Spectrum “communications” cluster…

My calm demeanor had deteriorated

spectrumI had thought to “break away from the box” in the new decade. The sheer, and repeated, incompetence of Spectrum, part of Charter Communications, has made this mission-critical. And it started off so casually.

Thursday: I get home from the choir rehearsal. Deciding to watch JEOPARDY! before going to bed, I turn on the TV. Soon, the DVR flashes 10:41 several times and dies. OK, stuff happens.

Friday: Taking the disconnected DVR with me, I take the bus to Colonie Center. I go to the Spectrum store. Unable to discern how one gets into the queue, I ask a customer. He tells me I need to talk to the guy talking to someone in the corner. I’m seventh in the queue, and 15 minutes later, some other rep takes my old device and gives me a new one.

Interestingly, it doesn’t have the time on the front. “Do you WANT that? You can get Spectrum Mobile…?” Don’t try to upsell me. I just want to walk into the room and see the time. I was so annoyed, I went to the Christmas Tree store next door and bought a $5 analog clock.

When I get home, I think I’ve reconnected the wires correctly. Yet I get the message:

You’re in Limited Mode

“We’re sorry, your Spectrum receiver is in Limited Mode and some features may be temporarily available.” Actually, there are no features that are available.

“We’re working to resolve this issue, but please check your cables for a loose connection that could affect your service.” I think it’s my technological incompetence in play.

Friday evening: I call the help line for Spectrum. This is always a chore. The automated system wants to offer “help” even when I know it won’t solve the problem. When I finally talk to a real person, he tells me something useful. I was under the old Time Warner/Spectrum.net account. The DVR is for the newer Spectrum.com service. They gave me the wrong DVR. NOT my fault – yay! (40 minutes)

Saturday: I call the ordering department. This guy promises me a recurring monthly charge of $80 less what I’m paying for now. The package also offers a greater number of channels, what they call the Silver level. He also suggested AppleTV+ which I decided to try on our second TV. He needs a payment, though. I use my primary credit card.

(Sidebar: the charge was rejected on my Chase VISA because I don’t use it often enough. I’ll have to make some small charges with it.)

Later, I check the email confirmation. “The technician is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday” between 11 and 12. At an address in the 321 ZIP Code of Florida.

The great undo

Sunday: I call the ordering department again. I have to explain, in great detail, what has happened so far, a recurring theme. He has an email address and phone number for me. They are both incorrect. Essentially, he has to undo what the previous dude did.

This includes changing the service call from Florida to my Albany, NY address to Tuesday at 1 to 2 pm. He also notes that AppleTV+ would NOT be a good choice for me, and I get remove that. (100 minutes)

I get the email conformation, and the amount is far greater than what I had been told.

Monday: I call the billing department. The previous person had expressed admiration with my calm demeanor. By this point, however, that had deteriorated. The prices I had been quoted by the Saturday guy was for new customers only. What she could do was give me a $25 credit towards the Silver upgrade for the month, since I would not have taken it had I known the cost.

She also asked if I knew that I would be charged $50 for the installation on Tuesday. I did not. As I had asked for her supervisor, she said someone would call back in a couple hours. (40 minutes)

More than four hours on the phone later…

Tuesday: I receive a call back for the supervisor who deals with stuff when issues “escalate.” He apologized profusely, and agreed to waive the installation fee. It would not have applied if the Spectrum store had given me the right DVR box in the first place. He is also crediting the money I spent on Saturday, though it might take a few days. (25 minutes)

The technician showed up a few minutes after 2. He had gone to a house two doors down, then called me from his cell to see if I were home. He started fixing the cable, determining the box the store had given me was, in his word, “junk,” and switched it out. Then he replaced the modem so that it was four times faster. Why didn’t that happen before? Then back downstairs to finish with the cable.

After he left, I checked the channel choices. Far fewer than I had been promised. The local channels, C-SPAN a couple shopping channels, and TBS, pretty much. I went to the Spectrum website, found some instruction, rebooted the box, and suddenly I had the channels I desired.

In the next couple days, I got to see the shows on demand that I had recorded but had not watched, such as a 60 Minutes from the week prior, and the Kennedy Center Honors. Still, this was an organizational clusterf@(# at a level I do not believe I have ever experienced. My resolution in 2020 is to get a divorce from Spectrum and its alleged “communications” services.

April rambling: Unbreaking America

Why Did the U.S. Government Pay for a Painting of Strawberries? Two-thirds of the paintings, in total, are by women. This wasn’t because women of the era liked to paint fruit.

No Room!
“Looking Backward,” drawn by the brilliant Austrian-born Joseph Ferdinand Keppler (February 1, 1838 – February 19, 1894) for Puck magazine, January 11, 1893

First image of a black hole revealed.

Slave Owners’ Names Are on Dorms at a SUNY School. That’s Changing. New Paltz is my undergraduate alma mater.

Why There’s So Little Left of the Early Internet.

Anderson Cooper speaks the “language of loss”.

