Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Electrailer: Basic Cable

Our trailer was wired for electricity, and it seems perfectly adequate. It was also wired for a telephone, an amplified TV output and a CATV connection. There is an interesting TV antenna which elevates and trains with a mechanical locking crank and dial arrangement. The "entertainment center" consists of a built in "boom box" ( AM/FM/CD/Clock/Alarm) with an exterior radio antenna, and a pair of car speakers mounted under the cabinets.

When I first occupied the trailer around the beginning of December, it was not clear what connections to the world there were. I determined that the first step I needed to take was to get a TV, if only to fill the hole where a TV was supposed to go and make sure I wasn't missing anything. In December, shortly after connecting power to the trailer I visited Walmart in Kenner late one evening and purchased MY FIRST GREAT BARGAIN. I got a 21" flat screen TV with a built in DVD player for $112. It has a great picture.

I also discovered that only a few of the broadcast TV stations were back on the air. After several calls to Cox, all I could get was a suggestion to try to hook it up and see if it works. After a Saturday tramping around in the weeds, salvaging cable from the house and installing a makeshift connection I was amazed that I could get Basic Cable. I had information coming in again. Some of the off the air stations were actually sending a signal over the cable TV system.

Around the middle of December I was able to move in pretty much full time. I started to look into a better way to connect to the Internet. At this point I had no phones at the office nor did really we have an office. I was using the Internet at my mother-in-laws house in to get email, but had no files nor anyplace to keep anything.
When I called Bellsouth and was stunned when told they could install my phone by the end of the week and provide me with high speed Internet. I signed up immediately, although I was skeptical. A few days later I saw a telephone guy in my yard, he replaced the Network Interface and told me he was doing every house in the neighborhood. Things were looking up.

I was eagerly anticipating a reliable connection to the world. Of course I had my cell phone but it had never worked really well in our area even before the flood. The installation day (a Saturday) came, by this time I had rigged an extension from the trailer to the Network Interface. The day passed without Bellsouth or a dial tone. I called and was informed that they were "waiting on facilities" and they couldn't tell me when my service would be restored.

By now, late December I had phones and an Internet connection at the office, even if we didn't have much furniture. I could at least communicate. I called "my friend in the digital age" and asked if I could get high speed Internet. They weren't sure, their suggestion again was to try it and see if it worked. They offered to replace my flooded equipment. I went down to the Cox headquarters and picked up a new cable modem. Son of a gun it worked, most of the time at least.

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