Sunday, February 27, 2011


How wide is yours?

Lemme open by saying that I just shook myself up a very large martini (don't try this at home - I'm a professional), and when I poured it, it was full of all kinds of unspecified black floaty things. Now, I don't know if the glass was dirty or the shaker was dirty, but it was one of them. I thought for a minute about whether or not I could just drink it anyways, given that probably there isn't a lot of little black things that could live through a long swim in chilled vodka and then kill me, and it was probably just dishwasher grit in the shaker, and dishwasher grit, while unappetizing, is effectively sterile. And I would hate to waste $3 of Ketel One. (No promotional fee was paid to Me, CherkyB for promoting Ketel One vodka.)

But I tossed it, washed everything, and made a new one. Drinking a substantial martini is one of life's simple pleasures, and there's no reason to compromise.

That said, I'm mad at the cable company. And that's unusual. Now, I understand that pretty much everyone who has cable is mad at the cable company, but I haven't had cable since 1998, having gotten by with first C-band satellite, then Dish, and finally many many years of DirecTV.

But that all changed when I bought a Blu-ray player capable of Netflix streaming. Suddenly, I needed high speed internet, and my DSL line was topped out at 1.2Mbps. The phone company was kinda pissy when I asked about upgrading the speed, so I got cable modem instead. Of course, the cable guy upsold me to cable TV and VOIP phone, with an HD DVR thrown in as well. Heck, saving $35/month vs what I had before.

Fast forward to last weekend, and MaxieC is complaining that the Netflix streaming keeps rebuffering. Now, this should never happen with 12Mbps service, which is what I'm paying for. And it, in fact, had never happened until then. I ran a speedtest at my favorite speedtest site, and it said I was getting 5Mbps.

I watched it for a couple days, and it fluctuated between 3 and 7Mbps. Never approaching the 12 I subscribe to. So I called tech support.

Tech support for cable modem goes like this:
  1. unplug your modem and take the battery out
  2. turn off your pc
  3. remove your router and plug the modem directly into the pc
  4. reinstall the modem battery and plug it back in
  5. wait for the lights to come on
  6. turn on the computer
No change? We'll have someone contact you.

Give them the cellphone number, since there's no point in the cable technician talking to The Mrs. The cable tech then calls the next day at the home number and either leaves a message on the machine or talks to The Mrs. Instructions are to repeat steps 1-6, cuz maybe it didn't work last time.

Eventually, someone leaves a message saying to use a particular speedtest site that is linked to form the customer support page of the cable company. Lo and Behold, if I pick the local server, I get 12Mbps from that speedtest. If I pick any of their other servers, values range from 3-7Mbps.

Ah ha! I know the problem. The fahrchakotchettas have sold me fictitious bandwidth. I have a 12Mbps connection to the cable company, but they only give me 5Mbps to the outside world. They've oversubscribed their bandwidth (probably with the $99/mo triple-play cable/modem/phone deal they've been saturation advertising that I subscribed to).

BTW, as an aside, Amazon movie streaming doesn't work at all with 5Mbps. Netflix does, but it drops out of HD. You need around 8 for HD. Amazon shows 30 seconds of a movie, then stops for 10 second while it buffers, then another 30 seconds...

So I call these scammers back to let them know that I'm on to them, and they want me to power cycle my modem again. Nope, not gonna fall for that - especially since with the VOIP phone it means I lose my connection to tech support. I explain in simple terms what the problem is: "It's not at my end. I'm getting 12MBps to the local US Cable server, but I'm only getting 5MBps to any other location including other US Cable servers in my state. You have a bandwidth problem in your server."

He runs a speed test and says, "I'm showing full bandwidth to your modem." Yeah, duh, of course you are, since you just pinged it from the local server. The problem is upstream from your server.

"Lemme go ask my supervisor a question."


"Can you run a speed test from"

Ok. It says 3.32Mbps.

"Can you rerun it?"

It says 4.20Mbps this time.

"OK, is there anything else I can help you with tonight?"

Uh, is anyone going to fix this?

"I'll re-escalate the ticket. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

I may call up the phone company. They've been begging to get me back, and they've offered me 40Mbps at a very reasonable rate, now that I canceled my old service.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I didn't know you were still listening

Mainly cuz you're not.

Today was a very exciting day. Very exciting. I bought propane and brass screws, and I got an oil change. Plus, I got some porterhouse steaks and jalapeño-cheese bratwurst made from local, grass-fed livestock.

My foot hurts, though. My doctor convinced himself that I have gout, but I'm not convinced. Especially since all the gout-treatments he's put me through haven't affected how much my foot hurts at all. Though the big, green pills [indomethacin] give me the most raging and prolonged, uh, side-effects, that I have to come home from work after being on them for a couple days.

I am a bit irked that it has been 4 weeks, and my fancy new holster is still not here. It said, "allow 3-4 weeks for shipping as we make these to order." Instead, I have had to make do with this, for which my review is not glowing.

The Childrens have a homeschool science fair tomorrow. Max had me make him a model of an ear, and Hannah originally wanted to do a project on earthworms, but all the worms died. So she decided to do a project about defrosting your freezer, cuz the freezer in the under-the-counter bar fridge needed defrosting. She did an excellent job on that. We took a lot of pictures of her defrosting it, and she did some research on the history of refrigeration (burying stuff in the ground packed in snow, ice boxes, early fridges, and frost-free models), and she explained how refrigeration works. She even used a semi-colon in one sentence.

She'll get a medal. Everyone gets a medal - the same medal. They make us buy the medal in order to be allowed to participate. The thing with homeschoolers is that you always think of them as crazed, right-wing religious nuts, but in fact most of them are actually radical leftists who homeschool because they think public schools are too strict and conservative.

Though when I refer to them as "your people" when talking to The Mrs., she gets irked.

I shot this a week ago, but I only managed to get it uploaded today. Enjoy.