Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jacking In The Crawl Space

In the basement, where we maintain a warren of electrical wiring of mysterious function, we just had a bunch of new electricity put in. It's shiny and serious-looking and when the electrician was done installing it, he said I should go turn everything on again to see if the new electricity had intimidated any of the old electricity. We've got some old knob-and-tube stuff that is nearly Amish, as well as some old new electricity that goes to an electrical panel and some newer new electricity that got added on, plus odds and ends like a burglar alarm and a jack for the DSL, which was the newest kid on the block a while back.

I turned everything on and it hummed and lit up and did everything it was supposed to, except for the DSL. I had no internet. Before fourteen years ago I never had any internet, but now it's the second-most important electricity we've got, after whatever keeps the beer cold. The internet, being the baby of the electrical family, had always been prone to tantrums. Sometimes it would sit and hold its breath till it turned blue, sometimes it would stamp its feet and sometimes it would just drag along behind us scuffing its heels and pouting. I've maintained low expectations for it, which it has met.

This time it wouldn't even flicker. It had grown into a sullen teenager. Where are you going, young lady? we would demand, and all we'd get is "OUT!" and a slammed door. I called my splendid ISP, Spire Technologies, where warm humans leap to answer the phone on the first ring and set to fixing your problems in (A) a jiffy and (B) English. Alex was able to confirm I had no internet, and confirm exactly how much internet I didn't have and how badly I didn't have it, and he roped the DSL people at Qwest into the conversation. Everyone agreed I was sorely lacking, and Qwest promised to send someone out the next day.

An hour later I happened to notice I had internet again, so I lassoed up a batch of emails, one of which was from Qwest confirming they'd be sending someone over to find my internet, so it's a good thing I got it back in time to get the e-mail. There was a phone number there I could use to cancel my appointment, and I called it. The fellow who answered was not human but still sounded helpful. "I see you have two services. Are you calling about the phone or the DSL?" DSL, I bellowed into the phone. The non-human wanted to run some tests and he'd be right back. When he came back, after a disturbing Europop interlude, he said it looks like I have my internet connection now, and if I was still having problems I should contact my ISP, and he was ever so sorry, but he didn't know their number. Buh-bye!

So I couldn't cancel my appointment. Fortunately, the internet went out again (slam) and then came back, and a few hours later it did it again (slam). Hormones, I swear to God. So although I was confident it would be working when the serviceman arrived--it's sort of a twist on Murphy's Law--I made no further attempts to ward him off.

Well, Donald from Qwest was just a peach. He fiddled with something near my modem, and then he fiddled with something stuck on the outside of the house, and then he kindly explained to me that my DB level was "four" and what I'd probably want to do is do a home run from the network interface to the jack. Well, sure, I'd like to, but I could never get anything out of the infield. I presented him with a very blank face. He explained I might want to replace a wire from the SNI to the old protector. He peered into my eyes in time to see the pilot light go out. I was blank clear down to my pancreas. Finally I accessed the part of my brain responsible for speech and asked him if all of that was something he could do, if I had enough money. And it turns out it was. Having reliable internet service would be something I would think you just couldn't put a price tag on, but it turns out it's $85.

Before he left, I asked him one more time if he could tell me what he'd done with the home run, and he patiently explained that my DSL doesn't run in series with the other jacks, unless it does it in the crawl space where we can't see it. He left after confirming that things were looking brighter with my internet, but my heart sank just a little. There are all sorts of things jacking away in the crawl space where we can't see them. We've found their little pellets.

But the internet didn't go out again for another five hours, and that's something.

31 comments:

  1. Don't those things make you feel like an antique???
    I don't see Donald's red cape and big red S; they must be under his spiffy reflective vest.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Do you have one of those fluorescent light bulbs? It might be blocking your internet because it's sulking over what Joe Barton said in the post below.

    (Oh, and I'm only 50 and I didn't need to look up "fluorescent" either:-))

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I was blank clear down to my pancreas." Still laughing at that one...

    ReplyDelete
  4. DSL? I didn't know that anybody still used that! You do darn well on your blog with it, though. I see that my old wireless company just went belly up, so we're kinda glad we moved to Comcast after all. You are an amazing writer, Murr. I'm still smiling.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Geeze, you're good. "Having reliable internet service would be something I would think you just couldn't put a price tag on, but it turns out it's $85." Ha!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am also chuckling over the "pancreas" comment and will blatanly steal and use it first chance I get.
    I have a very iffy ISP and feel your pain.

    ReplyDelete
  7. There's something endlessly appealing about people with expertise trying to communicate with people without it. Patrick O'Brian runs the gag for twenty some novels and I never get tired of it (captain with his nautical terms, ship's surgeon with his scientific terms, more or less complete incomprehension between them, page after page.)

    My favorite here was Donald seeing the pilot light go out :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh Dale, it's such a tender flame. Fortunately you don't need brains if you have a little money.

    Thanks for dropping by, June! And Infidel--you're just precocious, you are.

    Frank. Welcome back sweetie.

