Better, But For Dodie

20 June 2001

Guess how many times this week we've lost internet connectivity for noticeable periods of time? Five. Does this sound like permanent service to you? Me neither. So now I get to call AT&T @ Home and grouse at them. I love this. It's my favorite thing, and I have nothing else to do for the rest of the week.

On the up side, I'm not sick any more. Well. Not very. It only hurts when I swallow, which is not exactly the sort of thing for which I can take my dad's old joke philosophy ("Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"). But this is a good deal of progress. I had Mark's raisin bread for breakfast. Which, you will notice, is not slurpy. Timprov fetched me printer paper and two more Garth Nix books when he was out last night, so I have plenty of around-the-house tasks to do, and I'm also planning to make a major excursion: to the bank and the post office. The thrills around here, they never stop. Ever. I may even drop off film to be developed, but at this point, I think I should wait until after Michelle and Scott have gone and develop that film, too.

Not, of course, that I will be taking a good many pictures of Michelle. (I would say any at all, but some of us are scrupulous about telling the truth. Also, some of us don't try to claim that kittens who are afraid of us are proof of our great mighty huge beastliness. Some of us are quirky that way.) (Not that I'm talking about anyone in particular.) (Who will now e-mail me indignantly.) But I will want to take pictures of Scott at least -- not, as Michelle claims, because he's the decorative one -- I make no judgments on that matter, because either way, I would be in big trouble with somebody. No. Because he is least likely to squirm, scowl, and scream if I try.

But I may want to take pictures of things next to Michelle. You know. In the general vicinity.

It will not be my fault if she gets in the way.

(Who will now e-mail me indignantly.)

It makes me happy when people who remind me of me have people who remind me of Michelle around to say the right lines to them, though not usually about pictures. It's a level of symmetry to the universe that is often lacking.

Ah, but what does not make me happy is when a publisher decides that a book doesn't need to be a complete story -- that, in fact, an ending that goes nowhere is a good way to sell more books in the series. We'll just break it up into chunks! And then people will give us more money! Ha ha, aren't we clever!

Ha ha. Nope. No more money for you.

I can deal with a series that has a larger story arc. I really can. But I do expect the ending of each book to be the ending of some section of the story. There should be a subplot that gets tied up. Something. But no. Sometimes publishers are too clever for that, and they just put breaks between books in places where breaks between chapters ought not to go.

Well, if the story was compelling enough that I'm going to want to pay to keep reading it, it's going to be compelling enough that it will annoy me greatly to have to wait to do so -- in at least two cases, it's annoyed me so much that I've refused to buy the next book. If it's not that compelling, you probably could have charged a dollar more for a thicker book and gotten more out of me. But now you, oh publisher of unfinished books, you lose.

(And yes, I do believe that The Lord of the Rings and the Amber series should not be sold separately without being clearly marked. I am consistent about this.)


You know what else doesn't make me happy? When I call AT&T @ Home and get Dodie, the perky customer service rep who knows precisely nothing about my computer.

me: The cable modem light is flashing, indicating that we have no connectivity with the outside world but something is being reset. We had about 70% packet loss earlier this morning. I wanted you to know that this is the fifth time we've had this problem in the past week.

Dodie: Have you tried powering down your computer?

me: We have other computers on a hub here. They don't connect to the internet, either, as is indicated by the flashing cable light on your cable modem box.

Dodie: Okay, here's what you need to do. Shut down all the programs you're working on --

me: How is this going to fix my computer? More importantly, how is this going to fix your network?

Dodie (as if she is being a paragon of patience): You'll need to get everything closed out, and then go to the shut down menu and choose the option to shut down your computer. And then find the power cord and unplug that.

me: I didn't ask how to shut down my computer. I asked how shutting down one computer on this network is going to fix the lack of connectivity.

Dodie: Let me know when everything is shut down.

So I played her little idiot game and shut off one computer and even unplugged the modem plug from the back of it. Then I plugged it back in, turned the computer back on, and Dodie said, "Let me know when everything is all booted up."

me: It's booted.

Dodie: Great. Now try to get online for me!

me: I'm trying, but I'm going to tell you that I already know it's not going to work, because the cable modem light -- you remember, the one that indicates connectivity with the internet? -- is still flashing.

Dodie: Well. Um. I'm seeing that your computer does not have connectivity.

(Did we hear this somewhere before? Why yes, I think we did.)

Dodie: So I'm going to send some people out to your house in the morning. Would you prefer 8:00 or 9:30?

I would prefer that you fix the parts of your network that are broken, that's what I'd prefer. I'd prefer that you had a system that worked well enough that I didn't have to deal with you at all. I'd prefer that someone who knows more than I do about networking was hired to provide customer support, and failing that, I'd prefer that you admit your total ignorance of anything but one trick (turn the computer off, now turn it on!) right up front and just give me the credit on my bill without making me sit through stupid human tricks. But failing those things, sure, I'd prefer that you send somebody out early tomorrow morning to do more stupid human tricks. Why not?

The person they sent out to install the cable modem in the first place also knew less about networking than I do, which is scary, given that I am the least knowledgeable person in the household. So I am somewhat less than sanguine about our prospects for morning. I will lay money that the person who comes out here knows nothing whatsoever about Linux boxes and finds Erdos (Mark's computer) very, very scary. I will further lay money, albeit less of it, that any variations on the Windows theme, such as the one we have running here on Rosinante (Timprov's computer) baffling and heretical. My final bet is that this person will do no good at all.

I'm not always this perky when I'm getting well, but Dodie did not exactly make my morning.

(still later)

Connectivity again! And despite the heat, I'm feeling much better in other ways, too. I finished printing Fortress, I prepared "A Perfect Match" to go in the mail again, I figured out the checkbook (not hard, just had to take the time to do it), and so on and so on. So. Happy healthy M'ris. Even Dodie can't keep me down for long. Especially since I sold a story to Analog yesterday, and all the right people are all the right amounts of happy with me.

Back to Morphism.

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Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.