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By Lacey Gardner

Wiser’s Wramblings-Mother’s Memory and More

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Happy Birthday to Ma Wiser!

By Chuck Wiser I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

When I began writing my Wramblings at the invitation of Owner/Editor Andrew Harris he suggested that Thursday would be a good day for a weekly column. I’m not sure how either of us pictured or envisioned the writings, but the Wramblings tag just kind of evolved from something akin to “Wiser Words” or “Words from Wiser,” as I tended to ramble at times through various topics of interest. I think initially Andrew was taken to my poetry and that was to be a feature of my writings. Today I will not disappoint, at least myself, as the coincidence of a Thursday falling on September 28th, the date of my mother’s birthday, allows me to reflect on her and her impact on my growth, and to include poems inspired by, and dedicated to, her. My mother was the most intelligent woman I ever knew and despite only having a public-school education, her wisdom far exceeded the depth and breadth of any further schooling. Chiefly because of her and her assistance in teaching me how to “be a learner” I was able to have a fairly successful academic career both as a student and finally as an educator teaching at Alfred State College.

My mother worked nearly all her working life at Acme Electric, initially at their start-up plant in Cuba, NY and then moving to their Allegany facilities when that opened. She would diligently drive the route to Allegany, NY from Nile, NY, every morning for her “factory shift”. Until late in her working career the Southern Tier Expressway (I86) was not a driving option. After being given the option of other employment, having invested over 3 decades at Acme Electric, my mother became a Home Health Care employee for the county. After my sister married and left the nest, the evening meal became my job. I’m pretty sure that, other than me, everyone else in the family grew tired of “Goulash,” which was, and still is, my favorite food. My wife learned long ago to stop asking me what I would like for supper.

For some reason I awoke this morning, wide awake with no chance of returning to sleep, at 4:07 AM. I have “fairly irregular” sleeping habits, the timing of which cycle between failure to get to sleep at night resulting in my getting back up to read, or awakening, as I did this morning, at or around, 4 AM. Several of my Facebook (FB) friends share my role in the “4 AM Club.” I typically greet them on FB. I am always surprised at how many others are up and about at that ungodly hour.

Occasionally there are early morning, or very late at night, benefits to my irregular sleeping habits. This morning was one such morning. As I walked through the house upon arising, I noticed that the motion detecting light on the back of the garage had come on. As I strained to see over the sink out the back window, I noticed a small “cluster” of deer. As it turns out there was a doe nursing two fawns right there in the back yard, under the light. It did seem a little odd as the doe was quite small and the two fawns seemed larger than those still young enough to nurse. There was a little hazy fog and the diffusion of the light through the fog and the stature of the doe perhaps made the fawns look larger than they actually were. As I had written in an earlier Wrambling, we have several generations of twin fawns, and now it looks like one more added to an already immature pair of fawns just barely outgrowing their spots. Sadly, the location and position of the feeding activity wasn’t such that I could successfully get any photos or video.

Just a few short decades ago our television (TV) offerings came from only a couple from the Buffalo area accessed by an antenna on the roof. If TV reception changing from one of the three available channels to the next resulted in a snowy picture we might be able to clear it up by going outside and rotating the antenna’s supporting pole, re-aiming the antenna a little bit. With the development of the Internet and the subsequent Cable TV offerings we progressed to multiple channel opportunities via the cable. As cable options progressed so did the equipment requirements to facilitate all of what was available to us. We now must connect a “Modem” to replace the antenna to feed multiple TV sets throughout the house and also utilizing a Wireless Router to send the signals to various other internet related devices such as Laptop Computers and Printers. Phone service as well is available via this Modem and Router device. When a mechanical/electrical failure of one of those “distribution devices” pops up, panic sets in.  

