I recently cancelled my internet service with Time Warner. What started out as a $30 per month expense had escalated to $48 over the course of two years. My last bill indicated that my “promotional” rate was expiring so I tried to call and find out what the hell that was going to cost me. Several attempts resulted in a busy signal. Which was pretty aggravating to say the least. I mean, who doesn’t have an automated system to put you in the queue for an actual customer service rep?
Now, the cost of my satellite television with DirecTV had also risen to the point that I was paying $135 a month for a couple of hours of viewing each week (I spend as much or more time on Netflix). AT&T had been after me to sign up for their UVerse internet and television combination package for quite some time. Given my frustration with Time Warner’s unresponsiveness, I gave them a call. When I hung up I had secured an internet and television package at a comparatively bargain price of only $110 a month. Coincidentally, the amount I’m saving almost pays for the gouging I took from AT&T when I upgraded to smart phones.
Once I had the UVerse installed it was time to formally end my relationship with DirecTV and Time Warner. Bless their hearts, neither one wanted to see me go. I spent at least 30 minutes on the phone with each while they tried to talk me out of making the switch. And both offered to adjust my bill back down to the initial introductory rate (for six months anyway). And they both called back again the next day to once again plead their case for my staying on board. But it was too late, I had given my commitment to AT&T and we are destined to stay together for at least the next 12 months.
Anyway, the Time Warner cancellation was effective on June 3. I was told I would be receiving a $32 refund for the remainder of the billing cycle. Now, I have most of my bills set up for automatic deduction from my bank account which works out great while I’m out of the country for extended periods. I closed the bank account where the Time Warner deduction was drawn (and moved to a far less sucky banking institution). So, imagine my surprise when I received a notice in the mail from Time Warner indicating that on June 7 (four days after termination of the service) their attempt to bill my former bank $48 had been rejected. And here’s the perversely hilarious part–they added a $30 fee for the draft being denied. But wait, it gets even better. The bill looked something like this:
Monthly charge for internet $48 Rejection fee $30. Total $78. Minus the $32credit I had coming. Total due: $46.
I was livid and got right on the phone. And waited and waited waited for the customer service rep to become available. When she was I explained the fuck up. She told me she would have to transfer me to billing. So I waited some more. When billing got on the line I explained it all again. She seemed to understand and put me on hold while she discussed it with her supervisor. When she came back she advised I would have to be transferred to collections. And yep, I waited some more.
The collections guy was quite the prick. We argued on the phone for the better part of an hour. His position was that it was my fault for closing my bank account without notifying them. I responded with why were you billing me for a month of service several days after the account was closed? See, I’m pretty certain that when I signed up I paid a month in advance. So, when I made the payment on May 24 that carried me through to June 24. Which is why I was told I had a $32 credit coming. Mr. Collections Prick didn’t see it that way, but was unable to explain why I was billed for a full month on June 7. I held my tongue pretty much (the worst I said was “this is total bullshit” and that’s pretty amazing restraint on my part). It became apparent he was not going to be dissuaded from his position that I went from being owed money to owing money. So, I offered a compromise (this penny ante crap wasn’t worth the aggravation). I told him I would pay the $16 I didn’t owe, but I was not going to pay the $30 rejection fee.
Collections Prick responded “Time Warner will not waive the fee.” I told him good luck trying to collect it, because I won’t pay it under any circumstance. He said “That’s fine, then it will go on your credit report as an uncollected debt.” And that’s the point where the call mercifully ended.
Time Warner Cable sucks. Tomorrow I’ll be sending them a letter telling them they suck along with a check for $16. I’ll also let them know that my blog and Facebook page has duly noted their general suckiness as a warning to folks so they won’t have to find out the hard way like I did. And I’ll cc the South Carolina Consumer Affairs folks who regulate utilities like Time Warner
Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. Hey speaking of things that suck, Value City Furniture pretty much sucks too. To be fair, I purchased my master bedroom suite (why is suite pronounced “suit” and why do they call it that anyway?) and my bar from them and I’ve been satisfied with those buys. So I needed a couple of side chairs for my dining room table and I went back to their showroom for a looksee. I wasn’t looking for anything fancy and I didn’t want to spend more than necessary and I found some on display that I liked. They were part of a five piece set (with table) on sale for $499. I asked how much for just two chairs and was told $125 each. I’m no math wizard but that seemed unnaturally high. Well, I guess I couldn’t expect the sale price if I wasn’t buying the set.
