“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Would you like to know one of the big disadvantages to living way out in the sticks?


There are a lot of services people in urban and suburban environments get, that you can't. At least not without going to a lot of expense, and putting up with a lot of aggravation.

There may not be any county water,  trash pickup, paved roads, over the air television, cable, land line or internet service.  Cell service is probably  spotty or nonexistent.  Local law enforcement, fire protection,  and ambulance service may take more than an hour to get to you, if they get there at all.   If there's a hospital in your town, you're lucky.  Most rural hospitals are closing because they are not income producers and have moved from county control to privatization.  When they don't make money, the company shuts them down.

You won't have nifty little kiosks where you can get a latte.  Shopping is  going to be limited to one or two stores,  one of them a Big Box if you are really fortunate. No book stores, music stores, specialty shops of any kind unless they relate to important local activities.  There may or may not be a couple of fast food joints in town.  Perhaps a theater and a bowling alley.

You can find all the things that are missing, but it usually means driving an hour or more to another town.

The closer you live to a big town, the less impact these issues have with you . But the closer you live to a big town, the less of a "retreat" your homestead becomes, and the more suburbanite the environment.

I know, people will say that being without all that is a small price to pay for living in a secluded area. Initially, and on a philosophical level, it is.  But I promise you, over the years ,  as you get older these things become more important. They are harder to deal with. More of them matter than they did when you were 32.  I don't regret coming here, I am just more aware of the flies in the ointment.

I'm in a foul mood about this at the moment because we have only one internet provider in this county. Windstream is very unreliable.  They never deliver the service promised,  they tell outright lies in their advertising,  their service is frequently down (we are experiencing a local outage in your area. We are effecting repairs as soon as  possible. Goodbye!") and you just can't trust them.  Today I called and asked them if my "package plan" was still the cheapest they had.  The answer was no, that they had the same services available for less money but my plan was an "old" one.  I asked them if they let anybody know when they made this new one available, and was told yes, they sent out notices.  I don't get paper bills from them, so I would have noticed anything in the mail with their logo.  I never got any such notice.  So now I've been paying more than I had too for months, and would have continued to do so if I hadn't called. They know I can't go anywhere else for telephone and internet service, so what do they care.

I have a little bit of their stock, which gives me access to their investor relations department as opposed to their "gaff off the suckers" or customer service department. In the past I've been able to get at least partial satisfaction when they played these kind of shenanigans, so I will just have to give them a call and see what I can do.  Even if the answer is nothing, at least I tried.




21 comments:

  1. Same problems here....nearest big box store is 100 miles away. No garbage, paved road or city water (people don't drink it cause it is so bad tasting). However, we have two local internet providers! They broadcast off mountain tops via broadband. Our phone line is so old and rickity that the phone company said they would not upgrade it because only two residences were on it. It was put in in the 50's. So what are the pros? Peace and quiet!! No neighbors, no barking dogs, no screaming kids. Nobody telling us what to do. Pros outweigh the cons by far. Yeah, it gets frustrating sometimes...we get over it, though.

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    1. I agree. I'm not sorry I moved here, I'm just so tired of spending so much time untangling things like this. I can't do without a land line because my cell won't work at the house, so it's my only communication medium with my kids. Or, if I need to get in touch with the fire department or the law. I used to have satellite internet, which was lame, but Windstream told me lies about what they could provide, I changed over to them, and the satellite company told me I'd have to pay $400 to get back on with them because my old account had been discontinued at my request. And on, and on, and on.........

      Coming on the heels of yesterdays fiasco at the Walmart auto center I am just frazzled.

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  2. Even though I live in the big smoke I know what you mean Harry. On my recent camping trip to the outback it was a real eye opener, services you take for granted in the city just do not exist out there. You only have mobile reception for a short distance around each town, there will usually be a small supermarket and a couple of other shops, a motel and a Petrol Station and thats about it (of course being Australia there are always a minimum of 2 pubs no matter how small the town). The internet is about as bad as yours, only found 2 places I could use it and it was pretty erratic, must drive the locals mad.

