Saturday, April 28, 2012

Radio Daze: My Crystal Radio

Until about 1968, all I ever listened to was AM radio.  There was a simple reason for this.   All we had were AM radios.  Actually, in the earliest years I can remember was that all we had was one AM radio.  Yes, one AM radio.   We also had only one car, one TV, one telephone, one phonograph, a one car garage, and only one bathroom.  That seemed to be the norm in the early 1960s in lower middle class part of Detroit where we lived.
We had that one radio.  No FM, just AM.  It was in the kitchen, it was a clock radio.   We used to listen to sports as every game was not on TV as we are used to today. We used it to listen to the Armenian Radio Hour which came on every Saturday evening.  We listened to it during dinner.  The Arab Radio hour came on at 4 pm, the Armenian Radio Hour ran from 5 to 6, and then the Greeks came on 6 pm.  I remember listening to all three though I am sure we were not eating three hour dinners. 
Our radio was mostly used for sports broadcasts, music, and the news.  In those days that is what was on the radio.  My Mother told us about how they used to listen to the radio the way we were used to watching TV.  There were regularly broadcast series that were dramas, comedies, or action/adventure shows.  She spoke quite nostalgically about the super hero shows.  I believe her very favorite show was The Green Hornet and The Shadow.  Either that or it is the only ones I can remember.   She had me longing for the heyday of radio and almost felt cheated that all I had was television.  There was a time in the 1970s when NPR would have readings of various books.  In 1976, I recall listening to, and being totally engaged, in the reading of James Michner’s novel Centennial.  It was very well done and a prelude to the books on tape craze which followed in the late 1980s and 1990s.
As odd as this desire seems today in the world of myriad electronic gadgets, I wanted my own radio.  I had friends who had crystal radios.  Some built them, some were given store bought ones.  I wanted one and figured I could probably get it more easily funded if I expressed a desire to build one.  My parents agreed to allow me to save some allowance to buy the materials.  I went to the library and got a book on how to make a crystal radio.  I copied the parts list down.  Instead of shopping for the parts or ordering them form a catalog, I gave the list to a close family friend, Araxie Vosgeritchian who we called Auntie Roxie.  She worked at an electric supply company and agreed to get me the parts.  She was a quiet but very sweet and thoughtful person.  She was more than happy to do this and then upon delivery she did not want to take my money.  I have never forgotten that gift and her kindness.
I built the radio.  It wasn’t a work of art but it worked.  I was so excited.
So what is a crystal radio?  They were very popular radios in the early days of radio and amongst young fellas like me when I was growing up.  I believe they were even more popular in the 1930s – 1950s.  The radios were made of very few parts.  There is a coil of copper wire used for tuning, the crystal that detected and rectified the radio waves, an antenna, and earphones.  Crystals were later replaced by diodes.  I am pretty certain the set I made used a diode in place of a crystal detector. 
One of the most interesting facts about crystal radios is that they required neither batteries nor other power source.  The radio was powered exclusively by the radio waves themselves.  Therefore, there was no volume control and the radio had to be listened using headphones or what today is called an ear bud.  I remember hearing about people who could faintly hear the radio simply from the silver fillings in their teeth.  Was it urban legend or the same principle as a crystal radio?
I used my crystal radio to listen to Detroit Tiger baseball games when I was supposed to be sleeping.  I kept the set that I had mounted on a wood plank on the bookshelf next to my bed.  I had a wire with an alligator clip on the end that I used as the antenna.  I attached the alligator clip to the gutter above the bedroom window thinking the bigger the antenna the better (thinking back now, that might have actually been the ground).  The Tiger games were broadcast on WJR, “760 on your AM dial, the great voice of the Great Lakes.”  They were the most powerful station in Detroit.  So it was relatively easy to dial WJR.  It was pretty cool though it had to be quiet to use a crystal radio.  If there was too much ambient noise the radio was useless.  I am pretty certain that would have a tough time using a crystal radio today on this side of fifty where my hearing is nowhere near where it was back then. 
You can still purchase crystal radios today.  Go to and search on “crystal radio kits.”  There are several of them priced in the range of $10-30.  They look like you could put them together in a few minutes.  You can find antique crystal radios on e-bay that look more like the real McCoy.  I actually thought about buying one.  I realized with all the electronic toys I have, I would play with a crystal radio for about ten minutes and move on probably never touch the radio again.  So, I kept my $15 which would be better spent on three gallons of gas.
I have no idea what happened to my crystal radio.  A year or so after I built it, the world changed.  The transistor radio hit the marketplace.  They were small, sleek, and as they used a nine volt battery, they had a volume nob.  The reception and volume were an incredible improvement.  As soon as I got one of those, I neglected and lost track of my crystal radio. 
That’s progress for you.  But, I will never forget the memory of the crystal radio I assembled myself or the magic of listening to the Detroit Tiger games.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 2012: The Armenian Genocide

