Monday, October 27, 2008

Autumn Colors

Well, I know I'm not the only person on the web posting pretty pictures of autumn foliage, but I wanted to post a couple of pictures of the local foliage, here near Pollock Pines.

Apple Hill, CA., is a, well, at least northern California renowned apple growing region, known for its many apple orchards and various ranches that run bizarre-style open-air markets, and sell a plethora of apple related products. It's also just a lovely area of California to take a drive and enjoy the outdoors.

Lindey and I took a drive today, and captured a couple of stills which I thought were blog-worthy.

This tree is in a yard along Forebay Rd, in Pollock Pines.

This rose was growing in a garden at Grandpa's Cellar.

This tree was growing at the entrance to Grandpa's Cellars.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Comcast Conundrum

So, let me tell you about Comcast.

I like Comcast. Really, I do. They offer a good cable TV product, and their Internet is speedy and reliable. I have no reason to leave Comcast. In fact, I'm having Comcast installed at the new house, including the new Comcast Digital Voice phone service.

That's right, I'm going for the full-monte package, baby. And, since they gave me a deal on it, I couldn't pass it up.

(They should be paying me a residual for the advertising they're getting from me.)

However, let me tell you how many teeth I had to pull to actually get them to the house to install the stuff!

Back on September 6th, when I finally decided I was going to move, I called Comcast to set up service at the new address. I talked to a nice rep who was on the ball, and set me up with an installation appointment on September 30th. That would be just right, because I was officially moving in on October 1st, and the property manager was very kind and let me get the keys a few days early to clean the place up.

So, September 30th comes. I'm excited, because I've been without TV or Internet for 3-4 days now (I had to pack it up and move it, after all). The tech comes to the house and looks at where my house is in relation to the nearest telephone pole with a cable transmission box on it. He walks it off and comes up with 265 feet. That's how far the telephone pole is from my house.

He explains that, over more than 100 feet, the bandwidth tends to degrade and the signal strength needed for fast Internet is compromised. The previous tenants apparently only had cable TV (which requires less data than the Internet), so I needed a new cable with a larger gage wire strung to my house from the cable box on the telephone pole, so that I'd get a clear, strong data stream.

Ok, I say.

The tech says, as soon as the construction guys from Comcast come and hang that wire, give him a call and he'll come out and hook me up. Shouldn't be more than 2 or 3 days, he says.

So I call Comcast. Turns out the construction crews don't work all that fast, and can take up to 2 weeks to fill a construction order. I about cried. They set me an appointment for October 7th.

I figure, I can survive one more week. I have movies.

So I call Comcast on the 7th, just being nosey and wanting to see if there was any way of moving things along, and I hear the automated lady announce that I had a pending appointment on October 14th.

October 14th?? Oh, no no no no.... that can't be right.

So I talk to a customer service rep who says, yeah, October 14th is right. October 7th was just the day the work-order was issued, and it can take up to 2 weeks to have the crew come out and string cable.

Wait, the order was issued today? I called you a week ago. I thought I had an appointment for them to do installation today?

No, she says. The work order was issued on the 7th. Your appointment is for the 14th.

I press the issue and say, but I called a week ago. Don't you show me calling a week ago for this appointment?

Yes sir, but the work order was just issued today. It can take up to two weeks.

Is there any way to make it sooner?

No, the construction division is kind of a small unit. They can take up to two weeks.

(Yes, I know that already!) I ask, can I go ahead and make an appointment, then, for the inside tech to come to the house for the inside part of the installation (outside techs don't do inside work, and vice-versa)?

Why yes... I have an appointment available on the 15th.

I'll take it!

So I wait. And watch movies at night. And listen to the radio a lot. And read...

(Oh, hey... I remembered that I like to read.... but that's another post.)

The 14th comes, and the cable-stringer guy does a bang-up job stringing a nice, big cable to the house for me. Nice fellow. Job well done.

So, now I'm all ready for the inside-tech guy to come to the house on the 15th. The only problem I have is that I am literally running out of power-sockets in the house to plug appliances into. I have my TV all set, and my computer, but I don't have any power sockets left to plug the digital telephone into.