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    1. Hey, Sgt. You know I moved out here in '86 to get away from everything. But once you get settled, and the "pioneering" aspect of all of it fades, you start missing things that you took for granted. Especially as you get older, issues that never really bothered you, like no law enforcement, no ambulance service, no tv, no cell phones, those start to grate on you. I am really tired of having to rely on only one company for some service, like phone, internet, and electricity, and having them treat me like a red headed step child. Our EMC (electric membership coop) is headed by outright crooks. They get caught ripping off the electric company for thousands of dollars by not paying the bill on their own businesses and overriding the cut off, then they say "oh, that was just a meter mistake we didn't catch." But they catch all the poor people who can't pay and pull their meters the day after payment is late. Sure, I believe that B.S.

      I'm just tired tonight I guess. I've been fighting off a virus and it drains your energy.

      I used to watch Alby Mangels and he went to lots of those small towns and showed 8mm movies of his adventures in the pub or school to make a buck. Nice little towns, even if they were tiny they looked good. Our town was like that til a politician built a four lane road right through it and now it looks like some cheap set for a cheap movie.

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    2. Thats going back a long way harry, I remember Alby Mangels, if he was on one of his boat trips he always made sure he had a girl with him who looked hot in a bikini! See if you can find any films by the late Malcolm Douglas, they are great, he made trips to the most remote and extreme parts of Australia.

      I have dreamt for many years now of finding a property out near Mudgee NSW (about 3 hours drive west from Sydney), 200 acres with a simple shack that I can spend my weekends at. Really nice country out that way, Mudgee is a big wine growing area, there is plenty of water and rolling hills and bush, Hill End where I go black powder shooting is about 40kms away, maybe one day when the mortgage allows it!

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  3. I don't live as far out as you do but I am familiar with dealing with the common idiots hired by local businesses everywhere.
    Changing the subject. I just finished the book The Long Emergency. I bought it after you mentioned it. I agree with your assessment that the author looks down on us Southerners while exalting his Yankee neighbors.
    But overall I agree with most all of the book and will be recommending it to others. I am going to have to do a little more reading about the low oil prices around the early eighties, if what he says bears out, R Reagan was incredibly lucky. Depressing to think that maybe Reagan's policies weren't as important as just having cheap oil after the mess of the seventies.

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    1. You know, I did the same thing. I want to punch Kunstler right in his self satisfied , smug face. But his book makes sense and I can take the bile with the sugar. I notice too, that in his books the only people with any cajones are from the South, and the people native to his little New England town are not very manly, at best.

      I am not a fan of Ronald Reagan. He surrounded himself with a bunch of idiots in the State Department and in the White House, and he did some really stupid, stupid things in the Middle East that effected me personally.
      I liked him before that but I could never forgive him for what I saw in Lebanon.

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  4. You also don't have any good used book stores nearby.

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    1. No, and I really miss going to the bookstore on Sunday afternoon and browsing around. I haven't been able to do that in over 30 years now, and for much of that time there was no internet or Amazon.

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  5. I'm a lot closer to town than you are but still we have no AT&T or Charter internet so we rely on them to transit those signals over line of sight towers which can have it's own set of problems, especially since it is a local guy that owns it and customer service is non-existent. We can have trash pickup, our neighbor would do it since he owns a trash company, but with recycling we hardly have anything to toss out so we burn the paper. I do have to drive 1/2 hr to get to a full service grocery of any quality and about the same for a WMT or Target. I do drive an hour to work. Good luck on your internet, at some point they may waive the fee to get you back.

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    1. Kathy, I never thought much about recycling but a lot of people whose blogs I read are big into it. It makes sense, I hate waste. But we don't have any way to recycle here, unless I wanted to drive 90 miles round trip to another town and I'm not doing that.

      I still have my internet, I didn't cancel it because if I did, there's nobody else I could get it from here. I want my money back though, for the months that they had a cheaper plan for the same services and just let me keep on paying. That's SOP with telephone companies. But I'm going to give getting my green back from them a good try.

      I guess driving a long way to get anywhere is part of the price we pay for living out there. But as Twoshooz said , there are compensations.