Anyway, I said fine, I’ll take these two. No, I was advised, those are only for display. We’ll have two sent over from the warehouse and you can pick them up in two days. Ok, fine. The deal was done and I returned on the appointed date to find a smallish box waiting for me. “There are two chairs in that box?” I asked incredulously. “Yes” I was told. Which was correct as far as it goes, but the truthful answer would have been “two unassembled chairs.” Now, if I buy cheap ass furniture from Target or Wal-Mart I expect I will have to put it together (this is especially easy to know because the display states prominently “assembly required”. I’ve never bought crap from an actual furniture store that I had to build myself. Which I did this afternoon. $125 per chair and two hours of my life I’ll never get back. That sucks.
And finally, this blog sucks. Longtime reader(s) are doubtlessly well aware of that fact. But I’m not talking about the writing this time. The blog itself isn’t functioning properly. For instance, I can’t load photos these days. And other strange things have been occurring as well. It just seems to be a general degradation in performance overall. Now way back in December 2004 soon after LTG was born, I switched from Blogspot to WordPress. And apparently I’ve never upgraded to the various iterations WordPress has gone through in the intervening years. I’m too
It occurs to me that despite not speaking the language and being generally ignorant culturally, my life in Korea is so much easier than here. Things in Korea just don’t seem to suck nearly as much.
Seen on facebook:
Zwicky then published a catalog of galaxies and in the opening he described the elite of the astronomy community as “spherical bastards” because: “they are bastards any way you looked at them.”
I’d call this an *ahem* universally excellent insult…
So, this whole NSA snooping thing has me somewhat flummoxed. The government says the program is necessary to protect us from those that would do us harm. Is freedom and liberty too high a price to keep us secure and safe? So, I asked my friend Patrick whether we could trust the politicians to secretly use the information they are gathering in accordance with our Constitutional protections. He said:
“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”
I said that’s a good point Patrick, but lives may be at stake here. Shouldn’t we just go along to get along? He was pretty adamant in his response:
“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
Hard to argue with that.
At the risk of turning this otherwise mundane and generally pointless blog you’ve come to know and expect into a worthless compilation of diet news, I can’t resist linking to this story about the latest Beverly Hills weight loss craze–the tongue patch. The way it apparently works is they sew a plastic patch onto your tongue which makes eating solid food extremely painful. The doctor selling this $2000 surgery reports his patients lose up to 30 pounds a month. That’s the power of a liquid diet so he says.
Of course, my problem is I’m drinking too much liquid–mostly of the beer variety. I’m quite certain those Korean beers I consumed in great quantity are what caused my massive weight gain to begin with (light and/or low carb beers are not commonly found and the American imports cost twice as much as the local brews). So, the tongue patch is not really an option for me, especially given my well-developed aversion to pain.
Today I took Jee Yeun to the GNC store so she could restock her supply of fish oil. She also bought something called Biotin, which is apparently some kind of B-vitamin supplement. According to Jee Yeun that 100 year old woman we met (I wrote about her here) swears by the stuff. I guess we’ll see, but I reckon it can’t hurt either.
Anyway, I browsed the store while Jee Yeun found her stuff and came across these:
By golly, “a clinically studied white kidney bean extract” that “decreases the caloric impact of carbs!” Does it actually work? According to Wikipedia in three double blind studies folks who used Phaseolamin lost significantly more weight than the placebo group. Will it work for me? I don’t see how it could hurt. Mind you, I’m sticking with the low carbohydrate regimen but hopefully this will help counter my “liquid diet” problem. And if it assuages the pangs of guilt when I have the occasionally slip (did you know Wendy’s is selling soft-serve ice cream in a waffle cone?) then it is worth it at twice the price. Truthfully, the bottle only cost me 23 bucks for 120 humongous tablets, which is just about the price for two buckets of beer. And who can put a price tag on peace of mind?
Via Althouse comes this story about an unfortunate tweet saying fat folks should not bother applying for the PhD program since they obviously lack the self discipline necessary to complete a dissertation. Professor Geoffrey Miller of NYU tweeted: “Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.”
As is wont to happen, some folks (whether fat or not) took offense to the remark. Miller doubled down saying finishing a dissertation is “about willpower/conscientiousness, not just smarts.” Later when the heat got too hot, he deleted the offending tweets, but the damage was done.
Now poor Dr. Miller is being accused of various and sundry crimes against nature, including being a proponent of eugenics. Even worse, he is now the target of the worst kind of retaliation–mockery! There’s even an aptly named blog “Fuck Yeah! Fat PhDs featuring photographs of “fatalicious” PhD candidates from institutions across our great nation.
I’m personally too fat and lazy to weigh-in (ahem) on the subject, other than to say I’m glad Dr. Miller is down with the low carb regimen. Althouse gives the issue her lawyerly analysis here and here.
