Coming full circle

It’s early Saturday morning, which means my vacation is rapidly coming to a close.  By this time tomorrow I will be tucked into my bed, snuggled under the covers and anticipating (or dreading) going back to work.  I’ve purposefully stayed away from my place of employment so as not to interrupt the flow of work (hopefully) happening in my absence.  I expect things haven’t been going completely hunky-dory.  Certainly they didn’t the last time I went on vacation, and despite my best efforts to be sure my relief had all the tools he needed to get the work done, I expect it’s going to be a wreck when I go back on Sunday.

Needless to say, I haven’t missed being at work all that much.  I do get four weeks of vacation per year and as I’ve said many (many!) times, I’d be content taking two weeks of vacation and just getting paid for the other two weeks.  But my employer prefers that their employees take all of their alloted vacation.  Basically ‘Use it or lose it‘.  So I use it.

This week has not been so much sitting on my ponderous butt, watching TV.  It just so happened that my wife and I had scheduled four medical appointments, and we were on the go for most of the days that I was off.  Monday and Wednesday were the only exceptions, but Wednesday was gobbled up by an emergency dental appointment due to the fact that my wife slightly broke one of her teeth.  So that needed to be attended to.  And was.

Even though I spent some time helping a friend furnish her new apartment, I didn’t necessarily neglect my own domicile.  I ordered 4 large plastic storage boxes from Amazon (actually probably larger than I needed) and have been sorting through some things that I haven’t had use of in several years, that need to be secreted away before something nefarious happens to them.  I have to say I’d be pretty devastated if something did happen to them, and certainly I wouldn’t forgive myself easily.  If at all.  Once I have that attended to, I think I’ll breathe a sigh of relief.  That’s been a long time in coming to get accomplished.  At least when I have need of them again, I’ll know where they are.  I hope.

Anyway, it’s back to work tomorrow.  Only one more week of vacation to take for this fiscal year, then I’ll get another four weeks to agonize over on April 11.  Never ends, does it?

Warming trend

hot-coldThe temperature peaked at 60° yesterday.  Sixty!  Holy crap.  It had been snowing for the previous 3-4 days.  We were up to about 10 inches of snow by Tuesday afternoon.  And now we’re in an unseasonable warming reversal.  And from what I’m seeing through Weather Underground, we’re not supposed to see a high below the freezing point anytime in the next ten days.  Although to be accurate, there are going to be several days in that time period when the daily lows will be in the teens and twenties, so we’re definitely not due for t-shirts and shorts quite yet.  This isn’t Texas after all.

Even so, I would definitely say it’s been a snowy winter.  Most years I only drag out the snowblower a couple of times, but this year I think I had it out almost six times since November.  Certainly to the point where I actually had to refill my gas cans so I could keep it running.  It worked like a champ as well, thirty-one years after buying the old girl from the Red Hook Agway.  I still remember when I got it, just before a big storm at my parent’s house.  I didn’t feel comfortable trying to drag out Dad’s Gravely, so I went to the Agway and bought the floor model.  They managed to deliver it that evening and the following morning there was 15 inches of snow to remove.  Cranked it right up and it’s been working every since.

Having witnessed what Texans have been enduring with their utility bills, I’m grateful I live where I am, even thought the taxes can be somewhat high at times.  Where I live we have a local electrical co-op, so it keeps the utility bills reasonable.  When my wife and I lived on Keuka Lake in the 1990s, towards the end of our stay New York State deregulated the electrical business, and in the beginning we got double shafted (or so it seemed) because NYSEG (New York Electric & Gas) didn’t have any competition yet, so they had the lion’s share of customers.  Where before 1998 you received one bill for generation and delivery of your electricity, after deregulation you received two.  And the new bills added up to way more than the old ones.  For the simple reason that when you’re generating a new bill, there are extra taxes added on, so you end up paying for many of the costs twice.  Which was really, really unfair.  But since deregulation was new, and no other companies were in your area, you were stuck.

I think in the end, just before we moved at times we were paying almost $700-800 in electric bills.  And since we heated our rented house with fuel oil, there was a further $250-300 for filling that tank every 45 days or so.  Even though it sucked moving from there, where we’re living now isn’t breaking our back with utility costs.

Spring is on the way.  But perhaps Winter isn’t quite done with us yet.  We still have a little less than a month to go.  No time to get complacent, eh?

