Thursday, February 4, 2016

Home Satellite Radio: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Probably because it was what I was taught as a very young man, I believe in alternate methods of  long distance communication. There's not a lot of coordination with others you can do outside your visual sight range with no means of long distance communication. Relying on one means of doing so is not a particularly wise thing to do these days. So I have a cell phone, a fax machine , a land line, and the internet for two way communications up here on the mountain.

I also have CB radio and GMRS radio for short range communications with locals here, if I want to use it.

But humans have an insatiable desire to know what's going on, especially in times of great stress. It's pretty difficult to make intelligent plans in a vacuum of information.  To find out what's going on, I don't really need to talk to anyone, I just need to be able to receive the information, over whatever medium.

When it comes to just receiving, I've got UHF radios, VHF radios, shortwave  radios, FM and AM receivers, satellite radio and satellite television .

I have multiple scanners that work in the UHF and VHF range. 

The Good

Satellite radio for the home is largely obsolete now if all you care about is programming. With the internet, you get better selection and more control over what you listen to, than you do with Satellite radio.  I keep my home satellite largely as a backup  now. 

It's a composite system, comprised of three separate components that operate as one unit once assembled.  This gear is easy to get set up (even for me), easy to operate, and rock solid in reliability (the one exception: bad weather.)

The Docking Station

 The docking station is about the size of a "boom box." Primarily it consists of speakers.It takes 8 D cell batteries, or you can run it on the included ac power source.  If you want to, you can buy an optional power cord that will plug into the power outlet of your vehicle. ( a power source once quaintly known as a cigarette lighter, but now known by the more political correct moniker of "power outlet".) Then you can haul the whole system out and run it off the vehicle battery if you have no D cell batteries or other ready power source.

The Radio

The radio itself is smaller than a pack of cards.  It's powered by the docking station. You can buy very elaborate radios with all kind of whiz bang gadgets to go wrong later, even little video screens that play pictures associated with whatever you are listening to. This is the most basic unit, and I bought it operating on the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principle. My first radio lasted about a year, then just quit working. I bought exactly the same kind of radio to replace it, and it's been working fine for years. I leave the radio turned off if I am not listening to it, but on the day I lost the first one there was a thunderstorm and I'd inadvertently left it on. I haven't made that mistake since.

The Antenna

 The antenna is a simple plug and play arrangement. It has a few idiosyncrasies I'll hit in just a moment.  All you have to do is orient it and plug it into the docking unit.

 You plug the antenna into the base unit, then you orient the radio to the Southern sky, where the Sirius / XM satellite is in geosynchronous low earth orbit. There's a power bar on the digital display of the radio. It goes from one to five.  The radio will play on 1, but it cuts out sometimes. On two to five bars it's rock solid and crystal clear.

How do you orient the antenna? Get a compass and find the southern sky.  For outside installation, it's easiest to have a pair of GMRS radios, or CB walkie talkies, or a set of kids radios. Take the antenna out, and then have your spouse stand by at the radio. As you turn the antenna left or right and up or down, the person on the other end says "better or worse." Once you get a good signal, you're done.
Back when all tv (all three channels of it) was " over the air", everybody had to do this with rabbit ears or an outside antenna. So if you are young and don't remember those days, take pride in learning the skills of your ancestors!

This is the entire system.  Radio, docking station, antenna, ac adapter. So much for the home base unit.

Vehicle Equipment.

Satellite  radio for your car is much less complicated. You buy a little radio, it plugs into the car , mounts like a radar detector somewhere on the dashboard, set up the antenna, and you are finished. Or, your vehicle may come with a system already installed.  The Jeep Commander came with a satellite radio, so I didn't have to fiddle with the kit. However, the Jeep Cherokee came without one (it's a 1999), so I got the whole kit for $35.00 from Sirius . They sell it at a loss so you will sign up for a second subscription to the service.

Whatever happens on the ground to wipe out FM/AM and television stations in a location during a Black Swan Event (like Katrina or an earthquake) the satellite gear will work if your vehicle is intact.
The one exception I can think of is EMP, which will wipe out all this gear outside of a Farraday cage. So something happens, local radio and tv goes off the air, no internet. You can still go out to the car and run your radio out there to try to see what's happening.  In a disaster, nothing is worse than having no idea what the story is.

