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September 2001 Archives

Links were checked and verified as active only in the month the Eucalyptus entry was published. Links outside the silverscreentest domain may be inactive from this archive.

September 30

Put up our curtains in front of the sliding glass door. There are no more boxes covering up the spot. Pretty good for a guy with no mechanical ability whatsoever.

September 29

Stopped into Montgomery Community Television. Yen-Ming Chen had burned on a CD a 60-second clock for Silver Screen Test. The current rules without the buzzer system feature rounds where the players are bombarded with questions in a minute period. Instead of a clock, I have a metronome which beeps insistently, ending with a loud buzzer. I stole the idea from Brooks Sanders from Dryden, New York.

Ming, Ally Potter and Margaret Buckley were among the crew shooting an episode of Teen Talk. They were cueing up video of the first plane to hit the World Trade Center, the second plane banking into the second tower, and the wreckage at the Pentagon. I had avoided the news lately, and seeing the footage running backwards and forwards over and over again was a bit unsettling.

Meanwhile, Whitlock and Miranda went to a birthday party at Glen Echo park. Miranda rode a non-moving horse on the carousel, but the puppet show was too scary for her.

We all headed over to Capclave in the mid-afternoon. The combined art exhibit and dealer's room was in medium-sized function space. The Ghost of Honor was Joe Mayhew. A display in this room showed many pictures of Joe through the ages. I just wished there were more captions to explain who were the other people and the context of the photos.

Dinner was at a Chinese restaurant with Karen and Charlie Newton and Risa and Sandy Stewart and a bunch of other folks. Some old-time fans including Cole Richardson, Jim Goldfrank, and Les Mayer were at the table next to us. Miranda's favorite part of restaurant was the goldfish tank near the entrance.

September 28

Today was the first day of Capclave, the successor to the Disclave as the Washington area's regional convention. It was small, held only in a few rooms. I was stuck in traffic for about half-an-hour fighting a backup on I-95. When I had the chance, I should have continued on the Beltway and turned off on Route 1 instead.

I picked up the badges for Mary and Miranda as well. I adorned all our badges with red, white, and blue ribbons. Those are three separate ribbons, not one. I also put the word tornado on Mary's badge. She loves tornados. When she was pregnant, we watched a tornado video narrated by E.G. Marshall and Neil Armstrong that soothingly put us to sleep. On the box of that video, Neil is described as a "historic special guest". The area, especially around the University of Maryland, was hit hard by tornadoes on Monday.

The Knossos meeting was held at the convention. The book was Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield, a historical novel of the Battle of Thermopylae. There were complaints that this really wasn't an accurate historical novel, but an anachronistic re-telling of the boot camp process necessary to mold infantry, regardless of the era. Cole Richardson, a multi-generational fan who, as a baby, peed on E.E. "Doc" Smith, joined us for the meeting.

World-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster attended the meeting as well. He proposed that perhaps William Shatner and his unmatched acting ability could be dispatched to Afghanistan as an ambassador to pry Osama Bin Laden from the Taliban.

September 27

Another miracle has occurred. Comcast buried our cable line. Now I don't have to mow around the line sitting in our yard.

September 26

I don't like the options for rescheduling the NFL playoffs. I thought they would simply consider the games of September 16 lost and add 2 more playoff teams to each conference. Now I hear the NFL might actually reduce playoff teams or possibly compress the playoff schedule. The ideal for solution for everyone is to convince the auto dealers to switch dates.

September 25

Time for an unsolicited endorsement. We've been in the market for a new car since my 1986 Dodge Aries quit being dependable before Labor Day. I spent a few weeks walking about a mile to the bus stop to get to work.

I e-mailed several nearby Honda and Nissan dealerships in search of either a 2001 Honda Accord or Nissan Altima. Strangely, I only got a few responses. The best price came from Jenkins Motors in Frederick, Maryland from a salesman named Dave Tich.

Dave gave us a straightforward experience. We actually ended up with a lower price than he quoted. There was no BS or other horror stories. I'll find out in the next few weeks how much I like the car and the experience with his dealership. For the moment, I willing to tell you to go see Dave Tich at Jenkins Motors. If he doesn't get you the lowest price, at least he'll treat you right. If he doesn't, let me know.

