Procrastination (But I Digress)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Technical Difficulties

When I actually moved into my new place, the first order of business was to get a television and the Internet.  My dental incapacity provided the uninterrupted several hours that it took on the phone and on-line to set up the appointment for service and with some coordination, I managed to be there when the very sweet fellow from direct tv arrived bright and early on a Saturday morning.

The night before, I had cleared all of the bags and boxes out of the living room (filling the small bedroom to the ceiling and door so that there is no way in).  The tv was all set up with the DVD player in both the living room and bedroom.  There was nothing to prevent the direct tv fellow from achieving his goal of delivering the total television experience that I live for.

[As an aside, earlier this year I attempted to live without cable television.  My discretionary dollar does not streatch as far as I would like it to.  I went out and purchased the box that you need for digital (more than the $40 that they promised in the ads) and then because I was clueless, I purchased rabbit ear antenna.  I tried to set them up on my tv at the Glendale house and nothing happened.  No reception.  Then I tried to set them up at the new place--again, nothing, no reception.  Luckily direct tv is really cheap for the first year and I signed up for a two year contract.  Two years to learn how to use an antenna--that should work, but I digress.]

The direct tv guy was working outside--under the house, up on the ladder, drilling a hole for the cord, plugging things in.  He was very diligent and very pleasant.  Then the att guy showed up to install the wireless Internet.  He was arrogant and mean.  The first thing he said was "I am not going under your house--you better have a phone line."  I don't have a phone line and I don't know where they are.  I'll bet they are in the little bedroom that the previous owner used as an office.  That room is filled with boxes and there's no getting in there.  Just as I am planning how to clear a path around the walls in that room to find the phone line, the att guy says--oh, I'll just use the hole that the direct tv guy drilled.  Direct tv guy has been here about 30 to 40 minutes working like a dog and the att guy goes out and basically pushes him out of the way--inserts his line and comes back in to test it.

Where's your router, says att guy.  I hand him the router that we had extra from att at the Glendale house.  No, he says, where's the cord.  You have the cord from the wall I say.  No, he almost shouts in complete disgust with "you idiot" written all over his face.  You need a power cord.  I look all around, but I can't find a power cord.  I vaguely remember one in the hallway at the Glendale house before I moved.  The hallway is completely empty now and it got packed by me shoving things into boxes.  This is not going to be pretty.
I start looking in the boxes closest to the door in the little room.

Att guy yells for me to stop that and to witness that the line works on his computer so that I can sign his form.  I witness the bars and I sign the form that he's shoved in my face.  As soon as I sign, he packs up and he is gone.  If he was there a total of 10 minutes I'd be surprised.  The direct tv guy and I share a look of disbelief.  What a jerk, I say.  The direct tv guy nods, but keeps working.

The tv guy finishes--sets up the remotes--lets the channels warm up and quickly gives me a lesson in direct tv tools, bells and whistles.  Ooooh, Aaaah, I say at the appropriate times.  Dtv guy goes through his script of the things that I will be asked in a survey about him and he desperately asks me to give him all top points.  You've got it I say appreciatively.  He is in a rush, but I make him stop so I can give him a tip (for being so thorough and nice).  He looks at the five and says (not sarcastically, but later I think, huh?) "oh good, now I can buy a soft drink."

There are ten gazzillian channels, but I set up my favorites on the living room tv right away.  It took a few weeks to get to it in the bedroom which was a pain AND I'm too blind to be able to see the guide on the bedroom tv that is too far away, but I have it down to a science now.  I'm getting very spoiled with free hbo and movie channels, but that's too much and when my free months are gone, I'm done with that.

So I called att to "register" my Internet.  They were going to tell me my password and such.  I told them that I hadn't found the cord for the router yet, but I'd call them back when I had it.  It had taken about 30 minutes to get them on the phone, but they said--can't help you, call us back.

So I looked through all the top boxes.  Nothing.  I moved the front row of boxes and looked in those.  Nothing.  I looked around the Glendale house.  Nothing.  I need Internet, so I went to Frys to buy a new router.

Now let me stop right here to tell you that I do not have clue what a router is or does or how it works or why I need one.  I know what the router I have looks like and that it is called a router.  With that minuscule information I went into the gigantuan warehouse cave that is Frys.  I really thought that I would find a wall of cords and one would say twowire router cords.  There was no such obvious wall.  I actually found routers without asking anyone.  The wall of products was well lit and had quite a few customers mulling over their choices.  This stopped me in my tracts.  There is more than one brand and there are numerous types of routers.  Luckily there was a little chart on the back of the product that was on sale that had a huge mountain of boxes.  That chart told you that if you needed a router for just a room, there was a little one.  If you needed it for a house, there was a medium one.  If you needed it for a really big house, there was a big one.

