Monday, October 29, 2007

Hmm, it would appear it wasn't me she was worried about.

Friday night, after the kids were at the in-laws, I again told Liz we really should set up the Wii, but she pretty much stuck to her guns and it didn't happen. Saturday we ran a few errands, exchanged JE's Tiger Cub belt for a Wolf Cub/Sub Scout belt, then ended up in Pasadena where we spent most of the afternoon. And when we got home Liz still wouldn't cave in and let me set up the Wii.

Sunday came around and our clocks which are supposed to set themselves by the Atomic Clock every morning around 2am decided Daylight Saving Time had ended and so set themselves back an hour, so my gut was right as I lay there in bed looking at the clock, thinking it felt later than 6am, but I didn't discover that until I got up at 6:45, which was really 7:45am.

Liz got up around 9am and I heard her pottering around downstairs, and shortly afterwards the aroma of something delicious was wafting throughout the house. It was the chocolate cake she was baking for the Halloween party, which she later decorated and it turned out very well. We dropped off the cake at the in-laws then joined Xinh, Drew & Amanda for lunch at Souplantation, where among other things, the conversation turned to the Wii, specifically because Guitar Hero III:Legends of Rock had been released that very day, and Amanda was keen to get her hands on a copy.

After lunch Liz and I stopped at Target where we found two copies of Guitar Hero III. Both GH3 boxes were slightly damaged, as if something heavy had been sat on them. They weren't crushed but the boxes were not in perfect condition, so we felt reasonably confident in buying the lesser damaged of the two though. This would be the deal breaker :)

At home Liz finally relented and let me set up the Wii and after a spot of bother synching the second controller (there's a synch button on both the controller and the Wii which both need to be pressed) everything was up and running and we were playing, I mean testing, testing the Wii. The Wii sports disc worked just fine, Liz and I played a few games of bowling just to make sure, then wii...I mean we played some Baseball. When Liz took a break I hooked up the nunchuk controller and fired up Wii Boxing. I knocked three opponents on their backs, the first two went down in the first round, the third guy lasted into the second round, and by that time the sweat was pouring off me. I know you really don't have to bounce around the room as you Wii box, I know you can just use little flicks of your wrist to fight your opponent, but it's so much fun (and a HUGE workout) to box in a more realistic manner.

I decided I'd better have a shower before breaking out the GH3 and unleashing my inner rock god, so it was a much refreshed (& cleaner) Capn John who took the stage, ripping through the first few songs in Career Mode, before his groupie, I mean Liz, sent me out to get her some dinner. Don't we have Roadies for stuff like that?

Liz told me to hurry because her parents were going to be bringing the kids home soon.

"Ok, shouldn't I pack up the Wii first then?" I asked. Yes, I was serious. I'd had my play and now knew the Wii worked ok, as opposed to setting it up on Christmas Eve for the kids to find Christmas morning, only to discover we'd got a DOA console. Unlikely, but sometimes I worry about these things.

"Just leave it out," Liz said, with a sheepish smile.

I see...it wasn't me Liz was concerned about at all. She knew that if we set up the Wii, that she would be the one who wouldn't want to put it away.

So I left Liz in charge of the Wii and Guitar Hero and headed out to Jack in the Box. I'd attempted to give her a crash course in how to use the guitar-shaped controller but she told me she'd work it out. And so it was that when I got back I found her trying to play the first song, and failing miserably, because she was hitting the Fret notes ok but she wasn't strumming at the same time, so she was missing the notes and failing the songs. It's like playing a one-string guitar. You can hold down the notes on the fret board, but unless you strum the string you won't get any sound. Liz's performance improved dramatically with that one little change to her playing style.

When she sat down to eat her sandwich I took over, which is when the in-laws arrived. I went downstairs to meet them and we chatted for a couple of minutes as the kids went upstairs, and I could hear JE start chanting happily "We got a Wii! We got a Wii!" I'm sure the in-laws could hear him but probably had no clue what he was saying :D

After the in-laws left I joined my family upstairs and finished my GH3 set then turned it off so JE could play. He didn't want to play Guitar, he wanted to play Wii Sports. Specifically, Wii Boxing!!! So I again hooked up the nunchuk controller to the Wiimote, fired up Boxing, and JE began flailing away. Dancing in towards the TV he began throwing wild punches causing Liz some concern that we were about to experience our first Wii-accident.

