Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Non-TV Weekend

If you're one of my regular readers, you may have been wondering why there was no new post on Monday. It's because there was no TV at our house on Friday night. That doesn't sound like a logical progression, but it is.

I came home from work on Friday, grabbed the remote control and turned on the television. Nothing but static. I flipped through the channels and it was the same everywhere. I shut off the TV and cooked some dinner for myself, thinking that perhaps there was an outage in the Watertown area and it might be repaired by the time I had finished eating. Nope. So, I called the cable company.

Cable companies have sometimes been notorious for poor customer service, but the person who handled my call was great. She didn't accomplish anything outside of setting up a service appointment, but for the fifteen minutes or so we were on the phone together trying to solve whatever problem there was, she was friendly, polite, good-natured and apologetic. That's about all you can ask from a customer service agent, if you can't actually fix anything.

Anyway, the upshot was that we would have no cable for the weekend and a service technician was scheduled to come to the house between 8am and noon on Monday. If the service restored itself before then, I'd call and cancel the appointment.

I don't have the slightest idea how the service might have restored itself - the friendly customer service agent had ruled out any possibility of an area-wide disruption, so it was definitely just my service - but I waited to see if it might resolve itself, anyway. When Sunday afternoon rolled around, I decided it would be a good thing for me to call my employer and let him know that I'd be out on Monday while I waited for the service tech at home. And so I did, and here I sit, typing and waiting.

And since I have no internet connection at home (and even if I did, it would have been out) that's why I posted nothing on Monday.


It was interesting having no cable for three days. MY WIFE and I spent a great deal of the time reading, which I suppose could be seen as a good thing. When we got sick of that, we popped in a video or DVD.

We watched Bend It Like Beckham, which was a fun movie - albeit slightly hard to understand on occasion, since the characters were all speaking English rather than American. We also watched Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey, which concerned the baseball wanderings of pitcher Bill Lee, formerly of the Red Sox and Expos, now of The World.

Lee still plays ball. Anywhere he can find a game, he'll suit up. And he plays for (as he says concerning the Cuban ballplayers he meets while barnstorming in Havana) all the right reasons. He plays because he loves the game, not for money. Most ballplayers, having been dealt Lee's hand (basically blackballed from the major leagues because of his defense of teammates such as Rodney Scott and Bernie Carbo, as well as comments concerning his marijuana usage) would have hung up their spikes and become embittered. Lee just kept playing, albeit not in the bigs. As a fellow who has never been paid to play ball - who pays to play ball and has done so for more than forty years - I wanted to reach into the screen and shake his hand.

Aside from the pre-recorded entertainment, we had our Jimmy Fund shopping to do. I'll be telling you about that tomorrow.


So, here I am waiting for the tech to show up.

It's now 8:47. When they tell you that your service appointment is from 8am to noon, you know damned well that it won't be 8am. If it was, they'd tell you 8am, right? So what you hope for is 9am; you hope the first call he made turned out to be something simple and dopey, like an unplugged TV.

You also hope that your own case isn't something quite so simple and dopey, because you don't want to have wasted your morning and missed a day at work because you were too dumb to, say, check the connections from the cable to the TV. So, even though that was the first thing you did before you even called the cable company on Friday, you get up from your typing and do it again, which is what I just did.

And it's now 9:00. If you're really bored, like me, you could figure out how long it took me to write the last two paragraphs. Well, the total time was thirteen minutes. Subtract the minute I spent checking the wires again. Subtract four minutes for the two phone calls I received from work - one from my boss telling me that he got my message and it's no problem to take the day off, and the other from the jolly joker who called one minute later and told me there was an emergency and I had to come in, ha ha - and that leaves 8 minutes to have typed two paragraphs, or four minutes each.

Exciting stuff, eh?


Time: 9:17

Score: Cable Tech - 0 Jim - 3 cups of coffee.

At least I'm getting wired.


Time: 9:26

What else can I tell you about while I'm waiting? Softball, I suppose.

(A collective groan goes up from the readership, but it does them no good.)

Lately, when I've been asked by MY WIFE or a co-worker about how my game went, my stock answer has been, "I had a decent game, but we lost." I've been getting a few hits and not making errors, but the teams have been consistently losing. Well, Sunday I had two crummy games and we lost both, so at least it was slightly different.

I went 0-for-4 with a walk in the two games. Made a couple of decent plays in the field, diving to grab short pop-ups from behind the plate, but my hitting was horrible. Two flies to right, one to left, and a fielder's choice grounder to the second baseman. I left three or four men in scoring position. I suppose, what with the good luck I've been hitting in, I should have expected things to start evening out and now they have. But I didn't hit the ball well once all day and that bothers me. I'm still hitting over .500 for the season, between both leagues, but I know in my heart of hearts that I can count on my fingers the number of really well-hit balls that figure into that average.

