Sunday, August 24, 2008

Telecom - liars

So the thunder and lightening goddesses Marjorie and Alma do not want me to take them for granted and I will NOT be sleeping out during a storm in the forseeable future unless I get caught out. The temperature went from 32°C on Thursday to 12°C on Friday last and there was a terrific hail/rain/sleet(?) storm with thunder and lightening so I went on the balcony to look. Very courageous of me. After checking the clouds I looked down into the woods for some reason and just at that moment a huge bolt of lightening struck down in the woods right in front of my eyes. Two days on I can still see a pink streak just to left of center of my vision. Also my ears have still not stopped ringing. Needless to say the telephone blew out and the lights too. The lights were off for a good few hours, the phone is still off. I image the modem has blown out too. Why telecom cannot invest a few of our pennies in putting a decent lightening conductor in I will never know. At least a couple of times a year the phone goes and each time we wait for ages for the technicians to come and each time they come they don’t know where to go. They wander up and down until they come across the Vignassa and are surprised when you tell them they are in the right place. Then you have to tell them where the nearest junction box is and that it is not worth checking the line because for the last 20 years the weak point in the system has always been the same. Talk about stupid (not the repair men, they have a hard time), you’d think that economically a conductor would save them money in the long run. Mind you in the old house we used to have valves in the terminal box in the house and each time a bolt of lightening hit the line a massive spark would shoot across the room and hit the fridge. We used to call it Bernard because that was what it did, burned hard but nobody got fried fortunately. We kept the fridge in the same position so we wouldn’t have the spark taking an unpredictable route and Bernard and us got along just fine. But each time the valves would blow and telecom would not let us, the user, have any replacements, ‘for safety reasons’. Each time we would have to wait up to a week with no phone until a repair man found the area, then walked up half a dozen hills till he found ours and then walked up half an hour puffing and panting with a heavy repair bag only to have to change the valves. None of them ever believed me when I told them that it was always the same problem and they always brought their bags. After a few years of this one particularly unfit repairman, a really nice guy too, more or less thought sod it and going against company rules gave us a supply of valves, ‘enough for ages’ he said. In one year we had five strikes and so finished a decade’s supply of valves within twelve months. More marching repair men. I requested valves from telecom and was refused for safety reasons as we were not allowed to tamper with the system. It was fine to have three meter sparks roaming about the house, a house by the way with two kids in it too but oh so very dangerous to replace a couple of valves. Bastards. In the end tired of waiting and tired of their infantile safety laws I removed the cover from the box permanently and rigged up some pieces of heavy duty fuse wire inside the box in lieu of the valves. When there was lightening I disconnected them and when we got hit unexpectedly the fuse wire blew and, storm over, I’d just replace it. The box melted a bit every now and again and exploded once or twice but working at home and relying on e-mails for my consignments it was much better than a week with no phone. An odd thing, after the box exploded so that it was beyond repair I went to an old abandoned village near here and removed a (probably) 1940s fuse box from there and fitted it in our house. Never had any problem since. Thank you telecom for helping us so much, I see you value your clients and their safety above everything else and really hope you all rot in hell for it and hope very soon to be able to opt out of being your client, when your monopoly on the lines ends.

Talking of the comparisons between the last house and here at the Vignassa, the gas boiler, Vailant was the make, also deserves a mention. I bought the one at the old house through a plumber. I asked no questions but received a guarantee and receipt. Here you now have to have your boiler serviced once a year, paying exorbitant prices obviously so if you declare you actually have a boiler you have to have it serviced. I contacted Vailant as a good law abiding citizen and was told that no way would they walk up half an hour of path to service it but I might have to pay a fine if it was not serviced when the relative advisory letter came. I tried several times to get the thing serviced. All they told me was that I was now obliged to install it outside so it could be exposed to the freezing weather. Hahaha. When the official letter came, THEM telling ME that I had not had it serviced, the plumber, excellent guy, told me to tell them I had got rid of it on the dump which, though illegal was apparently less illegal than not getting it serviced and thus opt out of the servicing scam. The boiler worked without a technical hitch for well over ten years with four of us using it. Sure it got dirty occasionally, I mean it was right next to a wood burning stove for starters and sometimes when we slept in late the pipes in the house would freeze and the whole system would have to be unfrozen using hot water or a hair dryer but technical faults numbered in the zeros. Of course it was a manual boiler with pilot light. No electronics at all.

