By Luke Simpson, Associate Editor, Chem.Info

After dinner on Friday night I found that our cable TV had been disconnected. When I called my cable provider to report the problem, I was told that they would send someone out on Sunday afternoon — would I prefer they came between 1 and 5 p.m. or between 3 and 5 p.m.? Is that a trick question?

Sunday rolls around and after coming home from the gym at 2:30 p.m., just as I hopped into the shower: “DING DONG.” Of course this is the one time that the cable guy actually comes early.

Wrapped in a towel and soaking wet, I greeted him and explained the problem. He messed around with the cables for a while and informed me that I had been disconnected when the vacating downstairs tenant had her service switched off. So off he went to fix the problem.

Soon after I heard the TV come to life and the cable guy called me in to show off his repair skills.

“I hooked you up,” he said.


“I hooked you up with all the channels.”

“Excuse me?”

“I gave you all of the channels.”

“Oh …”

It was one of those awkward situations where you don’t know what to say. I didn’t particularly want every single channel, but I was perplexed by this strangers’ act of kindness. Was he fishing for a tip? Would he be offended if I asked him to “un-hook me up?” And would that mean another hour of him tinkering around in the backyard while I’m waiting to pick my fiancé up from work?

I decided to say nothing and simply thanked him for fixing the problem.

That night we sat down with the remote to see what the cable guy had unlocked. Instead of fuzz kicking in at channel 29, we had channels up into the 70s.

Flick … flick …flick … flick …

In fact, I was so busy flicking through these top end channels (that weren’t showing anything particularly interesting I might add) that I missed American Dad and the start of a sweet documentary about the evolution of felines into cats, lions, leopards, etc.

By having way too much on my plate, I was distracted by a lot of stuff that didn’t interest me, and I lost sight of the programs that I did want to watch.

When I arrived at work on Monday morning, I read about Huntsman’s $415M bid for the titanium dioxide and electrolytics businesses owned by the bankrupt Tronox, a move that would make Huntsman the second biggest titanium dioxide maker in the world. And Huntsman isn’t the only one engaged in restructuring.

After a relatively quiet time in the chemical industry, it looks as though merger and acquisition activity is starting to pick up. Some companies are selling off less profitable assets to focus on their core interests (Monsanto Closes $160M Sale Of Sunflower Business); others are buying into more profitable areas such as specialty chemicals and agribusiness; and companies like Dow are doing both (Dow’s Rohm & Haas Acquisition). Others are simply consolidating internally (DuPont Combines Businesses, Reorganizes Leadership). Even eBay is selling off its voice-over-IP business, Skype.

It occurred to me that I should apply Huntsman, Dow and DuPont’s business plans to my own television viewing by consolidating and refocusing the channels that I watch. I will be calling the cable company to inform them of their “mistake” — even though it would be nice to have the Big Ten network for the commencement of the Badgers’ season.

So why are cable guys never on time? E-mail me at