WebQuest 9/9/9

How I Spent My 9/9/09

On 9/9/9, I wanted to be online a lot, posting a lot of stuff dated 9/9/9. But that's not how my 9/9/9 went at all. Although I could watch TV programs just fine, my Internet and telephone were both down when I got home from work last night (Sept. 8, 2009, of course).

This morning when I got up, they were still down. I needed my email fix! So I went to get my laptop. It hadn't been plugged in, but I figured it was charged fully. Unless I had left it in Standby at some remote time in the past... naah, I hadn't done that. I wondered if there were power outlets at McDonald's. Probably not. From my last experience with the laptop battery, I figured it would last long enough to take care of one average email session. So I grabbed the laptop (and not its power supply) and headed for McDonald's.

Once there, I took care of getting breakfast first.

Then I fired up the laptop.

First thing it tells me is that it sees wireless networks nearby. Second thing it tells me is that the battery is low. So I looked and it was at 4%. I initiated shutdown but before it could finish shutting down, the battery was so low it went into hibernation.

I finished breakfast and went home. I plugged the laptop in and the first thing it did was finish going into hibernation -- when it was shutting down, it hadn't even managed to finish doing that! So, having plugged it in, I could unhibernate it so it could be shut down properly so that the battery would charge properly.

Still in need of Internet, and with the laptop charging, I decided I would have to use the Internet at the office.

I wasn't planning to go to the office today, but that's where I could get Internet.

It was 7:30AM, I figured, so the traffic shouldn't be fully ramped up yet. Got in the car and headed out.

Well, as it turned out, 9/9/09 was the first day back to school for all the schoolkids in Los Angeles. The car radio told me in no uncertain terms that all the freeways were jammed. So I took my usual off-freeway route, up Palms to National to Jefferson.

Traffic slowed down dramatically at every school.

Every time I needed to be in a particular lane, I found out too late that I wouldn't be able to get into that lane. I was in the wrong lane at Castle Heights, and had to take a right turn. Small detour; no big deal.

Back on National, then to Jefferson. Only to find that Jefferson is closed. Then commenced the detour from hell. After some very frustratingly narrow streets jammed by parents bringing their kids to school, I finally exited the detour onto Rodeo Road. The road was jammed with detour traffic and parents bringing kids to school. Much jamming of brakes ensued due to lanes blocked by cars endeavoring to turn left.

And now I was south of the new rail line that's being built ("the Expo Line"). That's why Jefferson was closed in the first place. I imagined all of the cars in front of me all wanting to do the same thing I wanted to do: turn left and get north of the rail line. I imagined long lines of cars waiting for nonexistent green left-turn arrows. I considered turning right after passing a likely place to cross the rail line, then right twice more, to avoid the left-turn hell. Then I saw a sign: the two lanes were going to merge into one right after the next intersection.

And I could turn left at the next intersection, without any of the hell I'd tormented myself with!

So I turned left and got back to the right side of the tracks. As it were.

I intended to go all the way north to Jefferson, thereby ending the long detour. But suddenly I spotted a tempting detour.

36th Place would take me directly to where I needed to go. A shortcut! I turned right onto 36th Place and was smack in the middle of the worst school traffic yet.

I opened my window since fresh air is a good thing when you are sighing heavily. And then I smelled the burning smell coming from my hood. I saw smoke drifting up from the hood.

Backtrack to April. I had smelled the same smell and seen the same smoke then. Turned out I'd needed a new radiator and all new hoses. How could it be that this was happening again, only a few months later?

So here I am stuck in school dropoff traffic on the first day of school during Los Angeles rush hour. Each time I moved the car forward one car length, I turned the engine off to keep it from overheating.

There was no question about pulling over and putting water into the radiator. There was no place to pull over, not with all those parents dropping off kids. Besides, I didn't have a water bottle in the car. There was one in my office, though. And I could see the campus just ahead, right past this one last traffic jam.

