I have been a Brighthouse cable company customer for 18 years, and have been satisfied for the most part. I have bundled my cable, internet, and landline with them for the last 6 years, consolidating Sprint and Verizon services to Brighthouse when they expanded into land line phones. Recently I decided I could probably save some money by dropping the land line and fax because I really don’t use them anymore. The only calls I get on the landline are the folks I don’t want to talk to. Everyone who actually knows me well enough to talk calls on the cell, as with my wife. The call initiated a string of amusing, though a bit stressful, anecdotes.

First thing I was reminded of is that there is no longer a straight menu of services, everything is bundled for a 2 year deal. It was explained that dropping the land line and fax wouldn’t actually save me any money as it was packaged with a cable deal so I would still pay the same amount unless I dropped the package that the phone is bundled with. Of course that had some of the channels I actually watch. So I chose not to drop the phone after all.

However, the Brighthouse customer service rep explained that he could in fact save me some  money if I upgraded. Upgraded? You mean I get more for less? Yup he said ………..for 2 years then the price reverts back. Ok well my goal was to save monthly $ so I said yes.

Next day the tech shows up to install newer, better, faster stuff, except when he left the home theater system was messed up more than Hogans Goat.  So next day the hotshot super star technician comes out and fixes it in about 5 minutes. Why didn’t they send him first?

Now the TV is working fine but the internet is off and on. When it is up, it is faster, but it is down 50% of the time. Next service tech exchanges the new modem. Still didn’t work right. 2 Hour phone call with   customer service still left me with intermittent service so another tech comes out and says the signal is too weak from outside and makes an adjustment and it works. Until next morning then it goes down again. I continue the phone calls but now I am out of patience. Next service tech comes in and tells me what the real problem is. The new technology is shit! It is faster but it is still beta and I am going to have to live with up and down service if I want the new technology-which was not my objective at the outset.

So I say give me back the old stuff if it’ll work all the time and I’ll call Verizon next week and see what they can do. So he goes out and makes some calls and replaces the newer better faster equipment with the original stuff, and advises  me that he told the company that they were going to lose me so they cut me a better deal than the newer lower deal I had on the newer better faster equipment 2 year world beater deal.





The American Brand part 1

Americas legacy to the world as defined by Ken Burns (a very insightful and entertaining documentarian) will be The US Constitution, Jazz and Baseball. I accept that definition is as good as any other, even though many spins can be put on us, the synthesis of Americas brand lies in these 3 elements.

Baseball is the quintessential American experience. It was invented during the budding years of the republic by freedom loving Americans who were living life with more opportunity than any other place in the world. So the game reflects that spirit. It typifies the Pioneer Work Ethic that defined American Exceptionalism.

It doesn’t have to be a professional game either. In fact there are many more amateur baseball players than professional that provide almost as much enjoyment watching kids playing the game as professionals. It helps to have played and coached but it is not a requisite to enjoyment.

Almost as much fun is the operative phrase. Watching two groups of adult athletes playing a child’s game as good as it can be played is a delight that is hard to beat. Walking into the stadium and seeing the perfect field of green carpet grass laid out with white lines and red clay has a calming impact on the senses. Hearing the ball smack off of bats and into gloves builds excitement and then the pitcher throws the first pitch and the game is underway. All other concerns of the daily grind just drain right out of one and the game begins a new chapter in everyone’s life. Baseball does not have a clock, time ends when the game starts and begins again as you file back to the real world.

I went to a game recently (one of many hundreds) and marveled at the panoply of Americana on display at the stadium. Although there have been some changes in baseball, it remains basically the same game as it was when played in cow fields during lulls in the Civil War. As technology has changed, that part of it that can enhance enjoyment has evolved. There are huge electronic scoreboards reflecting the digital technology pioneered in Silicon Valley.Television and Satellites transmit the game globally. All kinds of animated characters and Disney like activities help entertain the crowd during inning changes when the field action slows. Food and beverage service has always been a delight to the fans and although the menus have greatly expanded the basics are still there, Coca Cola, beer, McDonalds, hot dogs, and a regional variety reflecting local cuisine.

The players on the field reflect the true diversity of America; white, black, Asian, Hispanic are all represented, it has become a true melting pot. In fact baseball led the way in integrating America as wave after wave of immigration diversified the nation’s population the game adapted. Players come in all sizes and from all faiths, baseball does not discriminate. The game is widely popular throughout much of the world. Japan, Latin America, Cuba all have rabid baseball fans. Fan bases are growing in Scandinavia, Europe and even Africa. We have exported Americas Brand well, for the enjoyment of the “free world.”

Of course it took American Entrepreneurs to deliver all of this American Brand. Asa Candler (Coca Cola), Walt Disney, Ray Kroc (McDonalds) Leland Stanford (Stanford University has fueled Silicon Valley). And one of the greatest baseball entrepreneurs Branch Rickey who hired Jackie Robinson which began baseballs true diversification and the complete integration of sports in America well before the civil rights movements of the 60’s. (i.e. before social legislation mandated) These great Republican Americans are examples of how market capitalism works. It is a positive and successful narrative so few citizens talk about. Ironically it is the brand that the rest of the world embraces and fights for, the freedom to make economic choices. Can you imagine a world without Coke, Golden Arches, Mickey Mouse, Silicon Valley and Baseball?


Independence Day

“It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”

I have always agreed with John Adams and this July 4th is a happy one for us indeed. My defective aortic valve is long since replaced and healthy recovery is complete. My wife’s spinal surgery is slowly mending and she is able to get into her beloved pool again. The kids are all doing well.  The market is not killing us thus retirement is pleasant. There is much to celebrate indeed.

So this July 4th I agree totally with John Adams and we will celebrate in our own heavenly back yard with grand fare. The entrée will be my world famous grilled & marinated bacon wrapped filets mignons. The indescribably scintillating homemade marinade sets them apart . The sides will consist of grilled corn  in their husks and a fresh fruit relish that my wife is making. Home made Sangria will provide the requisite  sparkle.

We will have a childhood favorite for dessert, the original sailor boy crackerjacks. Somehow that just seems appropriate.

CBS has picked up the Boston Pops Fourth since PBS dropped it so we will watch that fireworks on the flat screen in HD before calling it a day.

Happy July 4th one and all.