Saturday, January 16, 2010

Adversity, with a touch of humor

Those of you who wait breathlessly for my early morning posts may have noticed that yesterday I showed up mid-afternoon. Here’s the story. On Thursday I received a Demotivator calendar as an appropriately humorous belated birthday present. (I may have many endearing qualities, but I’m no Little Mary Sunshine, as I refer to Christina Romer.) For those of you who have no clue what a Demotivator calendar is go to

The theme for January was adversity. I wrote a thank you e-mail and hit the “send” button, at which point adversity struck! My internet connection went down, the e-mail remained but a draft.

I did the standard homeopathic remedy to restore the connection, to no avail. A phone call to Comcast proved fruitless; the best they could do was schedule an appointment for Sunday morning. My admittedly exaggerated protests that thousands of people depend on me fell on deaf ears.

Friday morning I plugged in my modem and my router, both of which had remained disconnected overnight so they could repent and reform. When I opened up my browser I got an installation screen for Comcast internet service. Hmm, a second way to fail. Another phone call, many fruitless stabs at restoring service. I pretty well reconciled myself to over two days of internet cold turkey.

But I have perseverance, described by the folks at Despair as “the courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.” By Friday afternoon I was also getting antsy. I had sold some stuff ahead of the Intel earnings, so I wasn’t overly distressed by the market downdraft. But I normally follow the markets tick by tick (well, as least when I’m not indulging in ways to twiddle your thumbs, and even they require an internet connection); reading a dull financial book was a very poor substitute.

I didn’t have a game plan, I just thought I’d reboot the computer that’s hard-wired to my cable modem and then—well, I wasn’t sure what. Contrary to everything we’ve been taught (the insanity, for instance, of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results) the computer offered up Comcast’s home page. It’s not my normal home page, but no matter. The modem data lights started flashing wildly. Life had returned to normal.

Two problems remain. First, I have no idea why the connection went down and why it was restored. So I haven’t cancelled Sunday’s service call because I think it’s time for the ghostbusters. More important, I realize that my contingency plans are horribly defective. I need a fallback, preferably not one of those antiquated dial-up plans. I’m open to suggestions.


  1. Hi Brenda,

    First of all: Happy Birthday!

    As for the internet connection problems, I would recommend that you get a 3G (mobile) connection - provided you have coverage (that house on the lake seem a bit remote, though). Over here in Europe we have companies that provide both DLS and 3G so you get a DSL/cable connection and when that line is down your modem/router switches automatically to 3G.

    That kind of redundancy (landline-mobile tower) is usually safer than DSL-cable (since both can be affected by construction work) or GSM-3G (lightning bringing down a tower, p.e.)

    If you don't get mobile internet coverage, then find a cheap DSL plan (I think Verizon has an offer that comes down to 10 USD/month), that for a low cost will provide you x20 times the speed of dial-up.

    And then of course, have your broker's phone number for emergencies (and pray they answer), a UPS, spare batteries (if you use a wireless mouse), mouse and keyboard, a four-leaf clover, a rabbit's foot...

    Oh, and an emergency checklist: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right and a "cheat sheet".

    Best trading - and good luck on Sunday


  2. Thanks very much for the suggestions. I will have to dig under the snow to look for a four-leaf clover!