Thursday, September 30, 2004
The folks at MGM have admitted the inevitable and announced they are delaying the release of the next Bond movie because no director has been hired yet (not to mention, Pierce Brosnan, or any other actor for that matter, hasn't been signed). Sony's buyout of MGM is also a factor in the delay.
For the November 2005 release they were planning on, they would need to start filming in January. That won't happen without a director in place now to work on preproduction.
All of this is despite the fact the writers of the last two Bond movies have already turned in a first draft of the script.
So the question is, when will the next movie come out? They're looking at either summer 2006 or winter 2006. The last Bond movie to come out in the summer was Timothy Dalton's "License to Kill" in 1989, which was clobbered at the box office. I'd place my bet on a winter 2006 release.
Either way, this will be second longest gap between Bond movies, following the six-year wait between "License to Kill" and 1995's "GoldenEye."
An offshore betting agency has suspended betting on "The Apprentice" after noticing an unusual betting pattern on two of the contestants.
Could they be the final two contenders who make it to the last show? Click the link above if you'd like to know who they are.
I hope it isn't either of them, because that would mean I just spoiled one of my favorite shows! At least, there is no way of knowing who the ultimate winner will be since that will be announced in a live show.
Advertisers will stop at nothing to find new ways to reach consumers. Enter the Wizmark. It's a "liquid activated" device that will play a recorded message when it gets wet. It will be placed in urinals, where a captive audience will have to listen to its sales pitch once the device is...ahem...peed upon. It's also sensitive to light and motion.
The Country Music Channel plans to use the Wizmark to promote its network and Molson is already using it in some city's in Quebec.
I kid you not. It's in the New York Times, so it must be true. Here's an excerpt:
There were several obstacles to overcome before the Wizmark came to market. First, [the inventor] had manufacturing problems in China, where standards, he said, are slack. Then the speakers were too loud, so he had to create a thicker plastic casing. And then there was the splash factor, an issue better left unexplained.
From Lost Remote.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Earlier this month, William Shatner arrived in a small town in Iowa and informed the people there he would be filming a movie he wrote and is producing, directing and starring in. It was supposed to be a low-budget sci-fi flick called "Invasion Iowa."
Local people were hired to play some of the roles and work on the crew. Shatner kicked everything off with a news conference and news of the movie made the local papers.
Last night, after 10 days of "filming," Shatner revealed it was all an elaborate hoax. It's part of a reality show about what happens when a bunch of kooky Hollywood types invade a small, rural town.
It is expected to air early next year on Spike TV.
Thanks Lost Remote.
The sports columnist in Patrick's hometown newspaper, the Advocate Messenger, wrote about his story today. It appeared on the front page of the sports section.
Here's an excerpt:
Friends says Barsotti remains his usual fun-loving self and is determined to return to a normal life as soon as possible. I would have expected nothing less from him even though most of us would be tempted to wonder "why me" and fear the worst.
But not Barsotti. He's not that way. The same competitive drive that kept him playing soccer even when he wasn't feeling well will help him combat this illness.
It's a good piece that does a great job of illustraing what a great kid Patrick is.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
However, I have to commend Jay Leno for the way he handled the announcement last night that he would be turning the show over to Conan in five years. He started off by praising Conan as a person and a TV host and acknowledged NBC’s concerns that he would jump to another network. Then he acknowledged the dispute over who would take over “The Tonight Show,” Leno or Letterman, and said that some good friendships were permanently damaged (remember, Jay used to be a frequent guest on Dave’s show). Leno said he’d hate to see anyone go through that again, which is why he’s glad it’s determined now that Conan will be his successor.
In 1994, Bill Carter – a writer for the New York Times – wrote an excellent book called “The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno and the Network Battle for the Night.” Don’t bother watching the awful made-for-HBO movie. Just read the book. It describes every gory detail of what was going on behind the scenes, from both Dave and Jay’s perspective, from the time Carson announced his retirement to the time Dave moved to CBS. It’s a great read.