I watched in amazement. I was sweating and tired after beating three fighters (total of no more than four 1-minute rounds), JE was still going somewhat strong after defeating his fifth opponent, and he wasn't pulling any punches, either. He had an uncanny knack of finishing his opponent off with a big, looping, overhand right that would almost take their head clean off. The ragdoll physics in Wii Boxing are a sight to see and when a boxer goes down he doesn't always go straight down. Often they will flip and spin and more than one boxer was dumped on his head by JE's overhand right KO punch. And JE kept on boxing. So much so that Liz told him he can't play Wii Sports in the morning because she doesn't want him going to school all hot & sweaty. I wonder how this will work in the afternoon as an incentive for him to finish his homework on time. With a Wii waiting upstairs, he just might be encouraged to do his homework a little faster.

After JE had boxed a bit the bunny wanted to play, so I fixed her up with the second Wiimote and nunchuk and she began trading punches with JE. Big Brother took it easy on her, until she landed a couple of big hits and then it was on and the bunny's avatar quickly found herself lying on the mat. When her toon got up the fight continued and JE was amazed to see his guy get knocked on his arse. But the foregone conclusion was inevitable, given JE's enthusiasm and boundless energy the bunny's avatar eventually went down for the count. Now sated she handed the controllers to me and went back to playing with her blocks while JE knocked around some more cartoon opponents.

I'll say this for it. The Wii is an awesome invention for letting kids (boys in particular) enjoy one of their most favorite activities, while still ensuring they get a lot of exercise. I'm sure JE slept well last night.

Anyway, I'm gonna finish off here. My arms and hands are a little sore. I think I'm out of shape. I think I need to train a little more ;)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We wanna Wii

After playing Wii (again) on the weekend, Liz finally caved in and Sunday night found her searching online for Wii consoles and packages. She found one site which claimed to run searches and tell you which stores had the Wii in-stock. Except it listed places like Gamestop.com and when we went there they were taking Preorders for a shipment expected in on Oct. 30...with a disclaimer that they may not get enough items to fill every order. The eBay price of the Wii was bizarre. Some people were listing them at $500 and up and getting bids, on a $250 console. After getting beaten on one console which went for $285 + shipping (about $320 all up) Liz just told me to call in to my local Gamestop on the way home from work Monday and see if they had any in-stock.

So Monday after work I found myself lining up behind a young fellow trying to return a game he was claiming didn't work on his console. The clerk was being very patient with the lad and realizing that helping him would take a while, he paused and asked if he could help me. It might be considered rude to help the second customer but if I'd had a simple question, like, "Do you have Heavenly Sword?" he could have pointed me in the right direction and gone back to helping the kid.

Instead I replied, "Silly question. Do you have any Wii consoles in stock?"

He thought for a second and said, "We might have one left. I'll check in a minute."

So he helped out the kid then went out to the back room and came back carrying a Wii console.

Wow!

After hearing about so many people having so much trouble trying to get a Wii, or spending far too much money to get one, I walk into my local store and walk out with the only Wii they have in stock.

Now there's just one problem. Liz wants our son to concentrate on his schoolwork and not have any more disruptions for the rest of the year, so I have a Wii at home, with Wii Sports, Zelda:Twilight Princess, and Mario Party 8 (we bought the games the next day) and I'm not allowed to play it :( It's tucked away in its box so I can't even play it after the kids go to bed.

Maybe when the kids go visit their grandparents this weekend I can talk Liz into breaking it out and having a play. Just to check that it works. I mean I'd hate to set it up Christmas Eve so it's ready for the kids first thing Christmas morning, only to "test play" it and find it doesn't work. Testing purposes, that's all. I'd hate to disappoint the kids Christmas morning. It's all about the kids, right ;)

One tough kid

The bunny had her 3-year old checkup yesterday. From the other rooms we could hear kids screaming and crying as they got their vaccinations, one little fellow in particular wouldn't shut up and must have been crying for a good 30 minutes as we waited to be seen by the Doc.

