My Yearly Nightmare With My Cable Company

My current cable provider is Fioptics. It is a Cincinnati Bell division.

Last week I had to go through the yearly ritual of begging for the best price. Cable companies are the only service I know of that does this.

My cell provider (Verizon) never changes your price unless you alter your contract. Even without a contract, your price stays the same unless you make a change. In fact, two out of the three times I did make changes my cell provider managed to offer me more for a cheaper price. None of my utility companies make you negotiate yearly for the best price. Even my web hosting service is still honoring the same price I was paying 6 years ago!

Yet cable will base a lot of your pricing on what they call “promotional” offers that will expire in a year (sometimes 6 months). They call you shortly before the promotional pricing ends to warn you and to try to hook you up with more promotional pricing. They pretend this is a special service to give you the best pricing.

This is a SCAM!

The object is always to raise your prices while convincing you that they did you a special favor by working hard to give you the best price possible.

To do this they start off by telling you that “your price is going up significantly”. Once they do that (and after hearing your shock) they start finding you promotions to lower your price until they leave you happy that you got away with just a small increase instead of a huge one.

When Fioptics called me last week the person on the phone told me that once again, “my promotional pricing was ending and that my bill would be increasing by nearly $60.00”. Of course I told her that “the price was unacceptable” and that “Spectrum (another provider in the area) offered better pricing than that”. She then looked at some small promotions and got it down to a $50.00 increase. I told her “that is still unacceptable”. Her answer was to suggest “I drop some channels”. I explained that “if I wanted to drop something, I would have already done so”. “I typically don’t buy services I don’t want”. She asked me to “hold” while she pretended to talk to her manager. She came back and said that “he would allow her to do some promotional equipment pricing to bring the price down another few dollars” and said “one of my promotions was the free increase from 50 Mbs to 100 Mbs internet service last year” and that If I went back to 50 Mbs she could get my pricing to within $20.00 of what I had been paying” (when they gave me the free upgrade there was NO MENTION of it being promotional). I said “I could live with that” and hung up happy that I was able to keep my cable within 6 dollars of my original budget.

Yes sometimes it takes awhile but slowly the neurons that make up my brain matter start to do their work. I just let them increase my cable by 10% while cutting my internet speed in half! This should make me happy?

These tactics should be illegal. ANY cable company that can hook me up at a reasonable price without having to go through these yearly games, will get my business and my loyalty. Even if the initial cost is a little more.

How you treat your customers is what keeps them loyal. I have been a Verizon Wireless customer for over 16 years and they aren’t even close to the cheapest, but they treat me right.

Let me know what you think,


The Republican Lie

The Republicans are claiming they will reduce health insurance premium costs.

That is an outright lie.

The cost savings they propose is achieved by removing the restrictions on minimums insurers must provide, and removing consumer protections. In other words they want the insurance companies to be able to profit from selling crap policies. Go back to major illnesses financially ruining people and people being cut off just when the insurance is most needed.

Imagine I say I will lower the cost of automobiles. I then remove safety regulations so that cars can be made without safety features like seat-belts, horns or structural protections.

Of course that will lower the price of those cars but the overall market price reduction that is achieved is an illusion. The good safe cars will still cost the same. You are just introducing lower cost, unsafe crappy cars into the calculation.

There are those who say “I am a safe driver.” “I don’t need all those costly safety features.” Odds are you may be correct, but all is not in our control. It is much better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Its is the same with insurance. They are removing the safety features.

No more deductible free exams. No more minimum coverage, No more protections from caps and drops in coverage when you are sick.

They say that “the young don’t need the same insurance as older people.”

Yes, the young and healthy don’t get sick as often, but they do get sick.

Imagine coming down with cancer only to find out your treatments aren’t covered. Or be in the middle of a major health crisis only to find out your insurance dropped you, or that you’ve maxed it out and it will pay no more.

They make the argument that “men shouldn’t have to pay for pregnancies or breast exams, or women shouldn’t have to pay for prostate exams.

That argument only works on idiots. This is precisely how insurance works! We all pay for things we more than likely wont need to make it affordable to insure that which we will likely need. If only people likely to have heart attacks insured against them, the price would skyrocket. You also need people paying who will not likely need it to keep the cost down.

Don’t let them fool you. Demand REAL savings and cost reductions without sacrificing basic protections.

Let me know what you think,


A Multiverse Revelation

I have always believed in the multiverse rather than the traditional single universe.

Most modern theories either require or become much simpler when multiple (uni)verses are included, from M theory to Relativity to Quantum Mechanics. All suggest multiple verses or realities.