Carter was on the “Today” show this morning. He predicted that Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” will eventually take over for Letterman and that the next generation of late night TV will be all about Stewart vs. O’Brien, instead of Letterman vs. Leno.
So who do you prefer? Letterman or Leno?
And who would you prefer in the future? Jon Stewart or Conan O’Brien?
Monday, September 27, 2004
When the host of NBC's "Tonight Show" steps down, the host of NBC's "Late Night" will get to take over. Except we're not talking about Johnny Carson and David Letterman.
NBC announced Monday that current "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien will get what David Letterman always wanted -- a shot at the big chair as host of "The Tonight Show." O'Brien will get to take over when Jay Leno departs in five years.
This is a great accomplishment for O'Brien who came from relative obscurity 11 years ago and overcame horrible (largely deserved) reviews. In the end, he will have hosted "Late Night" five years longer than Letterman, and then get the prize Letterman felt he deserved (Letterman did deserve it, but that's a whole other issue).
So the questions become: will Letterman still be on the air in 2009? If so, how does a Letterman-Conan match-up work out? And who will take over on "Late Night?" Five years is still a long way off -- it could be someone we've never even dreamed of.
While we’re on the subject of Patrick, thanks to everyone who has sent their well-wishes. I will pass them all on to Patrick and his family. I really liked what Allie said: “he's got more people on his side than he realizes!” That thought made me feel a little better. I’ll tell that to Patrick and his mom – hopefully it will make them feel a little better too.
I’m an impulse blogger. I blog whenever the mood strikes me and about whatever strikes my interest or pops into my ahead (well, almost – there is a little self-censoring). This blog doesn’t have a specific topic, like so many others. It is not about the news, sports, politics, sex, the media, etc. It’s usually goofy stuff about upcoming movies, something funny or unusual I read somewhere or interesting things going on in my life.
So how do I get back to blogging about crap like the new “Fantastic Four” movie after the last two posts I published? After writing about Patrick, it seems a little awkward to post a story about some weirdo covering himself and his hotel room with Vaseline.
So consider this post the official buffer. I will still post about Patrick, since it’s hard to get him off my mind. But I will go back to posting some of the other “meaningless” stuff I used to post too.
Sometimes it feels strange to go about my business while thinking about what he and his family are going through right this second. But maybe pointless, random blogging will help me keep my spirits up. And if my spirits are up, maybe I’ll be better at helping them keep their spirits up.
Maybe I’m rambling and over-analyzing…
They determined Sunday what type of leukemia Patrick has. It's known as acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). You can learn more baout it here or here.
ALL is fairly common. About 4,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is the most common form of leukemia in patients under 19 years old. It usually occurs in kids under 10, but can strike any age group.
I'm told he had his first round of chemo Sunday, although I'm still not certain what type he's getting.
Apparently Patrick's soccer team had a big game Saturday night. The game was dedicated to Patrick and his best friend wore Patrick's jersey. The team won and after the game they all went to Lexington to see him in the hospital and present him with a banner they had all signed. I get choked up just thinking about it!
Friday, September 24, 2004
That’s when my cell phone rang. I figured it was Kris, but it was mom, which is unusual because she doesn’t call my cell very often. When I answered she called me Tim.
“No, Chris,” I said.
She corrected herself and told me she had just got off the phone with my brother Tim. I could tell her voice didn’t sound right and she told me she had bad news.
“Patrick is in the hospital,” she said. “They think he has leukemia.”
Leukemia. I hate that word.
For those of you who don’t know, my very good friend Mike died of complications from leukemia two years ago. His death capped what was probably the worst summer of my life. It followed my father’s passing about six weeks earlier and my first dog’s death about month before that.
And now it was all rushing back. I almost dropped the phone out of my hand.
Patrick is the oldest son of my sister Mary Ellen. He’ll turn 16 years old next month. Apparently he’s been having some pain in his joints and has been very fatigued lately. No one thought a lot of it. After all, he’s on both the football and soccer teams at school.