Amy Biancolli: talking to the darkness.

“I Had Nothing”: How Parole Perpetuates a Cycle of Incarceration and Instability.

You Are Probably a Victim of the Largest Theft of All Time.

TEDx: we all should be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Weekly Sift: Mueller by Gaslight.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: the sinister sides of World Wrestling Entertainment and the Mobile Home Industry.

Behind Bars, Co-Pays Are a Barrier to Basic Health Care.

The Death of an Adjunct Professor.

An aging population and a declining birthrate among the native-born population mean a shrinking workforce in many areas.

The Stephen Miller Presidency.

What an Empire Built on Nazi Collaboration Says About Our Economy.

Political Notebook: Politics last week and this week.

FTC Data Spotlight Shows Steep Rise in Complaints about Social Security Scams.

Unbreaking America: A NEW Short Film about Solving the Corruption Crisis.

New Zealand Parliament bans assault weapons.

“Men do not learn much from the lessons of history and that is the most important of all the lessons of history. “
– Aldous Huxley

The Persistence of Attachment.

What can an ice mummy teach us about heart disease?

Watch The World Turn.

The reason we bake at 350F.

5 Things to Do When You Have Too Many Ideas and Never Finish Anything.

Bless Your Heart doesn’t mean what you probably think it means.

Inside Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s Unconventional Marriage and ten minutes with Fosse.

Remembering William Goldman.

Re: Dwayne Wade: Now this is a proper sendoff

Minor League Baseball announces pace-of-play rules for 2019 and this is what Major League Baseball fandom looks like across the country.

Now I Know video: This Guy Tastes Ice Cream For a Living.

Now I Know: Who is Dr. Fill and why are these people afraid of him? and This idea to augment the postal service was a catastrophe and Why You Shouldn’t Carpool with Winnie the Pooh and especially Why Did the U.S. Government Pay for a Painting of Strawberries?

MUSIC

Religion – PJ Morton feat. Lecrae.

Faith – Business Casual.

Dead Boys -Sam Fender.

Live from New York, it’s Aubrey Logan.

Heaven Is a Place on Earth – KT Tunstall.

Video Killed The Radio Star – Walk off the Earth feat. Sarah Silverman

My Heart Will Go On – Big Daddy

Les chansons des roses – Morten Lauridsen.

You Get What You Give – Scary Pockets.

Africa – Robyn Adele Anderson.

Pencil Neck Geek – Don Blassie.

Coverville: 1257: A Cover Chain with Birthday Covers for Stan Ridgway, Katrina Leskanich, Norah Jones, Mandy Moore, and Brian Setzer

FUV ESSENTIALS: Richard Thompson.

Former Vice-President Al Gore turns 70

We’re seeing corporate, political, and societal mobilization against the climate crisis on a scale that would have been hard to imagine 10 years ago.

There’s a lot about Al Gore, 45th Vice-President of the United States, under Bill Clinton, that seems misunderstood to me.

It is suggested that he ran such a lousy campaign when he ran for President in 2000 that he lost his home state of Tennessee. But it is understood in some circles that
egregious intimidation and disenfranchisement of certain voters wasn’t limited to Florida.

The former college roommate of Tommy Lee Jones didn’t say he invented the Internet. The then-senator did create and introduce the High Performance Computing Act of 1991, which “led to the development of the National Information Infrastructure and the funding of the National Research and Education Network (NREN).

“The act built on prior US efforts of developing a national networking infrastructure, starting with the ARPANET in the 1960s, and the funding of the National Science Foundation Network (NSFnet) in the 1980s. The renewed effort became known in popular language as building the Information superhighway.”

“A spirited defense of Gore’s statement penned by Internet pioneers Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf (the latter often referred to as the ‘father of the Internet’) in 2000 noted that ‘Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development’ and that ‘No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution [to the Internet] over a longer period of time.'”

There was the kiss of his wife Tipper at the 2000 Democratic national convention. From all reports he wasn’t the wooden figure he had been portrayed.

“Claire Shipman of NBC speculated… the kiss sent a message. It signaled that Al Gore (unlike some presidents we know) is a faithful husband. Excellent point; imagine what would have happened if the Clintons had dared such a scene. Though some viewers were charmed by the Gore kiss and others squirmed, no one doubted that it was based on reality. There you have what really makes it seem odd. The kiss struck everyone as a political gesture based on truth, and nothing is rarer than that.”

Then there’s his wonky slide show presentation An Inconvenient Truth, which won the Academy Award in 2007 as Best Documentary, Feature.

Did any of this actually ‘save the world?’ “OK, you got us. Ten years after the movie’s release, climate change is still a growing threat and a polarizing issue, with record-breaking heat unable to stop skeptics from tossing snowballs on the Senate floor.

“But we’re also seeing corporate, political, and societal mobilization against the crisis on a scale that would have been hard to imagine 10 years ago, and there’s no question the film played a big part in getting us there.”