While my belief in a multiverse goes back decades, I had a event in my life about five years back that cemented that belief.

I had a major heart attack.

The type of heart attack I had was called a “Widow Maker” because so few survive it. I had a complete blockage in the LAD. Luckily for me the people around me knew to start CPR. There was a firehouse nearby. The paramedics that had just come on duty were known for their expertise in cardiac events and the trauma team on duty at the hospital included one of the best (THE BEST in my opinion) cardiac specialists in the area.

Once my heart was restarted and a stint was put in to clear the blockage, my body temperature was dramatically lowered for three days to give all my organs a rest and improve my survival odds.

Bare with me, I assure you this will all relate to why I believe in the multiverse.

Trust me when I tell you that a major heart attack that doesn’t kill you WILL FUCK YOU UP!

For the first few days I would break down and cry for no reason at all. For a man in his fifties, this was most humiliating because it happened in front of anyone who visited me. Thankfully that only lasted a few days. Then there is the weakness. Even though I had only been bed ridden for a few days, I had zero muscle strength. Just sitting up was a choir and it took a couple months to return to normal.

While in the hospital I started noticing some strange differences. The first was my hands. My index finger had always been the exact same size as my ring finger on both hands, now it was shorter.

I didn’t know what to think except that maybe my ring fingers grew a little recently without me noticing? I’ve never heard of that happening at my age but I guess it is possible.

The next thing I noticed was a scar I carried since childhood had disappeared. When I was 13 years old a friend and I were playing with a road flare and a piece of the flaming sulfur dripped on my arm and left a nasty scar. That scar was gone. No matter how close I looked I couldn’t even detect a trace. I had just noticed it a few days before my attack as I had a habit of picking at it. It was a pretty prominent scar.

Friends started relating personal stories that I had no memory of (I just figured the heart attack turned my memories into Swiss cheese).

After I returned home there were items I owned that I had no memory of having, and items I had a clear memory of having were gone. I had to reset a lot of my passwords. Once again I contributed this to the heart attack affecting my memory.

Then I started noticing other small changes. I used to have very little problem with mosquitoes. Others would get ate up but I could go through a swarm and only get a bite or two. Now if I even attempt to go outside evening hours during mosquito season I get bitten from head to toe. Also the way cold medicines and such affect me is different. If it said “may cause drowsiness”, for me it was like taking a hit of speed. It had the exact opposite affect. Now they knock me out. There are also many other small changes that I won’t get into here.

The change that threw me for a loop and got me really believing in a multiverse happened a few months after my heart attack. I was out doing some shopping and ran into a childhood friend. For me this was beyond surprising. I clearly remembered attending his funeral years before. In fact I was there when he died. He fell off a ladder while we were painting a house and crushed the back of his head.

Now here he was standing in front of me asking how I have been. I must have turned white because he asked if I was alright. I quickly shook it off and acted as though I just hadn’t seen him in some time but that event shook me to my core.

When I got home I was convinced the heart attack took my sanity. I can understand it causing my to lose memories, but create false ones?

It just didn’t make sense.

Then I got to thinking. What if my heart attack was the cause of these apparent changes but not in the way I was thinking.

What if I was somehow remembering a universe where one of those lucky events that allowed me to survive didn’t happen and I died in another reality? What if when we die in one reality, our conscience slips into another reality in which we lived?

I would theorize that normally when it happens you would adopt the memories of the next reality, that I wasn’t meant to have these inconsistent memories. It could be that mine is a rare case, a fluke that I retained some memories of another reality.

Yes I do realize that this could all be in my head. A heart attack is a major trauma and this might be a lingering affect. Or I might simply be delusional.

For now at least I prefer the multiverse explanation. Even if I am delusional it is causing me nor anyone else harm. I know a lot of people who put faith into crazier things with a lot less evidence.

For those of you not familiar with a multiverse theory the basic premise is that any decision or event that has a possible greater outcome than one will split off a new reality.

For instance if you come to the end of a hallway and have a choice to go left or right, two realities are created. One in which you go left and one in which you go right (actually there are many more possibilities, I just simplified it to two).

As you can imagine all the possibilities that has happened since the beginning of time means the multiverse would have an infinite number of realities.

An infinite numbers of realities leaves us with another plausible theory. That everyone gets to live forever.

Think about it.

With an infinite number of realities, in at least one (actually this would also be a infinite number) we would have figured out immortality.

