Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Weeks That Were

(Originally posted on MySpace on Sunday, July 13, 2008)

Holy Crap! What a couple of weeks I've had.

First, I got that lingering food poisoning from a local Mexican place. That was over two weeks ago and the final dredges of it seems to have finally left my system. Monday was the first day that I felt completely normal since that little bug infested my digestive track. I think I was a victim of this tomato/pepper scare going around as I was the only one who ate any of the salsa offered. I'm just glad that even in middle age, my immune system is still strong since I still don't have any health insurance and couldn't afford a doctor to take care of this.

On top of that, just as I was getting back on my feet and looking forward to starting back up on unfinished work, my computer picked up a particularly nasty Spyware virus that took over just about everything and forced me offline for four days while we cleaned the little devil out. Even after it was supposedly gone, we kept running several security packages and they kept finding bits of it hiding here and there. I think it's finally gone now though.

Then, just to add icing to the fallen cake, we decided that we've had enough of DirecTV. We first got DirecTV and their satellite dish almost seven years ago when we tired of our cable TV provider and their constant breakdowns. We loved DirecTV and our TiVo DVR. I got to the point where I couldn't understand how I ever lived without it.

Then, last year, our TiVo finally crapped out and DirecTV informed us that they no longer supported that system, preferring to use their own DVR system instead. Unfortunately, their DVR is crap, pure and simple. It constantly turns itself off or just forgets to tape programs it's programmed to get. I was constantly on the phone complaining and now I'm just tired of it. If they can't hire the right people to program their stuff, then I don't have the time or money to support them any longer. (Note to American corporations – Stop outsourcing your work to third world countries. I know they're cheaper, but they also don't care and your service is suffering on all fronts. You're losing business and that's not saving money. Idiots.)

We've heard great things about AT&T U-verse, so we gave them a call. This would mean a new DLS internet provider (although we have AT&T Yahoo Elite now, and are dissatisfied with them, having nothing but connectivity problems with them for the last several weeks) and the U-verse HD cable system with a DVR that can tape up to four shows at one time! We currently can only tape two with DirecTV. And we get it all for about $10 a month cheaper. Sign us up!

Well, of course it wasn't as simple as that. Last Thursday they sent out their installation guy and he was here for 7 hours. At the end of it, he found that there was some sort of corrupt portal and until it got fixed, we couldn't get any of their services. He promised us that it should all be in working order again by the next Monday. He changed a couple of wires around to put us back on DirecTV and Yahoo Elite and then left.

Only, after he left, we found that we had no internet connectivity. And the TV in our bedroom wasn't working either. We figured the TV had to do with a wire that came lose and we just had to move the extremely heavy chest of drawers it was sitting on to correct that. But the DSL was another matter and I immediately got on the phone to AT&T Yahoo Elite to ask them what was going on, a frustrating affair that kept me switching back-and-forth between the Indian subcontinent and people who couldn't understand me, nor that I could understand, and someplace here in the States. After running several tests, they decided that it wasn't any of our equipment and assigned us a trouble ticket. They said an agent would call us to let us know when they would be out. In the meantime, we were operating on a dial-up connection that was so slow, I was afraid I'd lose my mind while waiting for things to load.

The next day was the 4th of July and we were planning on spending the day at Disneyland, but first thing in the morning, we got the call from AT&T telling us that someone would be out that afternoon to check for problems. So we cancelled our Disney plans and sat in front of the TV watching movies all afternoon. No one ever showed up.

I called that evening and they apologized, telling me that someone would definitely be out the next day. We sat around watching movies on TV all day Saturday and no one ever showed up.

I refused to call again as we had plans on Sunday and I didn't want to
cancel them. But Sunday night, when we got home, I found an email from U-verse telling me that they had scheduled this Friday for our final instillation. I was pissed off. The agent had promised us that it would up by Monday. That Friday they had scheduled us for was booked solid with already ticketed events. We were getting the runaround from AT&T Yahoo Elite and now we were getting the same from AT&T U-verse. I certainly wasn't feeling the trust or love from AT&T.

