Saturday, February 2, 2013


The Internet went down minutes after I made the last post yesterday in a process that mirrored an earlier disruption on—well, I cannot determine the actual date because a private blog I keep on household matters was, of course, no more accessible to me than anything else internettish. But the last episode had prepared me for what followed, and I took a deep Stoic breath before I began the inevitable process of telephoning AT&T. The phone still worked. It too had been briefly dead for about five minutes. Then it came back to life. To be sure, I have a cell-phone in reserve, so I might have been able to use it as a substitute—until its battery would have lost its charge—and given that I spent about three hours on the phone, that might have happened. But we did have electricity—and therefore heat. Should electricity have failed as well, we would have been all the way back to 1944 when we heated and cooked with wood in Bavaria just before the war ended. I have a pile of wood in the back yard under snow—but that pile would not have lasted more than a few hours in outdoor temperatures of 18° F.

Internet down therefore serves as a reminder of just how close to the edge we actually live. Our furnace is fed by gas, but it will not function without electricity to spark the gas into fire. Our only wood-burning installation is a fire-place we keep blocked off with plastic sheeting because, ordinarily, it sucks heat from the house. We’ve had several e-free days over the last two years because our utility (Detroit Something —you see, without the Internet I can’t look up its formal name, and I’ve become so careless, because the Internet’s so handy, I don’t bother learning mere names anymore) anyway Detroit Something has been neglecting its maintenance. For that reason we were treated to nightly fireworks—literally huge sparking in overhead wires, accompanied by a dance of smoke—days at a time. But, luckily, that was in summer time.

Now it is the DSL. What do those letters stand for? Haven’t a clue. Can’t look it up. My old print-based technology dictionaries didn’t have to know that acronym when I bought them. The DSL is dead. But I learned on the phone that AT&T is “transiting” to fiberoptics hereabouts, and our sickly DSL may have been getting sickly because of fiberoptic threats. All very confusing to someone who can’t talk to the down-to-earth god called Google. I’m promised speedy help. It will arrive between 12 noon and 4 pm on Monday, February 4. But during a visit to an AT&T store, where I chatted with Philip, the man who has the inside scoop—and did his best to convert me to fiberoptimism—told me that “Lot’s of people come and tell me that the technician came and didn’t have a clue.”

Anyway, blogging continues, because the computer’s still up, Microsoft Word’s still functioning, the lights are on, the furnace just kicked in again, the sump pump also works (hence this basement won’t flood with water). Just in case, however, I’ve located some candles so that, if all else fails, I can still write by candle-light, until the ink freezes in my Sheaffer, and then there are still some very ancient yellow pencils.

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