Summertime, heat and the phone company

Not all of these really go together, but for us they seem to be interconnected this year.

First, the phone company. I have a simple philosophy about my phone and internet service: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I learned years ago back in L.A. that there is very little benefit to trying to save money by changing carriers. Sure, when everything is working you may save a few shekels, but if anything goes wrong you always seem to get shafted with the other guys, because they all rent their basic wires from the main phone company. So, to get things fixed, they still need to go through them and it just takes longer.

Thus, when we moved here I didn’t even question it; we went with France Telecom/Orange (or Wanadoo as they were then strangely called). Life plowed on, things worked all was basically okay. But we did make one mistake. When we briefly decided to try running a real estate business before realizing that a: we didn’t actually like selling real estate and b: we were never, ever going to sell a thing, we put our mobile phone into the name of the business, so it was a “professional” number. We had to do it, because we needed an official business number to have a company. When we closed down the business we weren’t as active as we should have been in reclaiming that number and Orange really doesn’t make doing that kind of thing easy.

We filled out a bunch of paperwork, but eventually the attempt failed. I would have let it ride, but I wanted to change my phone service to a different plan that I couldn’t get because it was only available for “individuals” and the phone number was a “professional” number. So there was only one thing to do; cancel our nice, easy to remember number that we’d had for over five years.

While talking to a rep at the Orange store he looked at our phone and internet service and said we could save money by changing all that around too. We were getting 8 Mb and we could get 20 Mb plus unlimited calling to the U.S., France, Europe, etc. with an internet line and wind up saving over 300 euros a year on our phone service. It really did make sense.

“Our Livebox is five years old,” I said, “should I change it?” “Oh no, it will be fine.” I asked several times; I explained we worked online; I was assured there was no problem. Do I even need to tell you what happened next?

Because, what for me seemed to be simply changing a fee structure, for the phone company is actually more complicated than that and entails canceling an old service and restarting a new service. It also meant that for the new speed to work properly, our phone line had to be perfect, and that’s where the old Livebox (modem) comes in. At 9 am Wednesday morning, our internet was working; at 9:05, it wasn’t.

Now, the thing about it is that it would work, then it wouldn’t work, then it would work, then it wouldn’t. I was convinced it was a hardware problem, but the people at telecom kept telling me it wasn’t. And, strangely, we went over to see if Mom’s internet was working and hers wasn’t either! So we called the phone company and they ran a test on her line that showed a problem. They sent a technician out on Friday and he showed a problem which came down to her Livebox having a fault. We connected my Livebox to her line and THAT showed a fault too. He connected a third modem and that one was fine, so, coincidentally, both of our Liveboxes were fried at the same time.

It turns out that they’re sensitive little creatures. They don’t like power surges and blackouts, both of which we get plenty of around here. We do have surge protectors, but I guess they’re not enough. I went and got new modems and when I connected them, all the problems were fixed, so that was clearly what was going on. I’m now waiting for several PUPS to come (battery power backups) that will protect against future highs and lows and hopefully keep things from going boom again in the future.

I did finally get a new mobile phone too and I can even remember the new number, but I don’t think JM can yet. But I think my philosophy about not messing with the phone company is still a good one!

Now, summertime and heat: after a slow start, both are finally here. I think a lot of us were convinced that we were going to have a summer like the one in 2006 where it stayed cloudy and cool most of the summer, but that is for sure not happening this year. Temps have been in the upper 80s and low 90s and although we get storms predicted, they don’t seem to materialize. So far, it’s staying cool inside and it does cool down into the low 70s at night, so we’re able to get comfortable.

But, if it stays like this it’s going to be HOT, HOT, HOT when the TOUR DE FRANCE comes through on Sunday 18 July! In fact, that’s the end of a week’s worth of Chalabre events starting with the first vide grenier of the summer this coming Sunday, 11 July. Wednesday 14 July is an aperitif under the covered market where new residents and old residents can meet and greet, followed by a light lunch and dancing at 2:00. Then on Saturday 17 July, contributors to this year’s short story collect “Histoire d’Eau” will be signing and selling books in the Town Hall. A special edition of “Histoire d”Eau” will be on sale with all proceeds going to help wildlife clean up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

So, there is a big update that hopefully makes up for my long silence.

Ciao for now and  keep cool.


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3 thoughts on “Summertime, heat and the phone company

  1. OMG, you mean the Tour is going right through Chalabre? Right past Chez Possum? How exciting (and likely noisy, etc). Enjoy.

    As for the phone company nonsense, no comment.

  2. This is the second time the tour has come through since we’ve been here, MG, and it is very loud and crowded and FUN! We met lots of nice people last time. I hope it is not as hot as it has been the last couple of days, because I don’t think we’ll be able to stand outside for too long if it is; it’s just too brutal!

    Last time it came over the road from Lavelanet, but this time it will be coming from Leran, along the road next to Lake Montbel and the rail tracks, then through the small road coming from the Hers, over the bridge across the Blau then will turn right to go past the town hall to take the road towards Puivert.

    The bikes go by in a blur to be honest, but you do get to see the big caravan throwing out useless junk!

    And, yes, phone companies are phone companies the world ’round.

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