As Albert Arnold Gore Jr. said recently, “In 2017, Mother Nature certainly got our attention with a series of devastating extreme weather events. Our thoughts continue to be with the people of the US Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and California as they recover from the floods, powerful hurricanes, and wildfires made ever-more severe by our warming world.”

I is for information on the Internet

And I won’t even get into malicious disinformation.

As a librarian, I naturally rely on data that are credible. When answering reference questions, I am loath to give out inaccurate information.

When I hear/read something that doesn’t seem correct, I’ll often ask, “Where did you get that?” More often than not, they’ll say, “I saw it on the Internet.” Or “Facebook” or “Twitter.” But that isn’t the answer to the question. I’m looking for whether they got it from CNN’s website or FOX News’ Facebook page or the New York Times’ Twitter feed. This helps me to ascertain how much credence I should give a report.

Also, since I scan a LOT of news, I start to see trends. A few months back, I read that Kirk Douglas, the actor, died four days shy of his 101st birthday. But I never saw this in ANY source I had actually heard of, such as the Washington Post or Chicago Tribune. Immediately, I went to Snopes.com and discovered it was a death hoax.

This process helps me determine whether the things I read are true. I saw an unattributed graphic that said that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wanted to raise the Medicare age to 76. I had never heard that before. Sure enough, there was a 2016 story that Ryan wanted to hike the age requirement to 67, which is bad enough, but NOT 76. One’s antipathy for a politician may make the worst news seem plausible, though not necessarily accurate.

A friend of mine, obviously frustrated that she was asked an easily knowable thing, mused, “Doesn’t anyone Google anymore?” Assuredly they do, but it does not mean that it’ll be right. I Googled for the price of a current first-class stamp and the first item I found gave the information for 2015 rather than 2018.

And I won’t even get into malicious disinformation. Or the difference between fact and opinion.

Some people have said to me that being a librarian now must be easier because I have so much information at my fingertips. Others have said that we don’t NEED librarians now because EVERYONE has so much information at their fingertips. Neither of those assertions is true; librarians spend an inordinate amount of time separating the wheat from the chaff.

April rambling #1: Beyond Foolishness

I’ve seen at least a half dozen invitations on Facebook in 2017 from people I know IRL who are already “friends”.


It’s sort of what Leslie, the assistant administrator of ABC Wednesday called Life at light speed. The line from “Feelin’ groovy” – “Slow down, you’re moving too fast” – comes to mind.

So not being able to run the American government like a business is NOT a bug of the system, it’s a feature. We’re not “customers” of the government; we are, or should be, the board of directors.

The negation of the climate change initiatives are beyond foolishness. “They are an affront on God’s creation and on all of humanity.” I like that; unsubtle. A lot of Catholics are ticked off. And climate change will be an economic disaster.

That made Congress decimating Internet privacy rules only the SECOND worst thing that happened that day the last week in March, and it IS terrible.

Oh, and Obama-era LGBT protections were revoked, letting federal contractors discriminate.

At least the right-wing media helped Obamacare in spite of itself. Not that it’s adequate. Here’s a generally healthy young woman, under 30 and uninsured, who had untreated strep throat and is now coping with the consequences. Note that she ended up going to the emergency room, one of the cuts proposed in the Republican bill that failed.

In some poll after the GOP healthcare defeat, 14% each blamed the Democrats, the Republicans in Congress and Orange. 49% thought it failed because it was a bad bill, which it assuredly was.

Put another way, it is all transcendental solipsism. No wonder we need comedians to explain him.

Timeline: How President Obama handled Syria.

Satire: Ivanka appointed to head anti-nepotism task force.

Not satire: Financial trust altered on February 10, a month after announcing that DJT had isolated himself from his interests, to allow secret withdrawals any time he wants.

My buddy Amy Biancolli had done a TEDxAlbany talk You’re still here — Living after suicide a couple years ago. She’s been sampled! fragile – i want to be cold. She also writes about her sister Lucy, who committed suicide a quarter century ago.

My favorite Don Rickles appearances: In a 2-part Dick Van Dyke Show, he holds up Rob and a pregnant Laura in an elevator, then Laura and the writers perform at the prison he’s in.

Hope you can read this article about Glenn and Miriam Lawrence Leupold, my pastors. The ‘Religious left’ is emerging as U.S. political force.

On a more prosaic note, I’ve seen at least a half dozen invitations on Facebook in 2017 from people I know IRL who are already “friends,” including one from P K Miller, who died earlier this year. Here’s a piece on Facebook cloning, which isn’t being hacked, since changing one’s password doesn’t help.

I’ll be giving up running ABC Wednesday after the end of Round 20 around 4 July. Melody has agreed to take it over, with a new URL, and I’ve decided to stay on the team that visits folks. Melody sent me a card, all the way from the Netherlands, thanking me, which was very nice.

Dustbury has been blogging for 21 years. Who DOES that?

Finally, some more music: Emmylou Harris covering Chuck Berry, and Coverville 1165: The Chuck Berry Tribute.