Friday, January 2, 2009

Using a Hummer for a Golf Cart...

I recently had the great privilege of being invited to experience a technological miracle. No, my invention for a disposable head toilet plunger is still in the crapper. I'm referring to my household's recent conversion to AT&T Uverse, or as I like to think of it, I Can Now Launch a Missile through My TV Remote If Only I Could Remember My 11 Character PIN Including Four Symbols, Numbers, and a Mixture Of Capital Letters.

This is a big change for someone who gets misty over the rotary dial phone at my sister's house. I feel like Marty McFly in one of the crappier Back to the Future Sequels that I never bothered to rent, but through my conversion, is now available to me 24 hours a day on one of the 400 channels I now receive.

All About the Bottom Line:

The selling feature for this household was that "everything would be the same except cost me $70 less per month." That was the hook line and sinker I swallowed when the sales rep stopped by. Also, she told me that four of my neighbors (she mentioned them by first name and Master Card numbers as proof) had already committed to switch from Time Warner and I'm nothing if I'm not a trend follower. Finally, I think its kind of sweet how AT&T pronounced "Universe" exactly like my three year old, "U-verse," so I decided to give them a try.

What the sales rep didn't mention is that converting from TW to AT&T is only slightly less complicated than converting to Scientology without the blood sacrifice. Also, that $70 a month savings in actual numbers and American currency really comes down to about $6.47. Still, being an "el Cheapo," a phrase favored by my mother during my formative years in a bilingual home, we repeatedly told ourselves that we are doing this to save money on our communication/entertainment bill. I think its great that I have all this technology available to me, my biggest question is why do I need this?

Work that Hamster:

Residing in a predominantly English speaking home, I can now access about 150 Spanish Language Channels. I can watch the Jetsons in both my native tongue, and Portugese. The first day I was channel surfing looking for, you guessed it, the Wonder Pets for my little one. Not only can I find the Wonder Pets on four channels in four languages, but it is broadcast at least 70 times a day. That is a lot of ringing phones for that little hamster to answer. Even for the bundle of energy that is a hamster, someone will need to find a tiny little defibrillator and clean cape for this little guy. Don't tell PETA how hard he's working for AT&T. I'm grateful to know that Spanish speaking folk enjoy more than racy poorly acted soap operas and Dora the Explorer--a demographic I've always suspected Time Warner was underestimating.

Things we Lost in the Fire:

Speaking of ringing phones, the single most important phone feature to Juj was the greatest invention since the Thermal Coffee Pot, Caller ID. I'm completely lost without it. I was assured that this would be "exactly the same." Guess what was the first thing to go?? If you called me recently and I sound confused and disoriented its because I have completely lost my ability to identify friends and family based on their voice alone. As a society that has become completely dependant on foreign oil and caller ID, everyone greets you with a quick "It's me..." (Except for Jenny M****., thanks for the first and last name, but that also makes me think you're confirming my dental appointment) I assume you are calling to get me to refinance my home or order the Dish Satellite network so I'm automatically suspicious. It can be noted here that if my family was willing to replace the perfectly working 4 phone bases in my house and purchase a better, pricier, fancier brand, I don't know, let's take a stab in the dark here, but maybe an "AT&T" model, my caller ID would be fully restored to its original magnificence.

How's that Digital Phone Technology Working out for y'all?:

I recently had a phone conversation that was interrupted by what sounded like the Wright Brothers taking off at Kittyhawk while the Beatles played the Hollywood Bowl in the background. Don't wanna play "Can you hear me now??" on a land line in my home. Having a strong capacity for denial, I'm telling myself that she was on a cellphone and calling me from the Batcave.

Features and Benefits to AT&T Uverse where the threat level is always RED:

AT&T Uverse is nothing if not security conscious. I now have to enter a pin number followed by the pound sign to exit my house or exhale or go potty. After a few days of this, I realized I could shut off this feature if I was patient enough to sit through an intense scolding by the disembodied lady voice about national security and such. I can now pick up my voice mail in my own house, but I sit through a "Welcome to AT&T" followed by a long moment of silence where I am to reflect on how I am leaving my messages vulnerable to Osama Bin Laden before the messages are read.

If you picked up the foreshadowing in the lead of this blog, (thank your 9th grade English Comp. teacher) you can't just enter a quick code. AT&T requires your pin be longer than your left arm including a delicate mix of numbers, letters, capitals and symbols with overtones of hieroglyphics, Cyrillic, and high notes of paprika. Your pin must be at least as complicated as the double helix structure of the DNA strand, but something that you will remember if prompted with the security question: "What is the name of the town of your paternal great great grandfather's birth in the former Yugoslavia, former Croatia, former Bosnia-Herzegovina, former Ottoman Empire? Proper spelling required." Your pin requires its creator to have a memory equal to Rainman's, but if you master this first step, the Wax on, Wax off portion of your training for you Karate Kid buffs, you will be able to control the universe as laid out by AT&T, or at least proceed to "paint the fence":

Tricks you can Turn in the AT&T U-verse if you take enough Gingko to remember your Code:

You will be able to program all four of your TVs to record 9 programs simultaneously in 12 languages including Braille and Furbish. You can do this fancy trick from Belize or Peru or wherever you winter in December providing you can detach yourself from your life-giving remote long enough to actually have a vacation.

