Friday, September 11, 2009

What 9/11 was like for me

I've seen a lot of this on twitter and I don't think 140 characters is enough. I'm doing this, mostly, for my daughter. One day soon she's going to ask us to explain...

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001 - we were late for work. I first heard the news from a central Illinois radio station that a plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers. The initial report was a cessna. By the time I got my office, the 2nd plane had hit and everyone's relatives had already called to say "did you hear..."

In our office, we didn't have access to live tv, and trying to get or to load was damn near impossible. We were able to find an internet radio station where the DJ was watching CNN and giving his audience the play-by-play. I saw only a fraction of the images that day. But very quickly, the rumors started. I remember, vividly, one of our faculty walking into the office to say, very matter-0f-fact, the mall in Washington was on fire. While this provide to be untrue, it was hours before we had a confirmation that the Pentagon, indeed, was hit. Compounding all of this: we had a faculty member flying home that morning from Maine. Which meant he was going through Logan. And we had no clue what flight he was on and no way of getting a hold of him. He was on a flight that ended up diverted and it took him several days to get back to us. For some, that made it personal, for others, it was distraction to stop from thinking about all the other strangers that we knew to be dead.

Shortly before 11am I remember thinking about my family in Chicago. My mom worked downtown and my father-in-law worked in the Sears Tower. In fact, before he retired from WTTW, that big white antenna on the left, that was his. Knowing that he had health problems and would feel it his duty to stay in the tower to make sure they kept broadcasting, the news that they were evacuating downtown Chicago didn't help my anxiety. Again, all rumors that later proved untrue, but at the time, we didn't know how to separate what was true and what was not.

And that's how my day went. By the end, we were fatigued from trying to gather the news. My husband and I attended a class that night, which proved to be a blessed distraction. When we finally got home around 9:30pm, we looked up in the sky. It was eerie knowing nothing was up there; positively chilling not knowing what the state of the world would be when we woke up the next morning.

The next morning - well, we headed for the hospital and I gave birth to my daughter by 4:26 that afternoon. 2 1/2 weeks early, but hey, we were thankful she was healthy. The TV was never turned on when we got home on 9/11 and stayed off for about 2 weeks. In the hospital that night, we watched a movie (Wrath of Khan), because there was no way we were turning on the news. We didn't think anything else could happen that would be worse than what occurred the day before. I never saw the images of that day played over and over again and to this day, never have. I've seen a few still pictures, but that's all. The descriptions I've read from people in NY that gorgeous Tuesday morning paint a vivid picture. My daughter does not have a scrapbook from the day she was born. The headline from the day I was born was about bombing in Vietnam and peace talks. I couldn't bring myself to cut out a headline that said "Towers fall, 3,000 dead."

To this day, when people realize not just that her birthday is 9/12, but the year of which she was born, they get a sad smile on their face and shake their heads. I don't know how to handle that because of the despair I feel. In the childbirth class the night before my daughter was born, you could not only feel the tension, but feel the anger and sadness. 9/11 was a demarcation of the world before and the world after. Our children, who were about to be born, would never live in a world where 19 men didn't use commercial airlines filled with people to make such a horrifying statement.

Now, 8 years later with her birthday a day away, she's in 2nd grade and probably about to learn, at least the basics of why the day before her birthday is called Patriot Day. And her father and I have some explaining to do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to best pay for TV...

So, I posted a question on twitter via #lazyweb - if anyone had experience with Apple TV and what their thoughts were on paying for tv shows? After I sent it, I thought I'd probably should clarify the reasons behind the question.

We've recently moved into an apartment from a house. Our tv service at the house is through a satellite company. We've been happy with the service, good picture, we get all the channels we want and we don't pay enormous amounts of money each month for the "privilege."

Our apartment landlord gave us a blanket "no we don't allow dishes" when we asked about tv service (more on that later), so I tried to deal with the local cable company for internet and tv. Bad idea. As for as internet goes, I'm not paying a company $100 to attach two jumpers together and not even bother to call me to tell me it's done (especially, since I've sat at home ALL DAY, and waited for them to show up). And since the CSA couldn't even explain to me what the "installation" fee was for beyond "they install what they need to," I decided to look elsewhere for internet. That left tv.

Granted - my household doesn't watch much "live" tv. While my 8 year old as seen every Spongebob episode and is now getting into iCarly, we don't need tv service just for those shows. The local news (and by extension, local weather), football and the Oscars. That's about what I really can't get in another tv form (dvd sets, hulu, downloads, etc.). BUT there are two stations that I really really REALLY don't want to be without - SciFi and BBCAmerica. Yes, I know SciFi changed their name - but I refuse to call my favorite channel something that rhymes with a venereal disease. Getting back to my point. The package that I picked out - you know, that "introductory" priced type package - didn't have those two channels in it. And because the upgraded package wasn't "on sale," I would pay over $100 a month for tv. AFTER installation fees. That is beyond my point of reason.

In the meantime, hubby discovered the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and subsequent ruling of 1999. Which states, in it's most simplistic form, a landlord cannot deny you a dish if you follow some simple rules. For apartment dwellers, you cannot connect a dish to their structure (or roof), you can't place it in a common area, you can't put it out on the fire escape. Our new place - well, we're on the 4th floor and have a private balcony that faces west. PERFECT! We can pop that puppy on a pole stuck in a cement filled flowerpot, place it on our balcony and off we go. Except that we still have to deal with a satellite company that isn't really interested in just letting us do all the work. In subsequent communications with them, they've shown a distinct lack of understanding that no, we don't want to call you to schedule an appointment for your installers to come out. We're trying to avoid that. We just want to get the correct dish (1 meter or less across) and install it ourselves. Hubby, he was 1st in Navy A-school, this would not be a problem for him.

So - that leads me to my twitter question. If I'm going to be paying for tv, doing it in as stress-free a way as possible holds quite an appeal to me. I don't like dealing with companies who sole purpose seems to charging me so they can put up as many roadblocks as possible. Having been a CSA, I understand that many of these corporations give their first line of customer service employees the least amount of power to deviate from the script sitting in front of them. And really, me, I'm ALWAYS the exception to the rule. Believe me, I don't try to be, but those already prepared flow charts NEVER EVER work for my situation. And for once, I'd like to deal with a company that acknowledges that without having to spend 8 hours talking to 4 different 1st level reps. But that's a personal issue. Back on point - ordering an Apple TV appliance and using iTunes (which I do already for my Nano), might not get me my Bears games, but hey - I get the play by play on my radio and that just might be good enough.