It’s always a fascinating experience to hunt down and eliminate bugs. It is even more so when the bug is “no satellite info” displayed on the TiVo screen. So it was with great surprise and unhappiness that I found this message on my TV last night and no signal present on the TiVo.

I checked the usual suspects: tree branches blocking the dish, loose cables, a TiVo reboot, temperature check, etc. All of these turned up empty. Since it was late I went to bed and wondered what the problem could be.

This morning I trekked out to the cable closet at the end of the complex. There I found dozens of coax cables cut completely through. Seeing this, I decided to go pickup a cable / line tester at Fry’s. To my reserved amazement, yes, some of those cut wires were indeed mine. How did this happen? Why would someone do this?

Just a few hours after doing all of the legwork to determine this, a Comcast technician drives by. Our conversation goes like this:

    • Me: Hey. Were any of your guys out working at this building [pointing to my home] this week?
      Tech: Yeah, they were out all this week.
      Me: Well, did they go into the cable closet? My neighbor and I have no TV signals now.
      Tech: Oh, really? Did you file a trouble ticket?
      Me: Uh, no. Neither of us subscribe to Comcast. We’re satellite owners.
      Tech: Oh. Someone probably should look at that.
      Me: Yes, they should. Why would they cut our cables if we aren’t even on Comcast?
      Tech: Hmm. I’ll write it up.
  • After that he sped out of the parking lot faster than I’ve ever seen an installer go. Something tells me that they probably did this on purpose, since clearly there are bits of cut cable and coax ends strewn all over the closet. I think I’ll be having some words with Comcast shortly.

    I am constantly reminded of the absolute neccessity to watch TV on a regular basis by watching The Daily Show. Well, at least 4 days a week anyhow. I’m amazed that so much satire and information can be packed into 22 minutes (give or take).

    If you haven’t watched this gem or experienced the genius that is Jon Stewart you are missing out. Go there, watch the clips, and tune in immediately, if not sooner.

    For the second straight year I had a pretty sucky 24 hours leading up to and after my birthday. I spent most of the day loading equipment, moving heavy objects, and generally sweating, working to tear down a tradeshow booth. I woke up my mom early in the morning (sorry!) and hung up on my brother. I then had to rush to check out of the hotel where I was staying and sit in the lounge for 4 hours before I could go to the airport.

    Although the flight back happened on time, again I had the distinct honor to sit next to someone who could not fit completely into their assigned seating, thus spilling over into mine. He watched South Park and GI Joe DVDs for most of the flight. I just tried to catch a little sleep and listen to some music. Upon arriving a few minutes early at San Jose, in typical SJC airport style, there was no gate crew. This left us sitting in the airplane for 10 minutes while some employees were rounded up to allow us off the plane. Then I sat in the baggage area for the next 40 minutes waiting for something, anything, to come off the luggage belt.

    By the time it was all over and I got home it was almost 1am. When I got up the morning of the 16th I managed to find a wasp and get stung in the ass.

    Again, a stunning birthday for the record books.

    I’m sure this will jinx it, but I’ve driven the 4Runner enough by now to call it fixed. It’s still the slow, top heavy, cargo hauler it has always been, but at least it is running right. I am sort of baby-ing the shifts a bit right now, but it seems to be back to normal.

    Good thing, too. All this home improvement is eating into the budget. Next car stop (hopefully) is the fabled sports car. Mmmm, sports car.

    I have a new found respect for electricians, builders, and those poor guys who pull cable when building a new home. I also owe a pretty large “thanks” and “yes, you told me so” to Steve. It seems that as good as hard-wired network connections are, they are a major pain to install after the home is built. Who knew?

    Now its two days later, over $200 spent, countless hours burned, time researching alternatives on the net, talking to friends, and ultimately quizzing the OSH and Home Depot guys to get the job done. It is done, although not entirely to my required level of perfection, but I got most of what I was aiming for:

    • A hard connect network jack between the office and the Xbox in the living room
    • A new phone connect closer to the Tivo
    • No cables on the floor (that anyone can see)
    • Minimal wall destruction (sans the garage walls)
    • Fully operational phone and DSL connections (this was shaky for a while)

    In the process of all of this I acquired a number of new home improvement toys, including:

    • Box cutter / sheetrock knife
    • Cable staple gun
    • Wet / Dry shop vacuum
    • Cable punch down tool
    • Drill / Miter bit for the Dremel

    I can now knock off one home improvement project. Only a dozen or so more left to go!

    I recently saw the latest visceral screen fest from M. Night Shyamalan called “The Village”. Like most reviewers, I decided early on who and what the “bad things” were and I had a reasonable idea what was outside the forest. That said, I still enjoyed most of the film and there were several moments where the movie provided a scare great enough to get most of the audience screaming.

    The cast was also quite good, with the newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard really stealing the show. What I wonder is this: is Mr. Shyamalan getting lazy or are audiences just expecting more out of films? “The Sixth Sense” was really a break out film, but his follow-on work seems a bit more obvious, more predictable. Maybe I just need more special effects and character development in my films, I dunno.

    I sit here on a Saturday morning at home, a rarity to be sure, trying to decide which of the many improvement projects to begin first. I have several that would be very useful to complete, not the least of which are:

    • Add a network jack in the living room (running from the office)
    • Put in a ceiling fan in the master bedroom
    • Touch up paint throughout the house
    • Replace the 3 toilets (they are old and fairly low flow)
    • Build a work desk/shelf in the garage
    • X-10-izing many of the light fixtures and thermostat

    I have to believe I can get some of these done. It’s just a matter of deciding which is the most important and least potentially destructive for a weekend project. Time will tell which actually get completed and which stay on the “to do” list for a while.