Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bye Bye, TiVo!

It was nice for the year that I had TiVo, but it was also a real trial attempting to deal with the customer "service" there.

I bought a refurbished TiVo HD at the beginning of July last year. It had a warranty. That warranty is still good.

But after about 11 months, the TiVo didn't work. They were very nice and sent me a "new" refurbished HD Model. That one lasted almost a month to the day from when it went into service.

In spite of the fact that they sent me a replacement that was almost ready to die, and in spite of the fact that it's still under warranty, if I want another one, it's going to cost me $50. For another refurbished one that's (for all I know) about to die in a month.They were very firm on the price for a replacement.

There are no more new ones of this model available, and haven't been for over a year. Aside from the fact that I really can't afford $50, I question whether that's a smart use of money. If I'm going to spend money on a TiVo, it might be better to spend $100 and get a brand-new one with updated software, as opposed to used-to-death-and-then-refurbished.

There's also the consideration of having to actually deal with the TiVo people about billing and other issues. They were at least as bad as Comcast customer "service" but Comcast has improved things, and now TiVo is far worse. I'm not sure I want to voluntarily sign up to be mistreated this way.

There's also the consideration that I would have to sign up for at least a year, maybe two for TiVo, and we may be switching from Comcast to Fios, and that would raise the question of compatibility, with me possibly stuck with a contract requiring me to pay $20 per month for a year and a half or so for a service that I might not be able to use.

So, it looks like I'll be continuing to use the Comcast DVR that I got to temporarily replace the TiVo. If I'm going to spend money on something, I know a place that regularly has sales on 2 terabyte SATA drives that I could plug into the DVR and be able to keep recordings when (for some reason) I have to switch DVRs again! Then I could just unplug the drive and plug it into the new DVR or TiVo, and just keep truckin'.

This is making me really depressed.


Did any of you see the kickoff episode of the new Doctor Who season Let's Kill Hitler on Saturday? If not, you missed one of the best Who episodes I've ever seen!

I know, I know. That title is a real turn-off! I've seen a bunch of time travel stories where someone goes back in time to kill Hitler and stop the carnage, but it all goes terribly wrong, and they don't accomplish anything.

As it turns out, Hitler is just a peripheral character, and gets locked in a closet early on. I was looking at a rehash of the story on Ravelry (Who Knits), and halfway through, somebody timidly asks if Hitler ever got out of the closet. It's really not about Hitler at all. It is about the Doctor, Rory, Amy, and Rory and Amy's childhood friend, Mels. I want so much to talk about it, but as River says, "Spoilers!"

If you don't care about spoilers or have already seen it, click on the Who Knits link above (if you're also in Ravelry) and you'll get plenty of spoilers and a chance to discuss the episode if you've seen it.

Regardless of anything else, I love the beginning of it! It took me a few seconds to figure out what Amy and Rory were doing. First, that they were trying to contact the Doctor, and second, how they were going about it! It's very funny! Then they get the tables turned on them! I really love the opening sequence!

I have to go and actually do something constructive now, so I'll be back again soon.

Have a much better week than I had around here last week!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodnight, Irene

This is a farewell to the whole of the last 7 days (including today), which, in this area contained: a 5.9 earthquake, many tornado warnings, lots of flash flood warnings, and hurricane Irene. Oh, that's Doctor John, above, playing Goodnight Irene.

It's also a heartfelt wish for no earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes (the drink is exempted from this wish), flash floods, mudslides (the drink is exempted from this wish), forest fires, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis for at least the next month or two!

For me, it also included an allergy scratch test which is aptly named, because it still itches. It gave me the unfortunate information that although ragweed makes my nose and sinuses go berserk, I'm not actually allergic to them. So, the sinus problems in the Fall are now a complete mystery.

This would be good news because it means that if I could raise the money, I could now actually go to Pennsic with no ill effects from ragweed.

In theory.

Real life is totally different.

I am still allergic (according to the tests) to some tree pollen, and the doctor did write a note, but I don't know yet if it'll be enough to help me get a portable air conditioner to keep me from getting sick during the ragweed that I'm not allergic to.

It was, all in all, kind of a disaster of a week.

If you're in an area that is still battling Irene, I wish you the best of luck. And I wish everybody a good weekend, and the best possible week coming up.

A week entirely free of all disaster!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Roadmap to Winning the Darwin Awards

For any of you who may not know, the Darwin Awards are given to people who manage to kill themselves in the most stupid possible way. It can also be awarded if the idiot in question just manages to remove his or her ability to procreate in a spectacularly stupid fashion.

For a better idea of what is meant, click the link above, and scroll down to the examples section. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.

Once, long ago, I read a book which was based on the idea that someone had the capability to make everyone in an area decide to do the same thing at the same time with disastrous results. in the book, everyone in New York City decided to go to the beach at the same time. Then I lost the book before I could finish reading it, but I never forgot the beginning of  it.

