endless Verizon outage
Monday, February 20 2012
An internet outage began at about 10:30am and lasted for the rest of the day. As in other recent cases, I could tell that the outage affected the neighbors, meaning the problem was way back in Verizon's plumbing, probably in a rack of blinking equipment somewhere. This wasn't a freakish accident of nature caused by a hurricane; it was something happening in the well-lit, climate-controlled environment of a server room. But yet the whole day passed and service was not restored. It wasn't that they didn't know there was a problem; I called them minutes after it started and called them again later in the afternoon. But Verizon has a well-oiled runaround machine. Their calls are generally (but not always) answered in India, and it's never possible to talk to anyone's superior (in a third call Gretchen tried and failed). These people apologize profusely, but when they have no power or connection to the problem, such apologies are more infuriating than comforting, especially when get in the way of real communication. Verizon must know that they have no real competition in the hinterland, and they've made a calculation that they can let their unhappy customers twist in the wind. But if an essential service is provided by a de facto monopolist, shouldn't the monopolist be regulated like a utility? Can you imagine Bell Atlantic (the company that became Verizon) allowing a neighborhood of phones not to work for a whole day when the problem was somewhere within their internal equipment?
This evening Nancy picked me up and we went to Bearsville to see the Bachelor with Sarah the Vegan, who had made a surprisingly gourmet meal for us of penne pasta with mushrooms and zuccini in an olive oil sauce. There was even garlic bread. Sarah had also bought me a birthday present: 750 mL of Knob Creek Bourbon. (She'd originally planned to get me a sixer of IPA, but my tastes are so niche that liquor just seemed easier.)
Since moving to Hurley, Nancy has developed a number of catch phrases referencing the novelties of her new home town. One of these is, "it's so dark!" —something she says at night when she can see the stars in the light-pollution-free skies. Another is, "today I was at the Ghettoford, and..." —her way of introducing us to some surprising new physical deformity she witnessed amongst the customers at the Uptown Hannaford in Kingston. I've mentioned some of these in the past, and they include incredibly obese people and a man with a grotesquely asymmetrical face. Today a woman at Ghettoford asked Nancy to reach up to get something for her from a high shelf because she couldn't reach it. The woman, it turned out, did not have any hands. Instead, her arms ended as two narrow stumps in roughly the place where hands might be. In combination they could be used to grasp items, but without fingers, the grasping range of two arms is quite limited (try picking up items by pinching them between your two wrists).
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