Now I have a little place--22 by 50.  But I want the big one.  I want the strongest, most powerful Internet connection that money can buy.  So I pick up the big one.  Then I start to think logically again and I find a person to ask about the power cord for the router that I already have.  No they don't sell them.  So I ask about the biggest and bestest router I've picked up and he says, no, you should get the modem and router separately to get the best service.  And, he says, it will cost you less that the one I've picked up, even though it is better.  Such a deal--am I a lucky duck or what, I'm thinking to myself.  And I happily proceed to check out and buy my two very lovely boxes of electronic equipment.

As I am standing in the checkout line, I have a weird little de ja vous.  The antenna and digital box that I was going to use to get rid of cable tv came from Frys in two little neat boxes and they have never worked.  But no, I thought--I'm buying a router.  You just plug the router into the phone cord thing that the att guy left coming out of the wall--ether something or other.  And then all the lights come on and I have bars and I have Internet.  It will be fine.

I got home pretty late, so I put off taking the equipment out of the boxes for a few days.  A few nights later, I was missing Internet and I opened the boxes.  Both pieces of equipment came with a cd to load onto your computer.  I don't have a computer--I have an ipad.  There's no place to put a cd on an ipad.  No worries I think--I'll bring home my laptop.  That has a place to load a cd.

I forget to bring my laptop for a few days.  And then I read the instructions again and there is a way to plug everything in with no computer.  Yea!  I call att.  The lady that I get after waiting on hold for a long time is clearly not happy with me that I don't have att's router.  [Why didn't they just bring one or tell me what to buy--it would have been much simpler, uggh.]  She gives me temporary passwords and suggests that I should use the computer to get it to work.  Fine, fine, I'll call back when I remember my laptop.

So I remember my laptop, but then I get busy and I don't have time to deal with it.  Over the next week a very jolly guy from att calls me about twice a day to see if I am ready to install my Internet.  No, I have to keep telling him--I'm not home when you call me and I don't have time to deal with it.  Don't call me, I'll call you.  (Famous last words).  Now set up Internet is at the top of all my lists of things to do.  I start to realize that I am procrastinating in a big way.  It gets worse and worse.  I almost have to pay for more time on my 3g network, because I am using that at home because I don't have the Internet on my ipad at home.

Finally (after I've already paid for my first month of Internet service that is not installed yet) on Sunday night (40 minutes before Amazing Race starts--this procrastination stuff is an illness), I unpack the laptop, pull out the discs, plug in the modem and router just like it shows on the picture and I wait for my magic bars.  Nothing.  Hmmmm.  I unplug everything, reboot the computer and try again.  Nothing.  So I call att.  I wait on hold for just five minutes--pretty easy.  The lady that comes on is again not happy that I don't have att equipment, but she's going to try to configure it for me.  She wants me to plug in just the modem to the laptop.  The screen takes a long time to get to an action screen and then it says loading.  Underneath the symbol for loading, it says that it can take up to 30 minutes.  If you've been doing the math, you know I'm not waiting 30 minutes, because Race is starting soon.  So I say thank you very much and hang up on att lady.  I let the computer do it's thing and I leave the room

After Race, I go back and the screen hasn't changed.  I disconnect, unplug everything and put it all in the box with the digital converter and the antenna.  I'm calling the geek squad.

P.S. I called them and they are coming next Saturday.  It is very expensive.  Too bad that college education is not paying off.  I keep thinking about a line from Baby Boom  "I just want to turn on the faucet and have water come out--I don't want to know where it comes from."  Sigh.

The Contest

So Saturday was the Tall Tale Speech Contest for Toastmasters.  I don't think that I had ever been to the tall tale speech contest outside our club.  People brought props.  Really.  A box of stuff to enhance the story.  In my area (the clubs are divided into areas and then districts--we had a couple areas competing the same day), only one other club sent a contestant, so there were only two of us competing for first and second place.  In the other area, there were three people competing. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love a good story and I felt that my story, while not earthshattering or anything like that, was a darn good story.  Only one of the speakers (from the other area) had a darn good story too.  She didn't win.  The winner in the other area was a guy who's story was completely true (a little boring), with some very well rehearsed jokes sprinkled in.  You could tell that he's been telling that speech for some time.  Oh well.