The Bad .

As I mentioned early, weather can shut you down. Snow , rain, or heavy clouds can all attenuate the signal to the point where you can't operate the radio. You just have to wait for it to pass. If you mount your antenna outside, especially where the sun can hit it, expect it to last a year and then have to be replaced. If you mount it inside, in a window, it will last indefinitely but it's a lot harder to get a good strong signal. If you don't have any windows facing the southern sky you will have to go the outdoor mounting way. The antenna comes with about 30 feet of cable, so that at least isn't an issue.

Because there were once two satellite radio outfits, who later merged, you are still dealing with two equipment sets.  Sirius is what I had, and XM is the other. Now they are Sirius XM.  So when you are dealing with buying ancillary devices to enhance your set up, be sure you don't just order part Alpha because it says "for satellite radio."  You have to specify whether your other gear is Sirius or XM, and order the appropriate system part.  Slowly but surely, as the older equipment that is name brand specific is replaced by newer Sirius/XM gear this issue will go away.

There are lots of "packages" but they are set up the same way Satellite TV is. Unless you buy the top of the line subscription you get a lot of garbage like The Philipino Underwater Basket weaving Channel. You have to pay for a lot of stuff you will never use (like sports , for me) to get what you do want.

and the Ugly

These guys use Indian tech support and sales call centers. Everything you ever heard about Indian call centers is true. At Siruis/XM, one of their favorite things is to say they are going to put you on hold, then just cut you off if they don't know the answer. Or don't like your voice. Or need a smoke or a trip to the can.....

Their sales and technical support are absolutely atrocious.  They can get away with it because Sirius XM is on the only satellite radio provider in the U.S, and maybe anywhere as far as I know.

Below is a list of my package: It's long.  Most of it is useless.

