My only quibble is sometimes the music gets twee—I loathe that. I like David Attenborough fine as the narrator, though I would be just as happy with Sigourney Weaver as narrator as she was in the 2007 US version of Planet Earth. I also like that they are pointing out the effects of climate change and encroaching development on the habitats.
In the first episode, Islands, the flight of the baby marine iguanas in Fernandina, Galápagoes to reach their parents without being eaten by waiting racer snakes was very exciting—better than a car chase by far. And in episode 2, Mountains, the flamingoes in the Atacama Desert was my favorite part. In the most recent episode, Jungles, I loved the Wilson bird of paradise mating ritual in West Papua, Indonesia. I’m looking forward to the next episode, Deserts, on Saturday.
The other day we received a letter from optimum letting us know that our promotion was about to end and, because we’re such loyal customers (Stanley since 1982!) they are going to extend the promotion. However, our bill will go up $15 per month.
First, we couldn’t figure out what promotion they’re talking about. We have Triple Play, a bundle package that allegedly saves some money if you combine all three. Plus we have the gold package. No promotions. We thought.
So I called. They claim, now, that Triple Play is a promotion, not a bundle package—guess they changed their mind about this since we signed up for it about, I don’t know, 8-10 years ago? For loyal customers, they said, they didn’t end this promotion, just turned it into a “step-up” promo and didn’t just revert the rates to “regular” rates. I asked what the regular rates are for getting three services at the same time, but nobody could tell me and it’s not found on their website, anywhere. I asked why we, as loyal, long-term customers, can’t get the new two-year Triple Play rate. Because, the guy said, we’re not new customers.
I asked how having to pay $15 more per month is any kind of a reward for customer loyalty. Got a bunch of bullshit from the customer service guy. No matter how I asked, or what I asked, I got the same answer, which was no answer at all. So I asked to speak with his supervisor.
Spoke with the supervisor—he called me back. Cablevision is, for the most part, pretty good about calling back, etc. After the same story, where he wouldn’t (or couldn’t) budge on that $15 price hike, I asked to speak with someone who could actually do something.
A while later, he called me back again and said his supervisor said to give me a one-time credit of $180 to cover the price increase over 12 months. Which they did—it’s already applied to our bill. Don’t know why the first person I spoke with couldn’t apply that same discount.
We still pay too much money for cable—and I still deeply resent having to pay $5.98 per month for sports programming since we never, ever watch sports. I want to be able to select the channels I want to pay for—ESPN would NOT be one of them. And it would be a breathe of fresh air if, for real, Cablevision actually did have a customer loyalty program where we could get a significant price break. I wish there were competition. We can’t get Fios, it’s not available, and Frontier is a joke (our clients stuck with Frontier hate it). Optimum claims without the “promotion” our internet connection would be $50/month instead of $30. Which makes no sense.
After dealing with “customer service” at Cablevision, we got a survey to fill out. I did. I was blunt: loyal customers don’t get rewarded by Cablevision. Nope. We get screwed.
So, this afternoon, yet another rep called, to thank me for my “valuable” input, to reiterate the same line of bullshit that enraged me the first five times I heard it. He offered to send the latest modem version since ours is so old, and a wireless router which is, supposedly, ours to keep. I accepted—I doubt we will use the router since Stanley says you have to go through Cablevision to set it up and he’d rather just buy a new router (ours is getting a little long in the tooth).
The rep asked if there was anything else he could do. I told him, “lower my bill.” Ha! I am not appeased. I’m not unhappy with the services themselves—good connections and good service. I’m deeply unhappy with the prices they charge and the bullshit they spew about “customer loyalty.”
Well, I don’t normally go for vampire stories. I tried the Twilight stuff and found it utterly insipid. We tried to listen to the audiobook and didn’t even last ten minutes. I liked Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat, but she lost me with Queen of the Damned. Oh, and of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which scared the hell out of me when I read it in high school.
So, vampire stories is not a genre I seek out. My not-so-secret addiction is reading books (and watching movies) about the end of the world. More specifically, The End of the World as We Know It. Doesn’t matter much how the world as we know it ends: asteroid impact, plague, economic collapse, political suicide. I’m interested not in how the world is saved from apocalypse, but what happens afterward. How do people survive? What do they do? What changes?
One day I was taking a look at my recommended books on Amazon and I saw The Strain, by Guillermo del Torro and Chuck Hogan. I love del Torro’s movies—Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone are on my top-100 list. So I took a look at the description.
Hmm. The End of the World as We Know It caused by a plague—in this case, vampirism is the disease. And it costs less than the maximum I will pay for any Kindle book ($9.99). So I downloaded it.