Every year in April, this letter is dedicated to and focused on the Armenian Genocide.  Every April.  I have looked at this from every angle I can think of and every angle that interests me.  I am not sure I have resolved anything. Clearly, it is an important topic to me.  It is for other Armenians as well.  I do get nice feedback from other Armenians when I write something in these April letters that resonates with them.  It is a recurring theme in our lives and an issue that will not go away until there is closure.  For the Armenian Genocide, closure has been elusive.
In the time I have been formally writing about this there have been changes.  As the internet has made the world smaller, there are Armenians and Turks that have gotten closer together.  It is good to see Turkish scholars and artists that believe what we Armenians have experienced and know to be true.  Beyond the Armenian issue, Turkey is in the throes of trying to determine what kind of country they will be.  The Armenian issue is but one of the issues that are part of this debate.
This year a few questions are on my mind.  First, who were the victims of the Genocide?  Secondly, who actually committed the crimes?  As we approach the 100th Anniversary of this crime, this Genocide, there are a scant few Armenians alive that actually experienced the event.  By the same token, the Turks responsible for planning and executing the Genocide are all gone. Can I hold the grandchildren responsible for what their grandparents did to my grandparents? 
It is no longer about individuals.  It is for the Armenians about the memory of individuals and the memory of a generation.  It is about the memory of a lost homeland.  It is about the loss of a lifestyle and the chance to evolve a culture in our own land and country.
The issue no is not with the people, it really cannot be any longer.  It is with the government, with the state, who separates itself from the Ottoman State and furthermore denies any wrong doing by that government during World War I.  The most they are willing to admit to is that there were causalities on all sides.  In the worst case, they will accuse Armenians of atrocities.
The American Indians:  This last statement actually makes me think of the United States and what was done to the American Indians in the creation of this country coast to coast, sea to shining sea.  I have alluded to this before in these April letters.  I am going to expound on it more in this one.
We, the United States of America, were none too kind to the American Indians.  We basically took this entire land from them or from the English, French, or Spanish who were already in the process of taking this land from the Indians.  For the most part we did not do it nicely.  We cheated them out of Manhattan.  We pushed them out of their homelands by an ever increasing population of settlers who simply built towns which turned into cities on the lands.  We took land and made them into our farms.  If and when the Indians protested we used force to inflict our will on them.   The coast to coast nation was well established before the coining of the term Manifest Destiny in 1845.  We quickly finished the job after the Civil War preparing ourselves for the American Century.  Certainly, we negotiated treaties with them and at times even bought land from them.  I do not think that any of these deals were fair.  Certainly killing all the buffalo was wrong.  Read about The Trail of Tears and see some eerie similarities even if the numbers involved were not the same. 
Key to Manifest Destiny was the belief we were taking civilization to west to the Pacific Ocean.  We were doing a good thing.  Since our definition of civilization inherently included Christianity, we were essentially doing God’s will or work.  Who was in our way?  Indians.  Injuns.  Redmen.  Injuns.  Heathens.  Non-believers i.e. giavurs.  These savages did not look like us.  They did not believe in our God and his only begotten Son.  They had no written language.  They did not have the same notion of property ownership as we did.
They were savages.  If left unchecked, they would attack us.  They would take our women and children.  It was not safe, or even possible, to live peacefully among them.  They could not be trusted. 
I learned this viewpoint 100 years after the fact watching cowboy and Indian movies with my maternal grandfather growing up.  As kids, we played cowboys and Indians.  Our goal was what the culture taught us:  to kill the Indians, to protect our homes from these heathen savages.  Indeed, the only good pretend Indian was a dead pretend Indian. 
When I look at some of the same movies now, I see they were not quite so biased.  But, very few gave the Indians a fair shake.  In the 1960s and 1970s, with emergence the various liberation movements for Blacks, Women, Homosexuals, and others, we began to confront our treatment of the American Indians.  Films like Little Big Man and The Outlaw Josie Wales began portraying the US as the bad guy in the American Indian Wars.  Books like James Michener’s Centennial portraying the Cheyennes, who referred to themselves as the human beings, as simply noble versus noble savage or just plain savage. 
There is a great soliloquy in The Outlaw Josie Wales:

I'm an Indian alright but here in The Nations they call us the civilized tribes.  They call us civilized because we are easy to sneak up on.  White men have been sneaking up on us for years.  They sneaked up on us and they told us we wouldn't be happy.

They told us we would be happy in The Nations.  So they took away our tribal lands and sent us here.  I had a fine woman and two sons but they all died on the Trail of Tears.  I wore a frock coat to Washington before The War.   We wore them because we belonged to the five civilized tribes.

We dressed ourselves up like Abraham Lincoln.   We got to see the secretary of the interior.  He said, "Boy, you boys sure look civilized."   He congratulated us and he gave us medals for looking so civilized.  We told him about how our tribal lands had been stolen and how our humans were dying.

When we finished he shook our hands and said "Endeavor to persevere!"  They stood us in a line John Jumper, Chili McIntosh, Buffalo Hump, Jim Buckmark, and me, I am Lone Waite.  The newspapers took our picture and said, "Indians vow to endeavor to persevere."   We thought about for a long time, endeavor to preserver, and when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union.

~ Lone Waite, Indian chief. Lone Waite was played by Chief Dan George who also stole several scenes in Little Big Man.

Endeavor to persevere indeed.  That is the battle Armenians are fighting in the Diaspora especially in the United States.  If it were not for recent generations of immigrants from the Middle East and now Armenia, our community here would have certainly assimilated into the melting pot.
Lone Waite and company went to meet with the Secretary of the Interior.  It was another Minister of the Interior, Mehmed Talaat, who was the nemesis of the Armenians.  I do not think he ever used the word persevere and Armenians in the same sentence however.
We endeavor to persevere.  My friend Ken Hachikian and his colleagues at the Armenian National Committee endeavor to keep this issue alive.  They endeavor to make sure the current Turkish government does not forget that they have a long pending wrong with people who were and still might have been productive citizens of their empire and now their republic.  Yes, it is a different government in terms of constitution but there was a nice linear flow of leadership.
Was the current Germany responsible for the crimes against their Jewish citizenry?  Is the American Government responsible to the crimes we committed against the American Indians?  I believe the answer to that is:  Yes.
Do I believe that Joe Average American or Cemal Average Turk is responsible for what was done by their government and by their military one hundred years ago?  I do in so much as they are citizens of the country that is responsible. 
As a citizen of the United States of America, I could ask myself.  Am I responsible for what was done by this country to the American Indians 150 years ago?  Am I responsible for the dropping of the only two atomic bombs on human populations? How would I react if somehow I was told that I live on Potawatomi land and have to forsake my home because of a wrong done generations ago?  My reaction would be like I would expect to hear from the Turks or Kurds living in my great-grandfather’s house in Keserig.  I would protest and tell my government and the Potawatomis “this is our home.  I am sorry about what happened so long ago, but I was not responsible for that and I am the legal owner of this property now.”
How similar is the Armenian and American Indian situations?  I see similarities.  Other Armenians do not agree with me.  I had a discussion with a lady a few weeks ago.  She refused to see any similarities between the Armenian Genocide and the American Indian Genocide.  I see this in Armenians sadly.  We think this only has happened to us or that Genocide is worse and more heinous than that of other peoples. 
Google “American Indian Genocide” or “American Indian Holocaust” and read some of the material.  Judge for yourself if there are any similarities.   
Mi Amigo Juan:  I have an Armenian friend, Juan Payassian in Argentina.  We met exchanging music videos on YouTube.  We both love the same kind of music: Armenian and a la Turca.  I just exchange videos, Juan makes them.  He takes old recordings and adds his own images.  He does a great job as he is an artist by trade.  You can view all of his videos on his YouTube channel:  Juan's Channel .  Juan has put some great music and wonderful montages to go with the videos.  I especially like the following:

·         Udi Hrant - Hüseyni saz semai
·         Konyalim
·         Juan reciting Neruda's Mi Voz

I wish I had known Juan when I was still travelling to Buenos Aires on business.  It would have been fun hanging out with on Calle Armenia at the Café Armenia and other shops on that Armenian street in Buenos Aires.  For now, we communicate by email and music sharing.
I bring up Juan in this letter because he recently posted a most interesting, brave, and heartfelt video on his channel.  On April 7, he posted this video:  My apologies to Turkish people.  I listened to this video and read the text of his speech several times.  I was amazed.  I read the comments and was also amazed.
Juan’s words fit into this year’s April 24th letter.  I am dancing around many of the sentiments that Juan expressed but have not quite come to his conclusion.  As they say, Juan stoops to conquer.  He has laid his heart and soul out.  I am sure some Armenians will chastise him, or any Armenian, for uttering these kinds of words.  I truly hope that this letter does not bring those sentiments to Juan for what he has bravely posted.
It is not odd and it did not surprise me that there were no comments from Armenians on Juan’s video.  I will comment and leave a link to this letter when it is done.
Should the American Indians apologize to the rest of us Americans?  Should the Jews apologize to the Germans?  Juan did just that.  He did not apologize to the Turkish government.  There is a difference. 
There is a legal issue.  It has yet to be resolved.  People like my friend Ken are working to resolve that.  They are leading the effort to recognize that church lands and buildings were taken from the Armenian people, trying to get this confiscation recognized, and then trying to get the lands back or compensation.  The Turkish Government wants to avoid this at all costs as it will raise the issue of where did all the Armenians go, who why did they leave, and why did they simply abandon their churches and schools.  There is no doubt that compensation for church and school properties will be a prelude the larger and more general compensation issue regarding the genocide.
What about at the person to person level?  Has there been an improvement of relations between Armenians and Turks.  Yes at the personal level and no at the state level.  In my own case, I had very few relations with any Turks growing up.  I had a good friend at Wayne State University in the 1980s, Halim Anisoglu, with whom I lost touch until late last year.  In this century, I have make friends and acquaintances with whom I play music, exchange music, or whose postings I follow on various websites.
I think of Osman Koker who is a wonderful fellow and friend.  He has published a beautiful collection of Armenian postcards which is a great testimony to our having been there.  He knows where all the Armenian Churches were and where most of the stones of the torn down churches are. 
I know Suha Guzel an engineer and great friend of humanity.  We began sharing videos on YouTube but have evolved to corresponding about the issues between Armenians and Kurds and both Armenians and Kurds with the Turks. 
I know two other folks.  I had included their names but they asked that I take their names off of this posting.  They are Turkish and friends of mine.  They both love the music I love.  They are very knowledgeable and one of them knows the words to every Turkish song one can think of.  We have practiced and performed together.  We never talk politics though sometimes I feel in hangs like a thick mist in the air around us. The fact that I was asked to remove their names confirms to me the strain between our two peoples.  They are truly non-political so their sentiment to not have their names mentioned is heartfelt and sincere.  But, there is a fear, also, of how they will be perceived.  I did comply and remove their names. 
Do I view these lovely people as Turks or Kurds?  Partially… because it is part of what they are.  More so, I view them as talented and interesting friends.  I view us sharing a culture. 
That is key.  That is part of what Juan was saying.  We shared a culture.  We share it still.  The humble stone homes with tin roofs on one side of the Arax river look exactly like those on the other side.  The people look the same.  The music and food overlap considerably.  Generations down the road we need to look for similarities and build bridges.
Where to from here:  While I view us as sharing a culture, some people have worked hard to keep the peoples separate.  First, it was hardliners on Turkish side who were the architects and perpetrators of the Genocide.  They have been joined equally adamant hardliners on the Armenian side.  I am more sympathetic to those on the Armenian side mostly because I am Armenian but also because they are reacting to a great historical crime and continuing injustice.
Me?  I believe in the Armenian political agenda.  I do.  I believe we must work until the Turkish State admits to what was done.  Then and only then can the Turks and Armenians create an environment where we can work, coexist, and build good relations between the two peoples.  That would be excellent.  What is the probability of it actually happening?  It used to be horribly extremely low.  Now, it is just extremely low so we are making some progress. 
I believe the Turkish government is waiting and stalling as long as they possibly can.  They are waiting and stalling so that when they do admit to the crimes of the Ottomans and Young Turks, it will be like the Americans admitting to the horrible way this land was taken from the Indians… but it was so long ago.  I can the successors of Erdogan and Davutoglu mouthing these kinds of words someday and nothing more.
I will continue to ponder the Genocide.  I will continue to support the Armenian political agenda as championed by the Armenian National Committee here in the US.  I will also continue to look for and build bridges with Armenians, Turks, and Kurds who also want to build bridges.

————— • —————

Tonight April 23rd and tomorrow April 24th I will think of those great people in the generation that survived.  I will think of my great-grandparents who I never met.  I will listen to Lone Waite’s and Juan Payassian’s soliloquies on YouTube.  I will listen to the most beautiful and saddest song I know as I do every year:   Adanayi Voghperke.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Starbucks Brewed Communism

I was on my way to teach last evening and was feeling like a needed a coffee.  This feeling is not something rare.  I stopped at the Lake Forest Oasis on I-94 on the way to my Tuesday evening teaching assignment.  I stopped to get a coffee.  I stopped to get a coffee because I was in low gear because I was operating on three hours sleep.  I was operating on three hours sleep because of poor planning and inept task management.
There is a Starbucks within walking distance of my house, but I stopped at the Starbucks in the Oasis because it is so convenient and such an easy-off and back onto the interstate.  I ordered what I order 86.73% of the time:  a grande regular coffee with room for cream.  The young fellow behind the counter said $2.48 as I handed him my card.  $2.48?  Just a week or ten days ago the very same order at this very same location was $2.20.  I really do not note such prices except that the Oasis Starbucks was already charging $.15 more than the other Starbucks on "surface streets."
Wow... they raised their prices $.28 on top of the premium they were already charging.  Why?
I asked the young man, the Barista as they are called, when they raised prices.  He answered "Just a few days ago."  I said, "that is a pretty hefty increase for just a cup of coffee."  It is actually a 12.7% increase.  That is above any increase in fuel or whatever else is happening.  It is after all, as my parent's generation would say, just a lousy cup of coffee.
Then a thought struck me and I uttered another question to the barista fellow.  "Did they give you a raise when they raised prices?"  He smirked and said, "no nothing like that."  I stopped asking questions, bid the pleasant fellow a good evening, and went to the side bar to put milk and artificial sweetener  into my coffee thinking that if they are going to charge $2.48 for a lousy cup of coffee, they should at least by putting the sweetener and cream in it for me.  That is what Dunkin' Donuts does for $.50 less per cup.
But, that is not all I was thinking.  I was thinking communist thoughts.  I would have accepted the price increase if half of it went to the workers.  It did not; it went to the company and primarily to the executives and shareholders.  It went mostly to the 1% that the Occupy Wall Street movement was protesting.  I am not against executives and shareholders belonging, at times, to both classes.
Still, I wanted to tell the Barista to organize, to revolt, and that he had nothing to lose but his chains.  Power to the people!  I wanted to start an old school labor union where the Barista and I would be the first members.
I was feeling pretty sophomoric.  That was the time of my life when I was the closest to being a communist.  I am nowhere near that now but I more and more I feel I am taking steps in that direction.  I am not one for extreme dogma.  I prefer a balanced middle ground.  My cousin David always says he is a fiscal conservative and a social moderate.  Except for these Starbucks like moments, I am in the same boat with him.  I am also pretty sure that, as a country, we are out of balance.   We were once too far on the extreme of social welfare.  We may have gone too far the other way.  We can never seem to find a good middle ground.  Funny, many of my fellow Americans believe that we are still too liberal.
Some people focus on gas prices or milk as their gauge of inflation.  I guess I am using coffee but only in this one instance.  I notice that prices for things are higher in big city hotels, airports, and now interstate oases.  I am not always checking prices but I noticed this increase and it irritated me.  What is $.28 really?  It is a small thing versus the impact that an increase to $5/gallon of gas would have on our economy.
The power of labor unions is their ability to withhold labor and disrupt the operations and hence revenue and profits of a company.  The power of the unions has declined in my lifetime.  This is due to the globalization of the labor force resulting in so many hourly jobs, union jobs, having moved off shore.  Of the remaining jobs, a large percentage of them are in right to work states or union free facilities.  Mostly people are happy to have the jobs; they have and do not want to rock the boat.  The most powerful unions in this country are now for government unions and they are under the same pressures that threatened other industries.
The difference between today and the heyday of union organizing in the 1930s is that for most workers today, the Barista in question versus Joe Lunchbucket of yore, are treated much better.  People, generally, do not work in unsafe work places.  There are few sweat shops in this country as we have exported the great majority of them to the third world.  People work reasonable hours for moderately fair wages.  The other thing that has changed is that the health care and retirement benefits for the great majority of us are not what they once were.  Most people worry about the day to day, doing their jobs, and just making ends meet.  When we worry about health care benefits, mostly I hear people complaining about Obamacare not how are we going to care for all our citizens.  Oddly, very few are worrying about how the heck we are ever going to fund our retirements.  Sure self-reliance works but only for a determined minority.
You see how my thoughts are tinged with the pink of socialism if not outright communism
So what if Starbucks is charging $.28 more for my lousy cup of coffee.  So what if they are not sharing this gain with their workers.  It is no never mind to the Tea Party me.  I can go anywhere to get a cuppa.  I can make coffee at home for less.  I can get coffee for $1 at MacDonalds or around $1.50 - $2.00 at venues like Panera, Dunkin' Donuts, or other places.  I go to Starbucks for convenience.  They have a lot of stores.  I generally like the feel of their stores and that taste of their coffee.  There is a limit however in what I am willing to pay for the taste of their coffee, the ambiance of their stores, and the free internet (what part of the $.28 increase is going toward improved internet services?).
I am not sure where my limit is for a price of a cup of coffee or the price of a gallon of gas.  I am not sure how far we can be squeezed before we organize, unionize, and perhaps truly occupy Wall Street.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