2              SiriusXM Hits 1  Music    Pop        Today's Pop Hits               •
3              Venus   Music    Pop        Pop Music You Can Move To       •
4              Pitbull's Globalization     Music    Pop        Rhythmic Hits From Around The Globe  •
5              '50s on 5               Music    Pop        '50s Pop Hits       •
6              '60s on 6               Music    Pop        '60s Pop Hits with Cousin Brucie                •
7              '70s on 7               Music    Pop        '70s Pop Hits       •
8              '80s on 8               Music    Pop        '80s Pop Hits       •
9              '90s on 9               Music    Pop        '90s Pop Hits       •
10           Pop2K   Music    Pop        2000s Pop Hits   •
11           KIIS-Los Angeles               More     More     KIIS FM LOS Angeles       •
12           Z100/NY               More     More     Z100 plays all the hits      •
13           Velvet   Music    Pop        Today’s Pop Vocalists     •
14           The Coffee House           Music    Pop        Acoustic Music/Singer-Songwriters         •
15           The Pulse            Music    Pop        Adult Pop Hits   •
16           The Blend            Music    Pop        Bright Pop Hits  •
17           SiriusXM Love    Music    Pop        Love Songs         •
18           SiriusXM Limited Edition               Music    Pop        Exclusive Limited-Run Channels-XL          •
19           Elvis Radio           Music    Rock      Elvis 24/7 Live from Graceland    •
20           E Street Radio    Music    Rock      Bruce Springsteen 24/7 •
21           Underground Garage     Music    Rock      Little Steven's Garage Rock Channel        •
22           Pearl Jam Radio                Music    Rock      Pearl Jam 24/7   •
23           Grateful Dead Channel  Music    Rock      Grateful Dead 24/7         •
24           Radio Margaritaville        Music    Rock      Escape to Margaritaville                •
25           Classic Rewind   Music    Rock      '70s/'80s Classic Rock      •
26           Classic Vinyl        Music    Rock      '60s/'70s Classic Rock      •
27           Deep Tracks       Music    Rock      Deep Classic Rock            •
28           The Spectrum    Music    Rock      New Rock Meets Classic Rock     •
29           Jam_ON               Music    Rock      Jam Bands           •
30           The Loft               Music    Rock      Eclectic Rock       •
31           Tom Petty Radio               Music    Rock      Music From and Curated by Tom Petty  •
32           The Bridge          Music    Rock      Mellow Rock      •
33           1st Wave             Music    Rock      '80s Alternative/New Wave        •
34           Lithium Music    Rock      '90s Alternative/Grunge               •
35           SiriusXMU           Music    Rock      New Indie Rock                •
36           Alt Nation            Music    Rock      New Alternative Rock    •
37           Octane Music    Rock      New Hard Rock •
38           Ozzy's Boneyard               Music    Rock      Ozzy's Classic Hard Rock Channel              •
39           Hair Nation         Music    Rock      '80s Hair Bands  •
40           Liquid Metal       Music    Rock      Heavy Metal-XL                •
41           Faction Music    Rock      Punk/Rock/Beats with Jason Ellis-XL        •
42           The Joint              Music    Rock      Reggae •
43           Backspin              Music    Hip-Hop               Classic Hip-Hop-XL           •
44           Hip-Hop Nation Music    Hip-Hop               Today's Hip-Hop Hits-XL                •
45           Shade 45              Music    Hip-Hop               Eminem's Uncut Hip-Hop Channel-XL     •
46           The Heat              Music    R&B       Today's R&B Hits              •
47           SiriusXM FLY       Music    R&B       Hip-Hop & R&B from the '90s & 2000s     •
48           Heart & Soul       Music    R&B       Adult R&B Hits   •
49           Soul Town           Music    R&B       Classic Soul/Motown      •
50           The Groove        Music    R&B       '70s/'80s R&B     •
51           BPM      Music    Dance/Electronic              Electronic Dance Music Hits         •
52           Electric Area       Music    Dance/Electronic              EDM DJ Mix Shows          •
53           SiriusXM Chill     Music    Dance/Electronic              Downtempo/Deep House           •
54           Studio 54 Radio Music    Dance/Electronic              Disco/Classic Dance         •
55           Utopia  Music    Dance/Electronic              '90s/2000s Dance Hits     •
56           The Highway      Music    Country                Today's Country Hits       •
57           Y2Kountry           Music    Country                2000s Country Hits           •
58           Prime Country   Music    Country                '80s/'90s Country Hits     •
59           Willie's Roadhouse          Music    Country                Willie's Classic Country Channel •
60           Outlaw Country                Music    Country                Rockin' Country Rebels  •
61           Bluegrass Junction           Music    Country                Bluegrass             •
63           The Message     Music    Christian              Christian Pop & Rock      •
64           Kirk Franklin's Praise       Music    Christian              Kirk Franklin's Gospel Channel   •
65           enLighten            Music    Christian              Southern Gospel              •
