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Column: Things you think about in Fargo

Thanks to a two-day trip for meetings called by people higher up than me in the Farmington Independent's parent company, I spent Monday night in a hotel room in the outskirts of Fargo, N.D. Which, as you might guess, meant I had a lot of time to watch television in my room.

This was no small thing. I gave up my cable television service last year, in part as a money-saving measure but even more because I realized I was paying more than $50 a month for programming that for the most part consisted of a mixture of confusing reality shows and reruns of Law and Order. Then again, I only had basic cable. I heard there was a show about vampires on HBO. And from what I understand those are pretty popular right now.

Cable, I came to realize, was a huge drain on my time. Almost in spite of myself wasted hours watching shows about chefs of all kinds -- Top, Iron and Rescue. Now, without it, I'm mostly limited to infomercials about that couple that's way too exited about their Magic Bullet.

There have been a few sacrifices. I missed watching things like Comedy Central's Daily Show and Colbert Report. And without cable I have significantly reduced access to shark-related programming.

But these days there are many more options for catching my favorite shows. I can download episodes with services like iTunes, Hulu and Netflix. Many shows have videos available on their own web pages, and it seems like every show comes out on DVD sets now. If I can buy full-season sets of Who's the Boss? I'm pretty sure I can track down that show I liked last season.

I like that show about sexist ad people in the 60s, but I've been watching that on DVD. Which means I just need to avoid any spoilers for the better part of a year so I can watch everything fresh. So, please, if you see me within earshot refrain from mentioning Don Draper.

For the most part, though, I don't miss cable TV. My night in a suburban Fargo motel room was one of the first time since I cut the cable that I caught up with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It was entertaining, as it usually is, but hardly worth shelling out for all on its own. And if I'm not paying for a skewed view of the day's news, what is my money going to? The Jersey Shore? At the very least, I ought to get change back for that.

In the months since I went cable-free there has been just one show I've regularly sought out through alternate sources, USA Network's Psych, an enjoyable if ultimately insubstantial show about a fake psychic and his detective agency. The rest of it I am happy enough to do without.

Besides, going without makes those rare nights in Fargo that much more special.

And, let's be honest, that's no small thing.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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