If when we die, our conscientiousness jumps to the next reality in which we live then eventually we make it to the one in which we are immortal.*

Or maybe I’m just full of shit.

Let me know what you think,


*I have another post planned that will go deeper into multiverse theory that I will post in the near future.

SmartPhone Nightmare

My 14 year old grandson has a cell phone on my Verizon account.

His mother had grounded him from using it because of failing grades. She said “he could have it back when his grades improve at least enough to pass”.

He accomplished this but it turned out he got busted sneaking to use it and viewing inappropriate things on the internet (Who’d thought a 14 year old boy would get into things he wasn’t supposed to? LOL)

His mother told me that “since he isn’t mature enough to use the net unsupervised, that she wants me to take back the phone altogether because he will no longer be allowed to use it”. She did say “he could have a phone that was only able to text and make phone calls but a smartphone was out of the question”.

My grandson lives a very rural place, out in the middle of nowhere. I feel a phone is essential in his situation. Especially since his house has no land line.

I knew he would find a a non-smartphone embarrassing and would refuse to carry it so I came up with a compromise. I asked his mother if it would be ok if I were able to make it so he could not get on the internet on his current phone. That way he wouldn’t be embarrassed and she would have her restrictions.

She was fine with that as long as I could guarantee he could not access the web and could not download or view videos from services like Youtube.

So I had my task before me.

The first thing I did was go to the Verizon web site.

I have a service called Family Base that allows you to put restrictions on each line on your account.

I thought “GREAT! Problem solved”. I should be able to block downloads and the web along with purchases and a few other things. However, after applying the blocks I was still able to get on the internet. It successfully blocked a few things but internet access wasn’t one.

My next move was to try and turn off his data usage but the site would only let me limit it to 500 Mb. It seems smartphones have to have a certain amount of data for updates and such (Why Verizon cant separate update and system data from personal data is beyond me).

So I called Verizon. The person I spoke to was very nice but wasn’t able to offer much help. It seems certain blocks need the Family Base companion app to work and the app was incompatible with his phone.

WTF? Wouldn’t the phone being incompatible with a major service they offer be information I needed to know before buying this phone through Verizon?.

He suggested I use a content filter (at an additional charge of course). Having used them in the past, I knew they are not very good and easy to get around, so I said ”no thank you”. Also that wasn’t what I told his mother I would do.

Verizon, failed me, so I had to look at other options.

I knew if I root the phone I would be able disable net access so rooting was my next step.

I have rooted phones in the past so I was familiar with the process and also knew there was a small chance I could brick the phone (make it unusable).

So I set out preparing to root the phone. I downloaded the proper files and familiarized myself with the procedure for this particular phone.

Rooting usually involves hooking the phone up to a PC in debugging mode and installing a custom recovery program.

For some reason my PC refused to see the phone.

I updated all drivers involved, made sure the USB connection was in MTP mode but no matter what I tried my computer would not connect. I even tried my own phone (we both have Samsung phones but mine is a different model) and it would not connect either (it had just a month ago).

I have several computers in my house. Tried them all, but none worked. I even tried using a Linux distro and that didn’t work. It has to be either a Verizon update that caused this or a Samsung one (My money is on Verizon).

My next step was to try the “one click” rooting apps that doesn’t need a PC. Tried several, including KingRoot, Towelroot, Framaroot, and Iroot. None worked. I didn’t really have my hopes up as these have a low success rate.

I was at my wits end. Nothing was working so I reached out to an old buddy on the net. He is an app developer and a bit of a guru when it comes to phones.

He told me of an app called “Package Disabler pro” (not one of his) and said “it should fit my needs”, so I gave it a try.

This was EXACTLY what I needed! I was able to remove (disable) anything that could let him download or connect to the net. I disabled the web browser, Youtube app, Play Store and most else that connects to the net.

The app is password protected so he can’t undo the changes and uninstalling it doesn’t revert the phone back either.

I was able to leave him access to his games, a app he uses for school and google play (for music) but that is it.

Problem solved. His mother should be happy because he cannot get on the web or view Youtube videos, he will still have a phone he wont be embarrassed to carry and I will rest easier knowing he can make phone calls and text.

The best part is that it is very easy for me to undo what was done should his mother have a change of heart.

Tough choices when it comes to kids and smartphones.


Are We All Just A Simulation?

I often wonder if our universe is real or some kind of simulation.

Is there a way to know? Does it matter?

From what I have read, the latest thinking is that the universe is indeed real. That the computational power required to simulate the universe would be more than what would be possible.

I have a couple of problems with this explanation.