Patrick is one of the star players on his soccer team, but the last few games he’s been asking his coach to pull him from the game early. Last night his coach had enough and yelled at him – accusing him of having a bad attitude and not wanting to play.
So with that, Mary Ellen knew something must be wrong and took him to the doctor this morning. If anything, they figured it might be mononucleosis. It wasn’t mono. That afternoon, after the blood work came back, the doctor called Mary Ellen and her husband in and gave them the news no parent ever wants to hear.
Patrick is in the hospital right now – about a 40-minute drive away from their house. He’s going to start treatment tomorrow. I don’t know yet what sort of chemotherapy he’ll be receiving.
On the phone with mom, my initial shock eventually wore off, and my tone started to become more clinical as I told her about what type of leukemia Mike had, how his treatments worked, how long he was in remission, etc. I knew that I was definitely late leaving work now and after about 10 minutes I finally realized there was no reason why couldn’t be walking out to my car while I was talking to mom.
I reached the car just as we wrapped up our conversation. When I hung up the phone, my cool, clinical demeanor disappeared and I was right back where I started. I literally threw my bags into the car and then started pounding the roof, on the verge of tears.
Normally I call Kris when I’m going to be late, but I didn’t want to tell her about this on the phone. I’d let her be annoyed at me for being late. She would understand once I told her why. I spent the car ride home trying to figure out how to tell her. She was very close with Mike, so I worried this news would hit her hard too. But when I got home, she already knew. My other sister, Annie, had called her about the same time mom called me.
Patrick and his family are in for a long haul. I don’t mean to go all biblical on you, but I’m going to ask everyone reading this for a favor – please pray for Patrick. Pray for his whole family. I wish I could be there for them, but they live in Kentucky. So right now prayers are probably the best I can do. This is something I believe in – and the more prayers the better.
I’m pulling for you Patrick. We all are.
Disappointed about the NHL lockout? Well, this doesn't really makeup for it completely, but it's better than nothing. G4TechTV (formerly TechTV) plans to play out all 1,230 games on the regular season schedule in video games and show highlights on TV.
Thanks Lost Remote
Anyone remember "The Last Starfighter?" It was a cheesy 1984 scifi movie about a teenager who mastered a videogame, only to have it turn out that the videogame was placed there by aliens looking to recruit fighter pilots to help defend their world. Yes, it was as silly as it sounds (but I was 13 then, so I thought it was kind of cool at the time).
Anyway, it is about to debut as an Off-Broadway musical.
All I can think of is that "Friends" episode where in Joey is in the play that ends with him leaving Earth on space ship. That was played for laughs, as a play that was supposed to be serious but was entirely silly. I can't believe anyone thought a musical about "The Last Starfighter" was a good idea!
Thanks Joe Video
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Charges stick in motel petroleum jelly case
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) - It looks like the charges will stick in a bizarre case in which a man allegedly covered virtually every surface in a Binghamton-area motel with petroleum jelly.
A Broome County grand jury today indicted 44-year-old Robert Chamberlain for felony criminal mischief in connection with last spring's incident at a Motel 6 just north of Binghamton.
The McLean, Virginia, man was arrested last May after a cleaning crew discovered the T-V set, furniture, carpeting and everything else in Chamberlain's room had been slathered with Vaseline petroleum jelly.
Police say when they tracked him down at a nearby motel, Chamberlain was covered from head-to-toe with the stuff.
A manager at the Motel 6 says it took more than a month to clean up the mess. He says people still call from around the world asking about the slippery saga. Some have asked to book the room where Chamberlain stayed for almost a week.
(Bob Joseph, WNBF, Binghamton)
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Martha Stewart's last order of business before heading off to prison was to sign that deal with Mark Burnett. The creator of "Survivor" and "The Apprentice" wants to take a crack at giving Martha's TV show a makeover when she gets out of the big house. They also will collaborate on other TV projects, including a possible prime time show.
