Urinal Rant

Avert thine eyes, if you are not interested in men’s urinals and the etiquette that surrounds them.

It appears that some men are pre-flushers. That is, when they arrive at a urinal, they immediately haul on the handle to get a good flush going. I don’t know if they need to hear the rushing water to get started, or if they just like a clean urinal before peeing. I don’t care.

What I do care about, is that, when they are done, they flush again. Please. There is nothing nastier than arriving at a urinal to find it full of someone else’s urine.

So if you’re a pre-flusher, would you please also be a two-flusher?

Thank you.

I’d like to note that the auto-flushing urinal is a handy solution to this. I’d like our government to do something about mandating these in new construction.

Bashing TiVo

Yeah, I know. I’m the ultimate TiVo evangelist. I love TiVo. People who know me know the praises I have sung about TiVo. And yet… and yet. This past week I have come to dislike TiVo, the company.

Let me be clear, lest there be any misunderstanding. Time-shifting television has changed my life, and for the better. The concept, the interface, the simplicity with which TiVo presented this complex idea, was remarkable. Still is. There’s nothing like it in the marketplace. There are competitors, sure. There are HD competitors, and free competitors, and hackacble competitors… but none of them approach the ease-of-use, the interface, the simplicity of what TiVo hath wrought.

That said, this is for the search engines: TiVo sucks! The company, that is.

As you may or may not know, I have a new TiVo. A Series 2 TiVo, which is better than my old one in a couple of ways. First, it is blessed to receive the latest TiVo software update, which added some cool stuff like folder organization in my Now Playing list. (All of Aidan’s Mr. Rogers episodes are lumped together in a folder! Yay!) Second, this new Series 2 TiVo has Internet capabilities. You can hook it up to the Internet so that it can get schedule updates, so that you can schedule shows remotely, so that you can connect two TiVos (if you have two) in your home, so that you can see photos and listen to music from your home computer, and finally, so that you can save (and eventually receive?) movies to/from the Internet/your computer. It is an Internets-connected-glorious-potentiality.

Or not.

To connect to the Internet, you have to buy some additional hardware (because in their wisdom they added a USB port to the Series 2. Not an Ethernet port. A USB port. For which there is exactly one use, attaching a USB to Ethernet adapter. Hello?). $20 for a wireless adapter if you have a wireless network at home, or $25 for a wired one, if you have an ethernet jack nearby. Of course, if you go with the wireless option, you’d best be running either no security on your network, or the easy-to-crack WEP scheme, because the very secure WPA scheme is not supported by TiVo. And if you go with the wired option, be sure to buy only one of the two tested and approved adapters, one of which is no longer made (be sure to find the version 1 adapter, because the current version 2 is not compatible!).

Should you actually get connected (and to be fair, many people have) you’ll then discover that the cool movie saving/sharing feature (called TiVoToGo) is not available for Macintosh computers. Actually, the whole photo and music sharing thing is not either, as TiVo points out that the required software is not compatible with the latest version of Mac OS X (Tiger). It works, with an error or two, some of the time, and there’s a hack you can download to get it to work more reliably, but you have to run it each time you want to share music/photos. Oh, and TiVo Online Scheduling? I was expecting to be able to log into my TiVo and manipulate it remotely, but that is not the case. What you can do is pick a show from an online list and tell your TiVo at home to record it. You can’t change its priority, you can’t see if it will conflict with anything else, it is purely a one-way transaction.

So.

I pay my monthly fee (and TiVo has now added a “service contract” whereby if you cancel service within one year of signing up, you owe them like, $100, all that on top of the $12 monthly), and I get my service. But part of that service includes the cool TiVo Home Media Features: music and photo sharing, TiVoToGo, etc. I can’t get at those features without ponying up another $20 for an adapter. And even then, I personally can’t get them, because of my platform choice.

How much of my monthly fee do you think goes towards these services? Some of the TiVosi would suggest that these are free, because you used to have to pay extra for them, and now they just come with the system, at no extra charge. That seems disingenuous at best, and intentionally deceptive at worst.

