6 Days: Where I Go Dark

My mostly robust 3mbit DSL line from CenturyLink went dark around 10am yesterday (the 29th). It’s lucky that I had written yesterday’s story over the weekend and even more so that I had decided to publish it in the morning instead of late afternoon. That line has been dark since, and CTL is talking about a 24-48 window for a fix, for a problem they don’t understand. I understand it, oddly enough. Something is wrong with the IP equipment either at the remote terminal that houses my DSLAM, or at the central office that RT is connected to, such that my DSL model’s attempt to get an IP address via DHCP is failing.

I can’t fix that and neither can they by coming to my house, so all I can do is wait and hope the fix is in before the god damned election. I’ve heard horror stories that haven’t ended even half a year later. I think we all have. But this seems rather benign, as opposed to something like, say, rain damaging the coax strewn all throughout an apartment building.

I’m not sure I can keep gathering data and writing posts during this time. My laptop is brand new and more than capable, and this library with public WiFi is only 10 minutes away. But my access to a working car is quite limited, and I have other things to do (like earn money) online than this.

I don’t know what the state of the race is after I went dark on Monday, but based on all of the data that I had at that time and the way things were going just then, I seriously doubt much has changed. Being this close to the election, there was continuous state polling over the weekend that has been slowed and possibly halted due to the hurricane. I doubt the storm will change the results of the election, in case you were wondering. If turnout is softened by the storm, it’ll do so in a partisan way, despite the storm mostly hammering the liberal north east corridor. Even if Democrats typically vote early in numbers larger than Republicans, and you assume that many of those people will simply not vote as a result — an unwise assumption — you have to remember that we’re still talking about states like Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, etc. Obama isn’t going to lose New York, where he was leading like in the 30%+ range last I checked, for any reason whatsoever.

The big concern is getting power restored and public access to voting places cleared before election day. There are tens of millions of people without power and there’s no way they’ll all be hot again before the 6th. I don’t know if any state or municipality would consider giving preferential restoration to voting places, or if I would even support that.

But the issue isn’t whether or not the storm will change the result from what it was likely to be without it. It’s whether or not everyone who wants to vote will be able to, and what measures the states will take to ensure that can happen. Perhaps an emergency mass print run of absentee ballots or something. But then, where will they come from? Probably the same area where people are trying to vote, from businesses that are shutdown due to the storm.

I wouldn’t worry about the election too much unless you’re in an area affected by the story. In which case your primary concern isn’t who will win, but whether or not you have power, food and water, a job to go back to, and of course your own ability to vote. Which probably means you’re not sitting here reading my column.

I like to reduce stress by engaging in measured concern. If you can’t change what’s going to happen, then it’s OK to be concerned, but otherwise don’t even think about it. Because sitting and stewing isn’t the magic and missing ingredient that will allow you to change things. The election will happen the same way no matter what you do, so save yourself the stress and don’t worry.

FYI, The Nate is saying basically the same thing.

Paul Tenny

Paul Tenny

I'm not a journalist but I do it anyway. I cover elections and have interviewed television writers and producers.
Paul Tenny

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