Miami talk radio host and Dolphins analyst Jim Mandich quit his job as a TV commentator because the people from Presidente beer, which sponsos his TV show, were "offended" when they spotted him drinking Heineken after the show at the restaurant the show is broadcast from.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
This song aired on the Wakin' Up With the Wolf show here in Albany today. I rarely listen to that show, but we happen to be on the Wolf's mailing list here at work and he sent out an e-mail encouraging everyone to download this song and pass it around. So I figured I'd do my part!
Yesterday's USA Today published the first photos of the "Fantastic Four" cast in their costumes. The shot of Jessica Alba was the only one featured on the USA Today Web site. Coming Soon scanned the rest of them on put them on their site. Check out the link above to see them.
Jessica Alba, 23, star of TV's Dark Angel, is Sue Storm/the Invisible Woman.
Congratulations to my former fellow RA staff member, Allie, and her husband on the birth of their new daugther, Rachel.
For obvious reasons, Allie hasn't updated her blog, Allietude. But the news and some pictures can be found on another college friend's blog, Joe Video Dot Net.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Cyclist Tyler Hamilton is under investigation for blood doping and could be stripped of the Olympic time-trial gold medal he won in Athens.
Hamilton said he would “fight this until I don’t have a euro left in my pocket.”
Lance Armstrong gets all the mainstream publicity, but Hamilton is no slouch in the world of cycling. Last year he was in the middle of a nasty crash with multiple riders (more than a dozen, if I recall) in one of the early stages of the Tour de France. He completed the rest of the tour riding with a broken collar bone -- which earned him the title of all-around tough guy in my book!
U.S. cyclist Tyler Hamilton reportedly failed a drug test and could lose his Olympics time trial gold medal.
A company called PetsCell is now making cell phones for dogs. I kid you not. It's a small unit that attaches to the dog's collar.
Basically, if you've been away from your pooch all day long and you just tell him he's a good boy and he should stay off the couch, you just call the number attached to phone on the collar. The phone will automatically answer and your voice will be heard over a speaker.
There will also be a button that can be pressed to automatically dial your phone in the event someone finds your lost dog (or at least the collar).
The company is also looking into incorporating a small fiber optic camera for search and rescue dogs.
In other cell phone news, a German company is developing a phone that will alert the user if they have bad breath. I'd love to see what happens if you put one of those phones on the dog's collar!
Call the gang from Yancy Street...they'll want to see this spy photo that gives us our best look yet at Michael Chiklis as the ever-lovin', blue-eyed Thing in the "Fantastic Four" movie.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Check out the newest trailer for "The Incredibles." Pixar looks poised to knock another one out of the park. I can't wait to see this movie!
Friday, September 17, 2004
So this guy is hit by a train and killed. The body is messed up pretty bad, but the family identifies him.
Then at the funeral, just the casket is being loaded into the heasre, the daughter is told she has an urgent phone call. Guess who's on the other end of the phone?
It seems dad isn't dead after all, and didn't know he was supposed to be until he saw his own obituary in the paper. He went to his daughter's house and the woman who answered the door fainted. He called his daughter and she flipped out, thinking she was losing her mind and that there was a ghost on the phone.
No one has any idea who is in the casket.
I guess all my complaining must have paid off.
After the operator told me it would be seven to 10 days before our phone would be working properly, I got a little upset. I told her that no one had ever explained to me that it would have to work that way and that in fact I was told to ship back my TA, while she was now telling me that I still needed it. I told her that we have been unhappy with the entire CallVantage experience, and gave her the brief history of all of our problems.
She was sympathetic, but said there really wasn’t anything she could do. She apologized and said she hoped they would have a better service in the future for us to try again. I got the impression that she was well aware CallVantage was a screwed up service.
Anyway, this whole conversation took place on my cell phone as I was driving to work. When I arrived I was still a little angry and vented on some of my co-workers. A few more missed phone calls came into our voicemail, and then just now Kris called and told me the phone just rang at home! She hung up and I tried calling her, and sure enough, it worked!
So somehow seven to 10 days turned into two or three hours. Now we can get ourselves switched back to MCI and finally be done with this whole thing.
