Sunday, July 01, 2007

One Continuous Trip, Last Leg

Since June 7 I have been on one continuous trip, and this leg, at the dascha, is (hopefully) the last one. You see the dascha houses two of Little Bear's cousins, and after a brief reunion in the White City (Tel Aviv) we caravaned in two cars (mine rented for the purpose) up to the country for a few days of bucolic delights.

For my dear geeky readers, I will now summarize the past three weeks from technological point of view:

- England's electrical outlets, as we all know, determine the boundaries of The Empire, as do driving on the Other Side of the Street. Pippi Bluestocking is a MacIntos#h laptop user, and carefully acquired a three-pronged adapter plug on her very first day in London. It took her a bit of experimentation to determine that our flat had many wall switches to control the flow of electricity to every outlet in our flat. In one week we never did match up all of the switches to their outlets.

- European train tickets purchased over the Internet are printed and delivered to Israel by international courier service three days later. The return address is Coral Springs, Florida. Who would have guessed that Europe was outsourcing customer service to Florida?

- Upon arrival in Israel it took three days to acquire a three-pronged adapter plug for local electrical outlets, mostly because of our own conflicting priorities, the heat, and Little Bear's erratic napping, and the typical Israeli's casual attitudes toward all aspects of electricity other than its price.

- My Internet service inconveniently dropped to zero on our third day home. The helpful service guys at ActCom determined after a 45 minutes of collaborative testing (those guys have the patience of saints) that the problem was not my modem, or my connection, but rather my antiquated and useless antivirus program. As soon as it was uninstalled, by Prowesslessnesslessness (when your son visits you only once every two years, there are many son-specific jobs piled up: for example changing high up light bulbs, installing new DVD player/recorder), Internet returned! Hurray! A note on the tech support guys at ActCom: their Hebrew was flawless, but their English had an accent I didn't recognize at all. During the 45 minutes we were working together, I finally wormed his name out of the senior guy: Mohammed. I am so pleased that ActCom has Israeli Arabs on their tech support staff, and so sad that it's remarkable. I seldom encounter Arabs in the course of my daily life.

- Israeli cellphones that in theory accept sim cards for English cellphone service, in practice do not work in England with said sim cards unless the Israeli service provider (or someone knowledgeable) unlocks something in the phone's setup. If this is not done, local calls in London are routed through Israel, at an as-yet-to-be discovered cost to the subscriber.

- London's underground has been modernised (note British spelling...I'm so cosmopolitan!), but its ventilation system still does not account for warm weather. The transit system is superb, but fare calculation required for any given trip is equivalent to preparing a U.S. Income Tax Return (OK, OK, I'm not so cosmopolitan after all).

I have three more days to enjoy active grandparenting, and then I hope to catch up on my regular work: blog reading and commenting.


Claude said...

Ah the pleasures of technology! So your back and well and had a good time. Glad to know that.
I'll soon be off to Normandy for part of the summer. WITH my laptop ;)

Savtadotty said...

Claude, you are so wise to vacation in the same country as the one you live in the rest of the year, so your laptop is likely to recognize the electric outlets.

samirah said...

i went to spain once and electrocuited myself using a plug adapter thingy made for france. i hated spain because of it.

sirbarrett said...

Re: train ticket sales being outsourced to Florida. I am fascinated by outsourcing and other globalization ideas covered in the book "The World is Flat". It gives an example of how some McDonald's drive thru's in the US are outsourcing the ones who take the calls so while cars travel from the speaker to the window their picture is snapped, matched with their order which travels to another state and back again. It's amazing to think that this has actually cut down on time and errors enough to make it profitable!!

Savtadotty said...

Samirah - I had no idea that Spain and France were not compatible, electrically speaking. So glad you survived electrocultion!

Sir Barrett - I recommend the article by James Fallows on China in the July issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

Terri said...

AH, yes....the joys of traveling with a laptop and trying to connect to the rest of the world.
But it sounds like you had a lovely time away with family.
I once started a small fire in an Inn in Doncaster, England....with my curling iron! I exaggerate a tad....there were flames coming from it, which we quickly extinguished. I had the wrong adapter!