Thursday, January 19, 2006


For Christmas, S got me a Sirius Satellite Radio. It's a"plug and play" type that uses an FM modulator to broadcast the signal to the car radio. I decided to install it that day.

I went to the garage (where it was about 25 degrees out) and proceeded to install the antenna. It attaches to the roof of the car with a powerful magnet. You then have to run a wire under the rubber edging along the back window, into the trunk and then up through the car to the dash. Simple enough, right? Wrong. The rubber edging around the window is very rippled and dried out since the car is about 7 years old. I couldn't get the wire to stay under it. Finally I got it to stay by ramming it under inch by inch with a popsicle stick, ran the wire up the driver's side of the car behind the plastic molding and found that it was about 5 inches too short to reach the dash. I drive a midsized car. How can the fucking wire be too short!? I had to pull the entire wire out, start over and run it up the passenger side where it reached the dash with about an inch to spare.

By this time I'd spent about an hour outside, my fingers were numb and S started peeking into the garage to see if I was still alive. She new better than to interrupt me or actually try to talk to me when I'm in the middle of one of my "projects". Once started I must move forward to completion without interruption, food, water or even a pee break. If I have to stop in the middle I loose all momentum and the chance of successfully completing the project in anything under 9 hours becomes infinitesimally small.

After successfully installing the antenna I mount the receiver on the dash, plug in the power source and turn it on. The instructions say (yes I actually use instructions sometimes) that at this point I should get a signal from Sirius saying that all is well and instructing me to call them to activate the service. Of course, I had no signal.

I called customer service and got a barely understandable representative who was probably based somewhere in Indonesia who proceeded to outline the different payment plans and options for the Sirius radio service.

"But wait" I said. "I'm not getting a signal. The radio isn't working".

"We have a one year plan, a two year plan or a lifetime membership for $599 Dollars. Or, you can pay month to month".

"I know English is not your native language but please try to understand me when I say: The Fucking radio does not work!"

"Please hold"

After five minutes she comes back on. "I'm sorry sir, I don't think I can help you with this. Let me transfer you to our product support department. Please hold".

Ten minutes later I'm sitting in the car, blue fingers, blue lips, bladder about to burst. I open the garage door and start the engine to get some heat. Then inspiration hits me. I back the car out into the driveway and voila. The signal appears. The car fills with sound. It's the weather channel, telling me that it's cold and snowing in the Midwest. No shit.

It never occurred to me that satellite radio wouldn't work in a garage but apparently it doesn't. There needs to be an direct signal from the satellite to the antenna. You'd think that they would mention this in the instructions. "Note: radio must be installed outdoors you idiot!"

Despite the installation hassle I really do like the radio. So many channels of commercial free music to choose from. I like the Chill channel 35 the best as well as most of the electronic/dance channels.

And, there's Howard Stern too. I tried listening to him one morning. What an idiot. Why he's getting paid 100 million dollars and a share of the company I'll never know. He's one of the least funny and talented people on the planet. "King of All Media"? How about King of bad 80's hair! His only interests seem to be lesbians and hookers. Have you read any of his books? I tried reading "Miss America" and lasted about 20 pages. One of the most boring and juvenile books I've ever encountered.

The other weird thing about Howard is his resemblance to Alan Alda. They look and sound remarkably alike. Alan is basically Howard, without the hair, 20 years older and a little more whiney. Alan Alda must secretly be Howard Stern's dad, or at least an uncle. Maybe he's his older brother who was given up for adoption when his mom had him out of wedlock at age 14.

One thing about the Sirius radio you need to know. The FM modulator isn't stellar. I frequently get background hiss, static and bleed through from other stations on nearby frequencies. It would be better to wire the unit directly into the car stereo so you don't have to broadcast over an FM frequency. Unfortunatley, my car stereo doesn't have that capability. Maybe in my next car.


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