So we finally got a dial tone on our regular phone line yesterday. In the afternoon, someone from AT&T called me to return one of our calls and I explained (again) why I had been calling the day before. She thought I was calling to see if my CallVantage service was working and wanted to verify for me that it was. I told her that, just the opposite, I’m trying to get rid of the wretched service!
I told her that I now had the dial tone I had been waiting for. But my CallVantage line was still working too. She said she would see to it that it would be disconnected. I asked her if that meant all I had to do was disconnect my telephone adapter and ship it back to them and she said yes. So that’s just what I did. The TA went out in the mail this morning.
There is just one problem. We haven’t been getting any of our calls. Since disconnecting the TA, the phone never rings. All calls just go straight to our CallVantage voicemail. I called AT&T to complain about this, and was told that our order for our local line has not yet been completed – that it takes seven to 10 days for the switchover to be complete. That means that without the TA – the one I was told to mail back to them – we can’t receive any calls. For a week or more!
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
On Aug. 31 I called AT&T and told them I wanted out of CallVantage and be switched back to regular AT&T service (so I could eventually switch back to MCI). I was told then that it would take eight to 10 days to complete the switch. Assuming that meant business days, then today was day 10 and we are still on CallVantage.
So I called AT&T this afternoon to check on the status of our request. A very nice girl named Shelly answered the phone, but complained her computer was slow and couldn't come up with the information I was seeking. She promised someone would call me back -- in two to four hours.
So five hours later, I was home from work and still hadn't heard from AT&T. So I called again. This time I had to sit on hold for about 10 minutes before an operator picked up my call. I explained the situation again and asked for the status of our switch over. The operator guy placed me on hold while he went to look up the information...
Nearly a half hour later I was still on hold! Nolan needed to go to bed and he wanted me to take him. So I handed the phone off to Kris. Eventually, an entirely new operator picked up the phone and had no idea why we were calling or even that we had already talked to someone else and been on hold all this time. After Kris lit into the woman a bit, the operator told her that the best she could do was take our message and have someone call us back tomorrow! At that point Kris basically hung up on her.
So what is the moral of this story, kids? AT&T sucks. Sucks big time.
I'm not sure what brought this on. It probably doesn't sound like a big deal to anyone else. But to me, it just underscores how much older he's getting.
At least I'll still have Thomas to call me "Daddy" for a while longer.
This is a must visit for any fan of "The Simpsons." You can file this one under the "people with too much free time dept.," but it's still pretty cool.
Here's an explanation from the site:
The mapping of Springfield began in the Spring of 2001 when we realized that no adequate map of Springfield existed either online or in print. Initially the content was collected from the City Profile and Springfield Vacation pages at The Simpsons Archive, but it has since been expanded by numerous viewings of most episodes of The Simpsons.
They also state the following:
The Map of Springfield has been added to the Harvard Map Collection of the Harvard College Library. The Harvard Map Collection is the oldest map collection in America, and has a strong commitment to digital resources.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
This is not a picture of Chester. It's just a funny shot of a Basset hound I stumbled across and had to share.
In a recent interview with London's "Daily Record" Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, now 71 years old, says he would love to appear on the new series as the new Master.
That's the best idea I've heard since the notion of Sean Connery playing a Bond villain. But I'm not holding my breath.
Mmmm...my arteries are hardening just at the thought! Yum!
Lessons from the Golden Age of Classroom Filmstrips
Who doesn't fondly remember filmstrips?
If you were really lucky, you would be the kid who gets to turn the knob that advances the film!
Now there is a book that chronicles the filmstrip in all its glory...
...and the lessons we all learned from this valuable educational tool.
Monday, September 13, 2004
It seems the pointless news crawl that ABC uses during "Good Morning America" is generated by the Associated Press. As a result, last Thursday headlines mentioning the season premiere of "The Apprentice" would air that night on NBC ran by about 20 times on ABC before someone caught it and pulled the plug.
Apparently, many suits at ABC were understandedly upset.
Friday morning, "GMA" went without the crawl, out of fear it would have had headlines about the "Apprentice" show that had aired the night before.
