News and Tribune

March 22, 2013

NASH: A couple of quiet days

Local columnist

— I usually don’t have a lot of trouble sleeping, even when the weather turns bad. I have slept through thunderstorms before that other people would say kept them awake all night. This was not the case early this past Monday morning when I was jarred awake by a loud burst of thunder at a few minutes after 5 a.m.  

I tried for a few minutes to roll over and go back to sleep, but the pouring rain along with the lightning and thunder was making me just a little nervous, so I gave up the fight and decided I was up for the day. What made it even tougher rolling out of bed a couple hours earlier than I had planned was that I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and I needed to fast for some blood work I was having done. Not only was I up, I couldn’t have breakfast for another three hours. 

I turned on the television to check to see if we were in for much more of the turbulent weather. My worst fears were realized when the television screen did not reveal the channel that I had fallen asleep watching the night before. Instead all that showed was a solid blue screen explaining that my signal had been lost. There was also a list of troubleshooting instructions to make sure there isn’t a simple fix to the problem.

We have had the service for AT&T U-verse for our cable provider and Internet service for a couple of years. Over that time there is an occasional loss of signal that has lasted from about 10 seconds to up to a couple of minutes, but we have never been out of service for any length of time worth worrying about. I figured that this would be the case this time too. 

 I piddled around the house for the next few hours checking periodically to see if the television signal had been restored. Leaving to make my doctor’s appointment, there was still no signal. I was convinced that by the time I returned home, after a few morning errands, the problem would have fixed itself. I returned home around noon disappointed.

I decided to see if I could accelerate the process by contacting the provider directly to make them aware of the problem. The blue screen with the troubleshooting steps listed a web site to contact if the steps didn’t work, of course ironically my computer didn’t work without the Internet. I was able to log on using my telephone.

Logging on, I was quickly to the page I needed to be, but unable to access any further because I didn’t have the proper sign-on or password. My wife was traveling in Baltimore on business and I was stuck. After several hours of back and forth I finally was able to get through to a human being on the phone.

The third step on the troubleshooting blue screen that had been on my screen all day read, “Turn off the power by unplugging the unit and wait 10 seconds.” When you log on to the website it tells you to “Turn off the power by unplugging the unit and wait 10 seconds.”  When you get the phone number to try to get tech support on the phone the automated troubleshooter advises to “Turn off the power by unplugging the unit and wait 10 seconds.” After several minutes of navigating the automated maze I was able to talk to someone who had the helpful advice of asking me to “Turn off the power by unplugging the unit and wait 10 seconds.”

After it was decided that we couldn’t fix the problem over the phone, it was decided to schedule service the next day between 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 12 to 4 p.m.  When I explained that I couldn’t be home until around three the next afternoon he said he would put it in for 2 to 4 p.m.  I gave them my phone number to call in case there were issues.  

Before noon on the following day they called my wife’s cell phone in Baltimore and the technician said he was on the way. She explained that I was working until 3 p.m. and wouldn’t be home until then. She also gave him my cell phone number in order for him to talk to the person that he should be dealing with.

We met Tuesday afternoon and he examined the wires leading into my house; after running a few test it was determined that he could not fix the problem. They would schedule a crew to come out and fix my problem.

I returned home from work Wednesday to a television that worked. I logged on to the Internet and was able to fill out my NCAA brackets in time for Thursday’s tip-offs. Everything was fixed and my life could get back to normal.

Going without cable or Internet for around 50 hours this week was a little interesting. I got some grass seed planted between the crazy weather that we’ve experienced. I built a couple of birdhouses from some plans I had laying around for several months. I even washed, folded and put away a few loads of laundry without the things that seem to distract me the most.  

Going a couple of days without TV or Internet is not the end of the world, maybe everyone should try it once in a while.


— Matthew Nash can be reached at