Friday, July 21, 2006

Down On The Farm

I’ve been volunteering lately at a horse rescue farm. Something I thought about for two years and finally did. It’s just once a week for three hours but it gets me out from behind the computer and the desk into the open air, sort of. A good chunk of that time is spent mucking out stalls and paddocks. I fill up huge plastic buckets with the stuff and carry it to a large dumpster; the process is helping me develop muscles. I also learned how to pick a horse’s hooves the other day which was somewhat exhilarating and scary.

I come home smelling like horse and my dog hasn’t quite figured it out. Somebody asked me if I minded raking the stalls and I said “Well, no. I just want to do whatever it is they need me to do.” Besides, doing politics for years has made me a bit immune to the smell of manure. And trust me on this, the horses’ poo-poo smells a heck of a lot better than most of that stench coming from Capitol Hill.

Joe Barton (R-TX) has allowed that it don’t look so good for a telecom bill passing this year. Boo-hoo. Meanwhile Ted Stevens (R-AK) has shown himself for the doddering old fool that he is comparing the net to dump trucks and tubes. Coincidentally none of this has cured my problem of swinging cable lines in the neighborhood.

Yes it’s day 53 and still no burial of the lines.

I have called Verizon about a million times and Comcast too. On one phone call to Comcast I asked to speak to a supervisor and the little jerk on the other end of the phone hung up on me. Good thing the big telcos have regionalized their call centers otherwise I might have driven to my local Comcast office and slapped the stuffing out of that moron. I also called the county and the county faxed my pictures to Verizon and Comcast a couple weeks ago. I called the county again and they must have said exactly the right thing to Comi-Zon because two guys representing their respective companies showed up at my door yesterday.

The first guy, wearing a lovely red embroidered CWA polo shirt (Verizon of course, not Comcast) tried to tell me that stringing the cable lines through the trees was absolutely normal. I said “Hold up Gus! Stringing it from pole to pole might be S.O.P. but we don’t have above ground utility poles here and trees aren’t poles.” Then he said that it was perfectly within National Electrical Safety Code if the situation was “temporary” which he said it was. I asked him what’s so “temporary” about almost two months. He said that they had done everything they could to make the situation “safe.” I let him know that my husband tripped over the damn cable two days after the creative install. He talked a lot about contractors and all the tickets he had to respond to, saying he was putting two to three hundred miles on his truck a day. He said that Verizon was having a hard time getting reliable help. Meanwhile my neighborhood with its strict village rules that don’t allow you to put up a bird bath without board consent looks like a stinking war zone with all the digging, paint sprays and cable dangling here and there. He left with a lot of promises dribbling from his lips reminding me of the guy who takes your number and says he will call…but never does.

The Comcast guy came late in the day and boy did he have an attitude. He immediately blamed Verizon. I told him the cable had been laying in the gutter since last September, long before Verizon came through but he just kept saying “Verizon, Verizon” over and over like he was in a trance. I mentioned that I was astounded that it took so long with me and various neighbors calling for ten months, he used the word “temporary” just like the first guy did, although it did strike me that this fellow wasn’t wearing a union shirt. I said “I would think Comcast would be concerned about the open boxes and maybe some kid sticking his finger in there.” He said that it wasn’t much of an electrical charge (no, I am not making this up).

It was interesting that within an hour there were guys digging the heck out of the right-of-way to bury the Comcast cable. We get no action for ten months, then suddenly Mr. Personality drops by and badda-bing, badda-boom, the cones go up, the street pretty much gets shut down and the dirt is flying like they’re racing the clock. No utility markers, just bores and shovels going to town. Makes me think that Comcast has adopted Verizon’s M-O, dig, dig, dig, who cares what you hit.

I am curious as to what our gal at the county said to these knuckleheads to finally get some action. And I did receive a letter from the FCC the other day about my cable modem complaint that was filed some months ago. They said that they would keep the file open for six months and if I wasn’t satisfied by what the provider did to ameliorate the situation I was perfectly welcome to file a “formal complaint.” Until the letter I hadn’t realized that my original complaint to the FCC was “informal” like some brief exchange between old friends. For some bizarre reason I thought going to the federal agency that sort of regulates telecommunications and filling out the paperwork was “formally” complaining.

I’m looking forward to next week when I can go out to the farm and see the horsies. It is hard work but it’s rewarding and because it’s a horse farm there are no bulls on the premises so it’s a completely different type of shoveling experience.

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