September 24

Nobody asked me for my solution to baseball's economic problems, but here it is. In brief, fans believe that teams with a low payroll can't compete, thereby creating competitive imbalance. The obvious answer is for the high revenue teams to share their revenue with the low revenue teams, but high revenue teams refuse to share. This is partly out of greed, but also how the low revenue teams sometimes use their subsidy. Most notably, the Montreal Expos don't spend their extra money expanding payroll, but to line the owners' pockets. We feel just as upset over welfare queens who spend their checks on booze and drugs rather than food and rent.

So here's my solution: Instead of trying to get the owners to agree how to split revenue, like they should, the players should split the payroll. Each player will by taxed a fixed amount by the union, then given back some share. It could be from 10% to 50%. I don't know what the rebate would be. It could be identical amount for each player, or more likely, based on some formula based on team seniority and major league service. The redistribution would be from players on high-payroll teams to players on low-payroll teams. The owners are taken out of the loop. The redistributed money is spent on players. The players can help save the owners from themselves and look good in the process.

September 23

I don't know for sure whether to thank the web, but our cable started working yesterday. A technician came by and fixed settings on our television. Meanwhile, the cable is still on our lawn and not buried. Last month, Miss Utility painted lines on our grass and Comcast came to bury the cable. However, our neighbor left a note telling them not to dig. He was afraid Comcast was was going to damage existing lines. But that's what Miss Utility had already done - mark lines to avoid damaging them.

A month has gone by. We've only found out what happened and Miss Utility's lines have faded away. At this rate, the urgency is less because we have the cable.

I'll have to bug Miss Utility, Comcast and our neighbor to get the cable buried. There's no telling what could cut the cable when it's exposed like this.

For tonight's game with the Baltimore Orioles against the New York Yankees, the flag court which normally contains pennants for each American League team, arranged by standings, all the flags were replaced by Old Glory, except for the Orioles. For the national anthem, a replica of the Fort McHenry flag was unrolled from the hitter's background. Three Mo Tenors, three African-American opera singers, sang the Star Spangled Banner. For most of the tune, each man sang a line and did what may be the best rendition I ever heard live at a baseball stadium.

September 22

In the face of corporate incompetence, sometimes one is left to just expose the service, or lack thereof appear in the light of day. The following refers to Comcast of Montgomery County, Maryland. Silver Screen Test appears on Montgomery Community Television on Comcast. MCT exists as a non-profit organization serving Montgomery County. Comcast provides MCT for the privilege of its franchise monopoly. So even though my program appears on MCT, MCT has nothing to do with my problems. They have as much relation to Comcast as major city ballets do to Phillip Morris, when Phillip Morris sponsors the ballet.

When we moved from our townhouse, I called Comcast to discontinue service. We wouldn't need it while we lived at my mother-in-law's house.

A few days later, we got calls from Comcast. They promised to restart our cable service once we moved into our new house at no installation charge. Obviously, since we were a regular customer of Comcast and its predecessor, Cable TV Montgomery, for 12 years, they wanted to keep the business. When I returned our cable boxes to Comcast, the young lady behind the counter re-assured me that we wouldn't have to pay an installation charge when we started up again. All we'd have to pay for was the monthly service.

When we were ready to move into the new house, I called Comcast. They told me they never heard of ever offering me the aforementioned deal. I turned it all over to my wife Mary. The license plate frame on her says,"Don't Mess with my Klingon Half." Take that very seriously.

Mary called Comcast and talked to a very nice customer service representative named Cindy. Cindy said an installer would be able to come on September 4 and we wouldn't be charged the start-up fee.

On September 4, the installer came. The following is what was relayed to us. If any of it is wrong, it's because they don't know what's going on either. Apparently, the buried wire has still not arrived at our house. A makeshift cable was attached above ground and behind our neighbors' properties. We only got about thirty random channels, which didn't include any local over-the-air stations or sports channels. A call to Comcast revealed that we weren't getting any real signal. In return, they weren't going to charge us and Comcast isn't getting any real money.

Mary had to go above Cindy to Gil Cosca. He said that Miss Utility was responsible for drawing the lines so that we could be connected to the buried line. He promised to have us connected by September 18.