Finally the visit was over, bar the Nurse giving the bunny her Hepatitis shot. She asked me to sit with her on my lap, so I did, but I didn't quite understand exactly how the Nurse wanted us positioned, until Liz took over, holding the bunny's arms and sandwiching her legs between her own. As the bunny and I looked on the Nurse stuck the needle into her thigh and hit the plunger. When I looked at her face the bunny was just staring down at her leg as the Nurse pulled the needle back out. I was waiting for the waterworks but they never came. Seriously. The Nurse stuck on a circular bandaid and the bunny just looked at her leg and said "I got a boo boo," and that was it. No crying, nothing.

This is the same girl who comes running to us, crying, when she bumps her arm or leg and demands a bandaid for some non-existent injury. But she gets stuck in the leg with a huge needle and it doesn't faze her. Amazing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Shop 'til you drop.

After dropping JE at school on Friday I returned home, only to head out again a couple of hours later with Liz for Dim Sum. Although 888 in Temple City has become our favorite Dim Sum restaurant I was not overly impressed this time around. But as Liz said it's probably because I didn't finish the meal with my favorite pastry, because there were none. The dessert cart went around a few times but with a very limited selection, then got parked near the kitchen and the server disappeared. Finally a lady emerged from the kitchen with a tray of small, freshly baked tarts, but she proceeded to go the long way around the room and we watched as one table then another took a plate or two. Finally Liz snared a waiter and told him we wanted some of the egg tarts, so he practically dragged the server across to our table, but not before another table took the second last plate.

We decided we won't do Dim Sum on a weekday any more; weekends are a lot busier, but the food selection is far greater.

We dropped the bunny with the FIL for her nap, did a spot of shopping, then stopped for Boba Milk Tea, where the servers forgot to put the Boba in Liz's Milk Tea. Then we picked up the boy from school, got him a haircut and dropped him with the FIL as well. Then we went shopping, again, before winding up at Maki Sushi for dinner where we ate way too much food. I ordered a Fried Spicy Tuna Roll. This is twice I've ordered a fried "sushi" roll and to be honest, I'm not too impressed. It was tasty but the sushi becomes a lot "heavier" in being fried. I also ordered a dinner combo with a Philadelphia Roll and Teriyaki Chicken, while Liz ordered a plate of sashimi. With all of this following on the heels of two bowls of Miso soup and a salad that meant we were pretty well stuffed. Overstuffed, even. So we went to the local Trader Joe's to do yet more shopping, but for groceries this time. It really hit home now why they say never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. I've done that before and you want to buy everything. But the reverse works, too. With a full tummy I looked at all the food and I didn't want to buy anything. But just walking around instead of sitting down like sedentary lumps felt good, and after buying some milk and a couple of other things we wandered into the Marshall's next door...where Liz did not buy a thing! Yeah, I know. That surprised me, too.

Saturday we pretty much bummed around the house until it was time to head down to the O.C. to visit our friend Susan for dinner and a games night. We also met Susan's boyfriend Lazlo for the first time, and our (almost) first conversation went something like this:

Lazlo: What would you like?
Me: Whatever it is that smells good.
Lazlo: That would be me.
Me: I need to get a bit more drunk first.

And I did...














...but the drunken tryst never happened :D

We played a couple of rounds of Apples to Apples, then Natey set up his Wii and we played Mario Party. After that Drew and I played a game of Wii-Baseball that Drew won, 3 runs to zip (I hit a triple but couldn't get the runner home). Then we played a few games of Wii-Bowling, and after I bowled a 200+ game we decided to create a Wii-Me of me. We had two more games after that (with me using my Wii-me) and I still bowled pretty well but didn't break 200 again. I bowled 5 Strikes in a row to get that double century.

We made it home around 3:15 Sunday morning but before going to bed I logged on to SigAlert.com to check out why the I-10 ramp off the 605 was closed. Which is how I found out that just before 3am there'd been an accident on the 605 at the 90. It had to have happened within minutes of us driving through that interchange.