The British Tabloid Sunday Mirror is reporting Scottish actor Dougray Scott has been cast as the new James Bond.
He was the prince charming character in Drew Barrymore's "Ever After" and was the villain in "Mission: Impossible 2." He was also the original choice for Wolverine in "X-Men" before Hugh Jackman, but was forced to give up the role when filming ran over on "M:I2."
Meanwhile, Pierce Brosnan is saying not so fast. He's claiming he was misquoted or taken out of context in that Entertainment Weekly article in which he supposedly declared he was through with playing 007. He's not coming right out and saying that he wants to do another Bond movie, but he's not exactly calling it quits either.
I still think that when the next James Bond movie unspools at multiplexes everywhere, it be Brosnan starring in the role.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
This picture was taken at last year's Tugboat Roundup in Waterford.
We took the kids to the annual Tugboat Roundup in Waterford today.
This was our second trip to the roundup. When we went last year, it was one of our first outings with Thomas. This year, we were accompanied by Noah Brownsey and his kids.
If you've never been to this fun event, then you should mark your calendar now and plan on checking it out next year. The kids have a blast seeing and boarding all the boats -- not to mention the all the music and food. Check out the link above for pictures and info.
Friday, September 10, 2004
Dear Niskayuna High School alumna/alumnus:
Hello! I'm writing with happy news -- the new Niskayuna schools web site Alumni Database is now live! (I am emailing you because your address
is listed in the database.) Visit the Alumni Main Page for all the details, at:
All information from the old database has been successfully transferred to the new database. Please note: Your username is now also your password. See
the "How to use the new database" link on the Alumni Main Page for all the details.
If you have any problems with the database, please contact me directly via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 518-377-4666, Ext. 207. This
new database is backed up nightly, so we won't have problems with lost information, as with past databases. I also hope alumni find this database
more user-friendly. If you ever have any suggestions, please let me know.
Thank you for interest! If you are in contact with any other alumni, please let them know about the new database!
For up-to-date school news,
closings and other information:
A newspaper deliveryman for the Hartford Courant in Connecticut named Mark Guthrie wound up with $301,000 being deposited into his bank account by the Tribune Co.
It seems that money was meant for relief pitcher Mark Guthrie of the Chicago Cubs.
Both the newspaper and the Cubs are owned by Tribune. The company wants the money back. They managed to pull about $275,000 out of the account before the deliveryman had his account frozen. He is now being sued by Tribune.
I was a big fan of "The Dukes of Hazzard" when I was kid. Who wasn't? But for some reason, the idea of seeing Seann William Scott (aka Stifler) and Johnny Knoxville ("Jackass") as Bo and Luke Duke on the big screen just doesn't appeal to me.
However, one note of caution: Entertainment Weekly put "Joey" on the cover of their fall TV preview issue. They have a lousy track record when it comes to picking which new show to put on the cover. Some of the ones that stand out in my memory are last year's "Miss Match" with Alicia Silverstone and Jennifer Love Hewitt's "Time of Your Life" a few years back.
As for "The Apprentice," I generally find the second installment of a reality show to be a let down. However, I did enjoy last night's installment. It take a few more weeks to get a sense of exactly who all the "characters" are beyond the two-dimensional types that stood out last night -- the goofy guy (Raj), the mental case (Stacie J.), the tough-as-nails-bitch-on-wheels (Pamela).
Speaking of last night's show -- Kris and I both thought the idea for the little football man/car thing was cool. We thought that sounded like something our boys would like.
And what was the deal with Pamela only taking two people to the final boardroom? I coudln't understand why Trump was giving her the option at first. Who in their right mind would only take two people when you could play the odds and take three? But then, she goes and takes two. Whatever.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
There were numerous rumors about more changes Lucas was planning to make to his original "Star Wars" movies when they come out on DVD. It seems one of those rumors is true. Lucas has digitally replaced actor Sebastian Shaw with prequel actor Hayden Christensen as Anakin's ghost at the end of "Return of the Jedi."
