comcast arrived this morning, an hour earlier than anticipated. fortunately i woke up early myself and do some cleaning before they showed up. on my doorstep: one repairman and one repairman-in-training. they took a look at the tv in my living room then the tv in my bedroom before making their way to the basement to inspect the wiring.

the repairman made it very clear to me that should the cause of interference be something i did, comcast would charge me for the visit. but one look at the mess of tangled cable wires downstairs (courtesy of the previous comcast repairfolks last wednesday) and there was no doubt that the problem wasn't my fault.

the comcast guys were there for a long time, measuring the signal strength, replacing some bad cables, and inspecting the haphazard wiring. despite it all, they still didn't know what was the matter. since comcast is trying to convert everyone to digital anyway, my analog cable is a thing of the past and something they no longer want to support. "the interference could be anything, it could be something in the air. we just don't know." i felt better knowing i wasn't the only one, they see this a lot with analog people. "if you like, i can upgrade you to a digital box, and you won't have anymore reception problems," he told me. i scratched my head to think about it. "it's only like $2-3 more a month," his apprentice added. "what the heck, i'll give it a try," i said, as they went out to their truck to get me a digital cable box.

when he first installed it, the box had all the channels unlocked. i was pretty excited until he phoned in the main office and activated the box, leaving me with just 80 or so normal cable channels, the same ones i had when just had analog cable. like he said, the digital reception was crystal clear, but elsewhere in my house, all my other tv's will still have interference since they're still on analog. while the repairman was filling out my invoice, we were talking about the playstation (after he saw my PS2). apparently he's a gamer, but a retrogamer because he told me to check out resident evil (which came out in 1996), explaining it to me like it was the best thing since slice bread. (spoken with a boston accent: "there one part of the game where there's a big snake. that thing is huge! and you have to kill it with a blowtorch! that's the only way!")

after they left, i felt like i made a mistake. having a digital cable box didn't mean anymore channels (although i could easily add more channels, just cost more money). the aforementioned interference wasn't that bad and only on a few channels. and now i was paying $3 more/month to comcast to rent the digital box when i thought they were already charging me an arm and a leg for basic cable service. the digital box i got wasn't even HDTV ready, and i'd need to upgrade again should i ever decide to go high-definition. using the digital box also meant another remote control to learn, along with all its quirks. i like the channel info overlays, but i don't like the slight lag time between channel flips. the one good thing is comcast on demand, that itself opens up a bunch of new programming to explore when i get bored with my standard 80 channels.

so the jury is still out on my cable. i won't rest until i get my next comcast invoice; just want to make sure they didn't stick me with any hidden charges, like digital activation fees or other billing shenanigans.

i went to bed early last night, immediately after midnight. i heard zhu lei taking out the bicycle this morning at 8am, an early start for him (he usually goes to work around 10am). i wonder what he was up to. maybe a meeting? or maybe he was going to the supermarket? after the visit from comcast, i made some french toast for lunch. i've been watching a lot of yes, dear and just shoot me on TBS. as a matter of fact, i'm really into sitcoms these days. i've also become a big fan of two and a half half, which recently went into syndication so now i see it on all the time.

driving without hands!

have you seen google street views of boston and the surrounding areas? i can't get enough of it! i've been trying to figure out when they were taken, so i can remember where i was at the time. in my neighborhood, the google cam came around on both a monday and a tuesday during the summer (i know because i can tell there was street cleaning).

the giant indian of route 2A shirley