Now, at the Vignassa we have two valiant boilers, one for us and one for the guests. Ours is crappy and the temperature is not a hot as one would like but more or less it works, now, after quite a few trials and tribulations and repair men at the beginning when it was still under guarantee. The other boiler of more recent manufacture, installed all nice an legal outside exposed to the elements and with sophisticated electronic circuitry is always bust. The sensor keep going. Cost of the sensor, a quarter of the cost of the new boiler. WHERE IS THE SENSE IN THAT??? Where is the progress? Why do I keep asking myself these stupid questions? I know where the sense is, progressive imbecility of everyone and of course money. Everything is getting worse. I have perfectly functional audio cassettes that I have been playing for 30 years but I have CD’s which are so delicate they last only two or three plays and then the player can read them any more. Wow I am SO enthusiastic about the future.

I am not mechanically minded at all. I hate mechanics of all forms. I am a twig, string and gobstopper sort of bloke. But repairing our boiler or cleaning the points or changing parts on the car or fixing the phone, repairing the stereo etc were all things that living where we did you were useful things to be able to do. It was all something you COULD do. Now however it is impossible to do anything, even the mechanics have to have another machine to find out what is wrong with your car. The service technicians for anything which has electronics in it don’t know how to repair the elements, they just replace them. It is frightening to think that in the not too distant future nobody will be able to repair anything. Self-sufficiency will be impossible without re-inventing technology. Everything will be, if it is not already, too complicated. We are being forced into a new state of primitivism. Nobody will be able to do anything for themselves. Every year we slap ourselves on the back and tell each other how clever we are because we have progressed forward so much. Oh look the latest MP3 player with video camera, sat nav, electronic lure for kestrels, carpet sweeper and communications circuitry for contact with mars. Aren’t we the bees knees. Balls, in reality we regress 10 times as much with each step forward. The coincidence of living out this week and watching ray mears until I have him coming out of my ears has really brought that home. The bushcraft programs I didn’t like at all, always the same thing, birch bark and setting up his tarp but the prog on wild foods and extreme survival I really enjoyed because it is so true that if something out of the ordinary happens nobody will have the slightest inkling of what to do. I was thinking the other night when the candle fell over, spluttered out and smashed the glass in the lantern, I don’t know how to make a tallow candle or how to make glass simply because I take them so much for granted I let others do the knowing. This is not reassuring in the current climate of technological advance. I really think I want to start to find these things out a bit more. Not that I would ever want to make glass but the basic things, like making walnut oil out of our walnuts or making lime to repair the walls or building a functioning fireplace might all come in handy one day. Perhaps I should write less and read more.

So we now have internet and a phone again. We phoned telecom and they said that they already knew because others on the line had also phoned and they would come Monday. Monday nobody came. Phoned again they said Wednesday. Nobody came but they put up an automatic reply system effectively preventing us from getting in contact with them.They said Wednesday on the automatic reply. On Friday we managed to get in contact then they said that a repair man had already come and that the job would take a long time because the line had to be replaced. Woozle’s family went ape. Saturday the repair man came. Fuirst off he told us that telecom had only contacted them 45 minutes earlier so they can’t have already sent a man as they claimed. Telecom = LIARS. Second he tried the phone with the ADSL filter and it didn’t work. Then he tried without at lo and behold fully functional. Replace the line? a long wait? Telecom = LIARS2. We spoke to the others on our line, none of them had any problems Telecom LIARS3. The repair man said that of course telecom tell you any lies just to shut you up until the operator get off his shift. I hate telecom and if it were a single person i would wish him an early and prolonged death.

We had to replace the adsl filters and the modem which had melted but thankfully we managed to get the same model as the old one (unheard of) so no tedious re-installation to do. I’m still seeing a pink line so I think I’ll wait another week and then go to the docs.

I must say that a week with no internet was lovely. I actually didn’t miss it at all. Nothing much happened this week except on Wednesday - I was sleeping in the hammock and felt the dog land under me and start barking and when I turned over to see there was a huge boar eating apples only 10 yards from me. It is an odd sensation to be so close to a nasty looking critter as this and be laying horizontal cocooned in a sleeping bag. So I just ley there and watched. He had a few apples, rubbed himself on a fence post and sauntered off totally ignoring the dog. Having been attacked by a boar a while back I am a little wary of them. Despite their bulk they can move exceedingly fast and are afraid of nothing and a puny little human in a sleeping bag would probably not even be noticed. But boar are not on my list of things to be scared of. That still has only two entries, lightening and lions.

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