And the Sunday team is just dead. I've never seen a team that, overall, is having less fun playing ball. It's like we're expecting to lose - and so we do, of course.

We gave up 10 runs in the first inning of game one and that was it for the day. Three or four errors and our pitcher gets the ball back and mutters under his breath, "Let's see if we can give them another 10 outs this inning..." and who can blame him? The thing is, we end up losing the game 11 to 9, but I never felt as though the team really thought they could win it, even when we had come back to within a couple of runs. Just totally flat. The second game was a foregone conclusion after that. We dropped it, 10 - 3.

So now we have to win at least 7 of our last 8 to make the playoffs; possibly run the table. If it happens, I'll be one of the happiest men on earth. I'm not giving up - I never give up - but I'm surely not counting on it, either.



I mentioned that we did a lot of reading this weekend. One of the books I've been reading is called Subway Lives, by Jim Dwyer. It follows a bunch of people through 24 hours in the New York subway system.

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I'm a subway junkie. I love riding them, reading about them, looking at maps, photos, historical documents, whatever. I'll bore you in detail about it some other day. For now, I'll just tell you that Dwyer is a good writer and the book is a joy.

He begins at midnight, introducing us to the varied cast of characters - a conductor who sings Elvis songs, a pregnant welfare mother, an iron worker, the head of the transit authority, some people who ride the trains every day, a token booth worker, and others - and then follows these people at varying intervals of time, recounting their travels and travails while weaving in the history of the biggest subway system in the world.

The book was written in 1991, so it's slightly dated - as is anything concerning New York City prior to 9/11/2001 - but not so much so that it makes the book any less interesting. Even if you're not a big fan of public transit systems, like me, you'll probably enjoy it. It's just a good read.

And it's now 9:54, no repairman, and I'm going to read a bit of that book. Back soon.



The tech just arrived and he's checking the connections outside the house. Seems like a nice guy. I was so engrossed in the book, I jumped when he rang the bell.

And now the cable is back on. He tells me that our new neighbors (another post for later this week) seem to have had cable installed and, when it was, ours was mistakenly disconnected. He says he has to do a few minutes work outside and then he'll be back.



Off again. I guess he's doing the work. What I don't know about electronics would fill quite a few books.

I bought MY WIFE a ceiling fan for the bedroom, for her birthday six or seven years ago. She had said that she wanted one, so it was a nice gift. Problem is, I never installed it because I was never quite sure enough of what I was doing to be certain that I wouldn't fry myself. We've moved since then and the fan sits in its box, in our basement storage area, gathering mold.

I was the same way when I was a semi-working musician. Every other guitar player knew stuff about how his amplifier worked - how to replace a blown speaker, say, or how to make minor repairs to effects pedals and such - but all I knew was that you plugged in the amplifier and then you plugged the guitar into it and music came out. I sometimes didn't even know just how many speakers there were inside my amp. I remember being surprised as all hell when I took the cover off of a Marshall I had and discovering eight speakers where I thought there were six. And three of them had holes blown in them, thus the funky sound I had been getting.



Back on. The tech tells me he has to talk to the people upstairs for a minute. I hope everything is on the up-and-up there. I assume it is.

And no problem. They just had the service put in and ours was pulled mistakenly at the same time. Alls well that ends well, I guess. Now I have the rest of the day to myself, to catch up on all of the TV I missed over the weekend.

Nah, just kidding. I'm going to finish the book. See you tomorrow for a shopping adventure!


Anonymous said...

I hope you asked for a credit on your bill!

Sharfa said...

You tend to babble when you are bored...lol, just kidding.

If I can install light fixtures & a ceiling fan - you can install a ceiling fan. Lowes, Home Depot & DIY all have great "How to" sections that explain it step by step. There are also BOOKS out there that do the same. The biggest thing to remember? TURN OFF THE BREAKER before you do anything. It's easier than you think.

In this heat, I think the wife would be eternally grateful for that bedroom breeze!!!!! Think of the rewards!

Suldog said...

Anonymous - One of the things that was nice about the nice customer service person was that she said that I'd be credited, for whatever time service was out, BEFORE I even asked. That shocked me.

Sharfa - Well, we now have AC in the bedroom, so no urgent need to install the fan. I did read the instructions carefully - made sure the fuses were pulled (no circuit breakers at that time where we lived) - and I still wasn't brave enough to touch those damned wires. Oh, well.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Jim Dwyer is a terrific writer. Last year I read a book he wrote called "102 Minutes," about the struggle for people to survive the World Trade Center disaster. Absolutely gripping stuff.

Stu said...

Don't forget the challenge.