Thursday, August 13, 2009

An Afternoon with the High Life Cable Guy

This is shaping up to be a zombified day. For whatever reason (like I need a reason), I decided that I simply had to try to watch the meteor shower last night. The weather guy said that last night would be our best viewing opportunity, since it's supposed to be overcast the rest of the week, and you could see it between midnight and 5 a.m. So, I stayed up very late. At about midnight, I started going out onto the patio, since it faces the right direction. Then I realized that I probably wouldn't see anything, since the light pollution is really bad around me. I can walk through my house at night without turning on a light, there's so much light from outside. Then there's the fact that I live surrounded by airports, so I'd see a light streaking through the sky, only to realize it was a 737 making its approach to the airport. By about 1 in the morning, I got the bright idea of getting out my binoculars. Then I saw something that at first I thought was a firefly, but then I realized it was too high and too far away. Then there were more, all over the sky, not really streaking, but more twinkling a lot. I couldn't see them with the naked eye, but they showed up faintly with binoculars. I don't know if that was the meteor shower, but by 1:30 I decided to pretend that it was and call it a night. And then I woke up at 7:30.

I know it's kind of stale to rant about the cable company, but I do it anyway because it's so rantable. Lately, my rants have focused on the OnDemand service, which has dwindled down to nothing. They aren't updating a lot of the shows they supposedly carry OnDemand, and they never posted any of the new Torchwood series. I was ranting about this on a message board, and someone said, "Oh, you must not have TimeWarner because I have those shows." But I do have TimeWarner, so I went to the web site, put in my zip code to make sure I had the right location, and sure enough, they were listing all of these wonderful things that were available OnDemand but that aren't showing up in my menus. So I e-mailed customer service, mentioning that I didn't know if they just weren't updating and weren't offering what they said they had, or if for some reason my menus weren't being updated. I mentioned that I still had a converter box from before the last cable company switchover, so maybe that was a problem?

The response I got was to say they'd scheduled a service appointment for that day (yesterday). In a sure sign of impending apocalypse, the service guy showed up within the specified time frame. He was pretty cool, and he reminded me of the guy in those beer commercials who raids snooty places like club VIP rooms or stadium luxury boxes and confiscates their beer because they're not living the high life. Every time he went out to his truck to get something, I halfway expected him to come out with a dolly loaded with beer cases (and I don't even like beer). I explained the situation to him, and he said yeah, maybe it was the converter box, so he switched out the boxes, and then we had to wait for it to reset and download everything. I'm not sure if he had to set it on a particular channel, but what it amounted to was the high life cable guy and me standing in my living room and snarking at Judge Judy and the idiots in her courtroom for nearly half an hour (I was really tempted a couple of times to turn to him and say, "Man, we're living the high life, aren't we?").

The result of all this? No change whatsoever. TimeWarner in my area apparently either isn't getting the updates from the various networks or isn't getting them uploaded properly, and it had nothing to do with my equipment. However, I do now have a cable box from the right service provider, and it has a nifty digital clock on the front with a readout big enough for me to read the time from the sofa without my glasses on, plus a remote that looks like I could use it either to control the space shuttle or fight aliens (though I can't find the stun/kill toggle button). I asked the high life cable guy about HD, since all their ads say it doesn't cost extra, and I was kind of hinting that an HD converter box might be the way to go, but he had no idea about that, so I guess I have to contact them again if I want to go the HD route. I'm not sure I want to, because regular digital cable on the LCD set is almost too clear for me. I'm already playing "spot the contact lenses!" on various actors. I'm not sure I want to see their pores.

And now I'm terribly frustrated because there's all this stuff that they say I'm supposed to be getting but that I'm not getting, and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it. And so, I rant. The service may suck, but the service guy is pretty cool. I still wonder what he does with all that beer he steals from snooty people.

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