Sunday, January 25, 2009

I can always tell when I'm about to lose my temper big time.

So, Time Warner recently, suddenly, and mysteriously dropped CBC from the cable lineup. The channel is all fuzz, and at this point no new channel has been added.
Today, I did a "live chat" with "Roger" on their website. "Roger" tells me that "The Mid-Ohio Division is in the process of evaluating channel lineups to identify opportunities to eliminate duplicate broadcast programming and allow us to consider new programming options in the future. Possible channel additions are being evaluated and will be announced as soon as a decision is made."
But, "Roger," I say (and I am paraphrasing), that means that I am paying full price for fewer channels until the "management" decides, in their mightiness, what channel they will bestow upon our grovelling, cable-hungry souls. Did they not consider that they could have been making this decision WHILE CBC was still on my TV? Or that they ought to have SAID something? To maintain, you know, the trust of their subscribers? Not to mention, CBC does NOT have duplicate programming. Hockey Night in Canada? The Hour? Marple (which is shown only sporadically by PBS)? Coronation Street (which, admittedly, I don't watch, but which is not on any other classic cable channel)? Roger insisted that the same programming was on two channels. I don't see it. Do you?
The sheer incompetence of this strategy astounds me; this is in addition to rising cable fees despite increased broadcast problems (fuzzy screen), interruptions, and the like (anyone else, by the way, been having such trouble? I couldn't even see parts of Supernatural the other night and was about to lose my gaskets).

But here is where I could tell I was going to lose it and needed to disconnect quickly: The angrier I get, the more deadly accurate and formal my language gets. Here, of course, I am throwing things out there for you lot. But this is is what I actually said to "Roger":
"Sir, I am going to explain my exact grievance that you might pass it on: I have had TWC for 8 years or so. In recent times, I have had more service interruptions than before, more strange broadcast quality issues (ie fuzz) than before, and now am missing a channel in which I have interest and, in fact, that does not contain any significant overlaps with others of my channels, and yet I am paying a higher price. I am paying more for less, and I don't like it. Please register my disapproval to the appropriate people. I would greatly appreciate it."
If you don't know me, you might read that and think I am just averagely angry. Not so, mes freres. I was FURIOUS.
Let this be a lesson to you. There are many forms of anger, and my most angry could commonly be mistaken for politeness.
In addition, if you value CBC and live in this area, let the people at Time Warner know in some fashion. Otherwise, I will not be able to watch George Stroumboulopoulos (or whatever) or Don Cherry in the comfort of my own home.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

In which I wonder if I missed my calling, or...

So the other night I was hanging out and watching what I call "unnecessary television"--basically, if I won't be upset for missing it, it's unnecessary to me, no matter how intriguing it is. The show in question was Mystery Diagnosis. On this episode, a woman had been suffering severe wheezing and was unable to catch her breath. She saw various doctors, and was put in the hospital a couple of times also. Her symptoms were like a disorder that is common in people who work on farms and so on, but she didn't have that as a risk factor.
As soon as I heard the symptoms, I said to myself "Black mold. Check the house."
But I'd missed the beginning, so I decided to hang in there, while successive doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong, or why her symptoms worsened so much after she improved and went home.
You can see where I'm going with this, can't you?
Four months later, FOUR MONTHS, they did some lung tissue tests and found it was full of growing things.
For example, mold.
They finally found in her home (which shares a wall with another, hello!) that the neighbors had had a water problem which put mold in the walls, which were right next to the couch where this woman parked herself.
At the end, I couldn't help thinking--well, duh. Now, maybe I watch too much House, but I think the first thing I'd have done with this woman, as a diagnostician, is go swab some of her walls or something. Obviously, there were other possibilities besides mold, and the family wasn't sick. But all you have to do is have allergies or hypersensitivity and the latter factor is obliterated. I'm not a genius, but I thought it was weird that I solved this woman's case in five minutes and it took them months. They sensed at the very beginning that the condition was environmental, but they didn't take the steps to investigate, just dismissed the idea because it didn't fit the common risk factors (like farming).
I guess I was really surprised that mold was never on the table as a possibility. It can be so dangerous, and completely shut down your system if it starts growing in your lungs. And, worst of all, you might not know it's there, because it's inside the walls; that these doctors missed that factor to me is just silly. On the upside, hopefully people saw the episode and will remember it if their friends and family ever have similar symptoms.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What I Did on My Winter Vacation

Stage one: Appleton

My parents and I drove separately to Wisconsin. They, traveling through the UP had a worse time than I did, traveling around Chicago, though mine was not particularly safe. They had slippy roads and a couple of white-outs, and I had nonfunctioning wiper fluid on the salt-laden highway and skiddy patches on the roads. I was extra glad to arrive in Appleton, even though they had three feet of snow!

The baby (she's a toddler now, really, but she's still baby-sized) was running around, and peeked at me then ran away giggling while I was getting settled. Eventually we were all together in the cozy living room, and the fun began. I was surprised and gratified that the baby seemed comfortable with me so quickly. The very next morning she climbed into my lap for a story, which she then did every day. The family had a good couple of days of relaxing, eating, going to a Christmas Eve service, and playing with the wee one. On Christmas Eve we also brought the gifts down from upstairs, as is the tradition, and the baby was excited, making cooing noises over the pretty boxes, but not touching anything.

It's so great to have Christmas with a littler one than me! She is not old enough to take over the job of handing out gifts (which I actually enjoy, mostly), but she is old enough to get excited about things. The first package she opened was an Elmo from her parents, and that critter went everywhere with her from then on, or at least had to be visible. We all had a laugh when she opened her Sesame Street Giggle Remote from Aunt Abby (picture of me trying to get it out of the box below), and she could barely stand up she was laughing so hard. I also got a kick out of my brother-in-law immediately putting on the Badgers hockey jersey I got him, and later when my Dad read straight through one of the books I bought him during our stay.

I myself got some fantastic things, too many if truth be told. I've used most of them already, including my big skillet, fancy olives, hymnal (that's right, I asked for a hymnal, and I love it), puzzles, Pushing Daisies dvd, CDs, and so on. One thing I haven't gotten to play with yet but which I can hardly wait for is my new interlocking cutting board. It comes in pieces (much like a puzzle) and you can use as many pieces as you need to get the size you want. And I can use it with my rotary cutter.
A few more favorite moments (and I'm probably forgetting more):

We had to split presents up over a few days, and we did a whole bunch of the baby's packages at once. She plunked down on my lap for each one, and I helped her open them. When she opened the (pink, frilly) tutu skirt her Aunt Abby got her, it had to be worn immediately and she had to dance in it, on her tippy toes. I also held her up to the mirror so she could see herself, and she didn't want to stop looking. It was very sweet and heart-melty.

I also got a football for Christmas, and my brother-in-law took me out on a balmy, sprinkly Wisconsin evening to teach me to throw. I don't have much strength, but with his instructions I was able to throw fairly accurately, at least standing still. I need work on catching, but I did grab it a few times. And fell in a snowdrift :) We got soaked and it was awesome (the baby, meanwhile, was on a walk with Grandma and Grandpa, and had to be directed back home against her will--she was out for adventure!)
My sister and I got out on our own for a bit, to the mall. We browsed around and looked at sales, and she had a pretzel and I an Icee, and she bought some maternity jeans. Then she bought an awesome hat and I bought my sweet shoes at Younkers. How can you go wrong with girl time? We had quite a good chat, which continued when we walked to the nearest postbox to their house, in the dark, with all the twinkly lights and snow.

My favorite meal was Mom's prime rib and Yorkshire pudding on Christmas Day--I was craving Yorkshire pudding, actually, which has not happened at quite that level before. We ate fabulous meals all week, but a tradition for us is take-out Chinese on Boxing Day. This year, we had Christmas crackers (which scared the baby) and wore the paper crowns from them (which she thought was hilarious--and it was). My little dinosaur from my cracker is now on my desk.

My parents and I left around the same time on Sunday, and we had quite a nice drive back after we got south of Appleton (which had had more snow). The drive down 294 (which we take around Chicago instead of the Skyway) was actually really nice, fast but dry and not too busy. It was actually the best driving of my trip out, too, which is surprising. The worst part was already missing everybody, especially the baby!

Stage two: Home home

I came back to BG for a few days, and then bumped up my trip home home so that my folks and I could go to the MSU vs. Alaska-Fairbanks hockey game Saturday night. We go at least once a year, usually at Thanksgiving, but MSU didn't play at home this year, so I was glad to get this opportunity. MSU, sadly, did not win, but I know a guy on Fairbanks' team, and so it was nice to see him in action. As always, I heart Jeff Lerg.

The rest of the time, I hung out with my parents, watched some movies and TV, relaxed, and went to church. Even though I was behind at the office, I was glad I came when I did and glad I decided not to do any work. It was peaceful. I ended up picking the exact right time to go, Saturday to Monday, because it was icy on Sunday and then snowed Tuesday through, well, now.

Stage three: BG

This week I've been working my butt off to get ready for the semester, and I think I've managed pretty well. I'm still behind, but my to-do list has a respectable number of things crossed off, and the rest have to do with stuff for me and not for school. I managed to get to both hockey games, joined by Carrie and Paul on Friday night, which was extra fun. And now...vacation is over. So get off my porch, you kids.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A little ice-related funny for you:

Still working on the Christmas blog, but here's something in the meantime:

I've always wondered what college hockey guys say to each other on the ice, because you can always see them jawing at each other, and sometimes that leads up to gloves being dropped or shoulders slamming into people. Sometimes, when things are getting chippy, I make up conversations and smart remarks that might be going back and forth.

As I was perusing's "Time Out with" section, I came across this from Kevin Deeth of Notre Dame:
Funniest thing an opponent's said to you on the ice: Jack Johnson, "Maybe next time hit him with your purse."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Best Moment of 2009 So Far

I feel strongly that the Wings vs. Blackhawks hockey game at Wrigley Field was extremely awesome TV. The Wings won, everyone was jolly, they were wearing old-timey jerseys, some sweet moves went down, and I got to watch the whole thing in my jammies.