Monday, April 19, 2010

The X Factor

On Thursday of this past week it became blazingly apparent that I would no longer be able to use the drum trainer in Rock Band to practice for my real drum homework. In the late morning I sat at my desk, typing away when I suddenly heard a sound reminiscent of a rabid squirrel scratching at the window screen to get into the house.

Because our neighborhood is mostly gone-mad, vermin free, my immediate reaction was that I thought someone other than me could be inside my home and my fingers froze on the keyboard. I listened intently for about ten seconds and didn’t hear anything else so I grabbed my keys (the closest weapon at the time) and went to look around to see just where the sound had come from.

There was nothing down the back hall or in the kitchen and when I got to the living room I noticed that the Xbox was on. I didn’t think much of it as I figured maybe Matt had used it that morning before leaving for work. I shut it off and peeked out the peep hole on my front door into the hallway only to discover there were no boogey men or critters foaming at the mouth.

I came back into the office and got on with my day, excited to be able to get to the Red Sox game that night (the one I talked about the other day and just as a side note, Tek was catching and he hit the only home run of the night woo hoo!). About twenty minutes after sitting back down, I started to feel like the Narrator from “The Tell-Tale Heart” -- gone mad from hearing the sound that no one else heard -- as the scratchy weirdness happened again.

This time I jumped up immediately, sans keys, and went to glance back and forth down the hall so I could catch whatever furry mongrel had invaded my home. And that is when I saw it. The disc drawer of the Xbox was busy opening and closing by itself.

Needless to say this didn’t freak me out any less. I ejected the disc just in case the machine got stuck in a closed position, looked for the red ring of death (it didn’t have it) and unplugged the power supply from the back for about thirty seconds. I considered if maybe a neighbor had gotten a similar machine and their controller was somehow hitting our machine’s frequency or if maybe the disc had become corrupted.

The machine seemed to right itself but I decided not to take any chances so I emailed tech support for some advice and clicked over to register the machine to me just in case. Now I should back up to share that some time ago our friend did get the ring of death on his machine and sent it back to Microsoft to fix. After waiting weeks he figured they wouldn’t be sending it back so he just went out and bought a new one. A few weeks later he go the original back, all spiffed up, but now with two and only a need for one machine, he generously gifted one to us.

When I tried to register the serial number it said it already was, so I dialed customer service. I got a guy on the line, didn’t quite catch his name so we’ll just call him Akhmed, and he was quick to ask just how he could help me so I told him the situation about the already registered number, gave him my friend’s full name**, and asked what we could do.

**Just as a tip for all of you who would like to purchase a used Xbox on craigslist or something, be sure to get the name of the sellers third nephew’s dog before you leave their house or you will never get your own name added as a legal guardian of said machine.

Here’s how our conversation went.

Akhmed: Yes it is registered to Mister *insert your friend’s name here*.
Me: Yeah, so he gave it to me as a gift so I just want to switch things over.
Akhmed: Not a problem. Can you tell me the street address?
Me: *give street address*.
Akhmed: And the zip code is?
Me: I have no idea. Maybe, *insert guess of one of the three in their town*.
Akhmed: No, that’s not it.
Me: *guess right one*.
Akhmed: Yes, and the phone number.
Me: *give phone number*.
Akhmed: Yes. And the email address it is registered under?

Now this is where I need to give a little explanation. My friend is into some seriously interesting music. Stuff from other countries that most people would have never heard of. Most people in the country it was produced in probably haven’t heard of it in fact. I know my friend well and have his email address and I happen to know that the [name] is the name of one of these bands, but off the top I can’t quite remember the [at whatever dot whatever] part of the address.

So I tell Akhmed the [name].
Akhmed: Could you please spell that for me?

As if they were also my favorite band in the Universe, I whip it out of my brain, no thing. Now we’re not talking about a band named The Flaming Lips or something easy to spell. It is more along the lines of sgvnadlk.

Akhmed: And the rest?

