Comcast Does Not Listen

I had a similar conversation with Comcast when I was simply trying to find out how many Filipino stations they offered. DirecTV offers eleven Filipino stations. Comcast only offers five. I simply asked if they would be offering more, but the representative avoided the question and started talking about their other channels and how much better they are then DirecTV.

The one-sided conversation took off from there. The Comcast person started talking about pricing, channels, and other features that I was not interested in. When I pushed back he would ask, "Why?" "Why aren't you interested in this great deal?" "Why do you need more Filipino channels?"  Perhaps because those channels are being watched by someone in my house?!?!?

It took some time with me becoming more agitated to be able to pry myself off the phone. I think I finally hung up on them as I simply said, "You are not listening to what I am wanting and asking about, so this conversation is over."

I understand the person was trying to make a sale, and I was the one who called Comcast. But to turnaround and try to thrust their services on my was very off-putting.

Listen to the below call. But be warned: you might get a little agitated after listening to it all.

My iPhone 4S Camera Issue

I wanted to take a photo of Graecyn yesterday with my iPhone 4S. I launched the camera app from the lock screen. The familiar shutter image appeared but didn't proceed any further through the process. I tried again and again, quitting a relaunching, but nothing happened.

I did a hard reset, tried booting into different camera apps I have on my iPhone, but each resulted in no joy.

I did a web search and found that this was an experienced problem with some users. I went through the basic restore steps, even wiping my phone completely without restoring from a back-up. The problem did not go away.

I'm guessing it is a hardware issue since it affects all the photo taking apps I had. We'll see what the Genius Bar says tomorrow.

Update: Just got back from the Apple Store. The problem was hardware - the front camera was no longer working. This is one of the things I like about an iPhone, the ability to go to the Apple Store to get it fixed. Where would I go to get my Android phone fixed if I had a problem? The carrier most likely. I'm not sure their level of service would be the same.

Induction Day

The plan today is to induce labor since Farrah isn't showing any signs of giving birth as of yet.

They asked Farrah to call in at 7AM to see when she could come in. We expected to go into the hospital after dropping off Mia at daycare. But the result of the 7AM call was to simply call back at 9AM. so we took our time getting Mia ready and off to daycare. She arrived there at 8:30, an hour after her normal arrival time.

Mia's daycare is only a few blocks from the hospital. So we decided to find a close Starbucks to grab coffee. Farrah then called in at 9AM. They said now call in at 2PM - basically when people have checked out. Wow, were we ever going to be able to check in?

We made our way to Target to buy a few supplies. Then off to Palo Alto to have lunch at the La Boulange and checkout the new Apple store (it's gorgeous). Oh, and we grab some Philz's Coffee.

Farrah calls in at 2PM. Finally, the answer is come into the hospital at 3PM. Check-in was smooth. We got settled in OK.

Now it's just a waiting game.

Vertex

On Friday morning Farrah and I went to the hospital for the version procedure. We went as prepared as could be.

It was odd, walking to Labor and Delivery with Farrah. The last time we had been there was when Mia was born. I asked Farrah is she remembered this and that, but most of it was unrecognizable to her. Most likely her mind was elsewhere the last time we were there.

There was a lot of paperwork to fill out before the procedure. I suppose they needed all the paperwork just in case we needed to go into surgery. No one wants to be filling out forms when it comes down to crunch time. The receptionist then took us to a room to wait for the doctor.

A nurse came in to hook up Farrah to a fetal monitor, to listen to the baby's heartbeat. We had to wait for about twenty minutes worth of heartbeat readings before the doctor would come in to see us. The nurse also pressed on Farrah's belly, acknowledging, "Yup, I think that's a head" as she pressed on the top of her belly.

The doctor came in with another doctor in training. She introduced herself and started up the ultrasound just to doublecheck the baby's position. She started her scan toward the bottom of Farrah's belly.

"She's vertex," the doctor proclaimed. "You can go home."

Wow, she turned on her own! Farrah and I were so relieved. We didn't get to go home right away though. They wanted to scan the baby more, try to determine its size and weight (a little over six pounds). Then we had to wait to be discharged. All the time doing paperwork and waiting to be discharged was actually longer than the time the doctor saw us!

It's great to know the baby turned on her own. I wonder what that says about her, turning so late in the pregnancy?

Breech

About two weeks ago Farrah had a ultrasound to check the baby's size. The ultrasound showed that the baby is a healthy sized baby girl. But she's also breech.