The story starts out with a jet from Germany landing at JFK—it lands perfectly, but nobody opens the doors to get off. Eventually, it’s established that all the passengers and crew are dead, so the Center for Disease Control is called in to deal with it. Ah, a plague! Turning a person into a vampire is to pass them a virus that transforms the host’s internal organs into structures that keep the virus alive and transforms the trachea into a stinger ...
These are not your insipid, Stephanie Meyer vampires. Not at all. They are ugly, evil, virulent things that suck the blood out of their victims and shit and piss all over themselves and turn increasingly horrifying as they turn. They are an ancient plague, pre-dating Christianity and silly countermeasures such as crosses and holy water. There is nothing romantic about them. And they are wreaking havoc on Manhattan, Queens, and Bronxville. And spreading.
There are only a few who know what’s going on—some working behind the scenes to enable the spread of this plague, and some battling to stop it. There is a professor-turned-pawnbroker who’s been waiting since World War Two to battle the Master, whom the professor first encountered while he was a prisoner is a concentration camp. There are two doctors from the CDC who know what’s going on, and the teenage son of one of the doctors. There’s an exterminator. This group are fighting the good fight. And there is a gangbanger who’s kind of off in a sidetrack who also knows what’s going on and is looking to take them on.
The Stain is just book one of a trilogy. Book two, The Fall, is now out. I haven’t read it yet as I’m in the middle of another book right now, and then will decide if I want to read it next or wait until book three is out (I’m not very patient—when I’m in the middle of a series, I want to keep reading until the end).
Oops, I forgot to mention: I really like this novel. It’s scary, exciting in parts, keep me reading and staying awake much longer than I should have. I’m looking forward to the next book, whenever I decide to read it. I like two of the characters (the professor and the exterminator) a lot, and buy the villians (human villains, I mean—they’re not different from our current real-world villains, not at all ... ) I’m very interested in seeing how it all turns out and don’t necessarily expect a happy ending.
I love my Kindle—but that’s a tale for another post (it’s time for dinner!)
Leo decided Papa Jim needed a place to put his BBQ grill, so he designed and built it. Not only that, he created a place for horseshoe tournament viewers to sit and watch. I love, love, love the patterns and the colors and can’t wait to check them out “in person” in August.
She never tires of chasing the tennis ball. So yes, she would love this:
She’s pretty adept at putting the ball into my hand when she wants me to throw it, so I’m sure it would take her about 20 seconds to master this contraption. Once she got over her fear of the noise it makes, that is!
We watched John Adams, parts 1 and 2, this evening. I was really looking forward to it and I wasn’t disappointed.
The things that I noticed right away were the details of the house interior and the streets of Boston—the cloth over the entry door to keep out the winter drafts, the grubbiness of the Boston streets. I love it when movie makers pay attention to details such as this—it bodes well for the history part of it.
Since I haven’t yet read John Adams by David McCullough, though it’s on my list, I never knew that Adams defended the British soldiers accused of murder for the Boston Massacre. In fact, I never realized that the whole incident was provoked. I’m looking forward to the entire series.
It was also interesting to see what tarring and feathering really involved—it’s pretty barbaric. I never really thought much about it before. And the trial was interesting—what a difference from how trials are conducted now. I’m not sure if it’s an improvement. Stanley made a comment about people in this country not taking too well to occupiers.
I’m not crazy about David Morse portraying George Washington—first off, he sounds like he’s got too much cotton stuffed in his cheeks, like he can’t handle the make-up. Second, I’ve never been crazy about David Morse, period, plays everything a lot on the too morose side. But Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are really good in their roles so far. And Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin is great.
In the morning, Ginger gets her second chemo treatment. Not sure what drug this time. She’s doing really well so far, lumps are no longer noticeable and she has loads of energy—spent part of the evening rolling Twitch on his back and trying to get him to play with her. Twitch was one mad kitty. Not sure if this way expensive K-9 Immunity supplement is helping any (beta glucan therapy, whatever that is—near as I can tell it comes from mushrooms) or if it’s a lot of hooey, but she’s doing so well so far I don’t want to change anything just yet.
Chris Matthews gets more and more offensive. I don’t like Hillary as a candidate, but his sexist crap about her offends me nearly every day.
UPDATE: I’m not sure if this animation (by Scott Bateman) will work—sometimes when I try to play it, the audio portion doesn’t work. At least not in Firefox.
The audio is of Chris Matthews spewing on about how the only reason Hillary Clinton was able to get elected Senator is because her husband fooled around. And more repugnant blather in that vein. Oh wait, here is the actual quote: “[T]he reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That’s how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn’t win there on her merit. She won because everybody felt, ‘My God, this woman stood up under humiliation,’ right? That’s what happened.”
