Category Archives: Personal

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,

Paul

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,

Paul

*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.

Paul

Doctor Visit

Went to the doctor today.

Thankfully I don’t have to have surgery but he said that the break is VERY VERY VERY BAD.

Turns out I kinda shattered my ankle, and all that is holding it together is a hope and a prayer. He said I would have to spend a minimum of eight weeks (probably closer to twelve) without putting any weight whatsoever on it. Doing so would risk my ankle collapsing and the need for reconstructive surgery.

The good news is that I got a nice Ky blue cast.

Knee Scooter

The doctor prescribed me something called a “knee scooter” to help me get around while my ankle heals.

I don’t know who invented this thing but they deserve a medal. The difference between it and crutches is night and day.

Crutches allow you to (with difficulty) get from point A to point B and not much else. The scooter not only does the same quicker and easier but it allows me to also carry Items, making me much less dependent on others.

I like zipping around on this thing so much I may just buy one to use after my ankle heals (Yes I am that lazy).

Paul

Broken Ankle

It seems my idiotic carelessness has finally caught up with me and I broke my ankle.

I was one or two steps up on a stepladder (which was stupidly placed on some loose soil), the ladder began to tilt, I attempted to jump off, landed wrong and the result was a broken ankle.

Since I will have an abundance of time on my hands for the next few weeks, expect to see this blog come back to life.

Paul