Now I’m not downing on Akhmed here or anything, the guy is just doing the job he is way overpaid to do and reading from the ‘will not deviate from it’ script his boss handed him on his first day when he also told him to call himself ‘Bob’ when people call from the United States so they will perhaps be fooled to believe you’re both in the same part of the world, but seriously dude? I just gave you sgvnadlk. And not only that, I spelled the mo-fo right. On the first try. It isn’t as if sgvnadlk is the most popular thing on the planet (like Flaming Lips perhaps) and you’re going to split hairs over who his email provider is?

Me: Sigh. Yeah, give me a minute while I open up my email.

After I get him that information I’m pretty sure he asked me to name and spell all the provinces in Canada in alphabetical order, plus tell him my cousin’s first goldfish’s name, but by some miracle of chance all that information just happened to be up there in my brain and he got the serial number of the box changed over to me.

Just in time too, it is busy turning into a fuzzy pest and needs to be sent back to get a replacement model that doesn’t scratch at my window screens in the middle of the day. Too bad Microsoft doesn’t lend out real drum kits in the meantime.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Summed Up By The Beach Boys

Wouldn’t it be nice
If I had posted?
Then you wouldn’t have to
Wait so long…

Ah yes, the soothing and inspiring sounds of The Beach Boys will help me get through a rainy and gray day here in the northeast. I’m not complaining though, it has been sun shiny and mostly spring like beautiful for the past few weeks. Hence, why no one has read a word from me over here.

I love spring because people start coming out of the woodwork, me included, and it makes me so happy to see the temperatures start going back up. But it always means loads of stuff sneaks into the calendar and time flies by in the blink of an eye!

Since we last caught up I have:

Gone to a Bruins game & watched them lose (although they barely scraped by into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and then promptly lost game 1 last night, boo.). Been given an opportunity to sit right behind home plate at a Sox game (and my fingers are crossed that Tek will catch that game!). Was offered a chance to fly somewhere I really want to go for free (feeling like a rock star!). Donated a wall finish to the Driscoll School auction and started discussing options with the winning bidder. Finished the manuscript for Ripple the Twine and handed it off to my first “feedback editor” for advice (which was mostly positive, surprisingly). Celebrated with Bridgete & some seriously cool peeps for her birthday in grand fashion (read: latest night I’ve been up since I was 27 lol). Began a hardcore workout routine (summer is right around the corner, yikes!). Went fishing for the first time in like 15 years with some old and close friends (and as always with them, hilarity ensued). Made plans to see or visit some of Matt’s closest friends who live far away. Became a contributing Editor to the EcoEtsy blog as a co- News and Views contributor. Celebrated Matt’s birthday in the North End with my Mom. And who knows how much more; busy, busy!

We got our tax refunds from both state and federal and, as promised to ourselves, they will be used not for bills (as we have done many years) or savings (as we have also done many years) but to purchase a new laptop for Matt and a used drum kit for me. My neighbors won’t have to worry though, my freaking fabulous drum instructor has taught me the power of the towel so I will be able to deaden everything. He also gave me the names of a couple resellers in the area so within the week I’ll be able to fling the sticks onto something more than the electronic kit or drum pad. I can not wait!

Speaking of drum lessons…I am actually getting better which is inspiring to me! I try to practice, or at least stay loose with Rock Band, every day and it has really made all the difference. Independent limb is starting to show in a more prominent way and I’ve been able to get comfortable enough to do fills between measures. Awesome! My instructor continues to be the most patient and wonderful teacher ever. No real dreams to ever play live or anything over here, it’s all just for a fun hobby I can do to tune out the world, but if I had those aspirations he would certainly be the guy I would want to have in my corner!

So that’s the skinny from my little cyber neck of the world. I hope to get back to regular posting again but who knows. And I’m not beating myself up over it, I still love reading everyone’s updates as often as I can get there even if I don’t comment I’ve been keeping up with everyone’s laughs & smiles and everything in between!

Have a great weekend and (most likely) a great month everyone!