7.26.2010


Bye Bye Windstream


My Internet connection is currently down so I'll take a few moments to vent my complaints about Windstream and Dish Network (bundled with our phone and DSL service). These moments are brought to you by Windstream, whose incompetence is responsible for this "net-less" time". We put the wheels into motion to cancel the service a few days ago. We're switching to cable, but the installer won't be here for a few more days so we made sure that the Windstream account would remain active until the other service was up and running. So I get up this morning and do my usual mundane routine, then I tried to connect to the Internet. No luck. The DSL light on the modem was not lit, so I knew what the problem was. I tried re-setting the modem at least a couple of times with no luck.

I hate to call tech support. Hate it with a passion, I tell you. Not only that I feel intimidated by the difference between all the tech savvy they have and my own intermediate computer literacy... but almost every tech support guy I've ever spoken to sounded like they were stuck up, like they knew how much smarter they were than I am (in all things related to computers) and it pleased them. Of course, those are only impressions... they're mine, and very likely they are in error. Regardless, that's why I don't like calling them. The guy I just got off the phone with was not so bad, though, I admit.

The guy couldn't do anything for me, but apparently it had nothing to do with connection issues. It seems they had no DSL service records for me. As it turned out, Windstream had already disconnected us, even though we specified that we didn't want to be shut down until August 4 (right around the time when the cable installer will be here). I don't have any idea why they killed it so early, but I don't really care. All I know is that I'm NOT surprised. Not one bit.

We've used Windstream for several (too many) years and I can't count the number of times I've had to call tech support. Their service people probably know how to get to my house without a map. When we first got hooked up with DSL they didn't tell us anything at all about the connection speed. I don't remember how fast our initial connection was, but it was slow. I guess we thought it was good enough because we'd just switched from dial-up. But we couldn't watch tube videos because they took too long to buffer. Lots of "crowded" webpages took a long time to load. I was surprised when I learned that they offered a higher speed option. Like I said, they never mentioned it. Internet drop outs happen so frequently in this house it's not even funny. There were times when our Internet would go down several times a day for varying periods of time. Lately we have been getting disconnected every single time the telephone rings.

I know I can't vent at Windstream for the issues I have with the Dish Network, but since it did come along in a bundle with the Windstream service I might as well. We signed a 2-year contract with Dish or else I swear to God we would have gotten rid of it within the first few months (maybe even WEEKS). The main problem we've had is when the satellite signal is lost. This happens a LOT (though not nearly as much as our DSL drops out). When it's gone you're screwed. If there's a huge storm raging outside, and you need up-to-date weather information, that's too bad because the rain and clouds will invariably cause your signal to go down.

The programming is kind of weak, too, for the price. I mean, we don't have the "America's Top 200", which would remedy this situation completely. But you know what? I'm not gonna pay the kind of money they want for that higher tier. It's ridiculous. We have the "America's Top 100", which is NOT the bottom level tier, I should add. WEAK, that's all I can say. All it would take is something like Turner Classic Movies to make me happy... just one commercial-free channel that you don't have to upgrade your plan to watch. I've got my system set to display only the channels that we might watch, but if I hadn't done that we would have been deluged with infomercials. They are all over the place.

I suppose Dish may be a good thing for people who want to order up pay-per-view movies and events. They seem to have a LOT of options in that arena. Not me. I don't think I've ever ordered a pay-per-view attraction even once in my life. And I don't plan to. I prefer DVDs, where I can stop the film for bathroom breaks and such. Besides, I never could get the sound on my home theater synced with the satellite box. So it's best all around that I choose home video over pay-per-view.

Speaking of "sync"...that is another of my MAJOR complaints about Dish Network. Many, MANY times the audio from a particular program will be so out of synce with the video that only a blind man wouldn't notice. I can't watch it, personally. It drives me crazy. It's bad enough on music programs, when I can tell how screwed up it is by seeing the guitar player's fretting hand play chords before they even make a sound. Drummers who look like their playing out of time. Singers who might as well be lip-synching. But it's even worse when I'm watching the news. I can't even describe it. Disorienting, to say the least.