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  6. One word...well, two words-HAM RADIO! It solves so many communication problems, both analog and digital.
    http://www.arrl.org/licensing-education-training

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    1. Yeah, that would help. The lady above who commented, Kathy, has a husband who's a ham.

      I do have a good Uniden SSB CB set that's good for listening in on the local gossip, and I have receivers that I can listen to the hams on , but I don't have a license.

      We have a ham club here. I keep meaning to go back and see what they are doing to train people. One problem I have is that my wife wants me to start getting rid of a lot of my collected hobby clutter, and she'd not be happy to hear I was launching into a new and relatively expensive endeavor at my age. ;-)

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    2. Hey Harry. Kathy (Moving On To The Past) is my wife. I guess that makes me the ham you mentioned! The name here is Tom.

      Anyway, it isn't as expensive as you'd think. A 2 meter radio and antenna can be purchased for under $200.00. A VHF/UHF dual band HT for well under $100.00. Those prices are for new gear. You can find them cheaper used.

      In simplex mode a 2 meter radio will generally get you around 20 miles, though given the right conditions you could find yourself talking to someone hundreds of miles away. If you can hit a repeater in your area (likely) then you may have a coverage area of maybe a hundred mile radius or better. If the repeater is linked to other repeaters there's no telling how far you can talk.

      That doesn't take digital systems like D-STAR and Echolink into consideration. These VoIP radio/internet hybrids give you global coverage.

      And all this on the first level of licensing, the Technician license. It costs about $30 for study materials and $15 to take the test at your local ham club. There are also some HF (High Frequency) privileges with the Tech license but they are very limited.

      HF rigs get pricey though used rigs can be found pretty cheap at a Hamfest or online. A new one will start at around $900 - $1000. HF gives you global capabilities without any internet help. A radio and a simple wire and you'll be talking all over the globe. These are the guys you hear on shortwave radios. HF requires a General license. It costs the same as a Tech license and you have to have a Tech license to test for it.

      And I haven't even mentioned digital modes. We can transmit files, e-mail, photos and even videos by connecting our computers and radios and sending digital signals over the airwaves. This does not require the internet. I can even access the internet to send an email to a non-ham if my power and ISP are down by just using my computer and the radio.

      I could go on and on so I'll stop here. If you have any questions or need any help tell Kathy and she can relay the message.

      73! KD0QKK

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    3. Hey, it's nice to meet you. Your wife is a good blogger and enjoy reading her posts, and her comments here.

      I didn't realize you could buy that kind of equipment for so little. We do have a ham club here, and I once attended one of their meetings, but when I heard I had to relearn morse ( I learned it in the service but had forgotten it) I threw up my hands in despair. I know that requirement has been eliminated now and there's really no reason for me not to pursue the hobby. It would be very useful. I'm glad you dropped by, and will be glad to have you as a "resource person" . It's always good to have somebody you can ask questions of in any new endeavor.

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  7. Couldn't agree with you more, Harry. Rural internet connections are horrific, and cost the frigging earth!!

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    1. Internet and land line are one of my biggest expenses now Dani. Neither of them work reliably up here. It's like living in a communist state, nothing works because there's no motivation on the part of the service provider to make it work. If we had some competition, they would sing a different tune.

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  8. Centurylink did the same thing to us. After calling we got more service for less money. After reliability paying our bill every month for 25 years you would think they would treat you better. They are the only game in this town. I can see why so many people are dropping their land lines for cell phones. Our cell service is iffy out here.

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    1. I think that's a pretty standard tactic with phone companies. They soak you for what they can, and if they have a rate reduction you don't get it unless you specifically ask. But I feel like they at least owe it to you to tell you there's a better package available, and I know they didn't send me any notice like they said they did.

      Cell service here is bad. I have to stand by the fireplace, and hold the phone down by the side just by the window even to get a text out most times. It's better in winter when the air is dry and cold.

      I wouldn't have a land line if the cell worked at the house, but since it doesn't I feel like I need to maintain one.

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  9. Sorry to hear Harry. I too have become unhappy with customer service or lack of. I blame Obama.

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    1. Windstream has always been lame, but I'm good with blaming Obama too. He's screwed everything else up, why should this be different! :-)

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