We receive our cable services now via Spectrum, which is an evolutionary expansion of Mr. Rigas’s Adelphia Cable, then Time Warner and now Spectrum. With that growth also came growth pains. We are nearly completely at the mercy of our Cable provider, and are now starkly aware that all eggs in one basket can be a problem. Due to faulty equipment our television programming was hit or miss with numerous “buffering” episodes. They are typically short-term TV black outs for various reasons. Atmospheric conditions can create problems as can merely the time of day or week if shared cable usage is extremely heavy. I have tried with limited success to explain to others why TV reception may rely on the number of people watching TV at a certain time. The best example I have been able to come up with is using water distribution in a house. If you have one faucet drawing water, you have excellent water pressure. If you turn on several spigots, the washing machine is filling and you are watering your garden while someone flushes a toilet all at the same time, the pressure at each outlet point is reduced. Same goes with the number of people in a certain area drawing from the available “bandwidth” of TV signal.

That was a long introduction to the recent TV Modem and Router debacle in the Wiser household. Given recent TV Cable problems, and given a history of failed Modems already, I decided to replace the modem prior to the upcoming Bills and St. Bonaventure basketball seasons. I took my modem to the Spectrum Office in Olean in exchange for a new one. Upon installing the new modem, I could not access the internet, nor any related services. Not able to talk to a local customer representative and failing to get any help from my 1st “Live Chat” contact, I decided to change out what I thought was non-functioning, supposedly “new” modem with another, and to eliminate any other problems I was encouraged to replace the router as well. The Spectrum “over the counter” service representative scanned my devices into the system and diligently walked me through how to “Activate” my new devices online.

Returning home from my second trip to the Olean Spectrum office that day, I installed the new modem and router and proceeded through the online activation sequence. I couldn’t get anything to work, and most worrisome was the loss of telephone service as that is also tied to Spectrum through our cable contract. That’s a whole “nuther” story, but I move on. Using my cell phone, thankfully through a different service (with frequent problems as well), I was able to contact Spectrum Live Chat again. I spent about an hour trying to activate my equipment and restore my system but finally threw my hands up, giving up. My frustration level was maxed out.

After a few minutes of contemplation, I decided to try the Live Chat communication with Spectrum once again. The representative identified himself as Rasheed, and asked how he could help. Cutting through the first few minutes of the attempt to help, Rasheed asked me what was the MAC Address on the back of the modem?  Not finding it there I checked the bottom and there among some other bar-coded numbers it was. I gave him the number. After a couple of minutes or so of waiting while he worked, Rasheed came back on and asked if I had another modem attached. I replied, No. He then asked if it was a modem supplied by Spectrum. Yes, I answered. He then commented that the MAC address I gave him did not match that which was associated with my account. He apologized (again) and said he would update the account information. After a brief wait Rasheed once again came back on the line and told me to see if anything was changed. Since our phone is part of that service and one was right next to me, I picked the phone up and was delighted to hear the dial tone. I then woke the computer up. That too takes an inordinate warm up time, but I did indeed have an Internet connection. I then left him hanging (on Live Chat 😉) and went to check out one of the TV’s. It was operational and finally all was well. I was much relieved, especially since our phone service was affected. Having notified previous family and persons in need of contacting me to communicate via cell phone, I updated them as to my success.

My thoughts and summary…There are two or three bar-coded numbers closely spaced on the bottom of the modem and apparently when the in-store representative scanned the number in to update my account he must have scanned the wrong set of numbers. Cumulatively I spent about 6 hours off and on, trying to fix modem/router problems without counting my Olean travel time.

That whole debacle, and difficulty reading the tiny numbers on the bottom of the modem reminded me of a numbering/lettering convention that is nearly, but not always followed. Based on the similarity in shape of 0 and o, or capital O, and between 5 and S, an “almost” standard convention is to not use the O and S letters where they could be easily confused. I say “nearly” and “almost” as I have found some exceptions. Especially with the small print that is typically used for labels and tags, it is nearly impossible to distinguish between those letters. In my early college teaching days “lettering,” not “printing,” as my high school Mechanical Drawing teacher Mrs. McDermott would clarify, is critical regarding letter shapes and spacing. Certain letter proximity combinations can result in misleading or embarrassing word interpretation. As a topic in my Alfred State graphics class teaching, I would write certain word combinations, without verbal explanation, on the board. The letter shape and spacing often resulted in some chuckles or knowing nods. 

Since I am going to include a couple of poems honoring my mother on what would have been her 102nd Birthday, I will shorten my Wramble by a couple of paragraphs.

I leave you with a couple of poems inspired by my mother’s love and dedication to teaching me.

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