I’ve had some variation of satellite radio since the service only came as a stand-alone dongle that attached to your existing car radio. It’s been at least twenty years. In fact, somewhere in a box of defunct electronics, I probably still have that first receiver. You know, just in case I need it. 

In all that time, I’ve practiced the yearly pantomime of calling either Sirius or XM or more recently, SiriusXM, and threatening to cancel my subscription before it renewed at full price. Every year their customer service department responded by rolling out a wildly discounted offer to keep me on subscription.

This year they didn’t. The fully burdened month-to-month rate for two vehicles and streaming would have been $566.88 for the year. Their discounted offer for the same services was $298. Last year I re-upped for half that.

Look, I am an unashamed Howard Stern fan. I think he’s one of the best interviewers of the last decade… but Howard three days a week except during his two-month vacation isn’t enough to keep me on the hook at extortionate prices.

So, SiriusXM finally called, what they seems to assume was my bluff, and got themselves cancelled for their trouble.

I’ll be surprised if I don’t start getting reactivation offers before the end of the week… but they’re going to have to do a long way better than what was their “absolute best offer.” I kept them this long because, like cable television, having everything I wanted in one place was a convenience. However, there are too many podcasts and quality streaming services now for satellite radio to go around pretending they’re the premium service of old. 

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Edible arrangements. Here’s a tip. If you’re going to send a “gift” that requires refrigeration to a friend, family member, or whatever, make sure that person is going to be home when it’s delivered. Otherwise the nice delivery person will annoy the dogs of your friend or family member’s neighbor and then that neighbor will end up having to rearrange 75% of the things in his own fridge to accommodate your thoughtful gift. As a general rule, your gifts should not constitute an added burden on an utterly disinterested third party.

2. The couple with the matching roller coolers. Every morning I arrive at the office at more or less the same time as a couple who seem to wear semi-matched outfits and roll identical rolling coolers across the parking lot to the building. I don’t know exactly what it is about this couple that annoys me quite so much, but it’s an automatic and visceral kind of thing. Their whole set up just feels wrong and unnatural.

3. Satellite Radio. My SiriusXM “demo” expired last week. Being a long term fan of being able to listen to the same three or four stations no matter where I drive, I logged in to my account and renewed my subscription. Only problem is for the last seven days the damned radio has showing nothing but the preview channel. By this morning, I’d completed half a dozen calls to “listener care” and at least twice that number of “refreshed signals.” I’d already made up my mind that they’d had their last call. Once the weekend rolled around and I had a few minutes to play the game, I was going to cancel the service and be done with it. Lo and behold, pulling out of the parking this afternoon the satellite receiver sprung to life as if nothing had ever been wrong with it. I’ve been a fan of the satellite radio for years, but I no longer have the patience for “services” that make me jump through hoops as part of the program. There are too many companies competing for entertainment dollars to keep shoveling cash at something that’s not dependable. Our friends beaming music down from space would probably be well served to remember that.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Forgetting Thursday. Most weeks, by the time Thursday rolls around I have a laundry list of potential topics to pick from. The annoyances range from monumental to petty and all are perfectly suitable for taking up a hundred or so words in print. Occasionally though, you run into a week where nothing exceptional happens and grievances are too petty to even be worth mentioning. Mercifully they don’t come along all that often or this whole effort would come to a painfully sudden stop. It’s been my experience that good times tend to make for piss poor writing.

2. Satellite Radio. I dearly love my SiriusXM radio, but it occurred to me yesterday when they renewal notice arrived $273.22 seems awfully expensive. I’m perfectly willing to pay for the joy and convenience of not needing to change a channel from one side of the country to the other, but honest to God shouldn’t something called a “Music Royalty Fee” be included as part of the standard bill for a device whose purpose, largely, is to play music. An entirely separate $33.34 line item for this does seem a touch excessive me. I like Sirius. I want to find a more reasonable price point so I can justify keeping my subscription. As it stands, though, there’s too much competition online that’s free or cheap for me to fork over the better part of $300.