It's fairly late in thr pregnancy for thr baby to turn on her own. The doctors say it could still happen, but most likely the baby will need to be helped. Tomorrow we're going in for that help. It's called [version] (http://www.m.webmd.com/baby/external-cephalic-version-version-for-breech-position).

It seems like a straight-forward procedure - so says the man not going through the procedure. We’re reading what we can, looking at [videos] (http://youtu.be/6AM6wDwTjmc), basically arming ourselves with as much information as possible. But it will still be a new anxiety filled experience.

Andy Williams, 'Moon River' singer, dies at 84

Andy Williams, whose soothing baritone and relaxed performing style made him one of America's top pop vocalists and a popular TV variety-show host in the 1960s when he recorded hits such as "Moon River" and "Days of Wine and Roses," has died. He was 84. 

My mom is a big Andy Williams fan. She plays a Christmas DVD of his every year for what seems like a month straight. I'm sure in the recesses of my brain I know a few words to a few of his songs.

Numbers

228. 44.

Two numbers. Just numbers.

The first number is the heighest its been in my life. It has increased by leaps and bounds over the years. At the end of high school, it was 118. At the end of basic training it topped out at 130. After a time overseas it climebed to 155. This was only a period of about six years! And now it is what it is.

I need to stop it from getting any larger.

The other number has been steadily climbing over the years. It’s a good thing, considering the alternative.

I know you’ve guessed right. The numbers are my current weight and age.

The weight thing has been a problem for awhile, something I’ve grown into (insert laugh). It not only affects my ability to fit into clothes, but it is messing with my blood sugar. I took a glucose test today to see how bad it is. We’ll see what the results are.

I’m not surprised. I’m a bit concerned. I only have myself to blame. I need to get back into shape, and soon.

The company picnic was last week. We broke up into several teams for soccer, a sport I enjoyed very much in my younger days. I played hard for three games, huffing and puffing up-and-down the field. I almost scored a few times. I also blocked a few scoring attempts. All I have to show for my efforts is a my screwed up left knee and big toe on my right foot. Both are a bit strained from the sudden need to be extremely mobile, this a week-and-a-half after the picnic.

I’m not getting any younger. But next year, if I go to picnic again, I would like to not be in such bad shape.

I’m writing about this just to write, to know where I am at and where I need to go.

228. 44. I can’t do anything about the last number. But I sure as hell have control of the first. I need to get my act together.

My Gazelle.com Experience

I just sold a somewhat old gadget to Gazelle.com. It is the first time I've tried selling back an old electronic device - that still had considerable value - to an online service. I've heard good words about Gazelle.com. I am hoping I won't be disappointed.

It was easy enough to find the item I was selling to them on their website. They previously would take almost any electronic item, but they now have narrowed the selection down to mostly Apple products. Trying to find the configuration of my product was fairly easy. I put in the condition I thought it was in, the additional components that came with it, and bam! up popped up the price they were willing to pay me. It seemed reasonable (comparing it to Amazon.com's trade-in service). So I pressed on.

I got an email shortly after, giving me instructions and a shipping label. About an hour after that email I received another email from Gazelle saying my shipment option has been updated. Instead of me packing my item to ship back, I could simply go to a FedEx to have them pack it for me free of charge. Way cool!

I have to say my FedEx experience was a bit unnerving. I went to the shipping counter. They took my item to the back where I could not see the pack it. They then brought it back up to label in front of me.

I had to ask, "Was [the item I was selling] in this box"? After-all I didn't seem them place it in the box.

"Yes it is", she replied. How could I continue to doubt her without sounding like a douche.

And then a co worker of the girl who packed my item proceeded to put a label on the box. The wrong label! Luckily she caught her co worker's mistake. I eagle-eyed the correct label was applied to the package. The item is now out of my hands. The waiting game starts.

One Week Later

I was able to track my package though a link from Gazelle's website - which leads to FedEx of course. Once my package was received, Gazelle emailed me. Once they examined my item they emailed me again saying, "Hey guess what? Your item is in better shape then you thought it was. We're giving you more money!" Seriously? I chose my pay out option to be an Amazon gift certificate which gives you a 5% bump. Since my item was in much better condition than I thought it was they simply increased the gift certificate amount.

It's nice to know they were honest about the assessement. They could have easily gone with my assessment but did not. This "honesty" makes me want to use their service again - if I ever have anything else to sell.