I will just say that my personal journey to the scales this week revealed that I’ve gained 3 pounds, putting me back up to 252. I wasn’t totally surprised, because I had a week of some pretty hellacious beer drinking. Beer is liquid bread after all. And even though I confine myself to the almost tasteless low carb variety (2.6 grams of carbohydrates per 12 oz bottle), the carbs do add up. Especially when you drink 12 beers or so in one sitting. Hey, I had company. A soldier friend who is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. So we had much to discuss!
So, shame on me. At least I can be thankful that I’m not pursuing a doctorate degree. Unless they offer one in the age old art of beer guzzling.
Onward and (hopefully) downward.
Just completed the final episode of The Big C, a Showtime series starring Laura Linney as Cathy, a 40-something wife and mother diagnosed with melanoma. Suffice to say it didn’t end well. Or maybe it did. Dying is inevitable and as Cathy went through all the classic stages of the end game she demonstrated a dignity, humor, grace and finally understanding and acceptance that was quite inspiring.
Painful to watch in places, especially this last one. Brought back some painful memories of my best friend and soulmate Linda’s passing (I wrote about her here), and the deaths of my parents as well.
Now that I’m getting on in years my own mortality looms ever larger and the uncertainty of what I might do with the time I have left sometimes seems like an unwanted passenger. But, my life is mostly good even if the possibilities are no longer limitless. And I’m getting much better at not dwelling on the small stuff. Much.
Anyway, it’s a good watch if you are so inclined.
Cathy Jamison: Why can’t anything ever go the way it’s supposed to?
Back home from my weekend jaunt to Walt Disney World in Florida and here are some random thoughts on the experience.
I am a Disney agnostic which sets me apart from the fanatics and haters. And me and Disney go way back. Disneyland in California opened a month before I was born, and I grew up living less than ten miles from the park. Back in those days you paid a small admission fee to enter the park and then paid for each ride individually. Or you could purchase a book of ride coupons called a “Valu-Pak”. The rides were all graded A-E, with A being the least popular (cheapest) and the best rides (Matterhorn Bobsleds, Jungle Cruise, etc.) requiring the much coveted “E ticket”. Now, my grandma worked as a housekeeper in a motel near Disneyland and the tourists would leave unused coupons as a tip (cheap bastards) when they checked out. Usually there were only crappy A and B tickets, but once in a while she’d bring home some books with some D’s and on a few joyous occasions we would score a magical E ticket. So, even though we were comparatively poor I’d visit the Magic Kingdom at least a couple of times a year. Hell, in high school Disneyland was was a great place to take your girl on a date. There was this nice sit down restaurant (with waiters and everything) inside Pirates of the Caribbean that never failed to impress, well I was gonna say impress the pants off a virgin, but that never happened. For me at least. I had more success in that regard going to the beach to watch the submarine races. But that’s another story.
But let’s get back to Disney World shall we? These days you buy a park pass (about $90 per day) and all the rides are included. The rides are mostly better and the lines longer than I remember. In addition to the Magic Kingdom, you can visit Epcot (my personal favorite) Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. These parks are surrounded by Disney owned hotels and resorts. In fact, the whole complex at some 47 square miles is larger than San Francisco and all privately owned by the Disney company.
Now, Walt Disney was a visionary and by most accounts a truly great American. I certainly admire him. But the Walt Disney World we visit today is decidedly not what he had in mind. The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) as conceived by Mr. Disney was to be a “community of the future” designed to stimulate American corporations to come up with new ideas for urban living. In describing his city, Walt Disney is quoted as saying: “EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are emerging from the forefront of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed. It will always be showcasing and testing and demonstrating new materials and new systems.”
Alas, Walt Disney died while his dream city of tomorrow was still on the drawing board. After his death, the Disney Company scrapped his vision and went with the money making theme park/resort hotels concept. And you really can’t argue with success, today Disney World is the world’s top tourist destination and it provides employment for over 66,000 people.
But what really prompted this overly long post is this simple fact: it works. Although I had visited Disney World several times in the past, this was my first experience staying in a Disney resort and doing the package deal (including multi-day theme park tickets). What impressed me was how seamlessly and smoothly the whole thing comes together. I drove down, but if you fly in a Disney bus picks you up at the airport and delivers you to the resort, free of charge. You don’t mess with your luggage, they bring that separately and deliver it to your room. When you check in, you are given a “key to the world”. Not only does this key open your room door, it serves as your ticket to all the theme parks, and allows you to charge anything you desire to purchase with a simple touch of the key (same concept as the T-money system in Korea). That key is all you ever need during your entire visit.
Disney also provides complimentary bus service to anywhere and everywhere in the park. The buses run on time, they are clean and comfortable, and the drivers are friendly. Well, EVERY employee I encountered during my weekend stay was smiling and courteous without exception. No detail goes overlooked, and it just all comes together in the most extraordinary way.