2. “Christians didn’t do anything about the KKK.” In response to the question “Why don’t Muslims do more to stop the radicals among them,” the immediate response seems to be “well Christians didn’t do anything about the KKK.” Except that’s not true at all. In 1954 President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard to ensure the integration of Little Rock High School. In 1964 the FBI under Director Hoover flooded into Mississippi to break the grip of the KKK on the local justice system. Federal agencies have continued to infiltrate and prosecute all manner of hate groups from then right through to the present day. The second half of the 20th century was never my primary area of study, but I do seem to remember a fair number of whites who went south to register voters, help organize boycotts, and generally be part of the process. With that being said I’m assuming the counter question being asked is really “what did ‘white people’ do to curtail the activities of white hate groups, I think the answer you’re looking for is “a lot.” I can’t speak for anywhere else, but when the KKK shows up “on parade” here in Cecil County, it’s mostly six old guys on the courthouse steps. They might not be dead, but they’re sure as hell defanged compared to where things stood in 1950, dontcha think?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. FM Radio. I’ve had a satellite radio account since back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the state of the art was a receiver mounted to the air conditioning duck and an antenna wire snaking out the window to a magnetic antenna. After the better part of a week tooling around in a car without Sirius, I can honestly say that normal radio is actually worse than I remember it being. Constant commercials, bad reception, God awful “morning zoos” on just about every channel, there’s clearly a reason that broadcast radio is a free “service.” If nothing else, this brief time off satellite has proven to me the value of being able to toggle between the BBC, any genre of music I can even think of wanting to listen to, a dozen news/talk stations, and the need to get an occasional Howard Stern fix. I’ll try to remember that the next time I notice the bill come in.

2. The Network. Reliable 24×7 high speed internet isn’t a luxury item in the 21st century. Sure, maybe if you’re a moisture farmer somewhere in the third world, dial-up is good enough but if you’re a knowledge worker who trades in ideas it’s like trying to make a phone call with duct tape over your mouth. Unless “I’d love to do whatever random task you want me to handle today, but can’t because I can’t see the interwebs” becomes an legitimate excuse for falling off timelines, it’s really falls to the employer to ensure network availability on more than three days out of five. Sure SkyNet might have destroyed civilization, but at least it didn’t collapse into an unusable mass of Network Errors every couple of hours.

3. #FirstWorldProblems. I’ve run across a spate of articles lately decrying the fact that so much of what we Westerners b*tch and complain about are “First World Problems” and wanting us collectively to me more attuned to ongoing plights like famine, pestilence, war, and plague. Let’s go ahead and get one thing straight right now. As a rule, I am opposed to most of the aforementioned issues. However, since I happen to live in the developed world, the things that annoy me on a regular and recurring bases are going to tend to be, by definition, first world problems. And here’s the kicker: I’m OK with that. I’m just a guy trying to do a job and have some semblance of a life. Every now and then I do my bit for the poor, downtrodden, diseased, or hungry by kicking out a check to the charity of my choice. So stop trying to lay down a massive guilt trip on everyone. There’s nothing anyone can tell me that’s going to make me feel compelled to go wandering around some backwater village in a part of the world not even the State Department has heard about on a quest to stomp out GonoHerpiSyphilAids.

Beautiful Day…

I was flipping through the XM channels during my drive this morning and landed on one of them playing U2’s “Beautiful Day.” There’re communists, but even so, I do tend to like most of their tunes. When something rapish followed up, I switched over to Fox News Radio in time to catch the “breaking report” that al-Zarqawi had been killed in Iraq overnight.

The score so far, for those listening at home:
• 1 international terrorist leader killed
• 2 countries liberated
• 1 nuclear weapons program surrendered
• 1 religious extremist government toppled and on the run
• 1 megalomaniac dictator captured and standing trial
• 2 despotic sons killed

Our soldiers and airmen proved once again that the United States has produced the best trained, best equipped, best fed, and most highly educated warriors in the long sweep of human history.

It’s a beautiful day indeed.