Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

When it Starts to Feel Like Home

Cable Ratsnest - 500 Wide.jpg

Well, I’m back. Back from being incommunicado, mostly, and (almost) back from being nose-deep in boxes in dire need of emptying. I’m now not quite calf-deep in boxes, having emptied sixteen today alone, twelve of them boxes of books. Carol polished the last two Hundavad bookshelves yesterday, and today I filled them. I think there are maybe three more boxes of books, possibly four. Overall, I think fewer than 25 boxes remain to be emptied.

That’s serious progress.

Our biggest single problem for our first two weeks here was getting access to the Internet. Yes, we probably got more done per unit time without Facebook to mess with, but I don’t like being completely disconnected. Cox Cable had to run brand new coax from the node in the alley to the house. My guess is that the existing coax was damaged when the house was gutted to the walls in 2003 and rebuilt. (Bulldozers and Bobcat front-loaders can do that.) It took two weeks, during which we were eating out a lot at places with free Wi-Fi, especially Wildflower Bread Company but occasionally Einstein’s Bagels.

The previous owner had Dish, and evidently never used cable. He had coax outlets in every room in the house, including the master bathroom. All of it came together behind a panel in one of the walk-in closets. (Above.) Some cables are marked, many aren’t, and I have no clue what the unmarked cables are about. So, mostly, I’m ignoring them. We have little interest in TV to begin with, and I’m going to explore streaming from the Internet to our big wi-fi enabled Samsung TV. When the Cable Guy came yesterday morning to hook up the new coax, he found which cable from the ratsnest above went out to the box outside the house, dropped in a cable modem, and handed me a Cat 5E patch cord. I had literally hung an old Wireless G router on a nail next to the panel, and connected the four switch ports to the four Cat 5 sockets in the panel. (It’ll do until I get an 802.11ac router and build a more elegant mount for it.) I plugged in the patch cord, and It Just Worked.

Yeah, I know, it sounds lame, but it didn’t really feel like home here without broadband. Now it does. We don’t even have a kitchen table (we’re shopping) and have been eating all our at-home meals at the island breakfast bar, but it still feels like home. Bit by bit, other things are falling into place as well: I drilled and tapped two holes in a Linksys 5-port switch and made an aluminum bracket for it to hold it to my temporary computer table, and that helped. (Making my drill press turn over for the first time in who knows how many weeks felt peculiarly good.) But bottom line, it was broadband that did the trick.

Much remains to be done. I need to get my VHF discone assembled and mounted on the roof. We need to get a diningroom table. I need to wire my lathe to the new 220V feed in the wall beside it. My workshop needs, well, work. And then there are those 25 remaining boxes…

It’ll all get done.

Happy new year, everybody. There’s much to write, and I can (finally) see some quality writing time heaving up over the horizon. In the meantime, expect more Contra. Alas, expect some delay in my getting Ten Gentle Opportunities posted on Kindle. Life happens, and always takes longer than you expect.

It does, however, happen. More later.


  1. Mike Weasner says:

    Whenever you feel like you need a break, you are invited to visit Cassiopeia Observatory, just a couple hours south of you! Best wishes for a great 2016!

  2. TRX says:

    Earlier, it sounded like you intended to maintain both residences. Are you now planning to sell the Colorado place and relocate entirely to Fort Duntemann?

    1. We need to sell Phage House in Colorado Springs for a number of reasons, and we will this coming spring. It’s too big and a little too 3-dimensional for people with foot problems. We’re considering getting a smaller place somewhere that way, possibly closer to Denver. Right now we’re still trying to find the bottle brushes and still emptying boxes. That decision is a ways off yet.

      1. TRX says:

        [grin] My parents moved every few years when I was growing up; my Dad was in the Air Force. Every time they moved my Mom boxed everything up and bought all new stuff at the new place.

        By the time Dad retired all the closets were full of unopened boxes, some packed about the time I was born. And the attic was full, too.

        I was proud of Dad; after Mom passed away he backed the truck up to the front door and took it all to the dump. He figured that there was nothing there he’d needed in the last quarter-century…

        If that Clint Eastood DVD shows up while unpacking you might kick back and watch it, though.

        1. It’s on the TV cabinet right next to the TV, awaiting a spare evening, and that evening had better be coming soon!

        2. Watching it right now.

  3. Tom Roderick says:

    Happy New Year and welcome back to the Internet! May you now enjoy four seasons each year with the shortest and mildest being WINTER.

    I am sure you know but the “technical” name for that sort of wiring panel is “Rats Nest.”

    1. Erbo says:

      I would have used the term “fustercluck” myself, but that’s a more generic term for these kind of situations.

      1. Actually, it really is a rat’s nest. Fustercluck would imply that something’s wrong. It’s a mess, but it works. Hey, rats like their nests, don’t they?

        This doesn’t mean I won’t tidy it up once I get a new ac router, mount it on the wall, and figure out where some more of those cables go.

  4. Ruminator says:

    Happy New Year!

    I’m pleased to hear all is progressing, even if not as quickly as desired. BTDT many times — too many to count now.

    I’m likely to head down that way sometime later in the spring as I wander my way around the country. It’ll be before the summer blast furnace kicks in. If you’d like to share a coffee or tea, you have my email address and I’ll post you on my travels. If not, cool — no worries.

    1. Just shot you mail on that point–my schedule will be peculiar this spring.

  5. jim f says:

    Glad to see that you are back online.

  6. Bob Fegert says:

    I still find it amazing that I live a mile down a country road in the middle of nowhere and they have wired fiber to the house.

    The box is ready and it all goes live in the early spring.

    The last guy on this road has never had even DSL hooked up..he is at least 2 miles farther on with nobody else in between…and they ran fiber all the way out there…lol

    I’m just flabbergasted!

    I hear speeds will be 25-100mbps … a real upgrade for the 8mbps max DSL rate here. That will be the up and down speed.

    Must have been some sort of weird Government subsidy.

    I’m going to run some servers using Raspberry Pi’s … Put them to some use. And I have a small collection of 20$ pre-paid Android phones that I will press into service as webcams…. Chicken-coop cam. Greenhouse cam, workshop cam, barn cam..etc

    Will try dropping Dish network and local phone and with luck the internet replacements for those will keep the costs reasonable or even a bit cheaper than before.

    Please pardon my gloating.

    1. Lee Hart says:

      Gloating indeed. :-/ Living in the middle of Minnesota, I have no cable, no smartphone, and no satellite (could have, but too expensive). I do have DSL, but it’s slow and unreliable. DSL was out for an entire month last fall; I had to go back to dial-up. Given the modern web’s propensity for bloat, that’s almost useless for anything but the most basic email.

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