    Anyone wants to steal a line is welcome too. All I am is a content producer. I can't be responsible for what happens to it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh this is a gem of a blog. I've got you in my reader! Runnin late. will be back!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh my murr, you are a funny lady. Glad you stopped by and I'll be back here for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Jacking in the crawl space", just when I thought the phallic jokes were done and over with.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'd take the hormonal DSL over a tantrum-throwing teen girl any day...

    ReplyDelete
  13. "He peered into my eyes in time to see the pilot light go out. I was blank clear down to my pancreas."

    I want to interview your mother.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ooo, I do too, Maria. But she and Daddy bailed on me thirty years ago. And CDM, nothing's ever completely over and done with around here.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Pilot light. Completely undone. Gasping. Need water.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh Murr...we share a pilot light. My previous server was operated by one of those Fred Flintstone birds that would sometimes put its beak on the hard drive, sometimes not. If it was windy, forget it. But I sort of understood it in a dial-up kind of way. I finally moved to cable and now it only fails to connect on Sunday mornings when you would most like to have a browse(r). Blank clear down to...what's lower than a pancreas?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Such cyberglyphics make me thankful for my dial-up connection which only denies me access to the Internet when it rains enogh to cause static on the underground phone cable. I walk away for a few hours until it dries out, then I’m good to go again. Slow? Yes, but dependable.

    BTW, I did call AT&T, and they said they could send someone out to check the underground cablein about three weeks. Walking away is the best option.

    Thanks for the chuckles. BJ

    ReplyDelete
  18. I hate it, hate it, hate it when something goes kablooey with my internet connection. I will unplug things and turn things off and then replug things and turn things on. But then is the dreaded phone call where they say things that I don't understand but I try to sound knowledgeable but they catch on pretty quick. So what should take five minutes takes an hour because they have to keep repeating things in 5th grade English.

    I hate when my internet stops working.

    ReplyDelete
  19. My son-in-law got by almost a whole year just pirating off his neighbor's unsecured wireless network. It was a real bargain. But a real downer for him when he had to finally pay for his own.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hehe, you're absolutely hilarious. This is so why I live with a computer nerd.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Maybe the little hamster working the electricity wheel needed a rest. That's what my dad says and he works in the trade.

    ReplyDelete
  22. We have the Amish electricity too. With actual fuses. We have to keep them on hand because every time I run the dryer and someone accidentally uses either the stove, the washer, the dishwasher, the the oven, or (go figure) the stereo -- we blow a fuse. LIke you, I don't understand it -- I just sigh and change the fuse. No doubt our house will burn down soon.

    ReplyDelete
  23. When we bought our antique house, the wiring ran through what were originally gas light pipes. The house had been a rooming house for decades, and the frugal owner had adapted the overhead light fixtures so they could use old fashioned Christmas tree lights (and aluminum pie pans as reflectors). Random outlets and lights connected to other random ones several rooms away and even on different floors -- e.g., turn on hair dryer on in bedroom, coffee pot in kitchen. Zap! Followed by a flashlight trek to the basement to figure out which fuse had blown, using the guess test method and intercom system (hollering) as various options were eliminated until the culprit was found. Even 40 years ago, hardware stores didn't carry much in the way of fuses (which for you young'uns, come in different sizes and you had to have the right one), so we bought them out whenever we found a supply. After I spent a recent day fretting and bitching about our DSL being out (for some random reason), Murr, your post brought back a long faded memory of the good old days.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I assume you considered the implications of the headline to post very carefully before committing it to the permanent record.

    "I had no internet. Before fourteen years ago I never had any internet, but now it's the second-most important electricity we've got, after whatever keeps the beer cold."

    *Note to my self esteem: Stop reading Murr's stuff."

    ReplyDelete
  25. Ain't DSL something? One little shake of the wind and those wires would just pop right off. You're lucky all the people you had contact with spoke English, and were polite.

    The non-human wanted to run some tests and he'd be right back. When he came back, after a disturbing Europop interlude, he said it looks like I have my internet connection now, and if I was still having problems I should contact my ISP, and he was ever so sorry, but he didn't know their number. Buh-bye!

    Convenience when there's no convenience... thy name is automated phone menu...

    ReplyDelete
  26. Yikes, dangerous electricity and internet withdrawal, dangerous combo..... :}

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh Murr . . . Murr, you are a day-brightener, you are! --Diana

    ReplyDelete
  28. Yikes, dangerous electricity and internet withdrawal, dangerous combo..... :}

    ReplyDelete
  29. We have the Amish electricity too. With actual fuses. We have to keep them on hand because every time I run the dryer and someone accidentally uses either the stove, the washer, the dishwasher, the the oven, or (go figure) the stereo -- we blow a fuse. LIke you, I don't understand it -- I just sigh and change the fuse. No doubt our house will burn down soon.

    ReplyDelete
  30. My son-in-law got by almost a whole year just pirating off his neighbor's unsecured wireless network. It was a real bargain. But a real downer for him when he had to finally pay for his own.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Pilot light. Completely undone. Gasping. Need water.

    ReplyDelete