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Dinosaur Act
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Image by Sapphireblue
We turned off our landline this week.

When we bought our not-really-new-anymore house in summer of 2007 and called to have phone service turned on, we also asked if they could send out a tech to install a new jack for the room that would be my office. The house is 120 years old and lack of phone jacks was but one of its quirks. Turned out, though, that wasn’t even the biggest phone-service-related surprise we’d encounter upon moving in.

It seems that someone in our home’s long past had decided that the house didn’t need a landline, would *never* need a landline, and thus, removed the cabling to the street. This is apparently not supposed to be done without some kind of official decree from the phone company, recorded in triplicate, so our poor Verizon installer, when he discovered this situation, had to call his supervisor to come out so that both of their heads could explode in unison.

Before the afternoon was over, the phone company had stopped traffic on the very busy street outside to run new cabling to our house. For all that effort, we were left with one functioning jack: the new, double-outlet one in my office. All the others in the house had had their wires cut, presumably by the same anti-phone remodeler who took the entire house off the grid at some point.

Having one jack seemed like it would be a bother, but I figured we’d get a multi-phone wireless setup, or a VOIP phone, or something. Meanwhile, the jack in my office let me set up the DSL and a fax machine, and of course we had cell phones, so it was no pressing matter to wire the rest of the house.

Nineteen months later, we still hadn’t wired the rest of the house. We give out our cell numbers if someone needs to know how to reach us. When the land line rings, we generally ignore it, much as the phone company has ignored my emails asking what I can do about the multiple daily spoofed-number calls from scammers who claim to be authorized to help me lower my credit card interest rates. The only other people who call me are NARAL, the ACLU, and the local fraternal order of police, all wanting my money. Which is why I hadn’t bothered to pick up voice mail messages since, oh, last July. I didn’t even know what the number to call to get them was, anymore. I’d used my fax machine about three times in nineteen months—two of them in the first summer we lived here, to finalize the sale of our old house. I don’t even need phone service for Internet, as our particular service is no-phone-line DSL.

I guess it took way too long to realize that there was no longer any reason to write a .47 check to Verizon every month.

I expected the phone company to flail and thrash about a bit when I called to break the news, and was not disappointed. Got the hard sell about how Verizon would be the only ones who could save my life if I needed to dial 911 really fast on a bad sunspots day, or something. I stood firm, if not a bit bitchy. Where was all this concern about my needs the last time I emailed their fraud department?

It doesn’t matter. It’s over. Our house is still wired, but we’re once again off the grid. Someday it will seem adorably quaint that I thought we needed to be on it.

Update on March 7: Today’s mail brought a refund check from Verizon of the credit on our account. The total? Eighty-one cents.

Istanbul (42).jpg
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Image by TijsB
Part 10: Istanbul and Prince Islands

7th of May 2004•17:58 hours

At last I have some time to write again. Now I am on the boat, coming from an island to the mainland, together with Oytun from the hospitalityclub. Since my arival yesterday morning we spent all time together. He picked me up from the station and after I dropped my backpack in his car and we eat someting on a terrass, we went sightseeing. First we visited a large underground cover from the 6th century, the Yerebatan Sarayi (sunk palace), a splendid dark space with water dropping everywhere from the ceiling. Then we went to the Ayasofya Camii Muzesi (Hagia Sofia), the most famous religious colossus from early Christianity, of splendid natural stone. Built in 532 as a church, but turned it into a mosque by sultan Mehmet in 1453 by renaming it and adding some tours. In the same area is the castle complex Topkapi Sarayi, where we spent a couple of hours examining the superb buildings, art treasures and weapons. Especially the harem labyrinth was very particular, although tourists were pushed through the complex in rapid speed. Afterwards we made a walk through the park to the car and visited the art academy, which is directly on the waterfront and has a terrace with a wonderful view. While Oytin and his girlfriend followed a lesson I enjoyed the time dreaming away and enjoying the view on passing ships. After Seray, his girlfriend, was finished with her sculpture, we drove to the central Taximquare on the hillock with a taxi to walk along the busy but car-free mainstreet. Underway they let me taste their favoriete snacks in the passage. Downstairs we ended up in a narrow street full of chairs for terrases. While drinking beer and eating fried potatoes we spoke about Dutch and Turkish singularities. On the way back we passed Seray’s loved clothing fair and found even more delicacies. Underway to the apartment of Oytan’ s parents I felt tired and dirty. I took a delicious shower at Oytan thuis and whereas I had not much more to say, he let see his photocollection on his computer. Once in bed I slept already before my host had turned offt his computer .