Girls

I have always been surrounded by women. I grew up with two older sisters who tormented me through childhood. Most of the managers I've worked for have been women. When I was a manager at a record store, most of the people who worked for me were women. Girls. Women. Always.

So it comes as no surprise that we are having another girl!

Yes, another bundle of joy is on the way. She will arrive in late October or early November. From these early scans, she looks like she'll have plump lips like Mia. Can't you seem them in the ultrasound? I know I can.

My mom was so conviced it was going to be a boy, especially when I told her the due date was the day my father was born. But I knew better.

Girls. Women. Always in my life. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Searching for Answers - Quick Review of Prometheus

Prometheus

The tagline for the movie is: They went looking for our beginning. What they found could be our end.

Synopsis: Ridley Scott does science fiction again. I remember watching Alien at the Old Mill 6 Theaters in Mountain View. My sister took me. I don't recall if I knew what the movie was about before watching it. I think all I knew was that it took place in outer space. Star Wars took place in outer space, so this movie should be cool, right? Well, after the infamous chestbuster scene, I knew this was a different movie.

I heard this started out as a prequel to Alien, but changed to a movie that takes place in the same universe as Alien. Whatever. The film is about going into space to find the answer to the origins of man. Oh, and there are scary aliens in space.

The Good: The general idea of the film, trying to discover the origins of man, is a cool thought. If our creators left signs of where we came from, and perhaps how to find them, wouldn't any reasonable person go looking for them if they had the oppportunity?

The science and design win the day for me in this film. The technology has a sense of realism to it. I can believe they are on the ship Prometheus, and that this ship actually exists.

The aliens (there are more than one type) are interesting without being too foreign. They are familiar yet new. I am not sure how much CGI was done for the aliens, but to me it didn't look like much.

As far as memorable scenes, I must say I enjoyed the operation scene is on par with the chestbuster scene of Alien.

The acting was well done. I especially liked Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba. Noomi Rapace is a great choice for the lead. The character she plays, Elizabeth Shaw, is a strong character in the same vein as Sirgourney Weaver's Ripley.

The Bad: Overall it was a predictable story. An observant film watcher can determine what is going to happen. You could tsee the hidden relationships between characters. There are almost no surprises.

The exploration scenes were good, but I wish they were darker, more tension filled. They were too straightforward and light in comparison to Alien.

There are a few plot hole "huh" moments, like why does one person get affected this way while another is affected another way. The film leaves you with few answers and more questions. Will they be addressed in a sequel if there is one? Who knows.

Overall: The film is worth watching. I don't think you should compare it to Alien. Take that film out of the equation. You will probably enjoy this more if you do.

**My Rating: Matinée

AMC Bought by Chinese Conglomerate

The Wanda Group, a Chinese conglomerate with extensive interests in the entertainment business, has agreed to acquire AMC Entertainment, North America’s second-largest movie theater owner, in a deal that is valued at $2.6 billion, including roughly $2 billion in assumed debt, the companies said Sunday.

A friend of mine wonders if this means the Chinese will help in curbing piracy in China. Who knows. Pirates will be pirates.

The Avengers

Farrah and I were able to actually watch another movie! Last week we finally saw The Hunger Games - which I would rate Matinee. This week we watched The Avengers.

When filming The Avengers was first announced I was a bit nervous. How could a movie with so many characters do justice to the comic book? I mean, would we just see the team fighting the villians on screen and bits of dialog thrown in. Surely, character developerment - though never a priority in most movies - couldn't happen in a super hero movie of this scale? But wait, Joss Whedon is at the helm. Can he pull it off?

I think he did. I've watched all the related films - Iron Man 1 and 2, Captain America, Thor, all the versions of the Hulk movies. But I think The Avengers can work as a standalone movie. A new viewer can get the sense of each character from this film. I know there isn't deep character motivation-exploration going on here, but these are no cardboard cut-outs either. They make javascript:noop()some attempt at depth given the amount of screen time devoted to each character.

The story was simple enough to follow:

  • Big bad guy steals magic cube that equals ultimate power.
  • Heroes - who normally operate alone - must band together to stop the big bad guy.
  • Heroes don't get along at first, but unite to fight the big bad guy and the aliens who are his allies.
  • Heroes prevail for now.

The story movies along at a good pace, only slowing down just enough to catch your breath, digest the scene you've just watch, and then pick up steam to the next action sequence. The dialog is snappy, with humorous bits here and there to keep the mood light.