Technically Speaking Part II

This is the conclusion of the saga I started back last month with my TP-Link router…

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m no newbie when it comes to computers, computer systems and the like.  I remember (vividly) a time when connecting to a computer network took way more than just flipping a switch.  Plug-and-play just didn’t exist in the 1980s.  Hell, personal computers were in their infancy at the time I was in high school. A TRaSh-80 was something you got at a Radio Shack.  Needless to say, I thought I was equal to the task of figuring this out.  Apparently, nothing could be further from the truth.

After having worked on different solutions, for many days I was rewarded with failure after failure.  Giving up after the fifth or sixth go-round of shutting off the new router, then the modem, then powering one on and then the other (and vice-versa) I posted a cry for help on the router manufacturer’s help forum.  There ensued a spirited conversation with a couple of tech-heads, but the solution remained elusive.  Although in the end, at least one hit on the right idea, even if it was sort of backwards when he suggested it.

I ordered a replacement from Amazon, thinking the router I had was defective.  Amazon was very obliging and sent me one in a couple of days.  Being wary of failure, I put off trying it out for about three weeks.  I’m an ace procrastinator when I have the opportunity.  I definitely put that to good use, even though I should not have.  This week I’ve been on vacation and many opportunities to work on this presented themselves.  But like some other things I’ve been meaning to do, it was put off time and again.

Until yesterday morning.  It just so happened that my wife had a dentist appointment in the afternoon, and I’d successfully discovered a manual for the fiber modem that I have.  Of course it’s not so easy as you’d think since it’s written in Portuguese.  Still, it had pictures, so with my basic understanding of a bit of Italian and Spanish, I pieced together how to disconnect the fiber line from the modem, having hit upon the idea it might be keeping power to the modem even after having disconnected the power cord.  After a little pulling and squeezing, I was finally able to remove the cable without breaking it.  The manual for the modem said to wait at least five minutes for the modem to ‘forget’ the MAC address of the old router.  Just to be sure, I waited eight minutes.  Put everything back together, powered things up and crossed my fingers.  Green light!  Success!  I fixed…oh damn.  It went back to Orange.  And stayed there.  Checking the web browser, setting up the router for the umpteenth time, I determined it still wasn’t connecting to the internet.

The time had come.  Cracked open the new router, saved the packing material and put the other one into the new box for shipping back to Amazon.  Connected it to the modem, turned it on and….bupkus.  It didn’t connect.  Again.  But even with this failure I discovered it wasn’t the router, it was something else.  Apparently at my ISP there was a breakdown in communication.  So I called their helpline and talked to one of the customer service reps.  I was all prepared to explain everything that I did when she mentioned that she needed to open an IT support ticket.  For what purpose I inquired.  So one of their techs could erase the MAC address of the old router from their system, thereby allowing the new router to communicate with them.  I asked how long it was going to take.  Just a few minutes she replied, but they had to call me back.  So I was going to be offline for awhile.  Unless I wished to reconnect the old router while I waited.  Thinking that was going to be more trouble than it was worth, I told my wife we were going to be offline for the time being, if she needed to connect to the ‘Net I could create a hot-spot on my phone and she could connect to that.  She said she was ‘good’ she could wait.

Less than 30 minutes later the phone rang.  George was on the line, ready to help.  I explained in basic detail what the problem was, even admitting that I’d dismantled the modem I had been provided four years ago, having been extra careful not to damage it.  I even lamented over the fact that the fiber modems they provide for their customers are nearly impossible to troubleshoot, as they don’t have easily accessible operating manuals.  Unless you’re ok reading Portuguese.  He apparently was unaware of it, but as I had apparently reassembled the modem correctly, he was able to see that it was online, but the router wasn’t powered up as he wasn’t seeing it operating from his end.  I have to be honest, when he said that it was a little creepy, that even though he was a good 12-15 miles away, he was able to see whether or not the modem was connected on my end, and the router wasn’t transmitting.  When you think about it of course it makes sense, they’d have to be able to see the hardware from their end in order to be able to better troubleshoot.

George asked for the MAC address of the old router.  I read it off to him, he confirmed that was the one that was listed in his system.  He asked for the new router’s address.  I provided that as well, he swapped out the addresses in his terminal and asked me to reconnect the router to the modem and power it up.  Voila!  The light turned green and stayed that way.  I went to the web browser, set up the router through it and it connected to the Internet as if it had been doing it all the while.  Damn.  I thanked George, he asked if there was anything else he could help with.  I said no, getting the router connected was my concern and that was now accomplished.  He wished me a good day, said if there was any further issues to give them a call and terminated the connection.

All for the want of a horseshoe nail.  Or a phone call.

My only lament is I sent back to Amazon a perfectly good router that wasn’t broken.  And that I spent a month troubleshooting and procrastinating when that phone call could have easily been made.  Damn it.