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Friday, July 6, 2001

As soon as one crisis ends, another one begins. My star-cross'd vacation is now in jeopardy not because of work, but because of my impulsive TiVo purchase of two weeks ago. I'm still trying to schedule the installation of the new dish, so that I can start the service.

It would be easy to let this all go until I get back from the lake, except for one thing: My first day back is the thirtieth day after I bought the equipment. Part of the "special offer" was a commitment to connect to the service within thirty days. The penalty, if I miss the deadline, is $350.00, charged to the credit card number they already have.

The equipment was supposed to be here in three to five days; it took four. An installer was supposed to call within five to seven days; after six, I called them.

Or rather, I tried to call the company I bought the equipment from, but every time I got through the messaging system maze to the extension I needed, I got either a busy signal or a disconnect. Buzz buzz, or click. Not even close to "How may I help you?"

So I sent them an email. They phoned me the next day (that was Wednesday, a holiday) and asked if I had any questions. I asked them why an installer hadn't called me yet to set up an appointment. When I bought my original dish from Best Buy, the installer had called the next day.

They gave me the number of the company that sets up installations, but I couldn't call them until the next day (because of the holiday). When I called them (it was a toll-free number), they gave me the number of a local company. Except it was a company in Sacramento, which is a long-distance call from here. When I rang that number, they gave me the name of the fellow who does installations in Santa Rosa. They said they would give him all my information, and he would call me. In case I didn't hear from him that day (yesterday), they gave me his cell phone number and a work order number.

I've already paid for the installation, two weeks ago. I'm less than a week away from going on vacation (I hope). Now it's another weekend. I dialed up the guy's cell phone this morning and left a pleading message on his voice mail. Still waiting for the callback I asked for. More nervous about this now than the big check (which finally arrived in today's mail).

Plus, on top of all the stress of trying to make this happen, I'm missing out on my TiVo. I fully expected to have the thing programmed by now so that it would automatically record every episode of Big Brother 2, and every movie featuring Stockard Channing, Eliza Dushku or Don Cheadle.

You know how I hate to make phone calls. Every extra one I have to make is that much more of an irritant. The trouble is that the man I'm dealing with now is so many levels removed from the people who set this disaster in motion that I can't be mad at him. In fact, I don't dare show him how upset I am about all this, since my fate is in his hands (along with my $350.00).

The new producers of Big Brother 2 are apparently determined to take what I liked about the original U.S. edition (and what everyone else apparently found "boring") and turn it upside down. I loved the fact that last year's "houseguests" made an effort to get along, and in the process created a sort of family atmosphere. This was helped along by the viewers who voted out the most disagreeable people and kept the ones they liked.

It was like watching real people deal with an unusual situation, rather than a group of self-aware performers trying to give the audience what it wants.

Well, that didn't go over so well, did it? The ratings were decent, but not good enough for CBS, who expected a blockbuster. So this year's cast has more confrontational personalities, and they are given challenges designed to bring out the worst sides of their natures. The network is aggressively eager to show us either a fight or a sex act. Both at the same time, on split-screen, if possible.

Still, there's hope. In the first episode last night, even the folks who came in with an agenda (all of them, actually) began to decide they liked their housemates. I don't think that'll keep them from stabbing each other in the back, though. I'll give the new season a try, but I don't expect to like this crowd as much as I liked Cassandra and Eddie and Karen and Chicken George.

(Although, as I recall, I wasn't all that impressed with last year's first episode, either.)

white blossoms

A little bit of color at the corner of the driveway.

Did I mention the check I've been waiting for (and whining about) came in today's mail? If I hadn't been waiting for the dish installer to call, I would have got out to the bank to deposit it. This won't mean any less work between now and the start of vacation, but it will make all that work easier on my dicey stomach. Now if I can only get this TiVo thing handled, I might even get a good night's sleep.

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