The next morning I woke up at half past six again, but fortunately I was able to sleep a little further. Still half sleepily Iexamined a little guide book about Istanbul and I discovered that I had seen already much of its main monuments. On a small square for the corn bazar we had breakfast with tosti’s and tea, whereupon we went to smell the sesonings inside the bazar. We passed the Yeni Camii mosque with so many cupolas and minarets and then strolled towards the water, where decided to take a boat to the Kizil Adalar (prince islands). Several beautiful old steamers were ready for departure and quite regularly a ship arrived and left, leaving behind hundreds of suburbians. On the water I am totally in my element and a considerable wind was blowing, so big waves were splashing against the ship. But Oytan found it pretty cold near the water and went sitting inside. On the first island, Kinaliada, we got off right away, Here he had also never been. It was still cuite calm on the island, we were the only tourists. At many places people were reparing their houses and prepare the streets for the summer. Also in the little restaurant we were the only guests. The traditional Turkish salads with small fishes and köfte (meatballs) tasted delicious and two cats enjoyed head and tails of the fish. After a walk we could obtain still exactly the boat to largest of the islands. On this island beautil villas can be found; surrounded by huge gardens with palm- and pine trees. After a second walk we came on picknick place, where we enjoyed the view, the smashing waves and the spring sun. On the boat Oytan was considerably exhausted and slept almost the complete trip, whereas I had enough time to write again in my diary.

9th of May 2004•10:52 hours

I had not seen that not only the times and the airport changed but also the day of my cheap flight from Corendon. I had therefore gone for nothing to the airport and had to endure a strict terrorist control. No matter if I wanted or not, I had to remain one day longer in Istanbul. It was not possible to stay again at Oytun’s place for an extra night because he got family visit, and I also did not want to bother him as well. But still he wanted to pick me up by car and bring me to a place to sleep. We decided to try it at the youth hostel but ended up in the traffic-jam. Hours later, with a side-trip through the Russian market district, where we first could not get out anymore, we succeeded nevertheless to come at the youth hostel. Moreover, there was enough place, so I could select a bed select and afterwards I went roaming round in the district Sultanachmed. I had the time to examine all large mosks from in- and of outside. A certain Moustafa addressed me and walked up with me for a while. He wanted to help me by accompanying me as a guide, but rapidly I thanked him for that and said goodbye. I finally wanted to be on my own again. Afterwards with sunset I nicely paraded on the bridge over the Golden Horn and twisted up through narrow streets and stairways in the direction of Taksimsquare. Underway I came along a beautiful old hammam, which seemed interesting to me. Unfortunately it was quite dissapointing. Dirty and onhygienic, expensive tourist tariff, the sauna was not really warm and quite soon it was closing-time. While I dressed again I talked with a half-turkish german man. He had funny jokes and proved ‘bi’ as well. Although he was totally not my type, we are nevertheless went to eat together in a place frequented by many gays, as he told me.

After dinner we walked a little firther, when two young guys said ‘ hi’ to us. They wanted to show us the nearby park but this was not safe, the german indicated. But drinks something in a cafe could do no harm. One of them seemed to me a nice guy. The german man wanted to get back to his hotel because he would have an eye operation on the next day . I went alone with the two of them to a dance club, but as soon as we entered the place I did not trust it. Too chique service and too little public, who stayed drinking along the tables. A couple of girls from Belarus came sitting next tu us and although it was quite amusing, I had no good feeling about it. I said that I rather wanted to leave but the pretty guy asked me nevertheless to stay a little longer and we went dancing. The girls drank champagne all the time and I thought: this is getting wrong. So I said that I wanted the bill. On the bill there was written an amount of 6 billion lira, which is about € 4000,-! So in trouble, I think , let’s clear off here. I make a lot of noise, put € 50,- on the table and leave. The boss seizes me at my collar and I start to shout loudly against him that I do not let swindle itself. He gets some more big guys and tries soothe me. I show my (second) purse and say that I do not have more cash money and also no credit cards. He does not get to mee my real purse. I explain him that I am just a poor student and stay in the youth hostel, therefore that there can not be taken any more from me. Then he obtains the other boys and says that I must solve it with them. I run out of the door to a taxi while the two boys come running after me. The taxi driver closes the door and I close the window. Fortunately, he drives away and they canot do anything anymore. This never again, I thinks while the taxi crosses the bridge.