Put it in this box and send it nowhere.

It's time for another Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel update!

I got a very large box on Monday. Enclosed was a strip of packaging tape and a sheet of picture instructions showing what to do. Take the wheel -- not the pedals or mounting bracket -- and put it in the box, with the sides folded like so. Use the strip of packing tape to seal the box. Put the return shipment label over the original shipping label.

Hang on a second. What shipment label?

Yes, it seems they forgot to include that critical piece of equipment.

So, I called my friends at 1-800-4MY-XBOX. I got past the automated gatekeeper and to (I assume) a living person. I told him my situation, he looked something up, and then told me that the wheel retrofit works differently, and they won't send me a box, I need to send my own.

Er? But I have a box, it was sent to me. After explaining this, he says he needs to put me on hold and talk to "his resources". (But first, he asks me to verify my information, including my 360's serial number; good thing I decided to make this call working from home today.)

20 minutes of bizarre techno-pop hold music (singing in English, with an occasional female voice in between songs who said a few words in a language I couldn't identify) later, he comes back on the phone to tell me they will be sending another box with the return shipment label, and he gives me a new reference number to write on the outside of the box.

I admit, buying the wheel was an indulgence. I haven't used it that often. Although I have been looking forward to PGR4, it was released early this month, but I still haven't picked it up, knowing full well that Halo 3 will continue to monopolize my time for a long time yet. So I'm able to view this whole retrofit saga with detached amusement. After all, it could be worse...


Can I stop being sick now?

Three weeks ago, I was sitting in church, and I started to get a cramp in my stomach. This was about quarter to 10 in the morning. About quarter to 11, it was getting worse, so I spent some time in the bathroom to try and get whatever what was in there causing problems, out. I got plenty of crap out (so to speak), but the pain persisted.

I got my family home quickly, and since it was Fast Sunday, my wife thought it was probably hunger-related, so she gave me an ice cream sandwich. It did nothing for me, and I took myself upstairs and laid on the floor outside the bathroom waiting for whatever was in my stomach to pass in one direction or another and get out. The pain just kept getting worse and worse. Nothing came out the back, and the most I could do the other way was dry heave. My wife wanted to take me to the emergency room, which I resisted for some time -- if I was going to be miserable and (as I assumed) in need of a bathroom at some indeterminate yet immediate point, I'd rather be at home than in an uncomfortable hospital emergency room where my chances of immediate attention would be slim. After a while, though, the pain was just too intense, and I couldn't take it anymore.

Fortunately, the hospital was fairly new, and pretty vacant on a Sunday afternoon. I was hooked up on painkillers administered by IV. Initially, they figured it was a kidney stone, so they did a CAT scan. Sitting perfectly still and holding your breath is not easy when you're in intense pain (even on painkillers). The scan came up negative for kidney stones, but it did show that my appendix was on the edge. If the pain was in the right side, they would have been calling for an appendectomy, but since it was on the left, they weren't sure exactly what it was. They just kept me on painkillers until either the pain passed so I was able to go home, or they could figure out what to do for me.

Eventually, my wife had to take the kids home, so she did so and made me an overnight bag. Then she called our home teachers to come deliver the bag and give me a blessing.

After the blessing, the pain moved over to the right side of my stomach. Unfortunately, they had decided to admit me to the hospital proper, a process that took a couple hours, during which the ER doctor wasn't interested in me (since I was supposed to be out of there, and with a football game just ending and people starting their stupid party tricks, they were starting to get busy), so it took some time before I could get seen. Once I got checked into my room, though, I could talk to the nurse and tell her what was going on, and she got the on-call surgeon, and he confirmed the appendix needed to come out.

Well, everything went pretty fine, all things considered, and I came home a couple days later. It took some time to recover, and fortunately I have a job where I could work from home. After a week and a half or so, though, just as the antibiotics wore off, I started feeling sick again. My wife was coughing a bit, so I figured I just caught whatever was going around. But after a week of this, I went in to see my doctor (I had already had this appointment as a follow-up to some migraine treatment), and he diagnosed me with atypical pneumonia.

This was just a few days ago. I'm just finishing up the antibiotics for this, so hopefully I'll stop coughing and being tired and out of breath soon. I am concerned, though, because last year I had a sinus infection that took two courses of antibiotics to cure, and it ended up killing all the wrong bacteria in my gut and I had to go on another set of medication to put everything right again. I really want to avoid that this time around. :-/


Something new to report?

Just got this letter from Xbox Support:

Dear Wireless Racing Wheel Owner,

Thank you for registering to receive the free wireless wheel retrofit. We are contacting you to let you know that you will be receiving a pre-paid shipping carton for you to send your Wireless Racing Wheel in to Microsoft for the necessary retrofit. The carton will be sent to your registered mailing address, and will contain packing materials, a return postage label, and instructions for the return.

You should receive your retrofitted Wireless Racing Wheel within 2-4 weeks of its receipt at Microsoft. After the retrofit, the customer can use the AC DC adapter.

For further information and support, please contact www.xbox.com/support.

Thank you


A phone call to tell me this same thing wouldn't surprise me.

What does surprise/concern me, though, is that last line in the second full paragraph: "After the retrofit, the customer can use the AC DC adapter." Suddenly they talk to me in the third person?

Call me a snob or grammar nazi if you will, but I expect communication to be gramatically correct, especially if it's customer service from a multi-billion dollar company.