Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The TV tennis story (long)

Sometimes you just have to get things done yourself.

This weekend a group of us took the trek 100 miles north to play in a $1,000,000 guaranteed poker tournament at the LA Poker Classic. This event is held at the Commerce Casino, the largest card room in the world. All four of us busted out of that tournament without cashing, but we were there for the whole weekend having already booked a hotel room for the night, so we stayed and played in the cash games.

Matt and I also played in the next day's (Sunday) Limit Hold-em Event. I got out to great start at a great table where some very unsophisticated players were putting money into every pot. I got some hands and built a nice stack. Matt's story was different. He lost nearly all of his chips early. Once they moved me to another table things took a turn for the worse and after a series of bad beats I was out. Matt managed to survive on fumes for hours and hours, and eventually made a deep run into the money.

So, here the thing. We drove up together and I could not leave him there, so even though I was done playing poker for the trip, I still had to wait. I occupied my time with my computer for a few hours, but I really wanted to watch the Australian Open tennis matches that were on live. The problem was that someone had messed up with the Direct TV receiver for the ESPN channel on their closed circuit TV system. The picture was zoomed in so that you could not see the score and people heads were cut off. This sis not make for a pleasurable viewing experience. I noticed it had been like this all weekend on every TV on the casino.

I decided to take action. I called the main number for the Casino and explained that i would like to speak to the whichever department was responsible for the in house television system. That department was Security. After a few rings they picked up... I take a deep breath and ready myself for what I am sure to be a complicated conversation.

"Yes, Hello. I am here in the casino and watching the Tennis on ESPN and there seems to be a problem with the picture. It is zoomed in and you cannot see the score."


"Can you please fix it?"
"Well... uh"
"I'm sorry...am I speaking to the right person?"
"Um, yes. Where are you in the casino? Which TV are you watching?"
"Well, I am upstairs in the tournament room, but that is largely irrelevant because I noticed that it is like this on every monitor in the building. That would suggest that the problem is with your satellite receiver for that channel."
"OK, so where are you?"
"I am upstairs, but I am curious why my location is of importance."
"Well I am trying to figure out what you are watching..."
"Oh my apologies, I thought you asked me where I was."
"I did."
"Ok. Well I am currently sitting in the dealer chair of table 18 in the Grand Ballroom speaking to you on my phone while watching television monitor number 59 display a zoomed in broadcast of the Australian Open. Would you like to know what I am wearing?"
"Ok, so what do you want me to do?"
"Is this the same person I have been talking to?"
"Well I would like you to adjust the receiver so that we can I can see the entire picture. You see, Tennis, like most sports, is more entertaining to watch when you know what the score is. And since there isn't any audio, that means you have to fix the receiver."
"I can't do that."
"Sure you can."
"It's your TV. I can't control that."
"No, its like this on every TV in the building. You can fix it. Trust me. You just don't know how, but I am going to help you."
"They are showing it that way."
"Well, that is almost certainly impossible. It has been this way all weekend, and I have been watching it at my hotel room, and it is not this way."
"Well, I can't fix it."
"You can."
"Sir, I'm telling you that is not something we can control here."
"That is not accurate."
"Well I don't know what to tell you."
"You can tell me what the number for your supervisor is."
"I am the supervisor."
"Fantastic. You should know that you have an unhelpful employee in your department."
"Nevermind. Listen... who do you call when something is broken with say... a television?"
"Would you please transfer me to Engineering?"
"One moment."

Hold music plays. I glance at my watch. It's been 10 minutes and nearly 30 since I first placed the call."

"We are going to try to work on it from here..."

She hangs up. Nothing happens for at least another 10 minutes and then wouldn't you know it...the display changes to show the Direct TV Channel guide and a reduced Picture in Picture in the upper right hand corner that shows the entire image. It is so small though I cannot read the score. Sazzled. I get a chair and climb up close enough to see that Tsonga and Almagro are battling in extended play in the 5th set. I continue to watch the rest of the match this way...3 inched from the monitor. I can feel the heat from the panel. The match ends. Tsonga wins. I climb down.

