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Friday, March 11, 2005

Life is Good

Life is good. It's late afternoon on a Friday and another snow storm is kicking up outside-- they're promising a foot this time. But I'm propped up in bed with my semper fi canine hiking partner, Bubba, laying next to me. And I have my newest little buddy, a Mac iBook G4, perched on my lap, surfing the web on a new wireless Verizon DSL Internet connection that consistently zips along.

Our old Adelphia cable connection had been steadily taking a dump for six months. I've spent more than 10 hours on the phone, pressing "1" for English and waiting to talk to a cubicle dweller wearing a headset, reading me canned platitudes about how my home network was to blame. On a couple occasions, I broke through to a "Level 2 tech," the guys "in the know," only to schedule a service call with Big Foot the Cable Guy who, while polite and housebroken and all, didn't know beans about how to troubleshoot cable Internet systems so nothing got fixed.

Now, here's a great lesson in free-market economics. Since Adelphia blows herds of warthogs, the conditions were ripe for an upstart broadband competitor to come along and woo us away. But, while they didn't have any competition for broadband providers in my area, Adelphia didn't need to be responsive and could allocate their resources to markets where they competed with other broadband providers.

Enter Verizon Online DSL. Ok, telecom behemoth Verizon isn't exactly an upstart, but they only recently started offering broadband Internet access in our area. I didn't need much wooing; I used my backup connection, Netzero dialup, to get to Verizon's website and sign up for their DSL service. They mailed me the self-install kit which included the DSL modem and, 10 days later, I was surfing smoothly on a solid DSL connection. After surfing on dialup most of the time for the past month, I had forgotten how fast and versatile broadband can be.

And here's the kicker. At $25/month (with a Freedom calling package, which we already have), Verizon DSL is less than half the price of Adelphia cable Internet. In this crazy, upside-down world of compooters, it ain't always true that you get what you pay for. Sometimes, you get more when you pay less.

Anyway, back to my perfect life, here in my cozy bed with my iBook and my Bubba, while a winter storm rages outside. I'm surfing, answering email, chatting on Yahoo Messenger (zenzoidman), answering questions in the repair forum, and streaming some great music from the Hearts of Space website. All this occurring simultaneously on a fast, reliable DSL connection. Yeah!

At one point, my youngest reproductive unit came in to visit me and I tried to explain to him what a miracle this all is. He was unimpressed. Unless you grew up in the days where your college freshman FORTRAN programming class was taught using punch cards, you just can't appreciate how many light years computing has advanced.

Have you ever heard Hearts of Space on public radio? I've been a fan of that show since Stephen Hill started it in the early '80's. Every week, he plays an hour of ambient music (or "space music"). The best way to describe ambient music is that it's quiet music for contemplation, writing, or just laying in bed and taking a trip without leaving the farm, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, you can also listen to Hearts of Space on XM channel 77, Audio Visions, every weeknight from 11pm to midnight (Eastern Time). Trouble is, I also like to listen to Rollye James during that time. My bowels were deeply conflicted... until I found out that you can subscribe to Hearts of Space and listen online to their entire streaming archive of shows whenever you want for $20/month. Well, that was a no-brainer-- problem solved!

Right now, I'm streaming my favorite HOS show through my iBook, Program 332, Deep Forest: A Pygmy/Techno/Rainforest Journey. It's a unique blend of soothing, traditional vocalizations from Pygmy tribes in Africa with modern techno sounds. I know: it sounds really flaky, maybe even fruity, but you gotta hear it to appreciate it. After you listen to an hour of this music, you feel like you just smoked a mondo spliff of B.C. bud even though you've had nothing but coffee.

Mrs. Samurai just told me dinner is ready. Fresh haddock and Greek salad, mmmm. Life is good. Later.

Samurai Appliance Repair Man cast these pearls at 21:59 ET.  [permalink]
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