Eventually I got past all that and arrived at the university. The guard at the gate started telling me she couldn't sell me a parking space. I asked, "even faculty?" She said, "Oh. Just tell me you're faculty, then. No problem."

I had opted for the expensive parking building right near my office, rather than the cheaper hourly parking at the corner, for the simple reason that I anticipated having to make multiple trips with a water bottle to fill my radiator. And also because the expensive ticket lasts all day. In case I'd have to drive back to campus again, either to use the Internet again or to attend a last-minute meeting or something.

Once in my office, I got Internet no problem. After a couple hours I was done.

Filled my water bottle and went to the car. Emptied the bottle into the radiator and went back across the street to refill it at the water fountain, poured that into the radiator too.

The drive home was uneventful. I pulled into the repair shop, left my car keys, and walked home. Just a mile, no big deal.

When I got home the Internet was still down, so I called the cable company on my cell phone.

I hadn't gotten very far into the call (I was still pressing 1 for English, 1 for Technical Support...) when I heard the "low battery" sound from my cell phone.

Not only do I need a new battery for the laptop, I also need one for the cell phone.

I hung up and turned off the cell phone and plugged it in to recharge.

I had some non-Internet work I could do on the computer. After a while the cell phone was recharged. I turned it on. Should I call the auto repair shop? Or should I call the cable company? The cell phone battery is apparently only good for one call before it runs out. I opted for the cable company.

Pressing buttons, I had to decide whether my Tech Support question was about cable, Internet, or phone. I chose to complain of no phone service rather than no Internet connection. Probably one of the better ideas I'd had all day. And I asked to speak to a live person.

Just as Ruth answered, the cat decided to begin loudly kvetching for no good reason whatsoever. His plate had food on it -- he just wanted me to push it around on the plate so he'd get the mistaken impression that I'd added more.

I carried him out of the room and closed the door in his kvetching cat face.

Ruth had me unplug the cable modem, examine which port the phone was plugged into, and from what she could see at her end, the problem had to be the cable modem. Which meant a service call. She scheduled a repairman to come out tomorrow between 10 and 12. I thanked her and looked at the cell phone battery status display. Very low.

I turned off the cell phone and recharged it, then got back to work on my writing.

Every few minutes, my mind would come back to other higher priority things I ought to be doing.

Finally, the cell phone was recharged again. When I turned it on, it informed me I had 2 voicemails.

I called. The first voicemail was from the auto repair guy, saying I should call him.

The cell phone lost connection before I could hear the second voicemail.

I called again. The second voicemail was from the auto repair guy. "Hey, your home phone isn't working. Your car's okay. There was no problem with it. Come on in and I'll explain."

So I walked back to the auto repair shop. Centinela was a total traffic jam due to some new traffic lights they're installing at the Santa Monica College's new entrance. I was glad I wasn't sitting in that traffic! Even the sidewalk was obstructed by the work; I had to walk in the street to get around the new traffic control box being installed.

I found the manager eating his lunch. "Is this gonna be an amusing story? Because an amusing story would be really good about now."

He's a good guy, he got right up from his lunch and started telling me what he'd found. "No leaks, but the radiator cap was old, so I replaced that. Maybe when it got hot it just started leaking. Keep an eye on it, bring it back in if you have any more trouble."

There was no charge. I thanked him and drove home.

Later today I'll still need Internet. Starbuck's is closer than McDonald's. And I think they have power outlets too.

Um, no such luck. Found a table, but other Starbuckers are already plugged into all the available outlets. Battery lasted long enough, though. I took care of the necessary emails, ordered a battery for the laptop and one for the cell phone, and went home to play Mahjong Fight Club on my DS to unwind.


The next day, the technician came and fixed my cable problem. All good there. The cell phone battery has already come; still waiting for the laptop battery. But hey, this epilog is dated 9/12/09, so no big deal, right? Oh, and I already did a cable company survey where I pressed buttons to answer questions about the customer service call. Then they phoned me today with one with a live person. The cat started kvetching, my TV mystery was revealing who'd dunit, and I figured the survey was too much bother at that point.