Purists are all bent out of shape about this. I don't know that I really care that much one way or the other. I've come to accept that Lucas will always be monkeying with these movies for the rest of his life -- there is nothing any of us can do about it.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
The conversation went something like this:
Nolan: I went to school!
Chris: You did? That's great! What did you do in school today?
Nolan: I played with cars and I pretended I was a policeman!
Chris: That's great. Was your teacher nice?
Chris: Did you make any new friends?
Chris: Did you learn their names?
Nolan: (pause) I don't know.
Chris: Well, that's ok. You'll learn them later.
According to Kris, she learned upon dropping Nolan off this morning that day's agenda included a "field trip" to see where the potty was, reading the book "Hooray For Pre-K," learning each other's names and a craft.
I'm so proud of Nolan. Is it too soon to start looking into colleges?
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Digital phone service that works over a broadband Internet connection is all the rage right now. Vonage has been around for awhile, but now Time Warner Cable is offering it and Verizon will be coming out with it soon. TWC's service, of course, will only work if you use their Road Runner service for your Internet connection and Verizon's will only work if you have DSL with them.
But CallVantage boasts that it will work no matter what kind of high speed connection you have -- either cable or DSL. CallVantage and TWC both offer unlimited local and long distance, but AT&T is about $5 cheaper than TWC (and you get the first six months for only $19.95). Also, CallVantage offers a whole bunch of extra features that TWC either makes you pay extra for or doesn't even offer at all.
On paper, it sounds like a no-brainer. We would be saving money, and get all these cool new features -- like voicemail we could retrieve anywhere online or in our e-mail and even be able to forward to people as e-mail attachments. So we decided to sign up.
But first, we noticed that there were some disadvantages. They way it works, we would be sent a special box that would connect to our phone and cable modem. But only one phone could be connected to it. So we would now only be able to have one phone in the house. Well, that was ok -- we have a cordless phone and our house isn't that big. Besides, we figured in the future we could always buy a new cordless phone that comes with two or more handsets. But also, since our service was dependent on this special box (called a telephone adapter, or TA) it meant that if we lost power or the TA became damaged, we would also lose phone service. Plus, when we called 911 it would go to a regional operator -- like when you call from a cell phone -- as opposed to going to our local 911 operator.
These were all things we thought we could deal with.
Now before, we had MCI. It turns out that for some reason, we couldn't switch from MCI to CallVantage. So we had to go to regular AT&T service for about a week and then switch from that to CallVantage (first sign of trouble).
It took a little longer than promised, but eventually our TA arrived in the mail and I eagerly hooked it up to our modem and phone. I was very excited to be so "cutting edge."
We were told that after connecting the TA, it would take another day or two before we were fully switched over to the new service. Instead, it took about four or five days.
For the first few days, it seemed to be working fine. There were a few kinks, but I figured that was just us getting used to this new type of phone service. Then, on our first weekend with CallVantage, the real problems arrived. Often, people on the other end of our phone conversations wouldn't be able to hear us. Other times, our phone would never ring -- instead calls would just go straight through to our voicemail. Our name was not showing up properly on other people's caller ID and their names were not showing up as they should on ours. Sometimes the whole phone just wouldn't work at all -- no dial tone or anything.
Eventually, after reading the instruction manual that came with the TA, it sounded like what I needed to do was download new software for my router. So I tried that and it seemed to fix the phone, but I haven't been able to establish a VPN connection with work ever since.
The phone was working fine for about four days, but then the problems came back and we returned to square one. This time I tried calling their tech support hotline. I was instructed to enter my phone number, and then was told by the recording that my number was not recognized as a CallVantage number. It asked me if I wanted to talk to a representative about ordering the service, and after trying a few times to get through I figured I'd answer yes to that question, hoping whoever I spoke to could connect me. Instead, I got a recording telling to call back during regular business hours (this was a Saturday afternoon).
So I e-mailed them with my complaints. About 24 hours later I got a response apologizing for my problems and telling me to call them -- at the same number that didn't work for me before! This time I did get through, but the person I spoke to was not particularly helpful and had no concrete solutions to my problems.
