Friday, September 25, 2009

Further Adventures with DSL

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Sorry about that folks. I fixed the link

Don’t expect me to explain exactly what happened to our Internet service, but we are much closer now to a solution. Finally, Wednesday morning what had been abysmally poor service got even worse. When I called the number for our DSL provider, I reached a very polite, well informed, customer service representative. To begin with the customer service rep told us (I’m no fool. I had The Husband in on this so we could play as a team.) to attach the modem directly to a computer and by pass the router (we have a network). After running some tests, she walked me through going to DOS and, with her dictating the directions, I reconfigured our IP address.

Fortunately for my sanity, The Husband had the presence of mind after it was done to ask how the address came to be incorrect in the first place since we really hadn’t been messing around in DOS lately . She explained that the address had probably been lost, corrupted, screwed up, whatever (by then my brain was reeling) as a result of a power failure. I don’t know whether you recall or not, but indeed we do have power failures in Bear Valley Springs. (It’s not all singing birds, wild flowers, and pretty scenery living out in the boonies.)

So, the good news is that, once again, I have access to the World Wide Web. The bad news is…we aren’t done yet. 1. Yes, I have Internet access, but The Husband does not. We still have to plug in the router and finish the job. (We weren’t able to take the support call to the next step due to The Husband’s schedule. It’s pathetic, but I don’t tackle these things if he isn’t in the house in case I call for help.) 2. All this comes just when I am going to be out of touch completely for a few days and then returning to a big, nasty job—taxes. Does it get any nastier than that? Thus, this won’t be finished until approximately mid-October. In the meantime, I have been able to sneak in a little time to check this out, and now I am remembering that DSL isn’t so bad. When it’s working properly, it’s pretty darned fast.

Before I wrap up this complaining and celebrating fest, I want to mention that the customer service from AT&T has been excellent each time that we have encountered a problem. Comcast may have provided the faster Broadband to us in LA, but their customer service was inept, rude, impatient, and thoroughly loathsome. In the long run, I prefer DSL. Go AT&T.

I certainly learned a great deal. I am still mystified by how an incorrect IP address could result in deteriorating Internet access. Why on earth didn’t it simply stop cold, instead of slowly getting worse over a period of at least two months? First, it began to slow. Then the connection would just disappear for no reason. A few minutes later, after running that "restoring connectivity" gizmo, it would be back and maybe last for quite a while, maybe not. The only constant was that it kept getting worse. That was what threw me. I assumed it had to be a problem with my computer, or our router. (Come to think of it, the latter may still be the case.) I was surprised how simple and quick it was to reconfigure the IP address and why it needed to be done. Most of all we got into this mess because I repeated an error I make all too often. Since I am painfully aware of what a dismal pseudo-geek I am, I always assume that I have messed up rather than putting the blame outside myself. That’s one of those things I am still working on. Oh, well, the clean-up job I started on my hard drives needs to be done anyway.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


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Last Friday was one of our “errands in Los Angeles” days. These days usually aren’t particularly entertaining—too much rushing from one point to another. too much traffic, and—on days like Friday— dull gray skies and haze that set a dismal tone. This time out we hit a particularly long string of sour notes. Almost every place we went to pick up something we can’t find in Tehachapi, the item was out of stock. With our tight schedule, we didn’t have time to chase around to branch stores. When the day was finally over, we came home with about half the errands on our list completed.

But, there was a bright spot. We stopped at our all-time favorite restaurant for lunch. "All- time favorite”. Are you picturing the posh place with a valet out front, designer décor, an exceptional wine list, fine linen napkins, extraordinarily expensive steaks, or fish cooked by an exotic chef with his own tv show?

No, you didn’t fall for that, did you? You have to know me better than that. Viva Fresh is a Mexican restaurant with décor that goes beyond cliché and, trust me, there is no valet. The parking lot is small and crowded—Beverly Hills this neighborhood is not. While it is a very nice neighborhood in one of the “horsey” parts of the San Fernando Valley, it isn’t where the uppercrust hang out for power lunches.

Viva sits just outside the fence of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and the prime window seats in the main dining room face the Center along with the riding trail that encircles that facility. Since patrons often arrive at the restaurant on horseback rather than automobile, there are also tie rails or hitching posts in sight. (Nope. No valet to park your horse, either.) Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of the picture. The window seats also offer a fine view of the restaurant’s garbage bins. Never mind. You just focus on the horses and ignore the less scenic elements.

