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. 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?

Time warp…

Every morning for the last week or two I’ve gotten in the truck, pulled up one of the “current hits” channels on Sirius and had an immediate and visceral “what is this gawd awful noise” kind of response to whatever song happens to be playing. I don’t want to say what I think I’m saying, but damn it, I remember top 40 songs being, well, better. Since life is too short to listen to music you can’t stand, I almost always find myself gravitating towards “the 90s on 9.” Not that I consider the 1990s in any way the high point of music or anything, it just… well… It just sounds better than what I’m hearing on those other channels.

I can’t help but take a nervous look over my shoulder. I know that dad’s satellite radio is more or less stuck on the 50s channel and only occasionally makes a jump over to the 60s. The thought that this is what’s slowly happening to me, has filled be with an unnatural dread. I’m serious. This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.

As much of a curmudgeon as I am, I still think of myself as at least being passingly in touch with pop culture. I’ve already lost my hair and even though I’ve clearly made my peace with that, I’m just not willing to surrender anything else quite so easily to the evil bastard called aging gracefully. I remember liking music from summer well enough, so I’m crossing my fingers that 2012 is just a particularly bad year in music and not the harbinger of worse things to come. Maybe I’ll just leave it on 90s on 9 and call it a day.

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.