Toys and Challenges

It’s been a full week. I’ve been playing with my new iPad, of course, and have been doing a little sketching every day. Then because I’m still having trouble with dizziness, I decided to dig out my Wii Fit to work on my balance. I hadn’t used it in over three years, but it thinks my balance is still great. That was a big surprise, but it may be that with my chronic eyestrain I’ve had plenty of dizziness in my life and automatically compensate for it.

At any rate, I’ve set the Wii Fit up in the living room where it’s easy to use, and I’m starting to use it a little every day. It’s been on my mind for a while, so that’s a good feeling.

So things were going swimmingly until yesterday when I decided to phone tech support for the super fancy Roku XS (for watching movies) I bought last October. For some reason it decided not to let me look at Netflix, even though my first very simple one still worked just fine. Hours and hours and seven technicians later–both yesterday and today–it’s working again. It was outside its warranty period, so I had to do most of the support via online chat rather than talking to someone in person, and there were times I wondered if I really cared that much. After all, my simple one still worked and if it decided to go belly up I could always buy the simplest version they had. Just value my time and toss the troublesome one out.

Well, no. That didn’t feel right. I thought it was broken and wanted them to know it. Instead they finally got it working and I learned a lot in the process. Was it worth it? Yes. I value knowledge and am willing to pay for it.

I am impressed that the company provided so much support. Some of the technicians were better than others, of course, but they kept trying and didn’t give up. That means a lot to me, so in spite of the hassle I’m now a loyal customer.

That said, I’m glad the ordeal is over and now I can focus on something a bit easier–our income tax. Life is just one fun thing after another. :D

Thanks to Cathy, Evan, bikehikebabe and Rummuser for commenting on last week’s post.
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19 Responses to Toys and Challenges

  1. Mike Goad says:

    Income taxes… Seems like I just did ours for last year. I started it and finished it yesterday except for deciding on contributions to an IRA. If we don’t contribute anything we get less than $50 back, quite a bit more if we max out. I’m leaning towards the IRA, with the thought that when we take the money out, our income will be lower and it’d be taxed at a lower rate. I ran that scenario through TurboTax and it agreed with my thoughts.

    Online support — for the most part, my experiences have been good, though I tend to prefer the chat to talking to them on the phone.

  2. bikehikebabe says:

    You’ve inspired me. My Wii is in view but I don’t get around to using it. That’s because my balance is bad & I don’t want to be reminded. But now I want to catch up with you.

  3. Jean says:

    Mike,
    You certainly whipped through income tax fast. Ours looks fairly easy this year, except for TurboTax. We spent an hour or so tonight trying to get it to fill out a needed form for us. No luck. I looked on the internet and apparently other people are having the same problem. It doesn’t matter to us because we don’t file electronically and the total taxes seem to be correct.

    It is a good check on our arithmetic.

    It sounds as if putting money into an IRA is a good strategy for you.

    bikehikebabe,
    Take it easy and have fun with it. Let me know how it goes.

    I occasionally do the soccer exercise, get smacked in the face by the wrong things and get labeled a failure. So what? :)

  4. Mike Goad says:

    I think the reason it was so easy for me this year is that I went through the hassle of trying to make TurboTax find that one elusive form that we needed last year or the year before. This time it pulled in the information needed from the saved file from last year and “checked” to see if that I’d need to fill out that same form this year.

  5. Cathy in NZ says:

    no challenges of the physical type here this week (well not as I remember) but rather challenges of the mental type.

    all my heap of well placed balls (well most of the time) flew up in the air and fell mostly all over the place…some rolled down the stairs and dropped through hard to reach gaps!

    I felt lost…everything (well not everything) was crumbling away and I wondered if I would retrieve some of the ones down at the baseline.

    But in the later part of the week…things started to look better; chats with people who didn’t really understand the problem, but their comments put it in a better sounding pathway; even a requested library book from local library service looked like the way forward! I have time to make it “better” again and some the balls are back in the heap, the ones still lost seem like they were excess anyway :-)

  6. bikehikebabe says:

    Interesting concept; challenges are balls flying all over the place. Don’t try to get those in hard to get places. Life is too short for those challenges.

  7. Jean says:

    Mike,
    That is the beauty of TurboTax–it has the information from last year. As I mention in today’s post at Cheerful Monk, Andy and I do it separately. He uses TurboTax and I use Excel. It’s a good check because it’s easy to type numbers in incorrectly.

    Ours was a lot easier this year because Andy consolidated a lot of our accounts so there was a lot less paperwork to go through. I actually enjoy doing the calculations, but I don’t like sorting through piles of papers.

    Cathy,
    Your life is definitely not boring! Thank you for sharing it with us. I look forward to hearing about your adventures.

  8. Rummuser says:

    Last week I had adventures with my washing machine with similar outcome and a mystery plumber who appeared as if by magic to fix something in my father’s bathroom; attended a two and a half day initiative that challenged me and this week has started off to a sedate start.

    My income tax is managed by a young accountant who is very capable and he does not need me to do anything. Just answer a few questions during one meeting that is likely to last all of thirty minutes.

  9. Jean says:

    Rummuser,
    I’m curious about that plumber, did your father call him?

    I enjoy doing income taxes now that we’ve simplified our paperwork. It’s an interesting puzzle, one that I share with Andy.

  10. Rummuser says:

    It is all there in my weekly recap Jean. The plumber was called by our neighbour. He rang the wrong bell and when Ranjan opened the door the plumber informed him that he had been called. Ranjan thought, great, the old man has found a way to get the plumber and showed him to the latter’s room and went away. The old man got everything done to his satisfaction, called Ranjan to pay up and the story ended. I came back and investigated that a total stranger had been allowed inside when I was not at home and blew a gasket. In the meanwhile, the neighbour also blew his!

