April 02, 2007

On the plus side, I now know that the entire house can be heated with only a wood stove. And I have an entirely new appreciation for running water.

Some of you know some part of what the past two years have been like, for me. Last November, I had believed my time finally to be my own. I (almost) finalised a bit of basic web construction for a joint dream project. I had finally managed to establish my first ever personal Internet connection: dial-up (for broadband technology has not yet reached this neck of the woods), tech-support amusing, as the house is not cable-capable and thus the connection makes use of the same telephone line I needed to talk into in order to set it up. I found a thirty-page dot-matrixed single-spaced piece-of-novel draught I had thought vanished forever two computers ago, and gradually began to transcribe it prior to flow-editing it back in. Hundreds of new plants went into the ground. I had started to become caught up within this nest of blogs. I even began to make solid commitments with others for myself again (rather than on behalf of others), though I fell slightly behind due to a record amount of rainfall during what should have been the outdoor-sale season, (the last?) of the estate and power-of-attorney issues, and an unexpected urgent researching of real estate law. Still, I hoped, within reasonable limits.

It began to snow. Storm, ice, wind. And then the temperature plummeted.

Last month I woke up to the sound of the electricity going off again, again, again. (Poles snapped, this time.) By this point I had decided that I would bother with the generator only if this particular power outage lasted more than a day or so. By this point shovelling myself out from a metre or so of snow had become almost routine. Besides, the deepest part of this particular cold snap would ease in less than a week -- so it was perhaps inevitable that the furnace would choose to fail just then. Still, I had a wood stove and an axe; and I could manage without running water from the well for a short while. After all, while I could manage heat, the pipes were in no danger of freezing. And the computer ...

Presence or lack of electricity or heat was not the limiting factor, by that point. My computer had suddenly begun cutting out at random points even before the snow began in earnest. Sometimes it would stop before the boot cycle had even properly started. Twice, it even allowed me to get as far as dial-up logging in before it would suddenly stop, with no warning whatsoever. This turned out to be the opening tip of a stack of dominoes: one part would be identified as faulty and replaced, only to allow another to fail. By the time the power outages were becoming significant, the computer had long been with a trusted computer hardware-literate friend of mine. (With each visit, I sometimes managed to sneak in an e-mail or typing in a handwritten post -- but just barely.) I finally got it back last month. Most of the information had been recovered, if painfully scrambled -- but the thirty-page piece-of-novel draught I had almost finished transcribing had been erased back to just past the first page. Staring at what was left, knowing how long it had taken me the first time to transcribe, I was too tired just then to try to restore the Internet connection. Still, I plugged in the modem, and --

with an explosive *bang* and an uneasy smell of burning electrical wiring, shorted out the telephone lines in the entire house. (That was the one that made me feel most truly isolated. I have no cellphone.)

Next break in the storms, back went the computer to the shop. In came the telephone repairman. Come true spring, out go most of the telephones in the house, which are no longer usable without some serious re-conditioning beyond my current abilities.

Home came the computer. This time, the monitor burned out. I managed to scrounge up a spare monitor (left over from my original 286). It is almost half the size of my old one and washes out reds and blues without warning, but it retains enough colour contrast to function for my purposes. After three attempts and an hour on hold, I finally re-established the Internet connection yesterday.

Each, individually, a minor thing. Taken together, a comedy of errors which had the potential to be much more serious than it was, and taught me well the purpose of having (had) savings.

But ...

The worst of it, easily, was that for over three months I had no way of informing those I knew on-line what was happening ... those to whom I had made commitments. Those who were counting on me. I know that, yet again, I have let many of you down. I think, now, that communications have once again stabilised ... I hope. At least, everything I can currently think of to cover has been covered, hopefully leaving only the usual list of tasks associated with resolving a house. (Your best wishes for the apple blossoms, tulips, and various other sprouting plants and birds and no-longer-hibernating animals would be welcomed. Another deep cold snap is coming, and everything is in full spring mode and as vulnerable as it gets.) Part of hand temporarily in a splint, making typing interesting, but that too should improve shortly -- either that, or else it will require surgery.

But at least now you know what happened.

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