Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Farewell To Chasing Dots For Nielson

Simulated Nielson Monitor
 We are no longer chasing dots for Nielson.  We reached the two year standard limit for participating in the Nielson TV Ratings program wherein Nielson Media Research electronically monitored television viewing in our home.  Each television in our home was fitted by a Nielson technician with a monitoring device with a horizontal light display similar to that above.  By clicking a preassigned button on a remote, anyone watching any of our televisions would "sign on" to indicate they were viewing whatever channel was on at the time. In the display here, for example, viewer # 4 is viewing as evidenced by the green light on the 4th light from the left. Red = not viewing, Green = viewing.  I never bothered to ask if Nielson had a color blind version of monitors for the hue-impaired.  Maybe they covered that in the initial interview, I don't recall.  It was all completely voluntary and our selection was supposedly having to do with the demographics of our household within the community. In other words, they wanted to know what three old people (as in me, my wife, and her mother) were watching on TV 24/7.  And they paid us to do it! Yeah, only fifty bucks every six months but fifty bucks is fifty bucks! Since our youngest grandchild was a regular viewer she was preassigned a viewer number along with us old geezers and she got free gifts (cheap stuff but free is free) every six months when we got our check.

The chasing dots deal refers to the nature of the system that upon each start up (whenever a television was turned on) and then every 45 minutes or so the display lights would start blinking on and off in a left to right sequence as a signal that the monitor wanted an update on who was viewing at the moment. Like it didn't trust us to keep the system up to date and wanted to verify who was actually in the room and viewing. Probably a good thing, too, because as often as not, we had to press the button on or off to accurately reflect who was or wasn't viewing. We were instructed that if someone left the viewing arena for a short period of time but intended to return after a moment, like a refrigerator raid or a bathroom break, we didn't have to sign them off and on again. But if someone left for good (like my wife when I wanted to watch Two and a Half Men or war stuff) then they wanted to know that by signing off the departed party.  I never asked nor tested to see if the monitors would implode or something if the same viewer number was signed on simultaneously on different TVs in different rooms. That might have been an interesting experiment but 1) I never thought of it, and 2) why jeopardize the fifty bucks subsidy by risking banishment for insubordinate monitoring?  So anyway, when the lights started flashing, whoever had the remote was expected to press the appropriate buttons to reflect the real-time viewer status, and more often than not, I, as the man of the household, was the designated remote operator. I had the power so to speak.  And if I was intently focused on whatever program was running, say like trying to figure out the puzzle on Wheel before my wife did or admiring the posture on Vanna or even dozing off for a moment or two,  I very well might not notice the blinking lights (aka dots chasing one another) and would be alerted by whoever else was in the room exclaiming..."CHASING DOTS! CHASING DOTS!" Always uttered twice and usually at high decibel levels just to make sure I knew this was no drill but an actual alert. Actually, my wife was normally the one doing the exclaiming mother in law, who is 88 and not exactly technologically savvy was a lot more reserved (and polite, I might add) about alerting me of dots chasing each other by first getting a puzzled look on her face followed by looking at me to see if I was awake or conscious of the situation, and finally by clearing her throat and perhaps pointing her finger at the dancing light display to get my attention. My wife, for some reason, never felt compelled to become party to the same social niceties. She preferred vocalizing the alert. With gusto.  Although, I must admit, after time, say the second year or so, she developed a silent ESP-like means of staring at me until I felt a burning sensation somewhere in my brain that a message of "CHASING DOTS! CHASING DOTS!" was being telecommunicated to me and carried with it the understanding that I'd better grab the Nielson remote and fix the problem before...before...well, PDQ if I wanted to avoid my brain cells being sizzled into tapioca pudding.  A silent but quite effective means of ensuring accurate real-time data for Nielson to be sure.  I hope they appreciate it.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  Actually, "good things" is a relative term and chasing dots for Nielson was starting to become a drag. Not a pain in the butt issue but just a minor inconvenience once in a while. More and more I'd make the necessary adjustments but I tended to linger before doing so, letting the dots chase each other for awhile before updating. Perhaps muttering something like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah...just hold your water (Nielson), I'm fixin' it, I'm fixin' it already!" No disrespect intended for the fine folks at Nielson (I don't want to insult anybody before the final check comes in) but dot chasing had become a tedious and monotonous obligation and I was starting to develop the temptation to rebel in other ways.  Like weighting the curve. Besides the four preassigned viewers in the house (3 seniors + 1 grandchild) we had the ability to add about four "visiting" viewers. Good for 24 hours we could "add" viewers by temporary assignment of numbers by indicating sex and age of any visitor. So, how about adding four fictitious visitors, say 85 to 96 years old, and dialing up Dr Phil for viewing?  Then again, why load the bases for something I don't watch when I could push the curve towards programs I do watch?

