Predilection for Prediction

It is indeed the official day for prognostication.

I predict it will not snow in the Keys again this year. It pretty much never snows here but we had the first ever sighting of razorbills in December, so you never know. They’re strange little North Atlantic seabirds that look like flying footballs. The global climate change-driven colder water up north could be the reason a few decided to be snowbirds here.

We will not see 99.9 cent gasoline again until TSHTF. I remember 29.9 cent gas but I was earning about a buck an hour at that time. On the other hand gasoline stayed under a buck from the 1920s until 1980 and had about a 26-year run below $2 that ended in about 2006.

!@#$%^ Comcast’s CEO Brian L Roberts says he has learned from Apple how to “make things fun.” The very fact that the head of the second most reviled company in America is even talking to Apple sent shivers through the tech world. (Mr. Roberts told Forbes that his company has lost subscribers throughout his tenure due to increased competition and the fact the company didn’t offer the “best suite of products.” It had nothing to do with the fact that they raise prices $1 each and every time a customer finds a better choice.)

I don’t think Apple will use Bombast to roll out AppleTV. Apple’s cash pile could hit $200 billion next year. Comcast’s market cap is about $97 billion. I predict Apple will BUY !@#$%^Comcast and make it AppleTV.

According to a new Pew Research study, 85% percent of U.S. adults own a mobile phone but only 56% have a smartphone. Worldwide, the total number of smartphones passed 1 billion last year. There are 6 billion cell phone subscribers on Earth. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer declined to comment on whether Microsoft would make its own smartphone but Microsoft is working with component suppliers in Asia to test its own smartphone designs. Since there are an astonishing 85 million adult cellphone users in the U.S. without a smartphone (and a corresponding 5 billion worldwide), Microsoft doesn’t need to think about early adopters. Microsoft doesn’t need to think about iSheep. Microsoft doesn’t need to think about Droids. I predict Microsoft can win the smartphone race if it simply gets most of the newbies.

gadgetsI further predict I will not get a smartphone in 2013.

I believe there will be a 2013 NHL season. I predict no one will notice.

I further predict that police will disarm samarai  sword-wielding naked men. But probably not in the District of Columbia.

The Belgian monks at St. Sixtus Abbey will give up the title of priciest beer when BJ’s discovers New Amsterdam Amber and prices it at $99.99 for six bottles.

Last year, the cash-strapped Ukraine charged Did Moroz (the local version of Father Christmas) impersonators an income tax. Florida will see that as a revenue stream and impose a tax on Santas.

The FBI will continue searching for Kenneth “D.B. Cooper” Conley, one of the convicted bank robbers who escaped from a Chicago high-rise jail and hailed a cab to make his getaway.

A new diet will sweep the cognoscenti with Twinkies and sugar free tonic water. I predict that I will not eat any of that.

Yesterday, I wrote, “Over the last couple of years, I’ve replaced or repaired most of the little things that plagued me and stole the time I needed to do all the fun stuff I wanted to do.” I predict I will sell the Honda and buy a pellet stove. I may buy an iPod dock but that’s iffy.

Stocks will rise. Bonds will fall. Investors will be late to the game.

Word enthusiasts will ban “fiscal cliff.”

Finally, (and this is the hardest crystal gazing I’ve done) America’s national politicians-for-life, will add more than another trillion dollars to our debt and “kick the can down” the road for another year. I predict that (a) the U.S. Congress approval rating will sink below 20%, (b) the U.S. Congress will form three committees to investigate the bankruptcy sale of Hostess Twinkies to Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, and (c) the U.S. Congress will declare a War on Guns.



Those were freebies, aren’t they?

OK, I foresee that the world did not end on December 21.

Thorsday Trials: @#$%^ Comcast’’s Digital Diminishment. Part III

!@#$%^ Comcast has changed their online TV listings again. And they were dumb enough to include a “Tell us what you think” survey button. No good can come of this.

We’re really excited to share our new TV Listings with you and want to know what you think!
1. Do you think this version of TV Listings is better or worse than previous versions?

There was no button for “This Sucks.”
2. What makes this version of TV Listings better or worse?
You took away the easy navigation drop menu that allowed jumping to a different day or time.
3. What other improvements would you like to see in TV Listings?
Dump this turkey. Reinstate the prior version. Or the one before that. Barring that, add a navigation drop menu that allows jumping to a different day or time.

No good can come of this: either they will tabulate the survey results for a year without telling us anything or they plan to ignore the results entirely. Either will annoy the crap out of us. And then they can change the interface for the worse again next year, telling us they responded to the survey.

Sure would please us (all) if we could deal with somebody other than !@#$%^ Comcast.

Say Cheese

A short collection of whine.

I needed to replace my clock radio because the buttons have stopped working. The radio plays, the clock tells time, and the alarms sound at the appointed hour but the snooze and the alarm set and the time set buttons all do no more than make satisfying mechanical clicks. They don’t change or set anything.

For Sale: good clock radio for someone on a rigidly fixed schedule who likes to listen to 94.3 FM. Click the Paypal button. ==>

The most amazing online store offered an RCA RC40R Dual Wake Clock Radio with Large Green LED Display by RCA with all the features I want:

Product Features

  • Auto time set for seven different time zones, six more than I live in.
  • SmartSnooze converts all top buttons as snooze button when alarm has been activated to confuse me when I want to turn the radio back on.
  • Dual wake features two different alarm settings for two different users: radio or buzzer and turns off one when the other activates.
  • Programmable snooze; Programmable sleep
  • Graduwake ramp-up alarm makes waking from a deep sleep easier and annoys the neighbors until you do.
  • AM/FM clock radio with a large LED 1.4″ display for clear viewing
  • Graduwake Ramp-up alarm eases your awakening
  • Programmable Sleep feature plays the radio for up to 2 hours before automatically turning off the radio, allowing you to gently fall asleep to music while your neighbors enjoy techno.
  • Programmable snooze feature turns off the alarm or radio for an extra 9 minutes of sleep or for 1-30 minutes

35 customer reviews gave it 3.4 out of 5 stars. Not bad for $19.99. Did I mention it’s an RCA? And that it has a Graduwake ramp-up alarm?