And here is the link to the video where you can hear it spewing from his own sexist mouth. What he said on this video is what’s running in the background of Scott’s animation.
MSNBC should get rid of this blowhard and give the show to Rachel Maddow (Air America)—would be really great to see someone intelligent in this time slot. And so refreshing to be able to listen to an intelligent, liberal woman instead of Blowhard Matthews.
Have fewer problems with Keith Olbermann—needs his head examined, though, about his obsession with Britney Spears. His nearly nightly mention of her was never funny to begin with—it’s pretty sad to see him pick on someone who is clearly sick in order to fill a five-minute program hole. Makes him seem really creepy, like some guy we might see on that entrapment show about the pedophiles MSNBC does. Olbermann + Britney = Eeeeyeww ... especially when he gets that übercreep Michael Musto involved in the discussion.
EllisLabs released version 1.6 of ExpressionEngine last week. Installing it was painless, at least for this blog which is not at all complicated.
There are some URL formatting changes that I have to look at more carefully before I upgrade some of the older installations, such as http://www.westportnow.com—that one would be a nightmare to fix if it breaks and with every version upgrade, something has broken. Though it takes at most an hour to get the fix answer in the EE Forum. One thing I love about EE is the phenomenal support.
So far, it’s been a quiet weekend. We went to see Sicko so now I’m convinced the insurance company will deny Stanley’s clot operation. Just because they irrationally denied the CAT scan with the first request ... please, let me be so wrong.
Sicko is a good movie. Makes it depressingly clear how very much the United States is NOT a Christian nation. Yes, the critics will come out of the woodwork and say how Canada’s system isn’t perfect, or England’s or the one in France and even Cuba. Or the stats can be this way or that way depending upon whose stats you look at for what year. But the bottom line is this: nobody goes bankrupt due to medical bills in Canada or England or in any country with universal health care. Nobody dies on the floor of an emergency room because they don’t have health insurance. Nobody gets dumped on the street because they can’t pay their bill. And these countries manage to afford universal health care. Nobody in these countries has to make a decision on whether to eat or buy medicine. The USA is a Christian nation? What bullshit.
Bitter? You bet. Broke due to our medical bills? Yep. Especially as I write out our insurance check for $815 today.
My only real quibble with the movie is how Moore glossed over Hillary Clinton’s role in killing universal health care with her arrogance, ineptitude, lack of political skill (at that time), and refusal to compromise—he made it seem as if it was just the Republicans who killed it—I was paying a lot of attention to this back then and I blame Hillary and Bubba just as much as the Republican pukes like Gingrich and Buchanan. Now she’s on the take too, getting the big bucks from the medial and pharma lobbies. So I guess universal health care is not on the table if she ever gets elected president.
My mother needs a PET scan to confirm (or rule out) her diagnosis, according to her doctors at the University of Michigan neuropsychology section. But it’s extremely difficult to get a PET scan paid for by insurance or Medicare. The diagnosis has a profound impact on treatment, planning, and care, yet we have to jump through hoops to get it approved or get her into a research program (if we can). Why are PET scans so expensive? Why isn’t it just the next step in diagnostics? Especially at a publicly funded hospital that is a unit of a publicly funded university?
Americans can be so very stupid. In Canada, in England, the attitude is, “Well, we just take care of each other. That’s the right thing to do.” Not in America, this supposedly most-Christian nation in the world.
Type looks pretty, but it renders smaller than on IE or Firefox—enlarging the type makes it look blurrier. So it looks pretty but is harder to read.
Apple claims it’s faster than IE or Firefox at rendering pages. It’s not—it’s MUCH slower. Too bad—I was hoping ...
I like that there’s very little chrome. I hate the juvenile glass buttons and scrollbars, and it makes form elements class with websites unless they’re designed to be baby blue glass sites. Is there any way to change these? I haven’t look under the hood yet to see if there is or not.
I don’t like that the reload and the stop loading buttons are the same—sometimes I want to stop something happening on a page, such as submitting a form, but I can’t do that with Safari.
I hate the way default spacing is handled: too much space. Pretty type, ugly spacing.
I think it’s not ready for prime time.
We’ve been watching Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel this evening. What we’ve seen this evening is stunning. I told Stanley that this series would be the impetus for me to push getting high-definition tv if the sets were remotely affordable now.
Some of the footage shot in the ocean, such as when the dolphins herded a school of fish closer to the surface and the sea birds dove 60 feet to get at the dolphins’ catch—I gasped. I didn’t know birds dove that far under water. And the blue whales and aboreal and snow leopards and the dogs hunting impala in the Kalahari ...
Just watch it. It’s running frequently, on the Science channel as well. Below is a picture from Planet Earth: Oryx in Namib Desert (click to enlarge):