23 July 2007

Getting "wired" in Oregon

Having settled in to our new “home,” we began the process of getting the necessities of life: utilities, phone, DirecTV, etc. The first problem we encountered was the apartment complex’s ban on satellite dishes. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a 30+ year Saints fan, and of course, any game shown in this area will be the Seahawks. I like the Seahawks, but my heart will always be with the Saints. Since the NFL sold its soul to DirecTV, that’s the only way to get NFL Sunday Ticket. I found out that there is an FCC law that prevents the complex from prohibiting dishes, however (there’s always a however, isn’t there?), they can prevent you from drilling a hole in the external wall to run the dish line. Furthermore, being on the ground floor, we’d have to mount the dish on a removable pole on the patio. Removable would mean just that; anyone who wanted to could remove it while we were asleep. Since we know for sure we won’t be here beyond our one-year lease, I’ll just have to suffer through this season without my beloved Saints. Anyone with DirecTV who wants to burn the Saints games to DVD for me, I’ll pay you $10 each plus postage, and I’ll buy the DVDs.

Next we set about getting utilities, which of course we already had, we just had to get the local power company to switch them into our name. Salem Electric is a co-op, my first experience with such an animal. Apparently, our “ownership” entitles us to something called “retains,” which means we will get about $15 back…20 years from now.

Cable was no big deal. I hate it, and the guide and channel line up suck, but the guy that hooked it up was nice, and fast, and by mid-week we had TV and internet again. If you have broadband, you have no idea how spoiled you are to the speed until you have to use dial-up again!

The real adventure came with the phones. Apparently, we are the last dinosaurs in the Pacific Northwest that want land-line phones. Everyone else uses VoIP. Qwest is the local phone provider. I signed up online for local, long distance, and internet. Not knowing Qwest, I figured they couldn’t be worse than Comcast. I was wrong.

First, my appointment was for sometime between 8 and 5 (that’s right, a nine hour window) on Monday the 9th. At 4:30 on Monday, after [my now-ex-wife] had sat cooped up in the apartment all day with three kids with no TV, no internet, no nothing, I called them. They had my appointment down for Wednesday the 11th! Oh, but they would rush the service and get someone out tomorrow, the 10th…between 8 and 5. The next day, dude shows up to hook us up and finds a problem. There are 12 units in our building, which means 12 phone wires. All 12 were supposed to be run out the north side of the building to a Qwest-provided switchbox. For some reason yet to be explained, 6 wires were run out to the box, and the other six (you guessed it, including mine) were run out the south side of the building, through a conduit, and left hanging loose on the ground! He took me out there and showed them to me. Six phone wires just jumbled on a heap on the ground. Just my luck, I get the one builder in the Willamette Valley that can’t read a blueprint!! (Others have assured me this is not the case…there’s more than one). After a little butt-chewing and threats to call Polk County Code Enforcement and find out how the building got approved for occupancy in that condition, the builder finally, five days later, gets out there to (get this) install a box over the bare wires, connect a cable to them, and dig a trench around the building to the real phone box! So I call Qwest on Tuesday the 17th to reset the appointment. Now the earliest appointment they have is today, the 23rd, between (say it with me) 8 and 5. The very sympathetic lady agreed with my comment that this was not a very good way to make a good impression on a new customer...but of course could not actually do anything about it!

Tomorrow, if I get time, I’ll post an update on the phone situation, and begin the tale of what it takes to get car tags and Driver’s Licenses in Oregon! The state slogan seems to be "Welcome to Oregon: Keep Going."

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