I find I am terribly frustrated, disappointed, and even angry at TiVo for what I have to endure as a customer. It should just work. The original TiVo did. You plugged it in, and it just worked. It was glorious. This new box does everything the old one did, without a hitch. But all these new things, these new cool things… you have to pay extra, jump through hoops, pray and fiddle to even get it to sort of work. That’s not the way it should be.

In the end, I feel betrayed. I find I don’t care about the company anymore. I feel like they don’t care about me. The relationship between us is now just about money and service, like the way I feel about my cell phone company, or my cable television company. And to that end, I would be interested in some way to recoup my fees, since it is TiVo’s fault I cannot access these services they promoted to me. Anyone else interested?

Keeping in touch

I will confess something that is surely not a shock to anyone who knows me. I am terrible at keeping in touch. I don’t do it. I had dear friends in college, and had dear friends (well, one or two) in NYC when I was there. And yet, do I e-mail? No. Do I call? No. Do I respond, even, in anything resembling a timely manner? No. And does that make me a bad person? It sure as hell does.

So I promise to do better, I promise to write, I respond to a year’s worth of e-mail, or a year’s worth of waiting for an e-mail email with a long, tasty notye… because by then it had better be long and tasty. And I feel crappy doing it, and it never comes out right, and I’d rather just chat with these people each day, not throug…

I’d rather chat. Each day.

And so I do, with my friends from Iowa. I chat via instant messenger. Not every day, but often enough that I still feel like I’m part of their lives, at least a little bit. It is funny, because we certainly don’t tell each other that “today we went to the grocery store and there was this huge peach with a growth on it that, I swear, looked like my second grade teacher!” But we keep that connection, that bond.

Hell, it is something, right? And with voice chat coming to a phone near you, and video chat a reality now, well, it can only get better.

So. Kim. Yev. Nancy (if you still think I exist). Get on chat, and drop me a line. I have one of everything (AIM, Yahoo, yes, even an MSN account).

I’d love to chat.

Where then, nine eleven?

So, today is September 11th. What with all the fresh tragedy, it seems nobody is remembering past tragedy. Is it just me, or has this anniversary crept up on us? Sure, four years isn’t anything to celebrate (black humor intended), but it just seems… so sad. Not that we might be forgetting 9/11, but that we have so much else on our plate.

I find, on this day, I can only wish that we had more hope than we do. But I do not trust our elected leaders, I do not trust our enemies, I trust Nature only so far as she can throw me… I can hope, though, that when the fifth anniversary of this day rolls around, that I have found more to trust, more for my son to grow up hoping for.

That’s all. Hug your loved ones. Peace.

Let’s just impeach him

We almost impeached a President for having oral sex. Can’t we impeach one for deceit, incompetence, and malice?

In this article from CNN, Chertoff argues that nobody predicted this kind of disaster, while Brown suggests that FEMA had planned for a category 5 storm two years ago. Time Magazine has an article on Brown’s faked credentials, and The Washingon Monthly has a chronology of FEMA under the Bush Administration. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) released a statement on Sept. 3, noting the staged nature of Bush’s photo-ops in New Orleans.

Barbara Bush had this to say about evacuees in Houston’s Astrodome, “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this–this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.”

Keith Olbermann takes everyone to task, in a convincing manner (mov).

The New Orleans Times-Picayune printed an open letter to the President.

And finally, The Daily Show skewers the Administration’s response (wmv).

Jesus Christ, people.

UPDATE: I fixed the link to the Times-Picayune editorial, now at CNN.

I cannot imagine

The devastation along the Gulf Coast is unimaginable to me. That our President grandstanded to the point of flying Air Force One within 1700 feet of the ground so he could get a “first hand view” (he’s going back in a more prosaic helicopter next week) is unimaginable to me. That he would state that “nobody expected the levees to break” is unimaginable to me.

That people (and police!) would loot businesses and rape victims and shoot at rescuers is, sadly, not so unimaginable. Unsurprisingly, martial law has been declared in New Orleans.

Follow the latest here, from the still-reporting Times-Picayune. Please consider helping out, as you are able. Give to the Red Cross or find another charity you like.