So, I hope to see the last of all that when we are hooked up to cable. The satellite companies are always ragging on cable... they must be doing something right. All I know is that I've used cable TV since I was a little kid and I've never had these kinds of problems with it. I've heard that a cable connection is much faster than DSL, so I guess I'll have to wait and see about that. Hopefully that is the case, because I really am much more concerned about my Internet service than I am the television.

Okay, so I've waited an hour and, lo and behold, the connection has been re-established. Yippee! At least they do get it fixed eventually...

7.22.2010

So, I got my new eyeglasses yesterday, after having to wait for over a week. I didn't mind the wait, as long as they worked. I've had so many problems with my eyesight during the last couple of years that it was easy to wait that long, hoping they would take care of at least SOME of the problems. It wasn't just that I couldn't see all too well, or that I would get headaches after reading for just a little while. Nor was it the difficulty in reading from the computer screen, as it seemed a little bit blurry and I couldn't focus on a very large section. The right eye seemed to be lazy. I had hopes that those things would very possibly be taken care of with a new prescription (if I could just get a GOOD one, see below). But there are also issues with the muscles around the eyes that I am not sure have anything to do with what optometrists are qualified to diagnose and treat.

I'm very pleased, though I've had them for less than 24 hours. It's supposed to take a few days for me to get used to the prism in the lenses, and I can tell that a little bit of patience will make the situation even better. Still, the difference is remarkable. I'm not overwhelmed by all the clutter on Internet web pages. The right eye seems more "active", for lack of a better term. Before I had serious trouble reading a book or magazine in artificial light, needing quite a bit of overhead light. Now it's not quite as bad. I can focus on the words on the page a lot easier. Just as important, I don't feel like I'm straining that right eye. In fact, I can feel it relaxing, not having to strain. That may take some time getting used to, but hopefully it's a sign that the muscle issues were, in fact, related to the straining of the eye. If so, it would not surprise me, because it's been building up for TWO YEARS!!!

Yes, 2 years I've suffered with this situation. It all stated in April of '08. I ran into the side of a door and wrecked my glasses. I tried to bend them back into shape but the right side earpiece was ruined. I went to the optometrist I'd always used, Dr. R, went through the whole eye exam and we got the glasses. It was only a few days before I began to notice a problem. If was in the video store and will all the DVD covers on display I actually became dizzy. Too much visual information. It was even worse at Best Buy, but any store that had a lot of stuff on display would get to me. I'd hoped that it was just a matter of getting used to the new lenses/prescription. I went back to Dr. R and informed him of the problems. He seemed to think that slight adjustments would do the trick. But it didn't. He sent it back to the manufacturer, but they did nothing at all about the lenses, only the frame. It was at that point that I gave up on Dr. R.

A few months later I went to Dr. M. He is my current optometrist and apparently he did a good job on this pair I have now, but the first pair he made me at that time were not a whole lot better than the ones from Dr. R. I'd heard a lot of people say that he was a competent, good optometrist, so I was disappointed that the glasses didn't turn out better than they did.

So I decided that the issues were outside the boundaries of what optometrists can do, so I decided to go to an ophthalmologist. I don't even remember the name of the doctor, because the glasses I got from her were worse than BOTH the other pairs I'd gotten since my good ones broke. So I went back to the pair that Dr. M. prescribed, as it was the best of the lot.

Then my yearly eye exam came due a couple of weeks ago. I chose to go back to Dr. M., for various reasons, not the least of which was the fact that he accepted Medicare and was located only 20 miles from my home. I wasn't sure what had happened the first time I visited him, but I decided to give him another chance. I told him EVERYTHING that was going on with my eyes... I even wrote it all down during the days before so I wouldn't leave too much out.

And that's about it. I've got the glasses, I can see better and I am very hopeful and optimistic that most, if not all, of my vision issues will be remedied. Still, I cannot believe that I went for 2 whole years with screwed up glasses. The whole situation had put me in a serious depression, so now maybe, just maybe that will lift somewhat as well.

UPDATE (7.26.10) - I'm happy to say that the outlook is good that these new glasses will remedy not only the vision aspects of the overall problem, but the muscle tension on the left side of my face, as well. I guess that was all the result of straining my eyes. I try to look through my old glasses and I am amazed at how poorly I can see through them. I'll be surprised if there are no lingering issues because of the sheer amount of time I used the bad glasses, but for now I am very happy that I can see again!