5 hours later I woke up, then nudged Liz awake and told her to call her parents and let them know we weren't picking up the kids that morning like we'd planned. Liz called and spoke to her parents for a few minutes, then hung up and told me we were still picking up the kids because JE had been sick the night before. We picked up both kids and JE ended up throwing up a little in the car on the way home. Lucky the in-laws had given him a "barf bag". Actually a plastic shopping bag, but it worked just the same...maybe even better :)

When the bunny went down for her nap that afternoon Liz went and lay down as well, so I told JE to go lie down, too. He lay on his bed playing his Gameboy but when I checked on him after a few minutes he'd fallen asleep. And the house was quiet :)

For a 3-day weekend it sure has gone by pretty quickly.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Racial profiling? You be the judge.

Coming home from work today I approached one of the busiest intersection I have to pass through. Like many other drivers I have to make a left turn here because of a railway underpass project & subsequent detour on the road I'd normally take. Because of the detour the traffic really backs up at this intersection. So many people want to make this left turn that the official left-turn lane fills up, and so people pull into the center lane behind the left-turn lane, and in doing so they free up the lanes going straight ahead. Makes perfect sense to me.

This afternoon I did what I've been doing almost every day for the last couple of years since the detour has been in place; I pulled into the center lane and drove down passed everyone to the end/start of the left-turn lane. Just as I got there I saw a bike cop ahead of me, also waiting to make a left turn. Unlike me he was still sitting in the left lane (but not the left-turning lane). Behind the cop was a car also waiting to make a left-turn, and also staying in the left lane. Being a courteous driver (most of the time) I stopped my car behind this other car, sort of, she was in the lane next to me, after all.

Just as I stopped my car the bike cop turned around and if he wasn't trying to look like the T-1000 then it was an amazing coincidence. He pointed at me and gave me a long hard look and I just stared right back at him and gave him a single nod, and he finally turned back around.

I was thinking, "This is it. My first ticket for a moving violation." I've been dodging them for almost 10 years now ;) but when we got our green left-turn arrow the cop made a left into the left lane and zoomed off, meanwhile I turned left into the right lane (of a three lane road).

So here's the deal. I live in a predominantly hispanic area, although lately the asians are moving in (driving up property prices) and forcing the hispanics out. But I'm neither hispanic nor asian, I'm just about as white as you can get, so when the cop turned around to eyeball me he found himself looking at a middle-aged white guy with an almost military short haircut (did I really just call myself middle-aged?).

Now either the cop was only interested in people running red lights or speeding (bike cops are notorious for giving out tickets), or it's not close to the end of the month and he's currently looking good to fill his quota...or he decided to "let me off" because he'd rather find a hispanic-american to give a ticket. Or some other reason, who knows. Maybe being 4:30pm he just couldn't be bothered writing out another ticket this close to the end of his day. All I care about is I dodged another ticket :) I know, I know, they'll get me eventually. It's bound to happen sooner or later, but it didn't happen today :P

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Improving on WoW

There are two ways to potentially improve on the World of Warcraft.

One is to make WoW a far more dynamic place, instead of the static world it currently is. But apparently Blizzard stated that will never happen because they want someone just starting the game now to experience the "same game" as someone who began playing a year ago. But that's jut a copout, rebutted by keeping "classic" servers, while adding new, dynamic servers. I think the zones known as "contested zones" on PvP servers could become a little more contested, and it would make the game a lot more interesting to people who enjoy the PvP style of play.

I'd love to see the Horde or Alliance be able to sack a town belonging to the opposing faction. Currently a few high level, Epic-clad players will storm an outlying town populated mostly by lowbies, slaughter the guards, then pwn the living hell out of any lowbies who foolishly fight back. This persists until enough high level players on the opposing team fly in and do some pwning of their own. Slaughtering lowbies is fun to some people, but they don't enjoy a dose of their own medicine. So when a real challenge shows up most people hearth back home.

But what if a large Guild descended upon a town, such as Darkshire or the Crossroads, pwnd the NPC Guards, planted a Flag in the middle of town, then defeated any resistance, including high level opponents. Then pwnd the NPC Guards again when they respawned, then soundly defeated a lvl 70 NPC Boss and several escorts when they turned up, all while fighting off opposing players. What you'd have is a situation not unlike a skirmish for a Tower or Keep in the Alterac Valley Battleground, only taking place in the World of Warcraft itself. And after sacking the town and defeating all comers, and holding the territory for a period of time, such as 30 minutes, the victorious players have a choice. They can keep the town, in which case it becomes a town under their faction's rule and the former owners now have to gather an army of their own to take it back; or the invaders can sack the town, getting some gold and maybe a few rare treasures, but their faction will not gain control of the town. In fact choosing to Sack the town will spawn an army of Elite Soldiers in the nearby capital City, wand unless the invading force is very large in number and very well coordinated, this army of Elite Soldiers will retake the town and destroy the invaders, driving them out of the town and making it a somewhat safe place once again. But with this being the World of Warcraft there is no place that's ever 100% safe.