66           Watercolors       Music    Jazz/Standards  Smooth/Contemporary Jazz       •
67           Real Jazz              Music    Jazz/Standards  Classic Jazz          •
68           Spa         Music    Jazz/Standards  New Age             •
69           Escape  Music    Jazz/Standards  Easy Listening    •
70           BB King's Bluesville          Music    Jazz/Standards  B.B. King's Blues Channel              •
71           Siriusly Sinatra   Music    Jazz/Standards  Standards By Sinatra & More      •
72           On Broadway     Music    Jazz/Standards  Show Tunes       •
73           40s Junction       Music    Jazz/Standards  '40s Pop Hits/Big Band   •
74           Met Opera Radio             Music    Classical                Opera/Classical Voices   •
76           Symphony Hall  Music    Classical                Classical Music   •
77           KIDZ BOP Radio Talk & Entertainment     Kids        Pop Hits Sung By Kids For Kids    •
78           Kids Place Live   Talk & Entertainment     Kids        All Fun for Kids  •
79           Radio Disney      Talk & Entertainment     Kids        Pop Hits For The Entire Family    •
80           ESPN Radio         Sports   Sports   Mike & Mike/Sports Talk/Play-by-Play   •
81           ESPN Xtra            Sports   Sports   Sports Center/Finebaum/PTI and More                •
82           Mad Dog Sports Radio   Sports   Sports   Mad Dog Russo, Stephen A Smith            •
83           SiriusXM Bleacher Report Radio                Sports   Sports   Sports Talk by Bleacher Report  •
84           SiriusXM College Sports Nation  Sports   Sports   College Sports Talk/Play by Play                •
85           SiriusXM FC        Sports   Sports   Soccer Talk & Play-by-Play           •
88           SiriusXM NFL Radio         Sports   Sports   24/7 NFL Talk & Play-by-Play       •
90           SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                Sports   Sports   24/7 NASCAR Talk & Races           •
91           SiriusXM® NHL Network Radio™               Sports   Sports   24/7 NHL® Talk & Play-by-Play    •
93           SiriusXM Rush   Sports   Sports   Covino & Rich and Combat Sports Talk    •
94           SiriusXM Comedy Greats              Talk & Entertainment     Comedy               Greatest Comedians Of All-Time-XL        •
95           Comedy Central Radio   Talk & Entertainment     Comedy               Comedy Central Uncensored Comedy-XL             •
96           The Foxxhole     Talk & Entertainment     Comedy               Jamie Foxx Presents Comedy & More-XL              •
97           Jeff & Larry's Comedy Roundup                Talk & Entertainment     Comedy               Great American Comedy-XL        •
98           Laugh USA          Talk & Entertainment     Comedy               Comedy For The Entire Family    •
99           Raw Dog Comedy Hits    Talk & Entertainment     Comedy               Today’s Comedy & Up and Comers-XL   •
100         Howard 100        Howard Stern    Howard Stern    The Howard Stern Show–XL        •
101         Howard 101        Howard Stern    Howard Stern    The World of Howard Stern-XL  •
102         Radio Andy         Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Andy Cohen Pop Culture Talk, More-XL •
105         Entertainment Weekly Radio      Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Entertainment Talk & News        •
106         OutQ     Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  LGBT Talk & Entertainment-XL   •
108         Today Show Radio           Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  The TODAY Show - All Day            •
109         SiriusXM Stars   Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Ellen/Jenny McCarthy/Dr Laura/MoreXL               •
110         Doctor Radio      Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Real Doctors Helping Real People             •
111         Business Radio  Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Business Talk Powered By Wharton         •
112         CNBC     News & Issues  News/Public Radio          CNBC Simulcast •
113         FOX Business     News & Issues  News/Public Radio          FOX Business Simulcast •
114         FOX News Channel         News & Issues  News/Public Radio          FOX News Simulcast       •
115         FOX News Headlines 24/7            News & Issues  News/Public Radio          FOX News Headlines 24/7            •
116         CNN       News & Issues  News/Public Radio          CNN Simulcast   •
117         HLN        News & Issues  News/Public Radio          HLN Simulcast    •
118         MSNBC News & Issues  News/Public Radio          MSNBC Simulcast             •
119         Bloomberg Radio             News & Issues  News/Public Radio          Business News  •
120         BBC World Service           News & Issues  News/Public Radio          World News       •
121         SiriusXM Insight                News & Issues  News/Public Radio          Inspiring Talk With A Sense Of Humor     •
122         NPR Now             News & Issues  News/Public Radio          NPR News & Conversation          •
123         PRX Public Radio               News & Issues  News/Public Radio          Independent Public Radio            Online Only
124         POTUS Politics   News & Issues  Politics/Issues   Non-Partisan Political Talk            •
125         SiriusXM Patriot                News & Issues  Politics/Issues   Conservative Talk            •
126         SiriusXM Urban View     News & Issues  Politics/Issues   African-American Talk    •
