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.