So I think to myself (I know, dangerous to do), I should just cancel the phone service. My cellphone works great at the house - 5 bars all the time - and I haven't had a house phone in years.

So I called Comcast. I talked to the rep who said, no problem, we can cancel the phone service part of the package. Let me just cancel your appointment for tomorrow and set you up a new installation appointment.

What???? Why do I need a new appointment? Just tell the tech who comes tomorrow not to bring the phone thingy.

Well, it's a new service order, so we need to cancel your old one and make a new one. One second please.

I say, Wait!!! Can you just refill my appointment slot tomorrow with the new service order?

No sir, I can't. That service order would be closed, and the next new service date is October 28th. I'll set you up an appointment.....

NO! I said..... don't do that. Just leave the appointment for tomorrow as it is. Don't touch anything. Nothing. Just leave it as is. I'll deal with the phone thing another day.

Ok, sir, I can do that, he says. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

No.... thank you.

Alrighty then, thank you for calling Comcast.

(P.S. I'm happy to report that my daughter just called me, informing me that the inside tech did a great job, and I am all hooked up!)

I love Comcast..... I really do.....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Light a Fire

A cold front moved into northern California last night. Temperatures here dropped down into the upper 30's, and I expect low 30's and wind tonight.

I discovered last night that I need to go through the house and double check all the windows and doors and other such places where cold drafts can get in.

You see, the only heat source in the cabin (right now) is a free-standing wood fireplace or wood stove as some people call it. I loaded it up and made a downright nice fire last night (more on my issues with STARTING a fire another time), and had the house all nice and toasty warm before I went to bed around 9:30 or so.

I woke up at 4am for work, and obviously the fire had burned itself out. I'm not really sure yet how much wood I can load up into the chamber at one time, so I only put about 4 pieces of wood in before I went to bed. Maybe I can put more and adjust the air-thingy so it doesn't burn quite as hot, and lasts longer. I'll have to experiment with that. Oh wait, maybe I'll look it up on the Internet! Anyway.....

The cabin wasn't cold, but not really warm, either. It was just kind of a comfortable leaning toward cool. I had closed the bathroom door (since there's some obvious weather-leaks that need to be fixed in there), and when I walked in there I 'bout froze! Definitely need to get to work on those drafty areas soon.

But I'm relatively happy. The cabin was comfortable all night. I actually slept on top of my covers for the first few hours, and only pulled up the blanket at around 2am. I imagine keeping the cabin warm if one is home all day will be a simple matter of feeding wood into the stove at the right pace.

However, since I do have a dog and don't want to come home some day to a pup-sicle, I'm gonna get a free-standing electric heater from my niece. It's one of those new-style oil-circulating heaters that look like an old fashioned radiator. She says it kept the entire downstairs of her old house warm, and since my entire cabin will fit in one corner of her old house, I think it will be sufficient to keep the chill out of the air at my cabin. I thank her for that.

So, this weekend I've got my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Moving Pains

Effective October 1, 2008, I officially moved away from the city where I've lived my entire life, starting a new adventure in mountain living.

Well, to be fair, I haven't lived IN Sacramento for years, but I've lived either in the city or in the suburbs, within 25 miles of my birthplace, all my life. Ask me where I live, no matter that my home is actually in Roseville or Citrus Heights, to say "Sacramento" is the automatic answer.

On the other hand, I haven't exactly moved to the dark side of the moon.

I moved to Pollock Pines, a little mountain community situated at the 4000' level of the Sierra Nevada mountains, along Hwy 50 in Northern California, about 60 miles east of Sacramento. Yes, they have electricity and running water, and even cable TV and Internet. Oh, and a Starbucks (not that Starbucks is any real barometer of the level of civilization in a community, but you get my point).

My home is a little mountain cabin, really. Quite a culture an house shock moving from a 3-bdrm/2 bath home situated in the suburbs of a large city, to a 1 bdrm/1 bath cottage situated on a long dirt driveway in a town of less than 4,000, but I think I'm adjusting OK.

To be honest, I love it. I don't know why I didn't do this a long time ago.

So, stick with me while I learn about mountain living, and soon enough, how to deal with living in the snow. It should make for some interesting days.