127         SiriusXM Progress            News & Issues  Politics/Issues   Progressive Talk               •
128         Joel Osteen Radio            Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Positive Inspiration For Life         •
129         The Catholic Channel      Talk & Entertainment     Religion                Talk For Saints and Sinners           •
130         EWTN Radio       Talk & Entertainment     Religion                Solid Catholic Talk            •
131         Family Talk          Talk & Entertainment     Religion                Christian Talk     •
132         Boston/Philly/Atlanta/Pittsburgh             News & Issues  Traffic/Weather               Traffic & Weather           
133         New York            News & Issues  Traffic/Weather               Traffic & Weather           
134         D.C./Baltimore/Miami/Orlando News & Issues  Traffic/Weather               Traffic & Weather           
135         Chicago/Detroit                News & Issues  Traffic/Weather               Traffic & Weather           
136         Dallas/Houston/St. Louis/Minn.                News & Issues  Traffic/Weather               Traffic & Weather           
137         SanFran/Seattle/Phoenix/Tampa-St.Pe News & Issues  Traffic/Weather               Traffic & Weather           
138         Los Angeles/San Diego  News & Issues  Traffic/Weather               Traffic & Weather           
141         HUR Voices         More     More     Real talk with real people             •
142         HBCU    More     More     HBCU Excellence In Education    •
143         BYUradio             More     More     Talk About Good              •
144         Korea Today       More     More     Korean music, news, entertainment       Online Only
145         SiriusXM 145      More     More     SiriusXM 145     
146         Road Dog Trucking           Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Talk for Truckers               •
147         RURAL RADIO    News & Issues  News/Public Radio          Agriculture & Western Lifestyle •
148         RadioClassics      Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Classic Radio Shows        •
152         En Vivo More     More     Contemporary English & Spanish Hits      •
153         Cristina Radio     More     More     Advice & Current Affairs               •
154         American Latino Radio   More     More     Talk Radio for American Latinos •
155         CNN en Español                News & Issues  News/Public Radio          All-News Spanish Language         •
157         ESPN Deportes Sports   Sports   Spanish Sports Talk & Play-by-Play           •
158         Caliente               Music    Pop        Tropical Latin Music         •
162         CBC Radio 3        More     Canadian             Canadian Indie Music First           •
163         Ici Musique Chansons    More     Canadian             SiriusXM’s “Chanson” Music Channel      •
165         Multicultural Radio          More     Canadian             The Cultures of Canada •
166         Ici Musique FrancoCountry          More     Canadian             Francophone & Canadian Country-Folk  •
167         Canada Talks      More     Canadian             Canadian Current Affairs & Talk •
168         Canada Laughs  Talk & Entertainment     Comedy               Canadian Comedy–Uncensored 24/7 XL                •
169         CBC Radio One  News & Issues  News/Public Radio          Canada’s #1 Rated Radio News Source   •
170         Ici Première        More     Canadian             Radio-Canada News & Information          •
171         CBC Country       More     Canadian             New Canadian Country •
172         Canada 360 by AMI         More     Canadian             Canada's News/Weather by AMI-Audio                •
173         The Verge           More     Canadian             New & Emerging Indie/Alternative          •
174         Influence Franco              More     Canadian             The New Indie Pop Alternative  •
184         Sirius Preview    Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Sirius Preview   
206         Opie Radio          Talk & Entertainment     Entertainment  Opie and Jim Norton-XL                •
207         SiriusXM NBA Radio        Sports   Sports   24/7 NBA Talk & Play-by-Play      •
208         SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio           Sports   Sports   24/7 Golf Talk & Play-by-Play      •
209         MLB Network Radio™    Sports   Sports   24/7 MLB® Talk & Play-by-Play   •
210         SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio   Sports   Sports   Fantasy Sports Talk         •
212         Sports Play-by-Play 212 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more
213         Sports Play-by-Play 213 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more
214         Sports Play-by-Play 214 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more
215         Sports Play-by-Play 215 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more
216         Sports Play-by-Play 216 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more
217         Sports Play-by-Play 217 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more
218         Sports Play-by-Play 218 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more
219         Sports Play-by-Play 219 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more
220         Sports Play-by-Play 220 Sports   Sports Play-by-Play         Verizon IndyCar, MLB, NHL, NBA, more