But I didn't do any of that. Fun to consider but we kind of looked at our Nielson experience as a contract of sorts, especially since we were getting paid for it, so our monitoring was 100 % on the up and up. Well, make that 90 % to account for the times I might have dozed off while the TV was still running and the dots were still chasing each other but I didn't know it.  I wasn't really watching that infomercial on the newest ab-building machine, honest!  It's only been two days now since Nielson pulled the monitoring system out. And I can't say that I miss it. But I'm still programmed to make a change when my wife or mother in law leaves the room.  I look for the remote to see if it might have slipped down between the sofa seat cushions again.  Until I look up and remember there are no chasing dots to react to anymore. I don't have to worry about dots or mother in law pointing or wife sending non-verbal arrows in my direction anymore (at least not about dots, anyway).  It's sort of like I'm having withdrawal symptoms from chasing dots for Nielson, I guess.  So, farewell, chasing dots.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Slowing Down and Liking It!

Had an appointment today with hematologist for follow up on my MDS. My white blood cell counts are holding steady while red cells and platelets have actually gone up a little bit.  I still have no symptoms beyond blood tests so that in combo with the numbers means we don't need to do anything about it right now. We'll just take another look in three months and see what's going on then. So the progression of MDS has basically held steady and for that I'm grateful. It is not a sign that the disease is going away. As much as I might wish that were true, the bottom line is that MDS is not reversible.  It's also not curable.  No pills or surgery will fix the problem. When the numbers start to drop as they inevitably will and physical symptoms start coming into play then treatment with chemotherapy will be recommended. Way down the line a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant might be a "cure" but it carries a whole lot of risks and lifestyle adjustments that are considerable. For now, I'll settle for what my doctor suggests might be MDS with slow progression. Keep it sloooooow, baby reeeeeeaaaaaaalll slow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Pals

 They're both females but who says a guy can't have girls for BFF's, even if he's an old married grump?

Lucy the American Bulldog

Coco the Labradoodle

Starting Over

I screwed up. I wanted to discontinue the Google Adsense deal where Google was attaching ads to my blogs. In the course of 3 years on the program I generated about $5.88 revenue from "hits" on the ads attached to my blogs. Didn't seem to make sense to keep it going so I decided to cancel my subscription to the program today. Since I'm a technological whiz kid when it comes to computers I whipped right through all the steps required to cancel the program and simultaneously wiped out all my blog postings from the last three years. I feel like I just kicked my best friend off the life raft to make more room for me. My intentions were good but my methods sucked.

So, here I go again. Starting over. If any among my vast following audience decide to follow this blog again I hope you can find it. It's got the same title, JD's Blahs, but had to change the url a tad. I feel worse that I also wiped out my genealogy blog, "My Search Goes On" but maybe I can start that one up again as well.

No big loss anyway as my rate of posting has slowed considerably. I just wish I'd printed out more than I did (just a hand full) but that's the way it goes. It's not like I've got a legacy I need to preserve through my writing. I want to make one big improvement in my postings from now on...I'm going to try to do less complaining about things that bug me. No guarantees but that's my intent.

January 2011