Tuesday, May 2 2000
Becoming a homeowner has changed more in my life than I ever expected it to. Just the other day, on the same day, two different Johnny-come-lately loan agents offered me loans by mail, one for $60,000, the other for $50,000. It seems I'm a long way from the days when I was when I was figuring out ways to get immediate credit cards online so I could max them out for down payment dinero. One Mastercard I got this way has a $2000 credit limit, but it's never been functional. The other day a fraud investigator mailed me requesting that I call immediately regarding this card. So, during lunch (as close as I work from home, I usually ride my bike home during my lunch hour), I called the card's fraud investigation department. But I never did find out what was wrong with my card. The fraud investigator freaked out so bad about the fact that I'd just moved to Los Angeles that she wouldn't talk to me anymore until I faxed her a utility bill, my driver's license and my social security card.
Then there's the little issue of my home internet access. To put it mildly, it's in shambles. In San Diego I was using regular modem dial-up through a company called Ixpres.com. It started out as a reliable service, but starting a couple months ago I guess it became increasingly erratic. There are some local dail-up lines for Ixpres here in Los Angeles, but they're virtually useless. The most reliable of these only permits connections of about 40 seconds. That's barely long enough to upload a set of text-only randomly ever after updates.
A few weeks ago, Kim signed us up for DSL through Earthlink.com, but those guys appear to have just about as many monkeys working for them as Ixpres does. Today we received a package in the mail claiming to be our new DSL connection kit. It contained the following items: lots of glitzy Wired Magazine-style graphic-designer-approved cardboard packaging, a username, a password, two CDs (containing such common software as Netscape 4.0), warning to "get ready to advance to the next level" and advice to "enjoy the scenery along the way as you blast right past it." That was all well and good, where were the instructions on how to plug my computer into this DSL thing?
I'm being somewhat facetious here, of course. I've been an internet professional since 1996, but I only recently learned that there is such a thing as a DSL modem and that it plugs into a conventional ethernet card. Of course, I do know what an ethernet card is, and I know that DSL isn't just something that fits on a compact disk. But what about the dumb fuck who knows nothing about anything? There wasn't any sort of instruction, checklist, or advice included with the CDs, just plenty of needless and not particularly reassuring marketing hype. It was basically nothing but a tech support call waiting to happen.
So then we waded into the long and arduous process of finding out what had happened to our DSL hardware. Needless to say, we spent most of our time on hold, sometimes with music, sometimes without. One of these "on-holds" was the worst possible of all tech support on-holds, the dreaded abandoned on hold. This is where the tech support guy tells you to "hold please" and then leaves for the day without telling his replacement (or, more likely, without his replacement ever showing up). After several phone calls, several marathon on-holds, we were told our DSL modem was being put in the mail for Thursday delivery. Thanks a lot guys!
After considering a couple crowded Chinese places, Kim and I did dinner at a humble little Italian restaurant on Wilshire. The waitress was an earthy middle-aged working-class woman with unusually mom-like concerns about cleanliness and wasted food. Still, Kim wasn't all that impressed with the food and predicted we'd never come back. The fact is, there are so many restaurants within easy walking distance that it makes no sense to go to places with ho-hum food.
As Kim and I were walking Sophie this evening, we saw an oldish over-dressed lady hanging out (amid plastic bags full of possessions) on the corner closest to our front stoop, only about thirty feet away. We've seen this lady before and know that she's a complete lunatic. She sits in this same place for hours at a time, occasionally muttering strongly political nonsense to herself. Kim looked at the woman closely on one occasion and saw that her nose was chock full of boogers. Since then, I've jokingly referred to the crazy lady as the "Booger Nose Lady." So far, we've been unable to find out what the Booger Nose Lady is all about. Kim has tried to be friendly to her, saying hello and that sort of thing, but the Booger Nose Lady is completely lost in her own world. Sometimes she even falls asleep there in the shrubbery a mere 30 feet from our stoop.
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