Monday morning, I woke up at 5 AM and got U-verse on the phone. After two hours of yelling, being transferred, yelling, being transferred, and yelling some more, I finally started getting some answers and response. It seemed that the corrupt port problem was worse than they thought and there was no way they could get us up and running before Friday. Fine, I told them, I understand that there are problems, but at least tell me what they are. A got more than enough apologies. I also rescheduled our final instillation to next Monday.

But the problems with our internet connection were more serious, so the U-verse guy got a Yahoo Elite guy on the phone. After half an hour, while I was still on the phone, there was a knock on my door. A Yahoo Elite guy was standing there. He had been sent out on emergency notice. It was about time.

I signed off with the phone guys and explained to the guy in my house exactly what was going on. He went outside to check the wires. Within half an hour, he had our internet connection up. He also had our bedroom TV working. It turned out that the original guy from U-verse had just started clipping wires. It didn't look like he even knew what he was doing.

So, I was back on the phone to U-verse to complain. I explained to them that we didn't even have their service yet and I was already beginning to regret it. More apologies flew and I accepted them, but let me tell you, they're not going to get many chances. They start screwing up after we have their service and I'll cut them free right away. In the meantime, friends that have the service are still telling us how much they love it, so we'll see. I'll let you know after a couple of weeks.

But now I'm two weeks behind on work. There are boxes of CDs and records that need to be entered into Amazon, Gemm and EBay so I can sell them and make money to pay for AT&T U-verse. I've made up a lot of ground over the last two days and hopefully, without any more traumas, I should be caught up by the middle of next week.

Then I can finally start to relax again.


On the marriage front, Skip and I just got our first perk for being legally married. Our auto insurance went down by close to a hundred dollars! So much for there being no difference between full marriage and civil unions.

I've also received a couple of wedding presents.

First of all, I don't expect presents from anyone, and when it comes down to it, there is little that I want or need, so I would prefer that all money that would be spent on presents go to a pro-marriage group as a charitable donation. But, to be honest, I can't argue with either of these presents.

Skip gave me a limited edition Joy Division Zune. If you don't know what a Zune is, go here: It's a media player for music and videos. The Joy Division Zune is preloaded with the Joy Division documentary and is limited to 500 copies. It's absolutely beautiful.

But now I have to learn how to use it and when it comes to technology, I'm a blank. So wish me luck. But once I learn, I'm downloading every CD I have and putting the hard copies up for sale. That money will come in handy, especially with all our upcoming trips. (Philadelphia and Six Flags New Jersey for their Gay Day in September, Buenos Aires in October and Rome in March)

We also received a gift certificate for from our friend Gary. With that, I finally bought something I've really needed. I love to cook and bake, but most of my equipment here is so terrible that I keep it very limited. But I just bought a very nice Kitchenware standing bowl mixer. Before this, I just had a lame handheld mixer that couldn't handle anything bigger than a poundcake batter. Now I can mix and bake our own wedding cake when we throw our party in November. I love this thing and am very happy. Thanks Gary!


On the political front, I'm getting more and more unsure. I've already decided against John McCain. He used to be an honorable man who spoke his mind and walked his own path. Then he decided to run for President and now he's sold himself out, courting the religious conservatives he once had nothing but scorn for. I have no respect for him anymore. I don't think he'll win anyways, because voting for him is voting for four more years of Bush's failed policies and I believe that most Americans are clear enough thinkers to see that. I hope so anyways.

But now Barack Obama is trying to do the same thing. I was already unsure of him, but he was winning me over. Now I'm alarmed at some of the things he's been saying in order to win the conservative vote and I'm beginning to believe that he's also sold himself out as badly as McCain has.

I know someone is going to write me to tell me that the candidates have to do this to get elected. But don't waste your breath because I don't care. I'm looking for honor and honesty and those are things that have been missing in politics, with a few exceptions, for decades now.

There's still four months to go and a lot can change in that time, so we'll see. The jury's still out, but Nader or one of the other third party candidates are beginning to look better and better to me.

I have a lot more to say abut all this, but limited room this week, so I think I'll expand on this topic in the near future. I bet you can't wait.

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