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This Day in My History

2000:  You've Got Mail
2001:  Honk If You're an Idiot
2002:  The Unappreciated Wit
2003:  She Who Hesitates is Sometimes Saved
2004Sounds Artsy Fartsy to Me

2005:  Killing the Dog  

"The Venetian Twins"

Books Read in 2006

"Star Warts:  Remake of the Jedi"
(Part 2)

Star Warts: Remake of the Jedi, Part 2

click here to download

Click here for flash format

Mefeedia Video Archive

My Favorite Video Blogs

Desert Nut

(for others, see Links page)

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New on My flickr_logo.gif (801 bytes)
Bill's Memorial

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Support liberty and justice for all

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My "Things I Want" Wish List

(with the hope that everyone in my family will think about making a similar list before their birthdays and/or Christmas roll around!)

(NOT a spoiler)

6 June 2006

lockhatch.jpg (9651 bytes)OK -- I don't have all the answers, but I finally figured out what that computer in the hatch of Lost is for and why the guys need to keep punching in the code every couple of hours.

It came to me when I was trying to reach customer service for Panasonic.

Something weird happened to my VHS-DVD player/recorder.  I had copied a VHS tape to DVD and then I finalized a disc and when the disc finished finalizing, it brought up a message saying that the disc could not be played in this region.


Initially I was upset that I had just wasted 2 hrs indexing the DVD and I'd now have to do it again, but I put the DVD into the computer and it played just fine.  Later when my latest Netflix DVDs arrived, I put one into the DVD player and got the same message.  I tried a few more DVDs and every one brought up the "cannot play in this region."

What to do?

I tried calling Ned, but he wasn't home, so I left a message for him.  I also posted a message on Senior.Net, hoping one of the gurus could figure it out.

Finally as a last resort, I decided to check the Panasonic web site.  I really feel that I've lived through the golden age of the Internet -- the days when you really could talk to customer service reps, when companies actually wanted to help you, and when they posted their contact information prominently, instead of just FAQs, so that you could get assistance when you need it.   You know, the days when your call really was important to them!

Now it's often difficult to find any contact information at all and it's usually hidden away in tiny print.   But, through diligence, I did find a contact page and searched through the dozens of phone numbers for products I've never heard of before, I finally found the general all purpose telephone number that leads you to the Master Voice Mail Hell Menu.

I waded through 8 different lengthy options before I finally found the right number to punch for "none of the above" (it wasn't "0" -- they are getting too smart for that!)

After finally connecting to that voice mail, the automated human voice calculated how long my wait would be and said that I would probably wait 4 minutes for the next operator.  The voice suggested I check the web site, and it reminded me that my call was very important to them.

I envisioned the David Spade character on the Capitol One commercial -- the guy who won't let anybody cash in their frequent flyer miles -- sitting at the phone bank giggling because I foolishly thought that I would actually only be waiting four minutes.

It was a good 10 minutes before I finally connected with a human, but it was during that time that I figured out the solution for Lost.

lostfear.jpg (21962 bytes)The hatch computer is connected to all of the customer service phones in the country and if you don't punch in the code at the right time, customers all over the country will immediately be connected directly to customer service reps, bypassing hours of recordings of how important their call is to the company, and the end result will be such a shift in the universe that it could cause the phenomenon we saw in the season's final episode a couple of weeks ago.

Miraculously, the first human being with whom I spoke only put me on hold briefly and then passed me along to a real live customer service rep who walked me through resetting the machine back to its default settings.  Instantly, my DVR player was back again.

My faith in customer service has (sort of) been restored.  And I have to thank John Locke for deciding not to enter the code into the hatch computer, which allowed that brief crack in the universe which allowed me to sneak through the wall of voice mail hell between the customer and real "service."

Have I mentioned the absolutely delightful Owen and Mzee's web log?   Owen is an orphaned baby hippo who was adopted by Mzee, a 130 year old giant tortoise after losing his mother in the 1994 tsunami in Kenya.  It's a fascinating blog and all the photos are wonderful.  It is updated frequently. A children's book about Owen and Mzee is available thru


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This is how all those customer service reps really work!


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