And that’s the thing. Walt Disney World is for all intents and purposes a small city (albeit with an incredibly transient population) and they get it right in a way real cities can never seem to manage. Why is that? Absent evidence to the contrary, I’d say it is more proof that the private sector can do almost everything the government can do, only better.
So there you have it. My point that is. Which I could have made in the first two paragraphs and saved you all this pain (assuming you actually made it this far). But what can I say, after 34 years with the federal government I even blog like a bureaucrat.
“Grandpa went to Disney World and all I got were these crappy Mickey Mouse ears”
What an exciting end to the day! After a full day at Epcot we took a nap and then drove out to Downtown Disney to check out the nightlife. Not having much life (night or otherwise) left in my tired legs we didn’t stay long. Re-entering the resort I had to show my Disney ID, which involved taking out my wallet. When we got back to the room I was without said wallet. We searched the car top to bottom and front to back. Retraced our steps from the parking lot back to the room. Even rummaged through the garbage can where we had deposited the trash from the car. No luck. So, I was facing the prospect of being hundreds of miles from home with no cash, no credit cards, and no ID. Ah well, nothing to be done but start the process of canceling my check and credit cards. While I was doing that, Jee Yeun made one more trip down to the car. As I finished the last card Jee Yeun returned with the astonishing news that she had found the wallet. Wedged between the door and the seat on the driver’s side (so the whole fiasco is on me!). I happily called the bank with the good news and now I am once again golden. I guess they don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing!
Yesterday I experienced a first (and how often does that happen at my age?) when I sat and chatted with a 100 year old woman. We even had something in common having both worked for the federal government. Although she worked for FDR in 1932. She was still sharp and witty and engaged and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
I’m reminded of the reporter who was interviewing an local man on the occasion of his 100th birthday. “To what do you attribute your long life?” asked the intrepid young reporter. The old man didn’t hesitate in replying “Primarily to the fact that I haven’t died yet.”
…and he better hope he stays there. Because when I read this I immediately thought of just one person:
“Who is so devoted to the park, and to the rules of grammar, that he or she would break the law to correct these mistakes?”
Now, it could be that the Big Hominid is innocent of these crimes. He’s never blogged about being in Brooklyn. But then again, he wouldn’t be likely to place himself in the vicinity of the illicit activities, would he? I suppose it’s just as likely the perpetrator was some fellow traveler, taking his or her inspiration from the King of the Grammar Nazis. Or perhaps the “mad marker” was hoping to curry favor with the intrepid Mr. Kim.
Innocent or not, I am quite certain that the hominid known as Kevin would agree that poor grammar should, nay must, be corrected whenever and wherever it is discovered. And that makes him guilty by association in my book!
Having said that, if the Brooklyn grammar vigilante turns out to be female (especially one with a round American butt) a romance made in heaven may be in the offing. It’s not everyday you find a soul mate in this world of forgotten grammatical correctness, hackneyed word-smithing, and generally sloppy, lazy and ignorant writing. Hey, I think that’s just about a perfect description of this here blog.
Scott Johnson from the PowerLine blog offers up his experience following the Taubes low carb/high fat diet.
Unlike Mr. Johnson, I’m still craving the sweets. It is almost painful to walk sadly past the ice cream, pies, cakes and cookies at my neighborhood Publix supermarket. I’m resisting the urge, but not liking the self-denial. Tonight I had two small bites of my granddaughter’s birthday cake. It’s practically unAmerican I tell ya.
On a lighter note, Johnson links to this clip from the Woody Allen classic film Sleeper. I wish, I wish, I wish!
Update: Geez, even Barney Fife knew about carbohydrates in 1964! No wonder he was so frickin’ skinny.
I generally don’t open email from people I don’t know. If unsure, I sometimes will check the full email address of the sender which is normally a dead giveaway for spammers. This one was just your standard gmail account, so I opened it. This is what it said:
“Hello, There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.
Sorry to bother you with this message, I came across your summary, while searching for an old colleague of mine and decided to send a message to you.”
I can’t figure out what the purpose or benefit derived by the sender in putting this message in my inbox. None of my virus alarms went off when I opened the email. Obviously, I won’t be so foolhardy as to respond.
Lots of excitement and intrigue in my life, wouldn’t you say?
My name has been misspelled many times and in many ways over the years. But never quite like this.
When I first saw it I thought it read John McCarby. Does hunger affect reading comprehension?
I had so much fun completing all the paperwork for Jee Yeun’s fiancee visa. Now my Uncle Sam has generously allowed me to complete essentially the same documents for the permanent residency process. And all it’s costing me is a piddlin’ $1070.00! Is this a great country or what?
Alright, so it appears the Boston bombers were Muslims from Chechnya.
Places I Go
John McCrarey: That's the plan. It