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Archive for June, 2008

A Bad End to a Great Vacation

Monday, June 30th, 2008
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Wow. My last blog post was May 29 about A Day in Washington DC. I’ve certainly been off my blog game of late but I do have a really good series of excuses. First of course was my week at the International Space Development Conference in Washington. I actually thought that I would have time to blog from the conference but that was not the case. Other than the one post mentioned above I was on the go the entire time.

I then had a week back home to play catch up before leaving on a two week vacation. I just had time to create one new piece of digital art, which I’ll write about once I have added it to my web site, and produce three web graphics for the National Space Society Awards Committee based on photographs I had taken at the ISDC.

Then it was off on vacation. We left home in the morning, reached Sioux Falls, South Dakota that afternoon with time to do some sightseeing. Next morning we headed off to our first stop: Badlands National Park. Fortunately we had a reservation for one of the few cabins in the park (the only accommodations in the park). We spent a couple days hiking around there. A very alien looking environment. Bottom line is that the entire Badlands is a variation on a single theme: that being the prolonged effects of erosion on a weak sedimentary structure. For the kids, the highlight seemed to be the prairie dog town.

Following the Badlands our next stop was the town of Keystone which served as our base of operations for our visits to the Black Hills area. While there we visited Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument. I would say that the highlight here was Jewel Cave National Monument. Jewel Cave is much more visually interesting than Wind Cave because water had a role to play in the formation of some of its features. Both caves, but primarily Wind Cave, feature an interesting rock texture pattern called boxwork.

It was then on to Wyoming for the second half of our trip – a visit to Yellowstone National Park. For the visit we stayed in West Yellowstone. I won’t go into detail about our visit but I will say that it is the stinkiest park we ever visited. It didn’t bother me but the sulfur fumes from the various hot springs and geysers did make my youngest son unwell. Two wildlife highlights stand out. One was having practically a front row seat to watching a coyote stalk and make a kill. The second was while stopped to allow a buffalo to cross the road, the animal made a sharp left at the front of the car and paused even with my open driver’s side window a mere couple feet away. I could have easily reached out and given him a pat on the head. Scenically the highlight was the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its falls. Unfortunately the bulk of the North Rim was closed for reconstruction of both the roadways and hiking paths. The Artists Paintpots was also closed because the week before a woman had fallen through the path and been scalded by the hot waters. So heed those warnings to stay off what appears to be solid ground because you can not know just how thick or thin it is.

All told I collected about 10 gigabytes worth of photographs shooting in raw mode. We arrived home the night of Saturday the 21st. Sunday morning I got up and with a slight feeling of dread fired up the laptop to begin to wade through the email that had been accumulating in my absence. I was rather irritated when I could not access my primary email account, which is hosted by Corecom. Now I never signed on with Corecom but had established my account with Megsinet who were subsequently purchased by Corecom. A call to tech support and I was told that they were migrating servers and that email would not be available until after 8:00am Monday (06/23). Well Monday it still wasn’t available. Another call to tech support was a waste of time. Seems that though they did get the server up, it failed to authenticate requests from desktop clients to access their mailbox. Tuesday the problem continued and worsened: calling intermittently the entire day to two different 800 numbers got me nothing but busy signals. I finally resorted to calling the line to order new service. After waiting what seemed like an hour a person came on. I was told that there were intermittent problems impacting some users. I asked if the problem was as minor as she seemed to indicate then why were both their regular customer technical support and business hosting technical support lines busy the entire day. No good answer other than they couldn’t handle the call volume.

In the end the problem was not resolved until Wednesday the 25th. And this was only after I had gotten through to their tech support, whose two 800 numbers were still continuously busy, via back channels. And here I learned the truth of the matter. First, their email system had been down since the previous Wednesday! Second, my email account was only “fixed” to work with their new server once I was able to get through holdhell and talk to a technician (no call – no fix). The worst part is that once I was able to retrieve my email I discovered that ALL EMAIL from the 20th through the latter part of the day of the 24th and some from the 25th as well has been LOST! Corecom’s handling of this entire fiasco makes the fictional company that Dilbert and Wally work for look like a model of efficiency and competence.

On the up side, Corecom is crediting my account for one month’s service. I confirmed it today – but only after multiple attempts to get through to their still busy support number. Obviously not everyone has had their problems resolved yet.
So until next time, Ad Astra. Jim

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