I was about to click the Buy Now button when the most amazing online store piped up that

There is a newer model of this item:

The RCA RC141 Dual Wake Clock Radio costs just $20.89 and is also In Stock.

Product Features

  • Automatic time set
  • Large 1.4-inch LED display
  • FM radio with digital frequency readout
  • SmartSnooze – multi-button snooze activation
  • Wake to radio or alarm

I’ve seen this marketing technique before in the ice cream wars put less of the juicy stuff in the tub and charge more for it. And the airlines deciding to charge for the overhead compartment space where babies could previously sleep free. Now we’re going to suffer with squalling babies down in the rows with the rest of us.

The optometrist ordered me a new set of specs on my VSP vision plan. It’s a lousy plan but, as he says, “it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.”glassesThe new replacement glasses arrived a few days after I left so Anne had to mail them to me. They look nice. They don’t look through nice, though.

The optometrist had to send the first set he received back to the vision plan to correct an unspecified error. I don’t know what was wrong with the originals but I do hope the replacements have someone else’s prescription because I can’t see through them. Either the new Rx was ground incorrectly, the pupillary distance is wrong, or the optometrist got the wrong numbers from the refraction.

I’m wearing last year’s glasses as I write this and hoping that the Aviator sunglasses I ordered at the same time are correct. They should be in the mail any day now.

Speaking of shipments, !@#$%^ Comcast has done it again.I spent more than half an hour on the phone with !@#$%^ Comcast because I got back here to find no cable TV. We had a little power outage. Not unusual. Both cable boxes dropped out. I hope that’s unusual. One required reset from their end, necessitating a call all by itself. One would not power back on, necessitating a replacement.

There’s no excuse for that. I told the customer service rep (she offered to send a tech out but said it would cost me $30 to FIX THEIR EQUIPMENT) that I’d better not have to call them every time the power goes out. She didn’t care.

Comcast ShipmentShe ordered one shipped. It didn’t come overnight so I was out of service but it did get here. In two boxes. Two very large boxes.

I don’t have a DVR in South Puffin so to “time shift” requires setting up both the VCR and tuning the newly replaced digital box. For a reason I don’t understand I got the Special Audio Program on both Criminal Minds and CSI. The voiceover kept saying this was for blind peeps and I could turn it off except there is no SAP setting on the recorder I used and I don’t get SAP from any live broadcast, either from Dish or Cable on the TV. Both VCRs played it back on the tape though.

I’m thinking it was !@#$%^ Comcast. Good I didn’t order the special X-Ray vision glasses they were advertising, too.

Thor’s Trials & Tribulations: @#$%^ Comcast’s Digital Diminishment. Part II


And then I got the doomsday letter.

“XFINITY™ is coming. Soon you’ll enjoy TV, Internet anc Voice service made possible by Comcast’s upgrade to an all-digital platform … equipment may be required to receive ALL channels.

Comcast LetterThe !@#$%^ Comcast office was crowded and had just two reps manning the counter. When I got to the counter, I told the rep that all I have are channels 3-20 and asked if I needed a converter or if the most basic basic channels would remain analog. The rep said I needed it. Then I asked about changing channels.

“Oh, you just set your TV to Channel 3 or 4. It’s easy,” she ‘splained.

“No. How do I change stations when I’m recording with a VCR,” I told her. “Say I want to record channel 7 at eight o’clock, change to channel 10 at nine, and channel 4 at ten?”

“Let me get you a service technician.”

He told me that wasn’t possible but, he said, I didn’t really need the converter because channels 1-26 weren’t scheduled to go digital.

Cool. I almost left right then but the rep contradicted him.

“All the channels will switch March 15,” she said.

Swell. Now I have three digital boxes that give me less service than my zero current digital boxes since THEY CANNOT BE PROGRAMMED TO CHANGE THE CHANNEL.

Yes, I am shouting.

And it took more than an hour to get them.

I get to pay more per month for less service. And that’s the story of dealing with !@#$%^ Comcast.

On the other hand, I met the man who owns the DC-3 in Marathon and I bought a yellow croton, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

Thor’s Trials & Tribulations

!@#$%^ Comcast!

I use the “ecofriendly” auto pay to pay my (basic) cable bill + bundled Internet. I don’t get a paper statement. I don’t mail a check. Then !@#$%^ Comcast grabs whatever they want out of my checking account.


Big mistake.

An hour after I logged into my online cable account, I discovered a line item for $50 for “other services” like PPV or dirty movies. I don’t buy PPV or dirty movies; I can stream them free over the Internoodle.

We had a “service difficulty” around Christmas. Internet was slow, stupid, and balky for a couple of weeks. The !@#$%^ Comcast DNS server kept crashing. Life was lousy in South Puffin.

I called !@#$%^ Comcast and a week or so plus 3 hours later, a technician showed up. Nice guy. Name was Richard. He was pleasant, efficient, and pretty much had nothing to do since the problem was upstream.


Good thing I noticed the charge was $50 higher than usual when I logged into my bank account this morning or I never would have known.

It took another hour this morning to load the “customer account page” and then wade through all the auto attends to get a live rep to get a credit. I really really really think they bill for these things and figure at least some percentage of their customers never protest.

Weeee! Free money. The credit will appear on next month’s bill, so they have yet another chance to use my money.