Alameda Parks & Rec Aquatics

July 11 Update

Each summer we sign our 7 year old up for the Alameda Parks and Rec summer aquatics program at the Encinal High School pool. Usually he does two of the three sessions, covering 6 weeks, with lessons four nights a week. At the end of each session they issue a report card and let the kids know the level they are on.

The Pool

There are actually two pools at Encinal High, a fairly shallow one and one that is set up for lap swimming and diving (it has a spring board in one corner where the depth increases to 12′).The shallower one is heated, and is where most of the classes happen. The deeper one is used by the groups on the higher levels and for treading water by the lower groups (it has a shallow side).

The Lessons

The lessons are relatively small groups (five or six kids per group), and the instructors look like college or high school kids. There seems to be quite a bit of variation in what they actually do between instructors, but they do spend the entire time working with the kids. The last five minutes of each class are a free swim / play time for the kids too which they like.

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Cutting the Cable

Another month, another increase in our Comcast cable TV bill. One too far this time. Several months ago the bill had risen to a level where we thought it was too high for how much TV we watched & we trimmed a number of premium channel packages to reduce it to an acceptable level. Last month it was back up to that same amount even without those channels. It hadn’t jumped to that level though. Instead, it has been on a steady increase. Sometimes just a dollar or so, other times more. Always creeping up.

Meanwhile, we already had Roku boxes downstairs in the family room as well as in the master bedroom which provide us access to unlimited Netflix streaming for just $8 a month & Amazon Prime Video essentially for free since we have prime for the “Amazon Mom” program (if you never use the other elements of Prime, it would still work out at less than $8/month).

There was one wrinkle in the plan: the most common show we watched, when we had the chance to watch anything in the evenings, was House Hunters on HGTV. But we weren’t willing to pay that much for a few hours of TV each month. So, just before our trip to the UK, I called Comcast and canceled the TV service completely, and returned all the TV related hardware. But I kept the internet from them. Factoring in the increased price of “unbundled” Internet, that saves us about $110/month – over $1300/year.

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Comcast Disaster Continues

Oddly enough, the remote initialisation of the DVR did nothing to fix the problem with it crashing when it tries to record. I come in tonight to find it locked up in the same way as before.

I’m not yet convinced that this is a hardware issue though. So I am not expecting the box they bring on Monday to fix this issue unless it is a different unit (or has fixed software on it). Others are also having problems with the Motorola DCH3416, and Comcast’s service in general by the sounds of it.

And, yes, that’s yet another visit (my third so far) from the Comcast technicians – I asked tonight if they can book recurring appointments so they can just come out the same time each week and fix whatever has failed since the last visit. At the rate they’re going, they may as well just park out front.

From APT to Comcast

Sadly we found out a few weeks back that Alameda’s own cable TV company was no more, and that Comcast had acquired the service and all its customers. Until we were transitioned (more on that later) we would continue to get our cable and internet services unchanged. Right, so that’s why my DVR service was suddenly disabled on December 7, 2008. And that’s where this saga starts.

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