But what if the invaders take the town? What about any quests you had from the townsfolk there? What if you'd set your hearthstone in that town? Simple, your hearthstone will be reset to the nearest capital city's Inn. And you can still complete the quests, but the townsfolk will have also taken refuge in that capital city, so you can find them there to turn the quest in. And if you're lvl 60 or higher, these displaced townsfolk will have new quests, asking you to talk to the city's leader, King, etc, about retaking their town. When you talk to the local leader you can get a Raid quest to help retake the town. The reward being some XP, gold, and an increase in Rep, and perhaps a Royal Tabard, ring, or necklace to show you are a loyal & willing soldier.

So, one way to improve upon WoW would be to allow PvP conflicts on a large, world-changing scale.

The other way? Borrow from Blizzard's own Diablo II. Go Hardcore. True Hardcore. Your toon dies, and that's it. You want to play again? Reroll.

Ok, considering there are classes with spells that allow them to resurrect other players, you don't suffer Permadeath if you can get a player to Rez you in-game before a certain time limit (like 30 mins or so). So there'd be no staying online for hours, waiting for someone to Rez you. 30 minutes pass by and that's it. You're dead for good. Reroll.

Imagine how white knuckle a Raid would be with everyone knowing that if they Wipe, almost the entire Guild will have to reroll and start back at level 1. Now while death would be permanent, you could essentially start the same toon over at level 1, sans all skills, items, & gold of course. This way you'd retain your toon's name, Guild Membership and Friend list, and more importantly perhaps, your Ignore List ;) but everything else would be reset. It would be a complete new start. I know what you're thinking. Have a Bank Alt, right? Send all your Gold, mats, spare items, anything not soulbound to your toon goes to the Bank Alt before you go adventuring. Good thinking. That way if you do die, your Bank Alt can finance you to help rebuild your toon. So the only real penalties for death would be reversion to level 1, and loss of any Uber Items associated with and being carried by that particular incarnation.

The one bug in this ointment would be the griefers. They'd be the players that get a kick out of ruining other players' days. Like the high level fellow that Ambushed me while I was crossing the bridge into Lakeshire and pretty much one-shot killed me. Yep, there really are folks out there who get a kick out of thinking they've ruined your day. In that situation I was more surprised than pissed off. Here I am, crossing the bridge into town. La la-la la-la. What the fuck??? I'm dead??? How the hell did that happen???

Check the Combat Log and...Stabby's Ambush Crits you for 1,427. You die. Well, duh! I almost died three times over from that hit!

Swim down the river, Rez under the bridge and trot into town, reminding myself that I am playing on a PvP server, so I've pretty much agreed to be one-shotted by sneaky Rogues like Stabby.

So that would be one problem with a Permadeath Hardcore Server. Fellows like Stabby hiding out in an area frequented by lowbie Toons knowing that everyone he kills has to start all over if they can't get a Rez within 30 minutes. And chances are Stabby is going to whack the guy attempting the Rez as well.

You could always play on a Hardcore PvE server, where you're not as prone to being Ambushed by Stabby & Co., but even on a PvE server it's very easy to die if you're not being careful. Hell, I died the other day and it was practically an involuntary suicide. I'd dropped off the Scryer Elevator in Shattrath, a survivable drop if you're at full health, but I wasn't at full health. I still survived but was left with barely 100 hit points. Running into the center of Shattrath I took the portal to Stormwind, which takes you to the top floor of the Mage Tower. Running out the door I did what I normally do when I exit the SW Mage Tower; I ignored the spiral staircase and took the fast way down. Normally when I drop off the Mage Tower I have a lot more hit points, so normally I'll hit the ground and keep on running. This time when I hit the ground I didn't get back up. Oops. That would be an embarassing Permadeath.