7.19.2010


Say Hebbo! from Torvakian on Vimeo.


It's so easy to join: TARVUISM

"Third Voice" preview

A short excerpt from something I'm working on, a short story/Novella called "Third Voice". Hope you enjoy it.

THIRD VOICE

The Smart Voice told me it was pure craziness. There could be no other voice other than my own. Two. The Smart Voice and My Own. There could not be three. Never could there be three.

But there was. And This Voice told me He was God. And He said to me, "I am made manifest in the Prophet Paul. He will speak to you. He will teach you the manner with which you should conduct your life, informed, as it is, by the Hermetic teachings delivered by the Holy & Sacred Internet Chorus.You will know him as Me. You will refer to me as 'This Voice' from now on."

Now, I'm not the kind of man to bow down before anything more lofty than a cheap trick whore looking for a hand out. But this thing was telling me It was God. It's an imaginary voice, after all. I've gone insane. That seems obvious to everyone but me, I'm sure, but I'm ALSO sure that if this 3rd Voice was to be believed I would be a fool not to take advantage of the benefits of walking with God. Talking with God. Listening for hours to It's teachings and realizing, deep in my soul, that they are exactly what I need. I know in my stomach that I will be a better man for following these precepts It's laid done, forever trapped in the spider web of the InterWeb.

The InterWeb. The silo of our souls. The repository of intelligence and sensation. Last bastion of the Unique. Well of shadows. Crawling Serpent coiled and hungry, a place to retain memory, the place to obtain recollection, the den of Hackers and disemboweled cyber-spirits. A Haunted House filled to capacity with ghosts, ghouls, goblins of the past, just waiting for their turn in the Resurrection. An endless novel, daring the reader to follow. An absolutely Unique journey for the brave Riders willing to dive into the Web's deep waters. Worth everything to the man choosing his skin. The Inter Web. Solitary confinement a burden more easily bared.

The Smart Voice told me to stay away. "Trouble, Frank. Nothing but trouble. I realize that it must be very important to you that you have not obeyed me up to this point, but now I'm offering a chance for redemption. I'm gonna stand watch on your ass like I have never stood watch on Anybody's ass before. "

But This Voice whispered in my ear, "Don't listen to him. He's a square. He's one of the most UN-COOL cats in the whole Pussy Willow. Come on, Sad Sack, let's have some FUN! I got plans...they be a hunnerd times more fun than the ones you been thinkin' about lately."

That sounded good to me. Who knew how long it would last? Might as well let God in on it. He seems like a swell fella. What would it hurt, you know? That's what I'm asking: How much harm can possibly be done from lettin' the old Bugger hang on me? Could do worse, you know."

A certain annoyance was easily detected in the tone of the Smart Voice's response: "At your own peril, Frankee, Old boy, at your own peril do you follow This Voice that whispers in your left ear while you and I speak on the right. He will drive you mad. You will soon wish him off of your back and you will feel him heavier to carry than any stone Sisyphus had to roll. He'll talk you to death and stuff your mind with the desire to know things you are never meant to know. Can't you see it? Ah, but that it seems so obvious to me, how can it be so oblivious to you?"

Then I'd go into the bathroom, where I had recently experienced a rather Uncommon tendency for This Voice, that is, the God Voice (NOT the Smart Voice, though you would think that This Voice would also be a Smart Voice and that the Voice of God would most assuredly be Smart. But the point is, there was a large, full body sized mirror in that bathroom, and it was in front of it that I not only heard the God Voice, I SAW the God Man channeling through me. I was not the man in the mirror. That was the Prophet Paul, the incarnate God Man, sent to spy on me.

