Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sailing update and telecommunications ups and downs

No, I’m not dead, and I haven’t deserted the blogosphere either.

With the beginning of a new term this week, I’ve been busy with getting my classes going, syllabi distributed, class homepages established, and of course the extra paperwork that happens both at the beginning and at the end of the term. The paperwork, which is now mostly paperless, has been complicated this term by the department’s website being relocated to a new server – the old server was becoming increasingly unreliable, but the new system on the new server doesn’t support some of the features of the old website.

Yes, Pat and Gerald and I did go sailing with Zorro this past weekend. It wasn’t quite a replay of the previous weekend, in that the winds were lighter. Still, we got in some really good sailing. Friday we got to the lake about a half-hour before Zorro did, so we had enough time to get the boat rigged and turned around in the slip just in time for Zorro to arrive, hop aboard, and set sail. Again, we sailed up into the northern portion of the lake, although with less wind we didn’t get as far as the previous weekend before we turned around to come back in the golden glow of the sinking sun. The sun set as we were coming around Long Point, with the stunning range of colors, gold to red to purple, glowing on the mountains east of the lake, enriching the multicolored hues of the desert. Then as daylight faded, we had the brilliant glow of the full moon by which to finish our sail.

Dino was at the lake, although he wasn’t sailing. He and one of his workers were making repairs to a couple of his rental properties, and he was also looking at additional houses to buy. I had work to do in Albuquerque to prepare for the school term, so we left Gerald with Dino and returned home.

Saturday, I got much, but not all, of the work done that I needed to do – there were some things that I couldn’t do online, so those would have to wait until Monday when I got into the office. Meanwhile, Gerald was learning something about the landlord business, helping Dino. One of his tenants had died, and the tenant’s daughter had taken away the water heater but nothing else, leaving a house full of really nasty garbage, as well as some torn-up pipes where the water heater had been. They had to call in a hazardous-waste disposal company from El Paso to deal with the garbage, since nobody in Sierra County could handle the job, and they also had to install a new water heater.

Saturday night we returned to the lake. Sister Rosebia and Skater had arrived, as well as Dino’s brother, his wife, and their two small children, so it was a full house.

Sunday morning, Pat and I went out sailing with Zorro again. The winds this time were light, so we didn’t try to go to the far end of the lake. By mid-afternoon, the winds had died, so we drifted back to the dock, retrieved Gerald from Dino’s house, and went to lunch while waiting to see whether the wind would come back. It did, a little bit. However, Gerald and I both had to get back to Albuquerque, so we helped Zorro set sail. As we were leaving the marina, we could see him, sitting in the water about a hundred yards out, completely becalmed. Oh, well. At least it was nice and sunny, and warm.

So for those of you out in the blogosphere who are keeping count, so far this year, Pat and Zorro have had five sailing days, while I have had four and Gerald has had three.

Meanwhile, the electronically connected world has been giving us its own problems. We get Internet services from a small, locally based company – it’s slow, but it’s cheap. About three months ago, this local company merged with two other companies to become a subsidiary of one of them. The new company is still small, however, compared to the big telecommunications company that dominates this part of the U.S.

The problem is that the big company and the small company have been having disagreements. The small company leases services and equipment from the big company and then provides the same services to customers that the big company provides, but it charges a considerably lower price. The big company says that’s unfair competition, and it also says the small company is behind on paying its bills. So on New Year’s Eve, without any warning to the customers, the big company cut off services to all of the small company’s customers, including several hospitals, small-town 911 operations, and similar critical services. The state Public Regulation Commission had an emergency meeting on New Year’s Day and ordered the big company to restore services, but the big company said that couldn’t be done all right away. Pat and I were lucky in that we got our services back immediately, but many other customers have had to wait more than a week.

Meanwhile, we’ve been getting sales pitches from the big company offering to “let” us switch to that company’s services, as it is “more reliable” than our existing service provider. Let’s see … the big company caused the little company’s services to go out, and now it cites the little company’s unreliability as a reason to switch. Anybody see something suspicious here?

State regulators are now saying that both companies are to blame, but the big company is much more at fault. The little company should have given its customers some warning of the problems it was having with the big company – for that matter, it occurs to me, the little company should have told our company something about the problems at the time of the merger. Meanwhile, the big company appears to have been engaging in unfair and possibly fraudulent billing, as well as anti-competitive practices and violating a previous court order forbidding it to cut off services to the little companies that lease and re-sell services from them.

At least on the cell phone front, things are looking much better. My old cell phone was dying, and I discovered that I was eligible for a free upgrade; meanwhile, we finally got Pat his own phone. Even though my new phone is as no-frills as cell phones get nowadays, it still has some nifty features that I’m having fun with, like using Bluetooth to transfer things from my computer’s iTunes library to use as ringtones. Pat’s new phone has even more fun features, although it may take him some time to learn to use them – he’s still at a rather primitive stage of cell phone knowledge.

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Blogger Carol Anne said...

I might also mention that the big phone company is the one that provides the landline through which we now, because of lack of money to pay for anything better, get dial-up Internet access.

For six weeks last fall, we were subjected to intermittent outages of our phone service, which the company tried to blame on faulty phone wiring within our house. Finally the company came clean and admitted that the outages were caused by construction involved in upgrading broadband connections in the neighborhood.

Immediately following that period of frustration with the company, it tried to sell us on its "new and improved" broadband services.

Sat Jan 17, 01:27:00 AM MST  
Anonymous said...

good to hear your still sailing

Sat Sep 10, 02:54:00 PM MDT  

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