bunt sign

Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Nine baseball games one day, six the next, and then today I sit down to watch the one game I want to see, the one I'm supposed to get, and I find DirecTV has blacked it out. I knew it was a mistake, and I fired off an angry email, using words like "outrage" and phrases like "this cannot happen." In fact, not just words and phrases like those, but those words and phrases exactly.

Luckily, the local cable company provides me with the same channel that I wasn't getting from DirecTV. The signal isn't digital, and I'm not supposed to get it (because I pay for only the local over-the-air channels on cable), but it was there and I could watch. This didn't keep me from being steamed at my satellite provider, though, for not providing what I'm paying for.

I get the Total Choice Platinum package from DirecTV, and I pay extra for the baseball package, something called MLB Extra Innings. I know they black out the other regional games on Wednesdays, because ESPN has exclusive rights. But they're not supposed to restrict my access to Fox Sports Net Bay Area at any time.

Obviously, during a Giants game is exactly the worst time to pull the plug on me. If you want to me to see red and come up with colorful new language, that's the way to do it. I don't spend a lot on entertainment outside of my satellite subscriptions, and I expect my money's worth. (Plus I'm still a little cranky from the time change, but never mind that.)

The bizarre thing is that this happened before, at the beginning of hockey season, when a Sharks game was blacked out. After messages back and for that lasted for several days, I finally demanded (and got) an apology, and an admission that the game shouldn't have been blacked out.

And that was probably the last time I was interested enough in a hockey game to make a big stink about it. I don't think I've watched a single hockey game all the way through all season. But if I'd been flipping through the thirty-odd sports channels and noticed that they'd blacked out a game I should be getting, I would have let them know, whether I actually wanted to watch it or not.

The best thing to come out of the hockey experience was that I saved those old messages. Tonight in my wrath I could go back and use the proper term (RSN, or Regional Sports Network), so that the fine folks at customer service wouldn't think they were dealing with some crank that they could blow off with fancy wordplay. When I know I'm right, I don't give up.

I'm going to take credit for getting my signal restored. I kept checking back, and within half an hour after I sent the message, I was getting the game on satellite, just as the cosmos intended. My cause was righteous, and I'd been vindicated. Take that, world. I'm Action Man. I rule!

And then, in the ninth inning, just as Something Big was about to happen, the screen suddenly went black again, except for the stark white message that the game was "unavailable." I almost dove through the screen to try to yank the picture back.

The email response I got was the same generic non-explanation that I got during the hockey brouhaha. I guess I am just some crank they can blow off. But I wasn't through with them yet:

This boilerplate response is not satisfactory. You have blacked out *my* local RSN at the very time I needed it. None of your explanations apply. Please correct this error and see to it that it doesn't happen in the future!

That'll show 'em, huh?

cat in the grass

The time change (and no, I can't stop thinking about it just yet) may be wreaking havoc on my body, but it's doing wonders for my productivity at work. That's because (at least when the phone doesn't ring early) I'm sleeping through the first two hours of the day and working until either (a) I don't have anything left to do that can't wait, or (b) it gets too dark to see.

For some reason I can't seem to arrange the lighting around my desk so that the shadows don't fall over whatever I'm trying to do. That's why I haven't been able to work in the evenings all winter, at least not as much as I felt I should have. But now, it's beautiful, man. Even if I work in the yard for an hour, I can still see what I'm doing at my desk until after 7:30. What a difference!

That's the kind of time shifting I can get behind with enthusiasm. I don't really care when I work, as long as I get things done. I can work with a baseball game playing in the background. And when I can work that late, I don't have to feel guilty about the other things I do during the day. (Like sleep.)

The only thing keeping me from fully relishing the work experience is that I have to answer the phone all day long. If it weren't for that (and half the calls are wrong numbers anyway), I'd be on cloud nine in seventh heaven, instead of deep-sixed behind the eight ball.

Parenthetically (snicker), I actually prefer the wrong numbers to the work-related calls. Some of the most interesting people I ever talk to are on the other end of calls looking for help with insurance, or small engine repair, or ADD kids. Not that I can help them, but I can be quite sympathetic. With a little training and a lot more self-confidence, I could have been a hotline counselor (instead of a potential caller).

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