"Rerolling, huh. How'd you die?"

"Splatted off the Mage Tower in SW. All the Rezzers just laughed at me :("

"LOL! You noob!"

So we have two ways to potentially improve upon WoW. And Blizzard wouldn't need to change the entire game. Keep the current servers exactly the way they are and set up brand new servers (so everyone starts at level 1) with dynamic zones, where towns can be sacked & pillaged, or even captured. And set up brand new Hardcore Permadeath Servers where dying means a lot more than just a corpse run back from the local Grave Yard.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A farm? In Los Angeles?

Ok, so it doesn't quite have the same ring to it as "A tiger? In Africa?"

Saturday afternoon I dropped the bunny with the Inlaws while picking up JE, then we were off to Wilderness Park where the Cub Scouts were having a BBQ dinner. We had a couple of hikes around the park, through the woods, and down by the river where we saw a toad. Apparently a couple of boys had seen a deer earlier, and we did see lot of tracks, but no more deer. There was a hole in the fence that's supposed to keep nasty animals out and it's not that I'm afraid of bears and mountain lions, ok, maybe I am, so after seeing the large hole in the fence I was glad we weren't camping there overnight.

As we walked back and got closer to the BBQ area we were met by the delicious aroma of barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, and boy, did they smell good and kick our taste buds into overdrive. I ended up having two cheeseburgers, plus two helpings of the peach cobbler cooked in the Dutch Oven over the coals. The hamburgers were delicious but the peach cobbler was just divine!

Afterwards we all headed down to the campfire and toasted Smores. JE had two, I had one, then JE wanted a third but took one bite out of it and learned about the Law of Diminishing Returns. So not wanting to waste food I was forced to eat it. I wasn't feeling too well afterwards :P

Now it's Sunday and we've just returned from a trip up to Forneris Farms in Mission Hills, where they have a 4-acre Corn Maze (no, it's corn, it's not a Maize Maze :P) and a large Pumpkin Patch. We were there again with a few of the Cub Scouts and as we pased through the maze we had to find the 10 tires. With 8 boys looking we found all 10 and were back out within 40 minutes.

On the way home Liz wanted to stop in Pasadena at the Container Store, then we ended up at the Cheesecake Factory for an early(ish) dinner. My attention was caught by a couple two tables over, in particular by the fellow who had all manner of gang-style tattoos over his body, coming up from the neck of his t-shirt, etc. I was amused by the tattoos he had across the knuckles of his hands. "YOUR" on one hand, and "NEXT" on the other. Oh, I so wanted to tempt fate and ask where the apostrophe and E were, but I figured those people who did ask that were probably "next".

After dinner we stopped at Pinkberry's and were not overly impressed with their Green Tea Yoghurt. I thought it was ok, not sweet, in fact a shade on the tart side, which I liked. It complimented the Chocolate Drops and Orio Cookie pieces JE had added to the order. Liz took one bite and refused to eat any more. JE ate a bite, shivered in mock cold (it was a very cool frozen Yoghurt, then concentrated on picking out the choc bits and cookie pieces. So I ended up eating the lot.

We never bought back a pumpkin from the Farm because they were rather expensive, although they were good sized pumpkins, but it's still too early to buy a Jack O' Lantern pumpkin. Maybe next weekend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Only in Australia, or maybe Russia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian doctors used an intravenous feed of vodka to keep an Italian tourist alive after he consumed large quantities of a poisonous substance.

The 24-year-old man, in an apparent bid at self-harm, had swallowed ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, which can cause death. Doctors administered pure alcohol, the conventional antidote, but exhausted the hospital's supply.

Desperate to continue the treatment the doctors at Mackay Base Hospital in Queensland state hooked up an intravenous feed of vodka, hospital officials said.

"The patient was drip-fed about three standard drinks an hour for three days in the intensive care unit," Dr Todd Fraser said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Fortunately for him he was in a medically induced coma for a good portion of that. By the time he woke up I think his hangover would have well and truly gone," Fraser said.

"The hospital's administrators were also very understanding when we explained our reasons for buying a case of vodka."