1. How do we know what is possible outside our universe?

2. The computational power needed is based on the simulation running in real time.

It is possible that outside of the simulation each second could take hours, days, years or even a millennia to render and we wouldn’t notice the difference within the simulation. When watching a cartoon do we notice that each frame took hours or days to create? The more time it takes to render, the less computational power the simulation needs.

Perhaps, the whole universe isn’t being simulated at once, just a particular point of reference. Maybe just your life and interactions are all that is being simulated. Nothing exists except that which intersects with your life.

Personally I tend to lean towards our universe being a simulation.

The reasoning behind my thinking, is that our universe seems to have a frame-rate. When we look at smaller and smaller increments of time, there comes a point where instead of fading to the next moment, time takes a jump to the next frame. That frame-rate is the energy state of electrons.

Electrons dont smoothly transition from one state of energy to the next. They make a leap to the next state without any transitioning.

I believe that if the universe were not a simulation, all time transitions would be infinitely smooth no matter how closely we look.

In the end though it really doesn’t matter, does it? Simulation or not, the universe is real enough for all within it.

Let me know what you think,


Dark Matter

Dark matter and Dark energy are ways to try and explain the apparent movement of all the observable objects within our universe, and why it is accelerating. It is behaving as if it contains far more matter than we can currently detect.

Perhaps gravity can at least account for some of this missing matter.

Imagine the classic illustration of Einsteins theory of gravity that we all have seen. The stretched membrane with marbles (representing mass) creating dimples in the membrane. Now turn over the membrane. Instead of dimples, we get projections. Instead of capturing mass, these projections would repel it.

This could be the effect of our gravity on parallel *universes and visa versa. The extra mass and energy we see could possibly be the gravitational effects of mass in a parallel universe close to our own.

Maybe one day we will find gravitational lenses where there should be none?

LOL Or perhaps I am full of shit.

Let me know what you think.





*I use the incorrect term “universes” for simplicity. The proper term in this instance would be “verses”.

Climate Change Deniers

I have a hard time understanding climate change deniers.

Not only is the science pretty solid but it has come to the point that even the casual observer can see the changes. Who can deny that every year brings new record highs?

Some will acknowledge the change but dispute the cause. Claim that carbon emissions produced by man couldn’t possibly affect our climate, despite the historical data and computer models that correlate with the effects we are seeing today.

Most deniers claim that the science isn’t complete. That the cause(s) may in fact be natural. Beyond mans control.

Making the claim that “the science isn’t complete” indicates that they acknowledge at least a chance that the cause(s) are man made and that is what puts them beyond my understanding.

Let’s assume that the science is wrong and we take steps to dramatically reduce carbon emissions anyway. What is the worst that can happen?

Yes, it may for the short term make energy a bit more expensive and cost jobs in the oil and coal industries, but in the long term those jobs lost would be replaced by better, less dangerous jobs in the renewable energy market. We also get rid of limited pollution producing energy sources and replace them with unlimited clean environmentally friendly energy.

The best part is that wind, solar, geothermal, bio-fuels.. ..ect, are stable, globally distributed resources. Which means that their use can only get cheaper.

Even without climate change, moving away from fossil fuels still makes a lot of sense. The long term benefits far outweigh any short term hardships.

Now, lets assume the science is right and we don’t take action to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions,

We are already seeing animals like the Polar Bear becoming endangered and facing extinction due to environmental changes. Permafrost is melting, possibly releasing diseases that hasn’t been seen in thousands of years, from which we may not have a defence.

In just a few decades we will lose billions, if not trillions of dollars worth of property in our coastal cities due to rising sea levels. Our food supply will start to dwindle due to massive crop failures and interruption of our food chain. Widespread wars will break out as people fight over disappearing resources.

Within fifty to one hundred years our environment could collapse altogether making the earth inhospitable to human life.

So which seems like the more reasonable option? Take a chance on a less than ideal economic impact or take a chance of subjecting our children and grandchildren to a miserable existence on a dying planet?

I know climate change deniers love their children, so why would they take that chance, even if they see it as a small one?

This brings up another perplexing thought. I understand that there are people who accept that climate change is real and accept that the cause is man made, yet still vote for people who would do everything in their power to ensure we keep using fossil fuels,


 What issue could possibly be more important than the fate of the climate our lives depend on?

If we fuck this world up, there is no other.

There is a tipping point and once we reach it there is no return, That point is very very close (if not already here).

Perhaps there is a line of reasoning that the deniers have that I am missing. If there is please reply and let me know.