I came in second.  The other lady in our area had props.  Lots of props.  She had some enthousiasm, a little surprise (although she kind of ruined the surprise with the title) and well, her story was true too.  Nothing too tall about it.  Someone came up to me after my speech and asked me if my story was true--yeah, my nephew met Bob Dylan in a two room shack with Poncho.  No, I told her, "it's a tall tale..."  I don't think anyone gets this category.

So I am a bitter loser.  When I was a kid, if I didn't win, I didn't want to play anymore.  I've either been rewarded for such behavior or it is in the genes, because I haven't changed a bit.

The contest event itself was very dangerous.  You know how you see a natural disaster and your first instinct is to go and help pull out the survivors?  It was like that.  A complete train wreck.  It took all of my strength of will not to voluteer to help them.  I spent most of my time outlining how I would do everything differently and then playing tug of war with myself not to open my big mouth and volunteer.

There were a few bright spots--I heard a few excellent speakers.  The other person from my club, Dennis was in the table topics contest and his response was really good.  Then the other person from our area gave an equally terrific response.  I told him I didn't like his chances and it was too bad he was not in the other area which had not as good responses.  They announced that he won second place and that seemed like the right outcome--lucky us, we don't have to go to the next level.  Afterwards, he sent me an e-mail, in fact he won and they announced it wrong (train wreck!!).  So now we get to go to the next level.  (The second place winner is the back up in case the lady with all the props bails on the next level of the contest AND to support Dennis, who now goes to the next level--he's really good, so I like his chances.)

Vive le contest!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Renting the Rooms

So in the ongoing saga of my house situation, financially, I needed to rent out the rooms in my house by September 1st.  Mission accomplished, as they say.  I have a renter and she's paid as of September 1st.  And she doesn't have a dog, which is great.  She does have fancy rats, which is kind of creepy, but they live in cages and shouldn't be able to do anything to the house, so I don't care. 

As you may recall, I had to get the rooms painted to be able to take the pictures to list the rooms for rent.  These are the lovely (sarcastic font) pictures that I posted:

 If I had know how awful I would be at taking pictures, I could have rented out the rooms a lot sooner. 

Anyway, once I had my pathetic pictures, I went on ebay's site, to list the rooms.  Except that they don't have a dedicated place for rooms for rent and somehow for my $49 per month, I was stuck in one bedroom search result.  I had many calls and e-mails for the one bedroom apartment from people not at all interested in renting a suite of rooms in my house.  Also, ebay said that if I didn't have 14 actual leads from the ad, then I would get another month free.  Some of the e-mails came from very odd names and after the generic "please send me more information" I never heard from them again.  Scam?  Innocent computer browsers?  Inquiring minds don't care enough to pursue the line of
 inquiry.  But I digress.

Since it was free, I also placed an on-line ad in the penny saver, but again, somehow it was viewed as a one bedroom apartment, and somehow, the penny saver gave out my address too. I know that I did not put it in the ad, but I
received a few calls of people stating the address, asking me about my one bedroom apartment for rent.  When I asked, they saw the ad in the penny saver.

Then, also free, I put a posting on Craig's List under rooms for rent.  That one was pay dirt.  The four actual showings that I gave came from Craig's List.  The first showing seemed really promising.  Her name was Francis and she owned her own consulting business.  She was relocating from Florida and needed six
 months to check out the real estate market. She recently rescued a small dog (who looked so adorable in the picture). Well you can guess the rest. Fran is a guy and the business is defunct. He came to see the place, but he said he wasn't willing to pay what I was asking. He could do better. His dog probably would bark too much anyway.

The next person who called to set up a time to see the place was named Saphire.  She sounded very young.  It would be for her and her boyfriend Brice would stay there sometimes.  I was not hopeful.  When she showed up, she brought her dog--a six hundred pound rotweiller.  I met her at the door and apologized profusely--no, no, no rotweillers.  At least she brought the dog up front.

Next came the lady that is now my renter.  Am I the luckiest person on the planet or what.  She's employed, my age and has good credit.  She's renting rooms now, but the owner of that place is losing their house in foreclosure, so she has to move.  She's looking for a little stability.  No worries--I'm very stable.

The last person (the insurance in case #3 changed her mind) was a young guy.  He had just enrolled in makeup artist school.  He has a job at Forever 21 and he took out a large student loan to cover tuition and his living expenses.  He told me the numbers and I told him that he couldn't afford my house--he needs to look for roommates and I wished him all the best.

My renter says that while she likes the flooring, she'd prefer carpeting (sigh) and she definitely needs air conditioning in both rooms, so I am having a second air conditioner installed in the bedroom.  And so my life as an actual paying tenant's landlord begins.  [Full circle as my Uncle Marcel pointed out--my Grandfather was a landlord for years.]