  1. lots of great info here, Harry - so thank you for that! but what really caught my eye was the fact that one of your radio pics shows U2's "Beautiful Day" of my favourite songs! it doesn't matter how bad of a day i've had or how horrible i feel - THAT song always brings me back to earth, fills my heart, makes me love everything....and of course, there's the singing horribly screechy along with it. i am sure that there are people in New Brunswick and Maine that have heard god-awful caterwauling at different times throughout the year - that's me singing "Beautiful Day". i love that song!

    sending much love as always! your friend,

  2. Hey, Kymber. I listen to some Canadian stations on the satellite radio sometimes. Hum, Beautiful Day. I don't know that one, I will have to check youtube and listen to it.

    I get a French Canadian station out of Quebec and sometimes I get a station in Ontario, both AM, when the propagation conditions are good.

    But I can always lock in to Radio Canada one way or other!

  3. XM has geosynchronous satellites, while Sirius use satellites in an "inclined" orbit. They stay pit East-West, but move North-South. To use here on Earth, a geosynchronous satellite appears as an unmoving spot in the sky, while one in an inclined orbit will stay in spot "left to right", but will drift "up and down". If the antenna on the satellite has a wide beam, and the Earth antenna has a wide beam, it's no problem, but in a car, sometimes the reception gets spotty.

    I have a Sirius radio in my Jeep, and I can tell where the satellite is in it's orbit but how much it drops out. Going under heavy foliage will also cause the signal to disappear.

    When I worked at Sea Launch I was on the Launch Team for both XM-3, and XM-4. They were replacement satellites for XM-1 and XM-2 which had solar panel problems.

    The new radio I'm putting in my Jeep is a "Sirius/XM" radio, so I'll have to look up and see what satellites it uses. I think they're transitioning everybody off the Sirius satellites, and over to the XM satellites. as they're newer birds with more transmit power, better antennas, and can carry more channels.

    1. You are definitely the"duty expert" on this subject and I appreciate the amplification. I wonder if Sirius will go away completely and they will only work with XM at some point. When I asked Sirius about this the Indian said they had no plans to force a switch but he works for Sirius, so......

    2. My wife's new car has a "Sirius/XM" branded radio in it, and she gets a TON more channels than my "Sirius" branded radio in my Jeep does.

      I see I made an error in describing the satellite orbit. Both Sirius and XM are in geosynchronous orbits. The XM stallites are in geostationary orbits, which means they always stay in exactly the same spot in the sky, while the Sirius satellites trace a "Figure 8" in the sky due to their inclined orbits.

      It's a fine point, but as I used to do this stuff for a living, I should have gotten it correct!

      It's also called a "Tundra Orbit", and you can read more about it here:

      The wikipedia has a lot of articles on the Sirius and XM satellite systems, and is good reading if you're technically inclined.

    3. My interests are primarily in making gear work that I don't know a whole lot about. The great furor over by passing the idiot switch on my trucks clutch was a stirling example of that. But I learn a lot from my friends and I am glad to have someone knowledgeable about the technical aspects of satellite radio I can refer to. I'm fine with basics, but if folks ask me about issues beyond the "make it work " level I am out of my depth in this field.

  4. Harry, great article. Thanks a bunch. Any ballpark estimates on what a subscription costs? fixed equipt. cost is one thing, I'm concerned about ongoing cost.
    Again thank you...

    1. Off the cuff, I think my primary subscription is 15.75 a month and the secondary is 12.50 a month. If you actually read the e-mail newsletters they send you, you can shave that a little now and then, or avoid a cost increase. It's actually a give away when you contrast the cost of satellite television, which is also mostly useless junk.

  5. yes - Harry - check out the song - it is very i have always loved U2!

    try and find a station from cape breton...if you can find anything from cape breton - THAT would be a hoot! a hoot for you and a hoot for me!

    they are a strange and interesting kind of crazy on my island! sending love buddy! your friend,

    1. I can probably find a station up your way on the internet Kymber but I don't think that they have one on the satellite radio. Sirius XM does offer an internet listening package for a few additional dollars on your radio subscription, but I never bought it because most of the add on stations can be reached on the internet for free without Sirius.

  6. I don't have satellite radio. I'm not big on subscribing to anything that involves a monthly bill other than cell phone and electricity.

    1. I spend a lot of time up here. I always have, but it seems like I only leave now about every other week and then just for a couple of hours to go to town. So I subscribe to satellite radio, satellite television, and a lot of magazines. It's expensive but I rarely get bored. Your life as a mother and wife is so much more active than mine, that the subscription services would probably be a waste for you Lisa.