After one more day of missed or cut-off phone calls, I had it. Kris wanted to bail out much earlier. I was still excited by the idea of the service and really wanted to make it work. But enough was enough. So I called MCI and asked them switch me back. But remember how couldn't we go from MCI to CallVantage? Same problem in reverse. Once again, we have to go to regular AT&T before we can switch back to the MCI service we had before. I had to call CallVantage to tell them I wanted out (we had 30 days to get out before we would be locked in for a year). It took me more than a half hour on the phone and I had to speak to three different people to get that done. We're still on the CallVantage service now, six days later, waiting for regular AT&T to kick in so we can get rid of that too and go back to the MCI service that we actually were never unhappy with in the first place.
So here's the bottom line: if you're considering AT&T CallVantage, don't. It sounds great, but unfortunately it's not all it's cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks.
The summer started with our big trip to Kentucky. We'll wrap it all up with a cookout tomorrow at mom's with Annie's family.
And then on Wednesday...Nolan starts pre-school!
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Ok, after this I'll let it go. Here are a couple of quotes from Yankees captain Derek Jeter on the big loss...
"If someone told you at the beginning of Spring Training that you'd go into the last month with a 3 1/2-game lead, I think most teams would take it," said Derek Jeter. "People talk about our problems, but we still have the best record in the league. A lot of people would like to have our problems."
"It was embarrassing. No matter how you look at it, though, it's just one game," Jeter said. "It's not how you win or lose, it's whether you win or lose. It's one day. It's not like football season, where we have to wait a week and think about it. In a couple of hours, we'll be out there again."
How cool is this?!? My nephew Louis and his baseball team are playing in a tournament for 12-year-olds in Cooperstown. His dad, Rocky, just called me to let me know that there is a live feed of the game on the Web.
I expected just still images from a webcam, but it is actual live streaming video and audio. The game started at 4 p.m., so click the link to see if it's still going!
Niskayuna is the team in red. Louis is wearing number 8 and is playing third base.
The Nisky All Stars won the 4 p.m. game. They're playing another that started shortly after 6 p.m.
The Boston fans I know have had their fun. Here's a sample from my inbox:
I'm not going to go to crazy yet, but I need to share with you what a fellow Red Socks fan said to me at work this morning. He said that "The Red Soxs now have 22 reasons why they are still in the race". I thought that was rather appropriate. Do you think the Yankees have a flag for the record they tied last night?
And then Aaron piled on some more with:
I bet you wish you had "big game" pitchers like Pettite, Wells, Clemmons and the Unit. Any one of them could pull you out of this history-in-the-making slide you are in. We all know Brown's back will go into the dumber before the end of the year... Maybe A-rod could pitch for you.
Upon being reminded that it only counts as one loss, Shannon said:
A HUGE,RECORD-BREAKING, DEMEANING, EGO-CRUSHING LOSS, but still just one loss.
And right here on this blog, Michelle said:
What was up with that?? Dan and I laughed our heads off! Trust me we know George will just go out spend spend spend to fix what ever is wrong with the Yankees but as a Sox fan we are going to enjoy it for the day.
At least Michelle has her head in the right place and recognizes that her joy is temporary at best.
This snippet from Jack Curry at the New York Times best sums up my outlook:
Despite the terrible loss, the Yankees are still in first place and they still have a more favorable schedule than Boston and the other wild-card competitors. When was the last time the Yankees were even mentioned in the wild-card chase? The Red Sox, the Angels, the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers all play one another. The Yankees must face only Boston.
"There's a certain level of embarrassment there, no question," Torre said. "Something like this, you have to bounce back from. It's one game. You move on."
Maybe this is what the Yankees needed. A little reminder that they will not boogie to a title as if no one else is on the dance floor. A little reminder that they are a flawed team if they pitch poorly. A little reminder never hurt any team, especially one that let a huge lead in the division vanish so quickly.
We'll still see who has the last laugh. See you in October.