bunt sign

Sunday, June 24, 2001

Our natural air conditioning has finally kicked in. It's good living in the Bay Area, where we get a taste of summer, three or four hot days, interrupted by a blast of cool ocean air, to keep us from getting too irritable. Yes, we have our share of cranky people, and more than a few nasty ones, but overall I'd have to say folks are mellower here than in places where they go all summer with no relief from the heat.

On days like these, my self-motivation kicks into a higher gear. It's a whole lot easier to putter around the house and yard, doing the things that keep getting pushed back to the bottom of my to-do list. Even though it wasn't as cool outside as the cloudy sky and rustling leaves promised, it wasn't as oppressively hot as it was most of last week.

So it was a more productive weekend than I expected. Heck, I even dusted. That's a job that makes my eyes smart and aggravates my sinuses. I started sneezing uncontrollably, until my nose bled. So that'll be the last time I dust for awhile, but still. I dusted. And did three loads of laundry.

Some day I'll learn that technology isn't my friend. I hadn't used the DVD player for a while (except to play music CDs), but I wanted to watch a movie yesterday, and not one of the movies on my 200 channels. It took me about an hour of wasted energy to realize I wasn't going to be able to watch The Matrix.

Or rather, I could watch, but I couldn't listen. No sound from the DVD. Great digital picture, but no sound. I checked the settings and connections. I dug through a box of manuals to find the one for the DVD player. When I looked up "no sound" in the troubleshooting section, it told me to check the settings and connections.

I put in a CD and got perfect sound, but the DVD was still just a silent movie. I had to face the fact that, now that the player is out of warranty, I have nothing more than an expensive CD player with fewer features than even a cheap CD player is supposed to have. And I still couldn't find a movie I wanted to watch on the 200 channels, at least not one that started at the time I wanted to watch it.

So I ordered TiVo. I know, more money for technology, and who knows whether it's going to work any better than anything else I've spent money on. I should spend it on clearing the weeds off the property. I don't have the money to throw away on something I don't really need, something that'll feed my TV habit.

There were all kinds of reasons not to order TiVo service. But the dish and receiver will be here in three days, and then an installer will call and set up a time. Then I'll be committed to TiVo, and it'll take over my life. It'll record shows I want to watch, and shows it thinks I might want to watch.

I'll never have to miss another episode of Leave It to Beaver or a Katharine Hepburn movie. If there's a Sade concert on Trio, I'll know ahead of time (or TiVo will), instead of with only five minutes left (like last night). I'll have to give up reading and going out and listening to music, just to keep up.

Either that, or it'll be a colossal waste of money. It'll be a cute accessory that lets me pause live TV when the phone rings and rewind through something I missed. Like DirecTV itself, which I use about half the time just to listen to music, I'll be paying for way more features than I'll ever use. TiVo could turn out to be another black box that sits on an entertainment center shelf alongside the dead DVD player. I have no idea.

It's not as if I have a lot of other expensive vices. I don't smoke or drink or do drugs (except Zantac, which I got for a $10 co-payment). I don't even eat all that much. I don't have any kids to feed and clothe. (Wait, don't think for a second that I believe having kids is a vice.) I haven't bought any new books, CDs or DVDs in nearly six months. I don't have to dress up to go to work, so no expensive ties or Italian shoes or rakish chapeaux.

Still, this was a decision I possibly should have taken more time to make, before acting on it. I've been thinking about TiVo since I first heard of it, though, and with the current combination of special offers and rebates, it's going to cost me less right now than it ever would have in the past.

So it's another adventure (he rationalized, overanalyzing (as usual)). I've never had the beta-testing mentality, but I've always been curious about what's happening around the next corner. Anything that shifts the previous order of things is probably worth the investment of a little time and money.

Sebastopol hills barely visible

Looking west: high golden grasses and an old oak, against the cloudy sky.

Some sort of territorial argument seemed to be going on around the perimeter of my back yard this afternoon. Birds, mostly swallows, populated the wire fence in ones and twos. Every so often a bird would dart out of the trees and dive at one of those sitting on the fence, or circle around the whole yard before disappearing back into the trees. The constant chattering gave the impression that weighty matters were being discussed, at a high level of intensity. This went on for a couple of hours. If any resolution of the dispute was reached, it wasn't announced, as far as I could tell.

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