On September 18, we still didn't have any service. Mary called Gil Cosca again yesterday. He left a message saying that our neighbor wouldn't let Comcast dig in his yard and that Mary had been at Comcast complaining that day. We have no record of Comcast asking our neighbor to dig in his yard and Mary wasn't at the Comcast office yesterday.

At this point, I'm ready to get an antenna so we can see the new season of Buffy and Angel.

If Comcast really couldn't provide service, they should have come right out and said so. Of course, we would have gone directly to satellite at that point, but at least I'd have more respect for their integrity once cable service was made available. I might have actually listened to their sales pitch. I've got too much going on in the next month to tackle the task, but if Comcast makes no progress in that time, I'm going with satellite.

All I can tell you is, if the cable service has what you need, and your neighbors are getting good service, go ahead and get cable. However, if you are in a new house in a new development, get the dish right away. It'll save you the aggravation.

September 21

Welcome to the first day of autumn. Here are some pictures of the completed house with grass and everything as taken from the house under construction across the street.

A view of our house from across the street

Another view of our house from across the street

September 13

SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt reports that all our employees in the Northeast Regional Office got out safely. They were housed in 7 World Trade Center, the third building to collapse. One examiner was on the 87th floor on an inspection and managed to get out.

Here's an account from Hayden Hurst, a common fixture in Mid-Atlantic quizbowl.

Perhaps the sentiment that comes closest to matching my own is expressed by Timothy Noah at Slate:"They can make us die, and they can make us weep, but they can't make us poor."

September 12

I had intended to tell the story of Worldcon, but our life got ridiculously busy again when we got back home. Now after the terrorist attacks yesterday, I needed to tell my story, just like at least hundreds of other bloggers out there.

I first heard the news of the first attack on the World Trade Center at work as co-workers talked of it in the halls, as they heard it on the radio. I tried to get on the Internet, but the our Internet service wasn't working. So I listened to the radio myself in those early moments, when the size of the planes hitting the World Trade Center was still in question. A reporter at the Pentagon had to be told about the attack there. He could only verify that evacuation was ongoing. Rumors spread of a car bomb at the State Department, at the West Wing of the White House, at the Old Executive Office Building, at the Capitol, but none of those later proved to have happened.

I saw some panic in someone asking,"Are you all right?" when I knew they were trying to convince themselves they were. Another went home, not wanting to be a "sitting duck". "Pearl Harbor" was already being bandied about.

Outside, I could see gridlocked streets and people milling about. Closed bridges trapped those going home to Virginia. Someone living near American University offered to take in people for the night. Some were ready to walk to Silver Spring.

As soon as we were released to go home, I decided to try the Metro, with the MARC train as a backup. Amazingly, Metro functioned normally and I commend them for their service.

Back home I would repeat the words said by others, that the video appeared to be like a movie. I was surprised that the towers stood for so long, and collapsed nearly vertically. The buildings were strong and not a block of Legos.

We might ask how this could happen. Where was our vaunted intelligence community? I just know some of them were on a cruise in the Caribbean.

Even Fidel Castro and Yasir Arafat condemned the attack. At the heart of this, these terrorists do not want a seat at the table, but to destroy the table. Perhaps now the traditional enemies of the United States realize that irrationals like are a threat to them as well.

Whoever did this considered the World Trade Center to be a great of symbol of America. But did the mutants and the X-Men fight atop the World Trade Center? Did Madison the mermaid wash up on the shores of the World Trade Center? Do the Twin Towers grace the logo of the New York Mets? I only recall the woeful King Kong remake and Snake Plisken landing there. The wave of people fleeing the collapsing buildings brought to mind the words,"Escape from New York".

I may be whistling in the wind, but I think this is a Luddite gasp. The materialist and capitalist monster the terrorists seek to slay is just too seductive and corrupting an influence. If they thought that the money interests of the world were truly powerful, they must realize now with those interests angry, how powerful they are. Destroying a physical building is the mindset of the physically-minded, to think that the assets of the moneyed interests take physical form. They are only marginally poorer, with most of the assets on computer records of the investment banks they thought they destroyed.

The Undertow... another pointless surfing metaphor ...

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Last revised September 30, 2001
© 2001 B. Barrientos