The Italian man was treated in the hospital two months ago and has since made a successful recovery. News of his treatment was only released on Wednesday.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Time Warner =/= Customer Service

Last Friday evening our cable connection developed a persistent hiccup. We couldn't stay connected for more than a couple of minutes at a time, but our cable modem showed no signs of uninterrupted service; it never rebooted and we had solid green LEDs the whole time. (yes, they're supposed to be green and solid.)

I called Time-Warner and was on hold for perhaps 20 minutes. For some people, you might think that's an amazingly fast response time for a cable company, but I was rarely on hold with Adelphia's Customer Service for longer than 5 minutes. So I wasn't impressed.

We'd rebooted the Cable Modem a couple of times, and even did a full LAN reboot and powered down both PCs but the hiccup had persisted. (I call Tech Support as a last resort.) Of course when the Tech finally answered he still told me to reboot my cable modem, which I did to humor him. It didn't restore our service, but why would it? It hadn't worked for any of the earlier reboots (at least three of them). The tech claimed there was a problem at our end, that maybe it was with our Cable Modem. Yeah, right. You're only saying that because you know we're using our own Cable Modem and you want us to use, i.e., "rent" yours, for a monthly fee of course. Anyway, the Tech scheduled a service call, for almost a week later. Again, I'd called Adelphia before for service and frequently had a tech come out within the the next day or two.

Saturday afternoon Liz and I got home to find a message from Time Warner. "Hey, thanks for calling us. We found the problem with your service and we fixed it."

Uh, yeah. Didn't you say the problem was at our end? And wasn't that the problem which you couldn't send a tech to check out until next week? But now you've fixed it? Nice one.

Last night they called us back, but not recognizing the number (in fact it showed up as an "Unknown Name" 866 number on our Caller ID) we didn't pick up. The automated system then left us a pleasant message saying we should call to confirm, reschedule or cancel our appointment.

So I called back tonight, went through the automated process, pressed 3 to cancel our appointment, and was asked to wait while they processed my request. Then I was asked to enter a PIN number (a redundant word combination), which I didn't have. My non-existent PIN (N = Number) was not recognized so I was asked to enter it again, and again when I didn't enter it, it wasn't recognized, so I was told to call the 888-TW-CABLE number...being the one where I was on Hold for 20 minutes waiting to talk to someone on Friday night. No thanks.

I figured if they couldn't get their Automated System working properly to where a customer could cancel a service call, it would serve them right if they waste a Tech's time in coming out to fix a problem which they claim they fixed several days before. Of course the nice automated system chose that moment to call me back.

This time when I was asked to hold while they processed my request they actually transferred me to the automated man's wife. She asked me for my phone number then told me I was scheduled for a service call tomorrow.

Aah, no. I already told your husband I wanted to cancel it.

"If the current date & time are still suitable, please Press 1."

Didn't I do this before with your husband?

"If you need to change the date and/or time, please Press 2."

I know, I know. If I want to cancel, please Press 3.

I pressed 3.

"You said you want to cancel your service call. If this is correct, please Press 1."

I pressed 1.

"Thank you. Your service call has been canceled. Goodbye."

Hmmm...They always say that if you want something done right, ask a woman, and that appears to hold true for the virtual world, too.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Who do you know?

I have in my cellphone an entry for a man known as "Nick the Greek", and yes, that's his professional name. Nick is a very nice man and has helped me out more than a few times.

Our first meeting occurred when I had a very serious problem, and although I knew about Nick the Greek I'd never actually met him, but I knew he was just the man to help me out. I was at work when I'd noticed a seam in my trousers had come undone, creating a rather embarrassing hole in the crotch. Nick took care of the problem within seconds and didn't charge me a penny. From that day forth, whenever I've needed hems taken up or seams repaired, I've gone to see Nick. Nick the Greek. My Tailor.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hello, Monday

I opened up an email from a coworker this morning who's notorious for sending out sometimes funny (sometimes sick) jokes and pictures. I thought the following tattoo was hilarious. Now I'm fairly accepting of tattoos as an expression of individuality, but as my coworker said, this one is definitely not something I'd want one of my kids to come home with. Still hilarious though :)

And before you scroll down any further, I strongly urge you to swallow any coffee, tea, milk or other substance you currently have in your mouth.

Happy Monday!