2 large cherry pickers were parked in front of my street this morning. i woke up early again, around 8:00, my sore back limiting the amount of sleep i can get. nstar had put down new utility poles (when they did this i don't know but i mustn't have been home at the time otherwise i would've noticed) and were now transferring the cables from the old poles onto the new ones. this involves 2 teams working together. the whole idea of utility poles seem very inefficient, especially surrounded by so many trees and our annual ice and snow storms. in fact, the utility guys had to prune a few branches in order to gain access (they just left the pile of branches on the side of the road).

the cable guy (chris from triwire) arrived around 11:00. he didn't need to do any wiring because my house had already been wired; all he had to do was to swap out my analog cable box for a digital one and replace my cablemodem with one that can do both internet and phone.

the new cable box was a tiny little thing - about the size of a hardcover novel - compared to the old box which was VCR-sized. the new box doesn't have a readout so i can tell just by looking what channel i'm currently on. the reason why the cable box is so small is that the transformer is actually external. it uses 12 watts of power, regardless of whether or not it's on or off. this is less than power than old box (20 watts, on/off) but still an unnecessary power suck.

the replacement cablemodem turned out to be an SMC-brand gateway: a combination of internet cablemodem, telephone, and wireless router. i would've preferred to use my own equipment, but this was a faster N-speed router compared to my old linksys G-speed (not that i really notice, my wireless seemed fast enough as it was). the gateway also didn't fit in the "server closet" but i crammed it in anyway with a velcro strap. the first thing i did was to change the network name and password. there were 2 phone jacks but since i don't have a landline phone available, i couldn't test it (it wouldn't be hard to wire the phone line into the rest of the house). i don't need a landline, but for some reason it's cheaper to get the triple play package - cable, internet, phone - than just cable and internet. i think it's some kind of trick and i expect comcast/xfinity to raise the prices at some point.

i don't know if i can replace the gateway modem with my old cablemodem; otherwise, i have pay an additional $7/month to lease the SMC from comast. even if it works, i'll lose phone capability, which i'm kind of curious about now that i have a landline again. i tried searching online for telephony modems (EMTA's) but they can be expensive ($150) and i can't be sure if they'll even work with comcast. i'm going to give it a month at least, see what my bill is, then decide what i want to do about the cablemodem.

the cablemodem router combination is pretty much invisible once it's set up; the cable box is a different story. the first thing i noticed was the improved interface. the GUI on the analog cable box was terrible, with 1990's design aesthetics. on the new box, HD channels are 800 and above. unfortunately the mapping is a little weird, so i basically have to relearn all the channels. as part of the upgrade, comcast is also giving me 3 months free HBO/cinemax/showtime. unfortunately these premium channels aren't located in one single block of channels with scattered through the 700-900 range. as i mentioned before, the cable box draws 12 watts of power 24/7. it doesn't like losing power (like when i turn off the surge protector) and takes more than 5 minutes of initializing to come back.

the more i use it, the more like the new interface. for instance, it pulls up a channel history when i hit the last button. movie info includes rottentomatoes.com scores. at a time when i was thinking about cutting cable altogether, i go the opposite direction and increase my channel lineups by 3x. it's almost a sensory overload, and without a DVR function, i don't know how i'd ever be able to watch all these shows. there doesn't seem to be as many channels as verizon FIOS; no wealthtv, cctv, nor sino tv. even the premium channels seem to be fewer. searching is a bit funky; search can be initiated at anytime through the number buttons, and it uses a predicative search method, so for example, typing 623636 brings up "mad men." it also does this thing where it can automatically switch over to an HD channel when you wander onto a complementary SD channel.

i finally finished watching season 2 of downton abbey. spoilers! there are some ridiculous plots: disfigured patrick who may be a missing heir, maid's baby out of wedlock with a military man, and lord grantham's near affair with another maid. lavinia's sudden death from the flu was also a bit beyond belief, but that ended up bringing lady mary and matthew together at last. and poor mr.bates and anna! will they ever find their happy ending, despite a single night of marital bliss?

i took a shower in the early evening. i have a strange habit of showering in the near dark, figuring i don't really need the light since i can't really see anything anyway without my glasses. it gave me time to reflect on my injury. i'm actually kind of lucky to break my collarbone so early in the year, so i will hopefully have recovered by the end of spring and be mobile during the summer. when i broke my foot that was in june so basically my entire summer was spend recuperating. with my one good arm and my one bad arm, i sort of feel like a crab, with my tiny pincer and large crusher claws. i still can't lift my arm above my shoulder, and even then, i can only do it if i have my arm lined up in a particular sweet spot, otherwise it'll hurt.

a banana and mantou bun for breakfast, some chicken sausage oatmeal for a late lunch, and a delicious honey ham and swiss cheese sandwich with lettuce and mayo on wheat bread for dinner washed down with some birch beer followed by orange slices.