  11. Cathy in NZ says:

    one of the balls returned yesterday and unexpectedly hit me on the head…I was astounded at what happened and I know I probably woke up every student who had dropped off to sleep! Can’t explain why it happened but I got really annoyed with the lecturer when she keep using the word “all” “everyone” and not qualifying it to be “most” “nearly” “some”

  12. bikehikebabe says:

    “Never say never.”

    But sometimes people don’t qualify & exaggerate to make a point.

  13. Jean says:

    Rummuser,
    I can well imagine your neighbor was upset. I can also understand why Ranjan let the plumber in since there was a plumbing problem in the house. In general when you leave do you tell Ranjan if you’re expecting someone? That’s an interesting communication problem.

    Cathy,
    How did the lecturer react? I’m trying to imagine the scene.

  14. Cathy in NZ says:

    Jean

    The lecturer has a lot of trouble with English grammar…she is originally from Korea but has been domiciled in Hawaii during her PhD.

    She was taken aback…she often is, because I don’t think she can rephase what she has said. She tried to turn my comment around saying that classical music musicians and audience would certainly only be the elite, dress as the elite, have the money to go and things like that. I forgot to ask her which century she was referencing…

    Once, I had her attention and some of the class (I found out yesterday very few realised I had lost my rag or even shouted…some must have been deeply asleep!) – I said words to the effect that if anyone had the money – nevermind the elite class – they could go to a concert like that; wear what they deemed their best which might well be jeans and a ragged t-shirt…but still she insisted that person wouldn’t be there and if they were, they would be looked down on!

    Another guy in the class…said “well let’s look at the costs and see if we can see anything interesting…$35 lowest priced ticket to classical concert, $135 lowest priced ticket to see a punk rock concert…so does that mean that only the elite will go see the punk rockers”

    Still she insisted the “all” notion but I think she was starting to waver a bit, the other lecturer looked around occasionally, he has this little smile (I have come to known as amusement factor)

    Yesterday before the tutorial, another mature student (M) said he thought the lecture yesterday was dreadful, that the content/info was poorly phased and he wondered why she had done it…

    We then had an excellent tutorial with our tutor, which was very interesting…which has to do with next week lecture on gender. We had dealt with Taiko drumming from a masculine viewpoint…

    I am taking a full class with the Korean next Semester…I am going to have to relearn how to work with the grammatical and nonsensical problems Asians have with English. I’ve met them before in my BA/Asian Studies. (apologies to you Rummuser, about English; but this is the academic world where the topic is not a language but one of Anthropology in an English speaking country)

    BTW last week also in my other class, when feedback questions were being posed…she posed one to our group, and we really couldn’t fathom it out, asked a for a repeat – still we weren’t sure; so she looked over at the other lecturer who also didn’t understand what she was trying to convey. I took a stab at it but it didn’t seem to be what she wanted either!!!

    For the next four days, I’m in my own world…nothing happening at the schoolyard; I can do my own things including of course Uni work but at home or anywhere I chose to go :-)

  15. bikehikebabe says:

    Very interesting read.

  16. Jean says:

    Cathy,
    Great story, thanks! I especially like the argument:

    “well let’s look at the costs and see if we can see anything interesting…$35 lowest priced ticket to classical concert, $135 lowest priced ticket to see a punk rock concert…so does that mean that only the elite will go see the punk rockers”

    I sympathize with you about having poor teachers. I still remember a physics professor I had once who didn’t believe the course he was teaching should even exist. One of the classes was at 8 am on a Saturday morning and he was grumpy. He was trying to lecture from the text and got it wrong. When a student called him on it he answered (direct quote):

    “How in the hell do you know what I mean when I don’t even know myself!”

    The student directed him to the page in the book and pointed out the professor had read it incorrectly. In fairness, the professor was probably right about the course.

  17. Jean says:

    Cathy and bikehikebabe,
    The professor was Fredrik Zachariasen, and I just read his obituary. One of his fellow students in graduate school pointed out Zachariasen always thought for himself:

    Elliott described how Fred became “a hero to our entire class of grad students” by defying W. R. Smythe on the final exam of his course on electricity— a required course of complex problems, considered a “rite of passage,” that didn’t touch on what was then called “modern physics.” “Fred chafed more than most,” said Elliott. “At the final exam, Fred wrote furiously and left after an hour.” It turned out he had turned in an essay about how electromagnetism is taught in most places and why Smythe’s approach was not helpful. Miraculously, Zachariasen didn’t fail the course (it was eventually dropped) and earned his PhD in 1956.

  18. Cathy in NZ says:

    so sad…that a professor could actually go that far and still get a PhD but I guess in the 1950s you were still one of the “hallowed” and if you took the time to be in such an establishment then you surely should be honoured…

    I would like to drop the Korean lady next Semester but I’m doing a paper about E. Asian music from Traditional, Modernity & Globalisation. Although, I’m not keen on traditional I guess I can wear that issue and “learn” some more on the matter.

    I might have another conversation with Kristen the Grad Advisor for Ethnomusicology on the matter :-)

  19. Jean says:

    Cathy,
    I don’t think it’s sad. I laugh every time I think of it. That’s why I remember him after all of these years. The fellow was brilliant and I think he was right about not liking the approach he was forced to teach. He got his Ph.D. at Cal Tech and ended up teaching there. His irreverent attitude was a great match for that institution.

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