That exact scenario is playing out all along the east coast this weekend. It's an instant replay of one aspect of the earthquake from earlier in the week, where cell and other phone circuits were overloaded because everyone decided to call everyone else at the same time.

Anyway, with hurricane Irene on the way, I woke up today to find a sheet of instructions in my door on how to cope with the impending gale force winds (and rain). And after reading it through, I have come to the the conclusion that following the instructions could get me nominated for a Darwin Award.

I have to admit that some of what I was given was intended for before hurricane season, and as a last-minute instruction is pretty useless (like: Review your insurance policy). And some of it is not helpful because it doesn't apply, such as: decide where to move your boat, and fuel and service family vehicles. They also keep telling me I need a radio (which I can't hear). After a bit of analysis, though, I think what I really need in lieu of a radio is my tablet, which won't do me any good if the local towers are down, but at least I won't need another person to let me know what it says. Along with the radio, they recommend checking your flashlights and having lots of batteries, which is a wonderful idea! I have a lot of batteries and plan to check my flashlights immediately.

But one of the lists I consulted advocated getting lots of canned food. Well, that's something that will only be needed if the electricity goes out, in which case, I will also lose the ability to heat it, and most canned food needs heating. What you really need is food that will keep without refrigeration, and will not need to be heated. Those little pots of applesauce, pudding cups that don't need refrigeration, apples, etc. Canned soups and other foods won't help unless you have a camp stove and a safe place to use it.

The best ideas I've found for preparing are here .

Oh, and if you have to leave (or don't) remember something to knit and some books to read!

If you're on the East Coast, I wish you the safest, most comfortable weekend possible!



No matter where you are, even if you're on the East Coast, bracing for Irene, don't miss the return of the new season of Doctor Who on BBC in America!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

DC and Virginia's Excellent Adventure

I'd be willing to guess that on Tuesday morning, probably 90% of the people in the local area had never experienced an earthquake. I could be wrong if there were more tourists than I thought there were.

But no one who was here Tuesday afternoon can say that now!

As anyone who has seen the news in the last two days can tell you, most of the East Coast had an earthquake on Tuesday afternoon.

For the maximum excitement of the people involved without causing serious damage, this one couldn't be beat! I haven't heard any reports of anyone being killed or even seriously injured. Which was shear, dumb luck!

You can help researchers learn more about this event by entering your experiences here.

In Maryland, one wall of a masonry building collapsed, sending rubble down on three doomed cars. If people had been where the cars were, they (presumably) would have had the sense to get out of the way when the ground started shaking. The cars, however, being parked, were stuck with supporting a pile of cinder blocks and becoming statistics.

I saw photos of another building in Maryland that had the top of it moved about an inch to the side, right along the line of a course of bricks part way up.

There were some local area schools that noticed some damage to their buildings, and local kids got a day off while the building inspectors came to see if they were still safe.

The National Cathedral and the Washington Monument both sustained damage, which makes me very sad. They are among my favorite buildings in DC. The photos above and below are of the cathedral.

But for someone who had never been in an earthquake before (while awake), it was about as exciting as such a non-destructive earthquake could get. I found I could start a conversation with anyone by just asking about their experience.

In further news that's sort of connected to this, there are areas of Maryland that are under a tornado warning tonight, and the whole area is expecting Hurricane Irene on or about Sunday.

Robin asked on Facebook if we were going to get volcanic eruptions next week.

This is the first time I've ever had a blog post that included the tags: earthquake, tornado, hurricane. All in one post, mind you!

I hope you're having a better week than this area is!

Monday, August 15, 2011


I actually intended to blog most days of last month, but was still trying to recover from the antibiotic I took for most of the previous two weeks, and had the whole infection come right back and land on my like a ton of bricks!

The antibiotic itself made me feel bad, but the problems that went away were a real eye opener! All the muscle, joint and bone pain went away, too! So, they're obviously connected to the sinus/ear infection.

I'm going to see the ENT doctor on Wednesday. Hopefully, that will help.

In the meantime, I've been having lots of meetings, appointments and things I have to do. Most of them involve taking the bus and doing lots of walking. By the time I get home from one of these, I'm in so much pain, just from walklng that it's all I can do to keep from crying.


Holly took me out last weekend, and one of the places we went was JoAnn Fabrics. I was looking for some sock yarn, but they didn't have any colors I liked. What I did find was some yarn that was on sale in two beautiful colorways.

They're both Deborah Norville Everyday yarn, and the first color is called Beach.

The first photo is of the ball, then the knit side, and the purl side of stockinette stitch. I've gotten to love self-patterning yarn, but I especially love the colors in this.

The other yarn is the same brand of yarn, but in a color called Winding River, and I think I like the colors in this even better! I haven't knitted a big sample of it yet, so there'se just the small sample and the ball to see.

The colors are almost the same as the first one, but much stronger.

