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FF Sparks (Casual)

Moving moving...

So, as some of you know, our landlord ended up originally saying he thought he could do January as an extension for us so we didn't have to move during Christmas, but then said he couldn't do it after all. Thus, we need to be out of this house by the 31st. Considering we got this notice with like 8 days to spare, it was a teensy bit stressful! However, we've found a new house and are packing and moving now, and we'll be there in time. I've also learned a few other things during all this...such as that Speakeasy is the coolest ISP ever.

The last time we moved, we had Earthlink. I tried to keep our service, and they told me since I was moving it would count as cancelling my contract early, and then signing up again. However, out of the goodness of their hearts, they would take the $50 setup fee out of the $175 early termination fee. However, they messed up my order, and generally bounced me around from technician to technician for about 3 months before I decided to give up and go to Speakeasy in hopes of actually getting broadband sometime before I retired. Besides, I remember Speakeasy when they were just an Internet cafe -- in high school, my friends and I used to eat there! -- and it seemed right to support them again.

On top of the fact that Speakeasy gave me far less downtime than Earthlink, and their technicians were far more helpful the one time there /was/ a real problem, they've really impressed me for the move. This time, I called Speakeasy, told them when my phone line was being moved over, and asked them about service. They ran a check on another line in the neighborhood and got that my service was good and doable, and said they would get my DSL back up 5-10 days after the number switched to the new house, earlier if they could get a Qwest technician to do a loop install sooner. They are not charging me anything extra -- considering the move part of my general service -- and are even letting me keep all my static IP addresses.

Guess which ISP I'll recommend to others? :P

Anyway, last night, being a bit tired out after moving or sorting through the Garage of Hell, Jen and I had picked up a few DVDs at Suncoast, and watched two of them. First, we watched the second disc of Haibane Renmei, and are still enraptured by it; it's eerily beautiful, in art and music and story. Reviews of it, even from people who don't really understand the series, have been almost uniformly gushing. At least two I've read have referred to the soundtrack as 'far superior to almost any television series of any genre' and several have commented on the lovely watercolors for some of the backgrounds. It's very philosophical and lovely, and hangs together amazingly well for a series which is driven almost entirely by character interaction rather than any plot.

For those who aren't familiar with Haibane Renmei, the premise is that the entire story takes place in the town of Glie, a sort of pastoral proto-European town and environs surrounded by an impassable wall with only one gate. Any citizens who leave through the gate never return to Glie, and other than the birds who fly back and forth over the wall, the only people allowed in and out are the Toga, travelling traders. They bring goods to Glie, but wear masks and are forbidden to speak within the walls. Some wonder what lies outside the walls, but in general life in Glie goes on as it always has.

And then there are the Haibane (translated best as 'Ash-Wings' or 'Charcoal Feathers'). A social class apart, the Haibane look like people except that they have charcoal-grey wings -- not ones which allow them to fly, but wings nonetheless -- and halos. Haibane are not allowed to have money; they work among the town in exchange for goods. They can only have things which are worn-out and discarded, secondhand clothing or run-down buildings, or things which they have made themselves. The townsfolk of Glie basically care for the Haibane who live among them, in a sort of strange almost-parental relationship. Haibane cocoons are found sometimes among the Haibane living places, and when the cocoon breaks open, a new Haibane comes out. Each Haibane is a 'newborn' at a different age, each having a sense that they had lived somewhere else before but unable to remember it. The first thing they remember is a dream they have within their cocoon; unable to remember anything of their life before being born as a Haibane, they are given their new name based on this dream.

Haibane Renmei begins with the birth of Rakka, a new Haibane, and follows her as she makes her new life among Old Home, one of the Haibane residences. The story is driven entirely by Rakka's journey of self-discovery and by her interactions with Reki, Nemu, Kana, Hikari and Kuu, the other Haibane who live at Old Home. The result is something very unlike most things I've watched before, but very compelling in some way.

There are a few nice sites for Haibane Renmei out there, such as Old Home, and the beautifully designed but graphics-intensive (albeit a bit lacking in content) AnimeProjects Haibane Renmei Shrine, or there is also the Shockwave-required the official Haibane Renmei English site. Unfortunately, there's less info to link to, as Haibane Renmei isn't nearly as popular as many series out there.

Of course, having reached the halfway mark (episode 7 of the 13 total) of Haibane Renmei and as the next disc isn't out yet, we moved on to the first disk of Angelic Layer, which is immensely silly. Originally a CLAMP comic which is a return to their 'cute' style of writing and drawing as opposed to their 'doom, death and apocalypse' style -- i.e., Clamp Campus Detectives rather than, say, X/1999 -- I've been collecting the comics in Japanese since they began; one of the few series I still actually go seek out untranslated comics of, because it's just so lighthearted and funny. The television series managed to retain most of the style of the comic, and even Brent was enjoying watching it. (Largely because of the Chief's creative punishments for underlings who anticipate wrongly. "Incorrect! For your penalty, you must spend 10 minutes with an octopus down your pants!") We're going to pick up the next few discs of Angelic Layer after we've moved, since it'll be a little while before we have net and cable again. :)

I also picked up the first volume of Last Exile, which I've heard nothing of...but it looks like it combines two of my favorite themes (strange technology, and airships) for an epic storyline, so I'm willing to give it a try. Always nice to have a few things to watch as we settle in at the new place! :)

Anyway, back to packing.

Comments

I work for an ISP that provides DSL. The problem here is that no matter who YOU are, the phone company is still involved in the DSL equation (their copper, their switch, and generally, their ATM service to your office to decapsulate the traffic and put it on the Internet). Around here, that means SBC. And SBC has their own DSL product that they sell for twelve bucks. In order to provide any kind of DSL to our subscribers, we have to pay SBC 11... so on ONE DOLLAR we're supposed to provide support, servers, a fat pipe to the Internet, and SOMEHOW make a profit. And they've graciously extended that 'special offer' into 2004, and their sales rep expects us to be grateful for it.

Whatever Speakeasy is doing right in the face of that kind of pricing, I'd love to know, before SBC puts us out of the broadband business.
Qwest is cheaper than Speakeasy, there's no doubt about that; I pay about $70/month for my DSL, compared to probably $20 I could do with Qwest.

But Qwest won't give me static IP addresses; Speakeasy will. Qwest folks don't spend the time or effort to make certain the line works; the Speakeasy folks actually watch my traffic quality and warn me if there's packet drop above a certain percentage, then contact to have the line looked at. Qwest's technical support makes me feel like I am imposing by calling them, like they want me off the phone as soon as possible. Speakeasy's technical support? Heck, while they look stuff up for me, they'll chat casually rather than keep me on hold, and generally make me feel like they're glad to have me as a customer.

I remember Speakeasy when they were a little local Internet cafe who were trying to offer dialup, and my friends and I used to eat there when we worked on our homework ('cause when we finished, we could play networked games). But they always made you feel like they were glad to have you there at their cafe...and I commented to the tech person the other day that their support and sales folks still seem to keep that same attitude.

And that, to me, makes all the difference.