashy, but not Netflix trashy. So early 2020 I killed that subscription.

So what are we watching these days?

Amazon Prime with Brit Box

It’s Amazon, and it seems to come with everything. I added Brit Box so we could see all the British TV that never was complete on any other streaming service. So all the seasons and all the episodes are complete on Brit Box. I watched Amazon pretty much because of “The Expanse,” but if you read my last post, you pretty much know I’ve walked away from that. I use Amazon Prime for a lot of other services besides movies, so I’m not to concerned with whether I keep it or not; Video is just one of those added perks.

Disney+

I signed up to Disney+ because it’s cheap and because of “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision,” as well as the complete catalog of Star Wars, MCU, and Pixar. There’s a lot there to keep me occupied. But not necessarily happy.

I’ve already passed judgement on “The Mandalorian” and found it lacking. Once again, a fan service episode. If there’s any redeeming feature to the show, it was season 1, episode 1, in which Werner Herzog stared as “The Client.” It slowly went down hill from there.

“WandaVision” is a bit more enigmatic. They’re trying to be clever, and they’re almost making it happen. These first few episodes remind me a bit of the first few seasons of “Agents of Shield.” The fact that new episodes are only released weekly every Friday is a bit of a letdown, but then, it takes time to film and produce anything, so I can wait for the finished product to be delivered.

Going back through the MCU catalog has allowed me to build a better understanding of how all the pieces fit together. The problem with movies is the long delay between releases, when you memory of the last movies grow a bit hazy. So when I see something that doesn’t quite make sense in one film, I can go back to a prior film and see how that led to an event in the later film(s). I’ve grown to have a better appreciation of what the MCU accomplished up to this point.

In conclusion

That’s about it. My TV watching is declining over time. I have a recent LG 55 inch TV that is programmed to stream just about everything. Funny thing is I spend as much time watching streamed content on my iPhone and iPads as I do on the LG. My wife is going down the same path. If we want to watch something together I’ll pull up my 12 inch iPad Pro and share it with her. It seems sufficient, and it harkens back to the early days of broadcast TV when my primary TV was a 13″ Sony that my wife and I shared right when we married. Talk about coming around in circles…

As for the other kind of visual entertainment, video games, I hardly play anything anymore. I have exactly one game I play on both iPhone and iPad. My oldest daughter and her husband gave me a Nintendo Switch Lite, on which I play “Animal Crossing” and share it with them and my youngest daughter. I’ve tried to get interested in other Switch games, especially when the local Walmart puts them on sale, but I play them a bit then put the cartridges in my Switch case and don’t think much about them after that.

I have no patience anymore with fantasy and make believe worlds. They take too much time, have too many logic and story holes, and demand too much money over time for too little in return.