The part I disliked, and not by much, is the CGI-based ending battle sequences. They weren't as confusing as a Transformers' film, but they were annoying enough. I'm not a fan of these huge computer generated battles. But if anyone could pull it off, it would be in a Josh Whedon film.

The Avengers may just be a movie I would pay again to see on the big screen.

Rating: Full Admission 

Again

It has been awhile. Again. Life has just been busy. But I have a few moments right now to put down a few thoughts.

As I write this it is Friday afternoon. I'm on the train heading home. I am typing on my new iPad. This new little machine is a joy to work on. It is much faster than the original iPad, which is now Mia's full-time companion. She uses it as her "mini-tv", but also has a few story apps she enjoys. Her iPad is protected with the iGuy cover which makes it easier to carry around.

I bought the new iPad with 4G - the Verizon version. I find the machine wicked fast on the Verizon network when I'm able to get a signal, which has been most of the time. There has only been one problematic area when leaving SF on the train. But other than that the machine has been smokin'.

I recently had a birthday. My birthday. Another one. Well, it's a good thing, right, consider the alternative? I'm not being particularly reflective, at least not yet. I'm sure I will have a moment to contemplate the year that has passed. But that moment isn't right now. Right now I'm wondering what's for dinner.

I, again, hope to write more soon. I hope to post more photos, soon. I hope to plenty of things - soon. We'll see what I can accomplish.

Vacation Photos with iPhone 4S

We came back from our trip to Hawaii this past Thursday. I wanted to post a few photos I took during vacation. What's interesting about these photos is that they were all taken with the iPhone 4S. Yup, I left my Canon 7D at home. We did, however, bring the Canon S90 with us, and I had a Sony NEX-5N at my disposal. Those photos should be up on the photos page sometime this week.

What I found interesting was that we (Farrah with her iPhone and I with mine) were able to capture moments effectively with our iPhones. There were a few missed opportunities, but none I regret in not having my Canon 7D with me. I'm sure if there were more nighttime or low-lit moments to capture, I would have failed with my iPhone. But most of our activities were in the daytime, making the iPhone a perfect vacation camera.

I also tried out the new version of the Path app. The app has been recently updated for the iPhone and Android. The updated version of Path makes it more intuitive then its previous incarnation, but there is still one thing lacking: people I know using Path.

I have a few co workers using the app, but I would really like other family and friend to use it as well. Honestly, I don't think many will do so, only having time for Facebook and, perhaps, Instagram. It's understandable. I found myself posting more to Path (as a test) and Instagram more than Facebook directly.

I'm thinking my time on Facebook will become more limited to pushing data from other sites/apps then direct interaction with Facebook (e.g. logging in and actively posting, commenting, etc.) There are only so many hours in the day. I'm finding that Facebook is taking significant chunk of that free time I rarely have.

Anxiety Sucks

I hope to be on a plane to Hawaii when you read this. I'll be doped up on Dramamine  which will help me make it through the plane flight. I've always has a little trouble getting on a plane, whether it was a short or long flight. But for some odd reason I've been getting more anxious about this flight.

I hate this feeling. I truly do.

I am writing about this in hopes of purging all this bad "mojo" from my brain. It really comes down to that, doesn't it? It's your inability to stop your mind from thinking discomforting thoughts. You feel the sudden shift of the plane because of turbulence and you think the worse case scenario. Or you feel the air in the cabin is not as fresh and free flowing as it should be, and you feel more enclosed then you really are. Yes, my mind is wandering. My mind is thinking of these things - and more - it should not be thinking.

But why, why now? Am I really thinking of something else?

It's possible. This is our first flight with Mia. She's been a pill lately. Either she's teething or simply closing in on the terrible twos. I don't look forward to her acting up. I'm getting uncomfortable just at the thought of feeling the eyes of people wondering, "Dude, can't you control your kid?"  Seriously? You try to stop her from squirming and screaming when she's in the zone. Pressure. Tough on a five our flight.

So that may be it. I am not wanting to deal with what may happen. But to think more about it you can't control what may happen.But shit happen. You cannot control everything.  You can only set yourself up for the best result.  Then you need to deal with the unexpected, and adjust accordingly, if it happens.

This is what I need to remember. Deal with it when things happens. And also remember that the Dramamine will kick in sooner or later.

Ethan Hawke

All of three of us have been having similar feelings that we're ready to revisit those characters. There's nine years between the first two movies and, if we made the film next summer, it would be nine years again so we really started thinking that would be a good thing to do. We're going to try to write it this year.

Ethan Hawke talking about the possibility of a third film to round out Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.