You can link your AT&T cellphone and program Zombies and Robots and your Roomba through your cellphone.

You can override security measures of a Brinks truck through your TV remote.

You can order Canadian prescriptions through your digital recording device.

You can remove 67% more of dental plaque from those "hard to reach places."

You can get your children to salivate five minutes before dinner increasing the likelihood that they will eat said dinner.

You can contact at least 6 dead people from history that you've always wanted to have dinner with.

You may even be able to reduce or remove the appearance of unwanted facial and body hair.

One (actual) Good Thing About AT&T Uverse:

My husband tells me the wireless connection is excellent. That, I might add, is a feature I have never used in my own home preferring to work on the computer on top of this antique relic called a "desk" that is conveniently located next to the early technological wonder called "an outlet."

Note to my readers who have remarked on the abundant length of my blogs: If you've read even one of my blogs you know I'm nothing if not a rambler. How long does it take to write these monstrosities?? Long enough to cause third degree burns to mine thighs, mine thighs, if you're ever tempted to actually put your laptop on your actual lap regardless of the quality of your laptop cooling system. That's why God invented the desk (5th day) before he invented the Laptop (6th day, Genesis 3.14, or three years after Peter Gabriel left). I put my laptop on a trivet on my desk and don an asbestos-lined bathrobe when I write, just to be safe. Why do you think the Unabomber used the good old-fashioned five subject college ruled spiral notebook in lieu of the laptop computer for his classic manifesto? When you have a lot to say, you must protect your thighs!! Sometimes doing something just because we can isn't necessarily the best choice. Ask Evil Knieval's chiropractor or anyone who bought a Hummer.

Downside to AT&T; subheading: Come to my Pod and bond with the Zombies:

After about 14 hours of residency in our new AT&T Universe, you become dependant on your TV remote as if it is water or a flush toilet or caffeine. Here is some behavior changes I noted during my transition to AT&T Pod:

1. Receiving 400 options for TV watching eventually makes you feel obligated to attempt to use 400 channels of TV Watching. I have calculated that I will need to live to be 114, leave my house no more than 24 times, never hold down a job requiring more than 12 minutes per week of work, and relocate the toilet and shower to the living room (Which will require better window coverings once we've recouped our costs of replacing 4 perfectly functioning phones, see how we chipped away at that $70 savings?) in order to fully get my money's worth when it comes to TV watching, recording, and pausing of live TV.

2. Repeated exposure to the AT&T logo either visually on the computer and TV or audibly repeated every time I use the phone will eventually make me less of an American citizen and a Wisconsin resident than a Pod zombie in the new AT&T U-verse. My son, immediately addicted to Boomerang and all the Yogi Bear access now asks if he can "watch some AT&T?" As a side note, did any of you remember that Yogi bear was a smoker??? I knew about Batman and Catwoman and their Lucky Strikes, but kind of a strange habit for a bear in a fishing cap who lives in Jellystone and doesn't have thumbs I believe Yogi is even a distant cousin to "Smokey the Bear" who, despite his moniker, was anti-smoking and green back in the dark days of 1950s advertising where Big Tobacco labeled cigarettes as "Native American herbal supplements."

The Flicker of Doubt: Torn between life as we know it and channels dedicated to Serial Killer Entertainment:

After 24 hours on AT&T, I was ready to cancel and go back to the old regular Universe called Earth when I surfed upon the Big Kahuna of entertainment: a channel that features serial killer movies. It was like they programmed a remote directly into my brain trying that one last sales hook. I paused, I recorded, I watched. No matter I've seen and probably own on DVD every good serial killer movie ever made, I fell for it. I was up all night and when I did nod off, I had graphic nightmares that left me terrified and exhausted... It was great. When I detoxed after a marathon of Summer of Sam, Se7en, followed by Silence of the Lambs and a special on Ted Bundy, I realized I needed to detach this monkey off my back and return to the good old days of "52 channels and nothing to watch."

Confidential to AT&T: While I've enjoyed my visit in your U-verse, but even for grossly inflated savings $70 a month, $6.47 when all is said and done, I can't live without my caller ID and my ability to experience bodily functions without a remote or security code. I'm happy to come out of this experience with more substantial draperies and a deep-seeded fear of technology, but I'll be boarding my spaceship and returning to Earth momentarily. If you'd like to have me back, please enter your 92 digit pin, followed by the pound sign. I'm sorry, that pin is not valid. Please enter your 92 digit pin, followed by the pound sign. I'm sorry, that pin is not valid. Please enter your 92 digit pin, followed by the pound sign. I'm sorry, that pin is not valid. Osama?? is that you trying to infiltrate Juj's messages about overdue material from Blockbuster and the Shorewood Library??? I have to sign off now, I see smoke coming out of my laptop.