We first went there, years ago, because we had horses stabled a few hundred yards away at a stable called Din Cara. The stable was run by a wild man, named Will—a hard-boiled and opinionated British fellow who was one of those once-in-a-lifetime characters. Viva became a habit because it was perfectly located for a quick place to refuel after a few hours of tacking, then riding, followed by the dirty clean-up of horses and tack. Nothing much has changed. There are no formalities at Viva. Not surprisingly, dirty riding clothes, sweaty hats, and manure stained boots are a common sight in this eating establishment. We always knew that we could walk straight from the wash rack to Viva and all you had to clean up was your hands. The stained riding breeches and that nasty brown spot on your white shirt from when your horse snorted didn’t get a second glance from other equally untidy patrons.

Long after Din Cara was a distant memory, (obliterated for a housing development dubbed, Din Cara, to rub salt in our wounds), we continued eating at Viva. We kept going back, even though we had moved and no longer lived nearby, largely because the food has always been simple, but delicious. The refried beans (lard free), because they are so simple, rank at 95% as good as the pinto beans my mother cooked and, believe me, that is high praise. All the meat is fresh and tasty, the sauces are mouth-watering (how I miss those treats); and, while they serve a hot salsa that will scorch the roof of your mouth, it isn’t applied on your food for you. In the case of many, if not most, dishes, you get to be in charge of how spicy or mild you want your food. Perfect for me. On most evenings there is live music and the groups we have heard were made up of studio musicians. These folks are the top-notch professionals who play the scores for Hollywood movies. Good music. Good food. Tough to beat.

Even with the delicious food, one of the best things about going to Viva is that we often get to say “hello” to Joaquin. When we first began eating at Viva, Joaquin was a waiter there and after hundreds of meals at the place, we began to think of him as a friend. His brother worked at Din Cara mucking stalls and we were fans because they both worked hard and Joaquin, especially, always had a cheerful smile. One meal I will always remember was at the stable and not the restaurant. We came back from riding one evening to find Joaquin’s brother and his fellow workers cooking some beef over a hibachi. They generously invited us to sit with them and share their food. Naturally, we declined. We didn’t want to reduce the size of the meal for any of these fellows who had spent hours shoveling manure. But, they insisted. We finally gave in and they served us a couple of the best carne asada tacos we had every eaten.

Eventually, Joaquin partnered with one of his fellow workers and bought the restaurant. It was one of those stories that makes you feel proud and hopeful about life, as well as people, in general. By then, Viva was by far our favorite restaurant. On special occasions, we celebrated by going to Viva. When we were especially tired or needed cheering up, Mexican food always seemed to be the perfect choice. When we wanted to have a long, easy dinner with friends, we invited them to join us at Viva. We were regulars.

After we left Viva last Friday, I began thinking about how comforting it is to have some constants in our life. Almost nothing about our lives resembles the life we lived when we first decided, so long ago, that we should “check out the Mexican food down on Riverside”. We have moved household twice, and now only get to Burbank once every five or six weeks. The after-meal conversations are shorter—no time to linger, and we talk about very different matters these days. We only get there for lunch these days, so no music; but, not much has changed at Viva. The beans are still superb, the chips are still fresh, there are still plenty of dirty boots about, and sweaty people munch chips while they watch riders and horses passing by the windows. Folks tell me that the Margaritas are as good as ever (not something I will ever be able to vouch for, unless I am prepared to schedule a slot at the nearest emergency room). We still know most of the waiters working there. When we see Joaquin, he has the same quick smile. And, Viva still feels like home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Computer Battles

That recent fog, or fever, passed several days ago; but, I have been fighting Internet battles for the last few days and, unfortunately, don’t see an end in sight. I knew from the beginning that our access up here to the World Wide Web was apt to try my patience, since we left broadband back in Los Angeles. However, for almost a week now, getting on the web is almost as fun as going to the dentist. For now, I am unable to upload the larger files to my online galleries and even reading, much less posting on the sites of my fellow bloggers, is a slow and exasperating task. Some days, it’s click the mouse; go get a glass of water; wander out to the patio and check the status of the rose bush; amble back to the office; stretch; rearrange some papers on my desk; then, yes, there it is. Boy, am I a spoiled brat, or what? I remember AOL dial up. That wasn’t a picnic and I survived—but, not for long I admit.

I suspect that the problem is much more complex than our Internet provider. My computer is almost three years old. That means not worn out, but overdue for a serious clean-up and, oh, how I dread that. By the time I reload all the programs and download all the updates, two days will be chewed up in work that I loathe. Of course, it wouldn’t take two days for anyone who is truly computer savvy, but remember I mostly fumble and bluff my through this stuff.

This little aggravation won’t get solved immediately due to an upcoming trip and a few commitments that are ahead in the queue. In the meantime, I will post here as best I can (mostly without photos) and my comments on the posts of others will be a bit on the sparse side. It’s no fun being out of the loop, but it won’t last forever. This is just one more of those things that shall pass. But now you know that you need not wonder what exotic and enviable adventures I may have embarked upon. What? You already knew better than that? Drat. I have given away too much. I have to work on an air of mystery. Now, maybe if I….