The image stays this way for another 10 minutes before going back to the zoomed in version. It doesn't change. Federer and Hewitt are playing now. I hit re-dial on my phone.

"Commerce Casino, how may I direct your call?"
"Security please."
"One moment."
"Security," says a man now.

I take the next 5-10 minutes to explain the situation all over again to another employee who has now arrived to replace the last one. He is even more clueless than his predecessor. Finally I arrive at this...

"Well she almost had it. If I had been on the phone with her I could've told her which button to press. If you get the remote, I can walk you through the steps. It's actually quite simple."
"I don't have the remote."
"She had it."
"She is gone."
"Call her and ask her where she left it."
"Call her and ask her where she left it."
"I'm not going to do that?"
"Let me speak to your supervisor please."
"I am the supervisor."
"Fantastic, you should know that you have an unhelpful employee in your charge."
"Nevermind. Surely you have a telephone list of your co-workers?"
"Call her up. It will only take a second."
A very large annoyed sigh distorts the handset of his telephone.
"Hang on."

5 minutes of Kenny G.

"Ok, I've got the remote."
"Alright there should be a button that says 'Options'. Press it."

The Channel changes to bowling.

"Nope that was the Channel button. We are looking for the one that says 'Options'."

I've noticed a small crowd has gathered around me and is quite entertained by my conversation. It has been going on for more than an hour now. They are talking amongst themselves as some give a recap of the events to their recently arrived friends. Some even are shouting out suggestions for me to relay. I hold my hand up and nod. I look up and the panel changes to blue screen"

"Hmm, I think you've turned it off"
"Yeah I pressed the power button."
"Oh. Interesting choice. Maybe that will fix it."
"Um, can you turn it back on?"

I watch as the unit boots up. This takes a few minutes. Finally he changes back to ESPN. Still zoomed in. I glance at my watch. Over an hour and a half now.

"Listen, I can help you. Where are you located?"
"We are just off the 5 freeway on Telegraph road in Commerce."
"I am in the building... remember?"
"Where is your office."
"Can you be more specific?"

He tells me the location.

"Ok, I am walking down there now. Meet me at the door."
"Uh sir, you cannot come in here."
"Why not?"
"It's a restricted area."
"It's Ok I won't wander off. You can stay with me."
"I will have to get my supervisor to approve this..."
"I thought you said you were the supervisor."
"Well...yeah...but I have to call the casino manager."
"Ok call him."
Another very loud sigh and more Kenny G.

"Ok, meet me at the door."

I am already standing in front of it and see "Hector" when he opens it. He shows me the remote. I press "options" and select "Aspect ratio" and then select "Normal". The screen fills with the image. I hand the remote back to Hector. I walk back upsatirs and am greeted by a small round of applause near table 18. Someone has taken my comfy dealer chair. A man who had witnessed the entire incident instructs the person to give me back my chair. I sit in it.

Federer beat Hewitt in straight sets and now they are showing women's doubles.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

As promised

It might next Christmas before I get the holiday pictures from my mother so in the interim here are some from New years Eve, a random photo shoot of Snoog, and the Ranch.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Holiday Post Coming - 2010

My Holiday posts are pretty much on hold while I wait for the pictures to be sent to me. In short, the holidays were great. Lots of time off with family, friends, and loved ones, and beautiful weather to boot. Once again I cannot re-iterate enough how good I am at vacation. I might have found my life's calling.

I hear a lot of people saying "Good riddance to 2009." I guess a lot of folks had a not so good year. I can't really share that sentiment. I was happy and healthy. Plus Jan 1 is just another day, so I don't really see how the year flipping over changes much of anything...except in your mind. Its just a choice... but I suppose we need things like "New Year's" to help us facilitate a mental change.

On to 2010 then. I will be taking up my monthly life experiments again this year. This month I have pledged not to curse. I can still say "F", or extremely clean derivations of the better known curse words, but any slippage and I have to put $10 into the curse jar. What that money will be saved for (hopefully there isn't any) will be determined later.

EDIT: I thought maybe I will have to donate the money to the Republican Party. That should stop me... right?