Saturday, September 1, 2012

Happiness is....

In his essay on the Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus concludes that Sisyphus' eternal struggle pushing that boulder to the top of the mountain only to have it roll backwards and to have to start all over again, is a hopeless task big enough to fill the heart, and that Sisyphus was therefore happy. If Mr. Camus were alive today, I would punch him in the face.

While living without a home internet connection, a friend told me of Fairmuck Communitcations' (not their real name, and I misspelled my real intention to spare any possible finer sensibilities of some of my readers) special offer of $19.99 per month for dsl.
I made the call.
"I want to get your special offer of dsl at 19.99 per month for 12 months as it says in your ad, please."
"To get that price, you must also take our telephoney service..."
"It doesn't say that in your ad."
"Yes, it does, it's in the fine print."
"I saw a part that said 'Save even more by bundling our telephoney service'..."
"Not that part, it was in the fine print. Look at the ad"
"It's an online ad and don't have internet at home."
"It's in the fine print."
"(Sigh) All right, how much will it be with the telephoney service?"
"$39.95 a month, and your dsl will be $19.99".
"So if I pay you more you will charge me less?"

After I asked, it was confirmed that there would be extra charges for local phone calls beyond a stunningly few minutes allotted per month. After I asked, I got the price for just the dsl - $29.95 a month. "That's less than a dollar a day!". I could hear the phoney smile. It would take exactly one week to hook me up, no money upfront. I would not have to be home when they came to install my service connection. I made the deal.

Oopsie - they don't show my apartment number in their records. They will have to add it manually. This will take an extra day. Or two.

The next day I got a call from Fairmuck.
"Sorry, Steven, but due to all the storms in Southern Vermont, we won't be able to install your dsl for two weeks."
"What storms in Southern Vermont? There haven't been anything but thundershowers."
"Oh no, there have been bad storms and flooding, plus very high winds from a hurricane."
"That was a year ago".
"No, there were more recent storms. You wouldn't believe the damage."

A few days went by and the modem (with wi-fi) showed up via Fed Ex. Why it was sent through a premium shipper when my account wouldn't be in service for a week and a half, I don't know. I wasn't billed for it, so I decided not to ask.

On the appointed Friday, I got home to find I'd had a telephone call from Fairmuck. They'd been unable to decide which telephone connector in my apartment building's basement was mine and would need access to my apartment. They would also need access to the locked room in the basement. That room used to house equipment from a once locally owned internet service provider. As I had the following day off, I started placing calls. The phone number for Fairmuck  played a recorded message which informed me that they were closed for the weekend. I called the phone from which the call to me was placed. An individual answered who told me it wasn't a Fairmuck number. When I noted that it was the number from which I'd been called, he told me no one was there and hung up. I called the office again, and found an 800 (free call) number for problems, emergencies, and tech advice. I called it. They couldn't find my account by using my cell phone number. As it turns out, I was assigned an "account phone number" even though I did not sign up for phone service - a number which appeared nowhere on the paperwork that accompanied the modem. I had the next day off from work, could they come back then? They could - if they could get a hold of their local dispatch - but that office was closed until Monday. "Look, I just went through a series of phone calls to make sure I had access to the locked room. Can a supervisor help?" Of course not, but the supervisor did get me a number I could call the next day. I did not complain about the over-modulated endlessly repeating recording of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" 'Summer' movement to which I had been subjected for 20 minutes of hold time.

Next day, rinse and repeat, except that they couldn't find my account with either phone number.

Monday morning, before heading out to work, I called Fairmuck's main number. They couldn't find my account either, but a supervisor finally did. I explained that I had the next day, Tuesday, off. Would they please come back then? The supervisor called the local dispatch office. They could fit me in. Can you tell me approximately what time you might arrive? "They will give you a call around 8am with that information." "Thank You!"

