Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 DEC 10: Land-Locked

Did you hear about the students who spent this past week going technology-free? They couldn't send texts or e-mail. They couldn't even listen to car radios -- so they missed the preachers praising them for taking the first step away from a dangerous addiction.

Without even planning it, I've become a bit like those students this weekend. Yes, we're posting late again -- because my home phone/Internet line remains dead on this Sunday. It hasn't worked since Thursday night. And I don't think any local ministers are able to replicate that "three-day three-night" resurrection event.

My home phone and Internet service are bundled together with AT&T -- so when the main line goes bad, they're both bad. And yes, I still have a landline phone. This stuff about "3-G" and "4-G" simply would cost me too many G's.

The first sign of a phone outage occurred Thursday evening. The Internet line worked for a little while as I tried to update the poker blog -- but it quickly failed again and still hasn't recovered. I never realized DSL could have a last gasp of air, before conking out.

I couldn't ask my next-door neighbor if I could borrow his phone. That retired man doesn't even have one. If he needs to speak with someone, he simply hollers - even if he wakes me up right after sunrise to do it.

So first thing Friday morning, I walked to the business next door to my complex to seek help. A woman let me borrow her cell phone to dial the 611 repair number. Trouble was, the operator had no record of me after a few minutes of searching - because he works for Knology.

The Knology operator happened to have an old AT&T customer service number - and after a few minutes bouncing back and forth between voice mailboxes, I was told my phone/Internet service could be repaired by Tuesday evening. Tuesday evening?! I thought AT&T was the former BellSouth, the big boss of phone service. Are all the repair crews selling phone plans during December?

I stepped out Friday afternoon to run some errands, and came home to news from my next-door neighbor that AT&T showed up. BUT the crew went to a different apartment, which also apparently lost service. One good "bundle" doesn't earn me another....

So I wait for my name to come up on the phone line repair list -- and in some ways, there are advantages to having a phone-free weekend. I had a nice dinner Friday night, with no concern at all about telemarketers interrupting.

My online activity right now reminds me of when I first touched the Internet in the mid-1990s. I'm visiting libraries to check e-mail and vital news, and post these blog updates from "undisclosed locations." I'm not saying exactly where because I could get into trouble -- and I'm simply following the example of that guy from WikiLeaks.

But to be honest, this phone-free weekend is leaving me very disappointed with AT&T. A man at church suggested I demand a "prorating" of my bill, so I'm not charged for the days without service. But that requires two things -- first restored service, then a customer service call which reaches a real person.

In light of all this, don't be surprised if our blog updates are generic or hit-and-miss for the next few days. We'll get to reader e-mails once phone/Internet service is restored, because a few require calls on our part. And if my relatives need to reach me about a family emergency - well, does Western Union still send telegrams?

BLOG UPDATE: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy Saturday night. One skeptical person in my group tried to help him with his acceptance speech: "I want to thank my agent...."

Cam Newton led runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford in Heisman Trophy points by more than a two-to-one margin. But he did NOT receive an outright majority -- so if people in Columbus want to hold a runoff vote in two weeks, let me know and I'll try to arrange one.

Cam Newton's name was left off more than 100 Heisman Trophy ballots - apparently due to the rumors involving his father selling his services to various colleges. Newton's father intentionally stayed away from the ceremony. Perhaps he found a Catholic Church open for Saturday night confessionals.

Did you see what Auburn fans in New York did for Cam Newton? They lined up for a "Tiger Walk" leading to the Downtown Athletic Club. It's the first gathering they've had in years, since the Tigers never seem to play games north of Kentucky.

WXTX showed a photo of Auburn University fans rolling Toomer's Corner again, after Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy. If they keep doing this, at least one home game next season ought to be sponsored by Charmin.

Cam Newton's next on-field action will be the Bowl Championship Series title game in 29 days -- or as one Oregon cheerleader called it on National Public Radio, "The Natty." The what?!?! Is Sean "P-Diddy" Combs going to toss the coin or something?

Now let's see what else is happening this weekend, admittedly based on limited sources of information:

+ WTVM reported the Cinnabon we mentioned here last Tuesday held its grand opening at Peachtree Mall. Talk about a surprise! All I saw during my morning walks this week was white walls - so they must have been specially padded, to keep the cinnamon smell in.

+ The Columbus Mayor and Mayor-Elect named 14 members to the Charter Review Commission. The list includes outgoing Councilor Julius Hunter, Judge John Allen, defeated school board candidate Brinkley Pound - but none of this year's candidates for mayor. Paul Olson needs to work out a funeral floral arrangement with Councilor-Elect Bruce Huff in a hurry.

+ Two Northside High School students were arrested on charges of hacking the Muscogee County School District computer system, to slow down e-mails. This is the wrong way to prove you belong in a technology magnet program....

+ Eddy Middle School was evacuated due to several natural gas leaks. I hope this isn't connected to that burning bale of hay police found on the grounds a few days before. Maybe that pitchfork on the wall wasn't about gang activity, but carbon footprints.

+ Auburn University assistant football coach Trooper Taylor filed a federal discrimination suit against Auburn High School. Taylor says his son is barred from playing junior varsity basketball because he has braided hair. But look on the bright side - if the teenager unbraids the hair, he could become as famous as Anderson Varejao in Cleveland.

+ Columbus State's basketball teams dropped a doubleheader to South Carolina-Aiken. Someday I'll understand how Clay Aiken was able to get a university named after him....

+ Instant Message to the downtown Firestone repair shop: Are you still having a tire sale? A couple of letters on the tires seemed to be removed when I drove by Saturday - and I didn't think you had a license to sell any alcohol, much less "Ire Ale."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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