I recognized Christ and I saw him looking back at me with the look of a man whose tender feelings have been trampled on. He had a gleam in his eye that a man could grow jealous of. He spoke often of his family and friends. He taught every single day of his life...only a scant few of his teachings are to be found in the Bible. But what a lot of people don't know, through no fault of their own, mind you, is that a great lot of these Life Lessons are still extant and can be accessed by certain members of the Hindu community. For a small fee there should be no problem in getting you inside and leading you to the chamber where the papyrus grow, where the Teachings can be found. You will rejoice when you get there, when you walk up to that door you'd better stop and consider that if you take one step through that door your whole life will never be the same again? It will change you in such a profound way as to render you powerless to even consider getting back the old things, the old thoughts, the old schemes, the old dreams, the old lies and the old truths, they are still the same, they are still the same. Damn that demon he's in my head again. I can see every word he would have me write and to you with faoo eiii sectarian a cataclysm the fairy tale monster's are cool as they come the come they come.

Lesson 1: The exact day, month, week, day, hour, RIGHT DOWN TO THE MINUTE can all be found in the Number of the Beast, 666, which was never meant to frighten the pious, but a mathematical equation that has not, until now, been accessible to the human mind's ability to comprehend how it works and what it means. But intense calculation at this moment will reveal to you that the final day will be in the month of May, in the year 947,873.989,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,776. Obviously quite a long time from now. I could only think of my family line, whether it will have become extinct by then. Will anyone presently living have a family line left only millenniums from now? The lesson? Be prepared mentally. Build a wall if you have to, just stick with This Voice that claims to be God. He is! Take my word for it. I'm fixing to get nailed to a tree at thirty three, so you'd better pay attention to me while you still got me around. Stick with Him as if your life depended on it. There will be many times when it will have and you may never even know it. Never realized that your life had been spared on so many different occasions as you walked on, still breathing, blissfully unaware of any danger you may have been in. And there will be danger, and you will be in it, but take heart. I will be your Shepherd, and you shall never be in need. I will tell you to lie down, in quiet warm breeze birthing ripples in still waters. I will take you on a funhouse journey, a freak out road trip into that dark, dark Valley. Loathsome Valley that swallowed twenty mean and ate 'em, whole.

Lesson 2: There once was a man named Abe. He was a good man, and just. But like every man, his folly was his downfall. You see, this man was a thinking time bomb. This man danced to the Four Seasons of Vivaldi, twirling and whirling to the familiar strains of Spring. This man liked it way too much, though. He liked it to the point that everyone who knew him could not think of him without also thinking of whatever it was he liked, I've forgotten.

Sudden Mental Breakdown, good lord it's happening again. Sudden Mental Shakedown, it's gonna get you out yo head, good god it's gonna get you out yo head...





7.12.2010


"The life of a man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

7.05.2010

July Status Update

Aaargh, the last couple of days have been rough. I have all these thoughts in my head and I can't seem to stop them. They take precedence over everything else I try to do to distract myself from them. My failing eyesight prevents me from reading or watching a lot of television to divert my attention. But even then I find myself thinking about how short a period of time I will get relief via these methods and another thought comes to the surface that makes me wonder why I bother at all, since I'm going to get a headache and tension in my forehead no matter what. It's depressing as hell.

I know better than to think that a person's home can turn into a prison if he doesn't get out enough. Anyone who has been forced to spend a long time away from home should be able to tell you that it's just not so. Home is a part of you. But there is such a thing as "cabin fever" and I am most definitely experiencing that. We are broke, though, and still have to pay another $200 for my new glasses here in a day or two. It would do me a world of good to get out on the road, maybe get lost and see what I can find or plan a joyride across a few state lines. I've never been to California, it might be fun to go there. Hell, I've led such a sheltered, cloistered life I have only been to 7 states in my whole life. I never really had the desire to travel much, but these days I'm thinking it might be fun.

So what do I do? Well, I spend too much time on the computer, as has always been the case. Even this hobby is frustrating because it messes with my vision, just like reading a book or watching television. My options are mighty limited, as you can see. But I do have fun downloading music from blogs. Recently I've expanded my appreciation for funk/soul via a blog called All Soul And Funk Revue. Basically I'm trying to listen to all the bands that I remember were very popular with the black customers when I worked at Friends Records in 1982. They were the only ones who bought these records and they had strong opinions as to which ones were worth bothering with. There were a few divisive artists - it seemed like you either liked Prince or Michael Jackson, but not both - but for the most part everyone seemed to hold certain bands in equally high esteem. Some of these, which I am currently listening to, are Con Funk Shun, the Fatback Band, One Way, the Bar-Kays, Lakeside, Cameo, Zapp and a few others. I like them all a lot. I don't know why I never listened to them when they were fresh but better late than never.