Around 9am Tuesday, I discovered that the hold music had, thankfully, changed.  After a short musicale interlude I got someone who, while obviously American, seemed to have a few difficulties with both technology and any version of the English language that used b-i-g words. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed it was his first day on the job and that he was nervous. At first, he couldn't find my account. After getting help, he put me on hold to "read the notes". Ten minutes later I was disconnected. After getting someone else on the line, I made them write down my phone number and promise to call me back if we were disconnected. I then had to recount the whole grizzly story even though all I wanted to know was what time I should expect the service person to arrive? It took getting another supervisor on the phone. She called the local dispatch. "They don't have you down for today, they have you behind a technician for Wednesday."   Behind? What? I tried my best to stay calm. Do you know how many people I have to involve to get that room unlocked? My landlord had a stroke, he can't just run right over to unlock it. I took the day off. Your installation person was here on Friday, did some of the work, came back later and found my landlord's rep who got him into the locked room. How much time do you really need? It can be done in a few minutes. Why do I have to fight you to do business with you? Is this why people warned me against Fairmuck? The supervisor talked to dispatch again. They fit me in for that afternoon - as long as there were no "business emergencies". If a business has a problem, Vermont law, I was told, made them go to the business first. About 2:30pm that afternoon, I got a robot call - my appointment for Tuesday was cancelled and rescheduled for Thursday.

This time they found my account pretty quickly. I asked for a supervisor as soon as they answered the phone. No, they had to know why first. I told them. They got me a supervisor. There was no way I would be able to take Thursday off from work or be home at any point during the day. The supervisor called the local dispatch - who was out of the office for lunch and an appointment and there was no one else! I finally got a call about an hour and a half later. Sorry, something had come up, there was no way. I had to go through the story again. I'd had it. I told the supervisor I was tired of all their lies I'd gotten since I placed the first call. I told them that it hadn't taken me long to realize that they had given me a non-existant afternoon appointment just to get me off the phone. I told the next supervisor that if they couldn't get my service connected by the next afternoon after I got home from work, they could come and get their equipment - and would they please mail my letters to my congressmen on their way back to their depot as walking, even with the cane, can be painful some days. The supervisor called dispatch again. An appointment for the next day was easy - that's what they had me down for!


Just about the same day that I started my Fairmuck adventure, Google sent me an email that they were yanking my July 4th post as I had violated copyrights. They'd been contacted by Sony who claimed ownership of  "Mama, Look Sharp",  and another file in the same post by Jean Shepherd. There was a link where I could see the communication they received.
The link linked me to - the same email.
There was a link where I could fill out a form to protest the action.

I filled out a ton of information, and noted that Sony owned Columbia Pictures (for whom I used to work) which owned the movie version of "1776". The performance video of the song "Mama , Look Sharp" which I had posted was from the 1969 Tony Awards tv performance from that show, and was material not owned by Sony.  I pointed out that the video in my post was a link to a YouTube video, and that YouTube is owned by Google, who owns Blogspot. As the video was still available on YouTube, I suspected that they could easily ascertain that Sony didn't own that particular copyright, and that linking the video was okay. Furthermore, I explained that the Jean Shepherd file used was a public domain 1960's broadcast from radio station WOR and not the country western singer who might have a Sony album. After much work and research, I clicked the "send" button.  My reply went nowhere. I got an error message that the reply address and site didn't exist.


Meanwhile back at the non-internet ranch, while printing out documents for the radio station, I ran out of paper and ink. I went off to my local Staples office supply store and purchased both, spending well over $60.00. I reloaded. First, my printer refused to align the new print cartridges. It gave me error messages that the print carriage was jammed - it wasn't. Then I discovered the reason the ink had shown as empty was that the previous color ink cartridge had leaked all over the sponges underneath the area where the cartridges load. I spent two days cleaning it all up. Still had the same problem. This was serious - after spending so much on the ink and paper, I wouldn't be able to afford to buy another printer anytime soon. After a couple more days I was able to get the carriage jam comment to go away. Then the printer decided that the new ink cartridges were empty. I spent another day cleaning contact surfaces. It finally saw the ink supplies. But then the printer decided that there was no paper in the paper tray. After two days of fiddling - which included getting out the original printer manual which was no help whatsoever - I gave up and dropped the whole thing onto to the bed. Forcibly, if you get my meaning. It bounced and got me in the shins.

After several days, the swelling is finally starting to go down.
It's alright, though.
According to Camus, I must be happy.