I'm making a vest with Beach, and it's stockinette, so it just wants to curl up, but so far it looks like when it gets blocked it'll be really nice! I'm hoping to have enough to make a hat and mitts, too.

I was able to get more of the Winding River color, so if the first vest turns out well, I'll probably make another, but I can probably get a hat, mitts, and something else out of it.

I'm still feeling punchy, sick and stupid from my encounter with the antibiotics, so, I'll try to keep posting on my blog, but don't expect much.

I hope you're feeling much better than I am!

Have a great evening, and a wonderful week!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hi! I'm Still Alive!

Just barely.

Sorry for not blogging more. I certainly intended to blog.

But this sinus infection that's been going on for more than a year now was treated with a new antibiotic. The doctor said this one was much stronger, and, judging by the results, it was. It's been a bumpy ride.

First of all, the infection had really become systemic, with aches all over, sort of like flu. The antibiotic got rid of a lot of symptoms that I hadn't even connected with the infection. My bones ached all the time, but worse after some walking or other exercise. When I got near the end of the antibiotics, all that went away! Of course, it also caused digestive problems, which to some extent, I expected, but what I didn't expect was the stomachache, and more, that lasted a few days. I know my digestive system has problems, but this stuck me more as something I might have expected from drinking Draino.

I went to the library, and then over to Safeway yesterday, and I was surprised how weak I felt, and was shaking from fatigue and overwork by the time I got to the library, which is not really very far away.

And now that I'm (mostly) recovered from the antibiotic, most of my symptoms from the infection are back!

I hate this!

On to more pleasant things!


Vogue Knitting has published a preview of their Fall issue! You can see it here.

I love the hood (scroll down) shown in red! I think I'd like to make it with a seam instead of the buttons, but then I can't seem to ever just make anything the way the pattern is written. I'd change some of the cable design, too. And it's so loose around the neck that I'd want a scarf to go with it, too. And, of course some mitts, and I'm thinking of writing a pattern for short mittens to go over my already existing mitts pattern, and that seems like a good addition to the set.


We're halfway through the first week of Pennsic at this point. This is the "lounge around and have a vacation" portion of the festivities. This weekend and the upcoming week will be the part devoted to actuall events that affect the war score, and also University classes.

In the spirit of the University classes, I'm going to try to put up a fiber-related how-to on most days of the week. Theoretically, that should start no later than Saturday, but Holly and I will be going out to see (finally) the second half of Deathly Hallows, and I don't really expect to get anything up then. I'll also be busy the rest of this week, and it's unlikely that I'll get to do much with the blog. Sorry! In the meantime, I'm going to try to repost the most interesting stuff from Twitter about Pennsic, so it'll show up in the sidebar, and you can get an instant update even if I don't post something.

Which leads me to my next topic:


My TiVo (remember, the thing that malfunctioned badly, and left me without for almost a month?) is malfunctioning badly!

If you'll remember, I got a Comcast DVR to replace it temporalily, and returned it. They replaced it, and now, less than six weeks later, I'm having another problem all over again.

This time, it decides it needs to be restarted, and proceeds to do that. It kept restarting all day Monday, but by Tuesday, it would begin to restart, and then try to restart again, and effectively turn itself off.

I just tried to watch the Doctor Who episode, The Doctor's Daughter, starting at 5:00. It turned itself off at 5:02, 5:14, 5:33, 5:38, 5:50, and 5:54. Since the start-up sequence takes 5 minutes to complete, I didn't really get to see much of Doctor Who!

All the programs I wanted to see last night wound up as collections of program parts in their own separate folders, some in as many as four or five pieces!

This is really not acceptable! I've spent a lot of Monday, Tuesday, and today on the phone with TiVo support, and they don't seem to be able to do anything about the problem. I wasn't really enthused with the idea that the TiVo they sent me didn't even last a year, but I'm even less enthralled with it not lasting even two months!

So, this is part of what's going to keep me so busy for the next couple of days. Tomorrow, I'm going to go over to Comcast (a 2 to 4 hour trip each way, and a full day of time-wasting) and get a DVR so that I can at least watch TV. Then, I still have to take the TiVo over to UPS on Friday, which is not quite as long a trip, but still a lot after the exertion of the day before.

When a TiVo box is working, it's a dream! I really love TiVo boxes!

But customer service is a nightmare with them, and the hardware seems to be very undependable! So the question is: Is it worth all the aggravation and the extra expense?

That's a question I'm having a hard time answering at the moment.


Back on the topic of health, I found this internet article interesting. There doesn't seem to be a reliable test for Lyme Disease, so the state government of New Hampshire has voted in a law that frees doctors from having to rely heavily on tests to diagnose Lyme Disease. This has a lot of legal implications, some of which are quite interesting about how they affect the way other diseases are treated. I'm glad to see a state taking an interest in the health and welfare of it's citizens, and I wish more states would follow New Hampshire's example!

I'm wiped out, and have to go.

Have a wonderful remainder of the week!