I just now downloaded a 1981 performance of Wagner's "Lohengrin" with Herbert Van Karajan conducting. I've been looking for this particular opera for awhile. I'd also like to find a fairly recent (hopefully digital) recording of Wagner's Ring Cycle. The one I have, the Solti version, is from the late 50s-very early 60s. It's a wonderful rendition, and the sound quality is remarkably good for such a dated recording. But any Ring Cycle is a welcome addition to my collection, and I'd really like a newer one.

I've been communicating with my daughter via Facebook the last three or four days. I wouldn't bother mentioning it, except for the fact that I finally came out and said something about getting together. Not that I haven't kind of skirted around it in the past, but I've always been cautious because of the situation we find ourselves in. But this time I put it out in no uncertain terms and basically said, in so many words, that the ball was in her court. I told her not to mention it until/unless she wants to do it. Not that I don't think she might or might not want to do it, but the fact of the matter is that both she and I would likely be very uncomfortable with such a meeting, so I wanted to let her know that I would understand if she wasn't ready (or even if she'll EVER be ready).

My son started Drivers Ed today. I think he's under the impression that it's going to be a lot easier than it is. All I know is that he'd BETTER take it seriously. It's going to be very hard for me to get used to the idea of him driving. My dad worried like crazy about me and I think I've inherited that "worrying gene" myself. There's a little tension between my son and I right now, and it's frustrating to me, but I'm not up to giving out the details. Too complicated. I'll take the blame for it, though. Still no excuse for any of it.

A couple of weeks ago I bought the "100 Classic Books" program for the Nintendo DS. My wife has one but she rarely plays with it anymore, so when I saw an advertisement for the "virtual bookshelf" I decided it was something I would like to have. It is very cool. I started off with Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables". I actually like how the pages are a fraction the size of a normal book page, which I thought might be a negative. The book selection is pretty much exactly what I thought it would be. I'd like to read practically every one of them. Hell of a deal for $20. Sure, I could get the same thing with an iPad, even more...but I like it's compact nature and, perhaps even more important, I don't have the funds to purchase an iPad.

Okay, that's all I'm up to writing about for now. Later.

7.01.2010

I just got back from an appointment with my optometrist. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here, but I've had some serious problems with my vision for a while now. It came time for my annual exam and I made a point of being very specific in what I told the doctor. I had even written down, over the course of the last few days, everything I noticed as it happened so I could tell him exactly what's been going on.

I have a pretty good feeling about the visit. He is a very capable optometrist and seemed to have a grip on the situation. I'm developing cataracts in the right eye, and that may be why I have trouble reading in "artificial light". Practically every medication I currently take has some kind of visual side effect but there's really no way of knowing which is doing what. My prescription changed, so I'll be getting new glasses. After insurance I'll still be paying $295, so that's a drag, but if it helps I suppose it's well worth it. I wouldn't think twice about it had not the last THREE pairs of glasses I bought been inadequate.

I'm thinking about doing a little volunteer work at the local nursing home. Well, not what I would consider "work", but there are probably a lot of people there who can't read anymore for whatever reason and who would appreciate it if someone read to them. That might be something I could do well that would give me a chance to get out of the house and socialize.
Cholestral levels are high. Liver enzymes are elevated. It looks like I'm going to have to stop cheating on the low-fat diet. It's gonna be hard, because I've backslid so far. When the doctor's office called to inform me of these developments I was at Juana's with a HUGE beef burrito sitting, almost completetly eaten, on the table before me (just COVERED with cheese, no less). I'm listening to this nurse and at the same time shoveling this delicious, fatty food into my mouth...so yeah, things have probably gotten out of hand, but it's hard to resist when you're feeling okay. It very well could have something to do with being taken off of the Niaspin.

Any way you look at it I'm gonna have to get serious about this nutritional lifestyle change. I'm gonna have to find some motivation to see it through, better than I was able to do last time.

Jónsi & Alex: Random Home Videos (Part 1)

jónsi and alex - random home videos - part 1/4 from Jónsi on Vimeo.