Verizon gets one right
Thursday, August 28 2014
That guy down on Hurley Mountain Road has yet to show up with Phoebe the one-armed cat, so this morning Gretchen dropped off a varmint trap (which I surreptitiously borrowed from the uphill neighbors) to make things easier. Gretchen called a little after that to report that the bridge across the Esopus on Wynkoop had finally been completed, which meant that Old Hurley was once more an easy drunk drive away.
Our DSL-based internet had been flakey in recent days, dropping out frequently and annoyingly, causing (for example) clips of Jon Stewart to die irretrievably mid-stream while he mocked Fox News on their pathetic Ferguson coverage. I'd called Verizon, because I'd assumed the problem was with a piece of hardware on their end. By now I know how to tell the correct sequence of lies to quickly get to the part where I tell them what needs to be said. Their solution was to send me a new DSL router. I didn't think it would help, but what the hell, maybe I could install OpenWRT onto it and use it as a repeater or something. The router arrived today via UPS; the truck rolled up just as I was returning from a jackhammering session down in the greenhouse basement. I was drenched in sweat and totally naked, and I was pretty sure the driver saw my naked ass when he glanced down the driveway, but perhaps my bright yellow headphones made me looked clothed. When he finally got out of his truck, I'd put on a pair of trousers and had hosed off most of the sweat and rock dust. The driver, whom I'd never seen before, asked if Eleanor (who was barking) was friendly. I said that she was. "I know the other one is," he said, as Ramona bounded out of the truck behind him.
If the DSL had been reliable, I would've never bothered to hook up the new DSL router, but it started fucking up just when I needed to do a remote dump of a huge MySQL database, so I decided to install it to see if it would help. It was a Verizon-branded DLink DSL-2750B. It's possible to install OpenWRT on them, but then you lose the DSL modem, and (in this case) the DSL modem is the most important part. But the stock firmware is surprisingly good, suggesting that OpenWRT is having a good effect on stock firmwares just by shaming companies into making theirs better. There are all kinds of options, including QoS (allowing, for example, the web to be prioritized over Bittorrent, meaning that huge downloads don't destroy my internet experience for hours at a time). The router even supports network-attached storage (NAS) connected to its USB port (though that would be of dubious utility given that none of the ethernet ports are gigabit speed). Its one feature that I didn't need down there in the boiler room was the Wireless (802.11b, g, and n). After I set up the new router, the internet was absolutely reliable for the rest of the day. Perhaps the problem really had been my old Westell C90-610030-06 DSL router (built in October 2005, with firmware dating to 2006).
As alluded to earlier, today I did a couple sessions of jackhammering the basement floor of the greenhouse. The going was very slow and I was barely able to fill a single five gallon bucket with the crushed rock produced from all of the day's work. The result of all this jackhammering has been a number of parallel ridges of bluestone with three-or-four-inch deep trenches between them. The ridges themselves are difficult to jackhammer, because the bit of the jackhammer tends to bounce off of them and slip down into the trench, and so the elevation difference between ridge and valley gradually grows as I work. At a certain point, there's a temptation to take a sledgehammer and bang into the side of a ridge in hopes of cracking it off at the root or at least dislodging a large chunk. It's good to be wearing glasses when I do such smashing, and even then, I always close my eyes for each impact. But when pieces (even tiny ones) are knocked loose by this process, they can carry considerable momentum. One little chip of stone dislodged by the sledgehammer managed to cut a small bleeding gash in my left thumb.
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