The Backhoe, a Weapon of Mass Destruction

This morning a fiber optic cable was cut in Brooklyn, NY. This stopped internet service in NY city, then it spread throughout the Northeast and Mid Atlantic States. This was a break in a Verizon cable, but the backup the break caused effected other providers.

Hours later it was fixed. But during that time work stopped. How would you like to pay for workers to sit around doing nothing and you don’t know how long it’s going to take to fix the problem because the internet, where you would find out the repair time estimate, was down.

China only needs a backhoe to bring the United States to its knees. The internet cable to my town is strung on telephone pole running along a two lane road. One drunk driver and the internet is out. You can’t buy food at the grocery store because the cash registers don’t work and the price is not marked on the store items (or even on the shelf under the item in many places) so the store can’t sell food. I once went to a grocery store when the internet was out and they had employees run and get prices off the shelf so the person taking money could sell food when the cash registers were down.

When Ma Bell ran things there were backups and alternate lines. Now that it’s a free for all and cost have to be kept low, there are no backups. One line is all there is and if that line is cut damaged or sabotaged we all suffer.

Cell phone towers are often connected together with fiber optics cables and use the internet. If the internet goes down your cell phone will not work.

Its not just fiber optic cables. The water supply to the city of Los Angeles runs through a tunnel in a mountain. If that tunnel is damaged LA will go dry. You can not truck enough water into LA.

I am against government getting into everything, but its needs to make companies spend the money to provide alternate fiber optic cables. Too much depends on uninterrupted service. Companies will not spend money on backups, in case things break (which may never happen), unless forced to. Email your congressman, if the internet works.

Stay strong, write on, keep fresh batteries for your flash light, and your laptop charged.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Roots, My Old Home Town, and the Future

I just saw a picture of main street Disneyland from Christmas last year. It bought back memories of my old home town. They use to have the fire department string decorations across the four blocks of old down town. They may have been the same decorations year after year, but they were cheerful.

They don’t do that any more. For the last several years there has been fewer and fewer stores open on main street. This had nothing to do with the virus. The old mom and pop shops that I went to as a kid and in high school are all gone. There may be one drug store still open on old main street that was there when I was in high school. All the others are gone. Most of the building that date back to the 1930s are empty. Even the buildings that were being used by the evangelistic church are empty.

The old hardware store had been bought out by ACE hardware and is now at the edge of town in a newer building. There’s one restaurant in a run down building still there. They were going to move to another building. but the virus put a stop to that.

There’s a thrift store and a couple of other restaurants on old town main street. Other than that it’s just ghosts. The town is bigger than when I was in high school, but everyone goes to Wallmart at the edge of town now or to the shopping center along the freeway 14 miles away.

I knew the shop keepers on main street. I was friends to some, I bought stuff from them. That was back when it took two weeks for something you ordered from the catalog to get to you, if you were lucky. If not a catalog order could take a month or longer.

The virus did not kill small businesses. They were dead in my home town long before this. Small businesses are dying and the virus just helped speed up their disappearance. Money is tight and is forcing people to shop on line. It’s killing small shop owners. No one likes their home town anymore, it’s just a place you grew up in.

I have noticed in the past couple of years that the kids don’t play in the street or even in their own front yard in the big city I now live in. Has it gotten so bad that their parents are so afraid that they will disappear if left alone in the front yard they will get stolen or killed?

I all the happiness of this time of year I can get down. What can I do to change this?

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage