I am two-thirds of the way through Ken Jenning’s book, Brainiac and not only is it good, but it has changed my opinion of trivia, something which I will elaborate on more in a later post (once I’m done reading the book). One of the chapters is on fascinating magazine that’s been around since 2000 called mental_floss. It’s a magazine about trivia, but it’s done in a humorous, entertaining way. I sample some of it’s features online, and saw enough of what I liked to order a one year subscription. I should receive the first issue in four-to-six weeks.
When I got home from work yesterday, I finally had my copy of the September 2006 F&SF. And when I got home from work today, I had the October/November 2006 issue of F&SF. What I am really looking forward to at the moment is the November issue of ANALOG, which will have part II of Robert J. Sawyer‘s novel Rollback. (It’s being serialized in 4 parts in the magazine.) Rumor has it the November copies are just now heading out to subscribers and I am anxiously awaiting it…
As of yesterday, I still hadn’t received my September issues of F&SF. It’s gota Harlan EllisonTM piece in it and was looking forward to it. I’d even read some rumors that the October/November issue was already out.
I tried digging up a phone number where I could call and find out what was going on, but I could find no phone number anywhere. Desperate, I filled out the online form on the F&SF website.
Today, I got a reply apologizing for the missing issue and assuring me that a replacement copy is in the mail.
That’s a relief!
About a year ago, I got on the mailing list for COMPUTERWORLD, which is an IT trade magazine. Because I am an IT professional (I guess software developer counts as IT) I get the subscription for free. It is an awful magazine, I’m afraid and the few times I’ve tried to read it, I’ve found it dreadfully boring. It seems to me it’s a bunch of people trying to show the IT world just how important IT is.
In any event, it’s become routine for me to toss the magazine into the recycle bin without even looking at it. Even the guy who brings my mail to my office at work knows to do this. It is also, I’ve found, difficult to escape from their grasp, once they have you.
However, this morning, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I received this email message:
Dear Jamie Rubin:
This is your final renewal notice.
Your FREE subscription will expire May 29, 2006. Please act now and renew to continue your subscription without interruption.
I can only hope that if I take no action, they will do as they threaten and “interrupt” my subscription. But I have this sneaking suspicion that, like the NEW YORK TIMES (who continued to send me papers for nearly a year after I canceled my subscription), I will not be that lucky.
It was the bottom of the 10th inning, 2 outs, and Jeter was at the plate. Yanks down 4-2 and two men on base. The clock struck 11 PM on the east coast–and the channel on which I was watching the game (one of the MLB Extra Inning channels I get on DirecTV) went black with a message that this programming wasn’t available in my area. The game ended 5 minutes later and the Yankees lost. At that point, the channel came back on just fine. So essentially, I missed the most important part of the game. It was a little suspicious that this happened at the top of the hour exactly.
Well! I just sent an email to DirecTV customer support that breathes flame. I pleaded with them to have someone who is a baseball fan read the email message so that they can empathize with my frustration. I asked for a discount or some kind of refund for the five minutes and told them in all seriousness that I didn’t care if they gave me a 5-cent discount, but that they owned me for this. Finally, I asked them to let me know exactly what steps they are taking to prevent this from happening again.
There is nothing more frustrating than investing 4 hours in a game and missing the crucial last 5 minutes. I don’t really expect to get an answer but the fact that this happened upset me far more than the fact that the Yankees ended up losing the game.
I canceled my MLB.com subscription today, and instead, ordered the sports package on DirecTV (not the “Extra Innings” package but the monthly premium package). There are several reasons:
- MLB.com was not working well on my Macs and I didn’t want to use it on my work PC.
- MLB.com is $15/month and the resolution is fair at best
- The premium sports package on DirecTV is $10/month (because I already have the HBO package)
- The premium sports package includes several dozen channels including YES, NESN and many FOX Sports channels. I can see just as many Yankee games and ultimately, at a cheaper price.
Incidentally, I was on hold for a hair over 15 minutes waiting to cancel my MLB.com subscription. But I finally got through to a rep, cancelled the subscription and received a confirmation by email.
And by the time I got home from work, my sports package was already working so I can watch the Yankee game on YES tonight.
I received the March 2006 issue of Scientific American today, which now puts me (I’m embarrassed to say this) nine months behind! That’s farther behind than I’ve ever fallen before, and I don’t honestly know if I will catch up. I’m going to give the March issue a shot just as soon as I find an opening, and then go from there. But I may just have to start with March and go forward. I don’t know if I’ll have the time to go back.
I finally got around to renewing a bunch of subscriptions and memberships that have been collecting since the beginning of the year.
- I renewed (and upgraded) my membership to Smithsonian
- I renewed my subscription to SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN through 2009
- I renewed my subscription to F&SF through 2008
- I renewed my subscription to ANALOG through 2009
I also paid a couple of bills, including the whopper of a gas (heating) bill this month.
I’ve still got two charitable donations to send away, but I’m waiting for the next paycheck to take care of those: $200 to my local PBS station WETA, where I am a member of the President’s Circle); and $250 to the Isaac Asimov Memorial Lecture at the Hayden Planetarium. Maybe I’ll even manage to make it to the lecture this year (I’ve been donating for years and never made it to a lecture).