Recently, my parents decided to pay us a visit. It was their way to escape the Canadian winter for a short while, and see how their most distant son lives. Amongst the many things that we did was they were here was to tour the The Doc Porter Museum of Telephone History. It was something that I had been meaning to do ever since I learned of its location some years ago.
In the spring of 2008 I installed a SIP-to-GSM cellular gateway as a means of backing up our wholly IP-based home and office phones. The installation of the cellular gateway allowed me to route calls to and from T-Mobile should our DSL circuit go down. In addition, it provided us access to 911 and 411 services that were not at the time provided by our ITSPs.
The one thing we wanted that it did not address was access to 311 service. In Houston a 311 call rings a non-emergency city call center that is intended to take notifications about city services. For example, we call 311 when we see a street light out, a broken fire hydrant, large fallen trees in the roadways or packs of wild dogs roaming dangerously.
It’s been very frustrating dealing with the utility companies with respect to restoring service in the post-Ike period. At issue is their inability to get and redistribute information about who’s on, who’s not, and routine progress reports. Today for a short while my focus turned to Comcast as our cable tv and cable modem service remains down.
Two linemen from BG&E had to get onto my property to restore the power lines to my neighbors garage apartment. While they were doing the work I took them some cold bottled water and chatted them up about their experience working on the post-Ike recovery here in Texas. They tell about what-you-would-expect in terms of a tale of chaos theory.
They were working restoring power for Entergy customers in another area last week. Come Sunday they were done and so wondering where they’d go next. Centerpoint didn’t get around to accepting their help until 11pm Sunday night, at which point they were instructed to gather at the Humble Civic Center parking lot Monday morning.
Utility power was restored at 4:15pm CDT today. Power went off at around 2am Saturday, Sept 13th. That means we were off-grid for 10 days and 12 hours.
For example: Ike has new verb context. To be “Iked” is to be left in the dark for a long time as the result of a de-regulatory process.