Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Routine:The Unexpected Sunk It Like a Battleship!

Thunderstorm, captured from Garajau (Madeira, ...Image via Wikipedia

There are just days that come out rolling off the ocean like a thunderstorm and sink all my best laided plans down to the bottom of the ocean. As I start writing this, I fear that you are going to disbelieve me, mostly because I can not believe the perfect storm that has hit in the last 24 hours!

First, our bleeping cable company "upgraded" our channel lineup and made it so, in order to use our three TiVo boxes with lifetime service, cable boxes and cablecards never needed before became mandatory. The end result: our $10 a month ba
sic TV service (no premium channels, no cable channels at all) transformed into $35.50 a month!

So how did I spend my Monday evening? On the phone with the cable company and other local providers of cable-like television service, trying to figure out what they offered, how it would interface with our TiVos and DVRs and, most importantly, how much it would cost. I probably don't have to mention how expensive all this cable/FiOs/dish service costs because you all already know and are probably amazed that I even had $10 cable service. I also discovered that the customer service people on the phone have no idea how their service works or even how much the "extras" cost. And is it me, or are there a lot of extras that must be purchased to make their service work?

I spent too much time on the phone and was exhausted. The sudden change in cable service left us with three TiVos loaded with Season Passes and full To Do lists and no signal to fuel the recordings. During my conversations with these company representatives, I learned of a new problem: all these digital services were no longer compatible with our older Series 2 TiVo boxes. Did I mention we had lifetime service on these boxes and they both are still working? What is the deal with planned obsolescence?

So Robert gets home from bowling and we put our heads together and decide to ditch cable, pass on the expensive alternatives and install an outdoor roof-top HD antenna.

After a lot of seemingly wasted time and energy, we plod on with our evening routine. Part of the routine is to walk the dogs and then feed them before they go to bed in their crates. Feeding entailed a trip out to our Tuff Shed building behind the garage to get more kibble. I turned on the backyard lights to illuminate my way and, because I was so tired, I forgot to turn them off before I headed back into the house.

Well, at 4 am my #*!@&/% neighbor went POSTAL. He turned the lights on in his house, came outside yelling and proceeded to pound on our front do
or, then our back door and finally our bedroom window. I didn't answer the door because this guy has an extensive history of verbally abusive behavior towards several neighbors and I wasn't going to deal with him in this condition.

After five minutes I called the non-emergency police line, got referred to the dispatch number and then got a lecture from a dispatcher with attitude. "Why don't you open your door and talk to him? (Because he is out of control!) Maybe he needs your help? (His wife is there to help him.) Maybe he needs you to call 911? (He can call himself or his wife can
call for him.) Are you alone? (No, but my husband is asleep.) Why don't you wake up your husband and have him talk to your neighbor? (He needs his rest. He has to get up in an hour and a half to go to work.) Are you sure you want me to dispatch a police car? (YES!)"

After fifteen minutes it gets quiet and then our power goes out. Upon investigation, we firmly believe that our neighbor decided to help himself into the box that houses our electric meter, open it up and switch the main breaker off in his attempt to turn our backyard lights out. We have no proof, as when we got outside he was back in his house and his lights were turned off. We try to switch the breaker back on, but it is broken. We have no power and I can not use my CPAP machine. Plu
s I am so shaken up I barely get any sleep before we are out of bed, calling up and waiting for an electrician and an antenna installer.

By early afternoon, the power is back on and by the end of the day, we find ourselves watching HD TV through our new outdoor roof-top antenna. After several phone calls during the day, I learned who to talk to at LAPD to request help in dealing with our belligerent neighbor. Oh, and we bought a lock for our electric breaker box. I am completely exhausted and going to need to schedule extra rest for the next several days.

My routine sunk like a battleship, capsized by the perfect storm of the unexpected!

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