When the Cloud Fogs Up

There is a problem with living in the cloud and relying on the internet.  The internet has to be functional.  A few nights I experienced this reality in full measure.
I was having trouble retrieving email earlier.  I was on my iPad.  The first thing I did was turn it off and turn it back on.  It still was not working.  The indicator showed I was connected to the internet but I was now getting messages saying the server was not responsive.  I proceeded to do the next best thing,  I went and rebooted my modem and wireless router by unplugging them and plugging them in again.  That did not work either.  So I did it again and again to no avail.  i then knew something bigger was up.
I decided not to futz with it any longer.  It reminded me of last year or two years when there was a similar issue.  It turned out that time that Comcast, my service provider, had a massive system wide internet failure and did not let anyone know.  When I found out, I was more than a little perturbed.  So, this time I decided to call them and see if this was a repeat of that event.
I picked up the house phone and got nothing.  It was dead.  Since, the phone which is voice over internet, I assumed in all the plugging and unplugging of wires, i had compromised the phone by not quite plugging everything back the way it was.  I made sure everything was secure and tried the phone again.  This time I got a busy signal.  Odd.  I tried again and got a dial tone.  I dialed the Comcast toll free number and went through the menu and waited... and waited.  It took ten minutes to get an agent.  I could hear the young man without any issues but he kept saying that he could not hear me and that I was breaking up.  We lost the connection probably due to my pushing random buttons on the phone handset in the belief that I had some chance of improving the connection quality by doing so..
Judy's cell phone then rang.  It was the agent, thankfully.  Once I established that he could hear me, I asked him if there was a system wide outage.  He said not that he was aware of.  He told me he was running diagnostic tests on my modem and saw no issues.  He instructed me to reboot the modem again this time taking out the backup battery to get a real reboot.  I had not done that.  I was in the process of trying to get the battery out when he stopped me.  He said he was just notified that enough people were calling in that made it a wider problem than just my house.  He said that a node/router/whatever of theirs  had failed and crews were being dispatched and that  he had to say it might take 24-48 hours to fix.  Oh my.
I had work to do that required access to the internet.   I had a new client and some pressing deadlines i.e. the next morning.  The files I had to work on were waiting for me in my email account.  This, of course, required the internet and I could not access them.  So, I was dead in the water in this regard.  I could have done other business development and personal work but these files were also in the cloud in either google docs or Evernote.  These applications are wonderful because they are accessible from any computer, pad, or phone..  Any computer, pad, or phone connected to the internet that is.
I could have used my phone.  That is not dependent on my home network.  The phone is good enough for texting, taking photos, checking quick facts and information on the internet, checking email, and perhaps responding to the emails if the response does not have to be too detailed.  Oh yeah... you can actually make calls on these phones as well.  I could have probably worked on the file but given the screen virtual keyboard size, I would have been more frustrated than productive.  And I was already pretty frustrated.
Wait a minute.  My iPad was 3g.  It had cellular capability.  I would just use that and be back in business.  Silly me.  Why hadn't I thought of that earlier.  Sometimes, I really act twice my age.  So, I switched on the cellular and it was slow.  Not just slow, but s-l-o-w...  It was molasses in the dead of winter slow.  Clearly, everyone in my neighborhood and town was already doing what I had just thought of.  The cellular bandwidth was fully utilized.  So, this option did not really work.  The files I needed simply were taking forever (and that is a long time) to download.  So, my brilliant, albeit late in coming idea,  was not so brilliant after all.
I was cut off from the world.  I was in desolation.  I was exiled.
Well not really.  Thankfully, we still had electricity.  I could read a book if I wanted to.  Luckily, I still had hardcopy books in my home.  Whew.  Even better, the cable TV still functioning.  The Comcast agent had said that the television network was separate from the internet.  Whew... what a relief.  I could watch The Green Lantern or The Blind Side for the umpteenth time.  I could still check on the weather every eight minutes on The Weather Channel.  I would have to suffer without the hour by hour forecast that the internet version provides.  It was horrible but somehow I survived.
I decided instead to work on a new file.  I could use my laptop and Microsoft Word.  Oh my, how retro.  I could use my iPad and their word processor, Pages.  The iPad option was less retro but essentially the same same.  So, that is what I did.  It was not what I was planning to do.  It was not what I needed to be doing.  But, I was doing... something.
The internet was not down as long as the Comcast  representative had said it might.  It was down about three hours.  I was engrossed in my make work writing that I never even realized it had come back on-line.  It felt like 1989.
Through perseverance, determination, and resolve, I somehow and miraculously survived this ordeal.  The human capacity to endure never ceases to amaze me.