Optimum has competition in the Bronx now and I dropped them for Verizon FiOS

Does a NETGEAR AC5300 Nighthawk X8 work with Verizon FiOS?

Short answer: yes, on the 300/300 plan, it works perfectly and gets max DL/UL speeds over WiFi. After the Verizon modem was activated by the service technician, I plugged in the Netgear router, and it picked up a new IP address and DNS settings after about 30 seconds. It’s been running without issue for ~4 days now.

Moving from Optimum to Verizon FiOS

When I moved into my current apartment in the Bronx, the only provider available was Optimum. Anyone that has used Optimum knows it’s not exactly a top tier service provider. I’ve had to talk to them on the phone about my billing repeatedly and with two exceptions, every person I’ve talked to has been rude, unhelpful, and sounded uneducated. It’s the McDonald’s of ISPs, but like most parts of the country, there was only one ISP available in my area and it was them.

Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Shortly after moving into my apartment, I registered my interest in having FiOS installed on Verizon’s website. I didn’t think it was going to take 5 years, but earlier this month Verizon technicians finally came and installed fiber optic lines in my building.

Not a moment too soon, either, because a few days later Optimum doubled my bill. Sometimes, a retail store will inflate the price of an item to three times what it should be and then (supposedly) mark it down to double its actual value and say it’s on sale. It’s a real scumbag practice and it’s illegal. Optimum is just like that; except they get away with it because people don’t have a choice. Or at least they didn’t. Competition means better prices for consumers, so I called up Optimum to see what they would offer to keep me as a customer.

I was expecting a deal of some sort and I would have been happy to pay a few dollars more than the $39.99 per month that Verizon was asking just to save the headache of having to switch providers and set up an installation appointment. Instead, I was badgered, insulted, and called a liar.

The Optimum retention employee that I spoke to told me that I was lying about Verizon being available in my building, lying about the plan speed Verizon was offering, and lying about the pricing. I really had to push back on him and tell him that he could verify what I’m saying himself through Verizon’s website if he wanted to. It was frustrating because he could have easily double-checked what I was saying without calling me a liar and making me question my own memory of what I had just done and looked at.

He then asked me to look at my bill so he could point out the supposedly amazing promotional credit I was getting that brought their inflated price down by $50. Then he asked me to look at the Optimum website where a $35.99 per month offer for 300/30 internet was being advertised. I asked him if he was planning to offer me the $35.99 per month to keep me as a customer and he said no, so I wasn’t sure what the point of showing that to me was other than to insult me. I ended the call.

The next day I called Verizon and completed the sign up through the web browser on my phone. The day after that Verizon came out and completed their installation in my apartment. The installation crew was fast, professional, and courteous. They were even on time and, prior to showing up, kept me updated via SMS so I would know when to expect them.

The service itself is great. I haven’t had any issues with buffering or high ping even during peak hours. The difference in page load speeds and gaming responsiveness is noticeable even though the plan’s download speed is the same. I think a lot of that has to do with the improved ping, which is half to a third of what I was getting with Optimum.

Verizon FiOS 300/300 speed test results from around 8 PM on a Monday night.

Keeping the Verizon plan cost down by using my own router

Verizon doesn’t charge a rental fee for their modems, but they do charge a router fee. Since I’m using my own router, a NETGEAR AC5300 Nighthawk X8 that I bought 5 years ago, I get around that extra fee and our first bill came out to exactly $39.99 with autopay and paperless billing enabled. I was a little concerned about whether my router would work because there seems to be a lot of contrary content posted online, but I had absolutely no issues. After the Verizon modem was activated, I plugged in our router and within 2 minutes I had completed a speed test confirming that the service was working.

The NETGEAR AC5300 Nighthawk X8 is a high-end router and I’m quite sure it could handle their Gigabit plan, though I’ll never need that kind of bandwidth. I almost got the higher plan just to have it, but we wouldn’t ever need it, so I figured there’s no reason to throw that money into the wind.

I feel pretty good about the value to cost ratio given what we use the internet for in our apartment. Plus, we have a stand-alone, no contract internet plan and, unless they have it hidden really well (I read through the billing and agreement), I’m not going to have to renegotiate the price with them every year like I had to do with Optimum. Fingers crossed.

Optimum offered the farm to keep me as a customer

I canceled our Optimum service yesterday after sitting with Verizon FiOS for a few days to make sure it’s stable and the retention rep and retention supervisor I spoke to offered me quite a bit to keep me as a customer. Their tone changed entirely when I said that I already had Verizon FiOS installed.

It makes me think that the first retention rep I spoke to really believed that I was lying, that I had no choice, and that he could talk to me any way he liked because I would have no recourse. Thinking about that made me even more upset about the situation and happier that FiOS is now available to us.

The retention supervisor offered me three months of free service as an apology for the way I was treated by the first retention rep and three additional months of free service to keep me as a customer (six months total), but it was already too late for that. Would you let someone talk to you like you are garbage and then roll over and accept it for a few months of free service? I have self-respect and dignity. And Optimum has competition now.

Thumper’s Ashes

Thumper’s ashes.

Losing Artuso recently had me thinking about Thumper’s ashes. Thumper was a big part of our lives. She was a part of us and now she’s gone. It has been almost two years and it’s still painful to think about how she’s no longer with us, though it isn’t as wrenching as it was when she first passed away.

For a long time, we couldn’t have her ashes set out because it was too painful, but now, with Artuso gone as well, it felt wrong to me to have Artuso’s ashes placed in a nice location while Thumper’s were still stored away, so I put her ashes on the shelf by my desk, near my plants. The area is sunny all day and she’s surrounded by life, which seems fitting to me since she brought so much life, joy, and happiness to us while she was alive.

A shout out to my buddy Artuso. RIP.

RIP Artuso Peroni.
2017 – 30 Apr 2021

It’s been a little over two weeks since Artuso passed away. Like Thumper before him, he passed away from cancer. He had tumors in his back-right leg that eventually broke the skin and were causing him a lot of pain. Except for his favorite Greenies treats, he stopped eating. Then he stopped using his hammock. When he started having trouble just walking, we knew it was time for him to move on.

We only had him for a year and a half, and I wonder if he already had this illness when we found him and that’s why he was abandoned in the street in Little Italy in the Bronx. The timeline seems about right. But I don’t suppose it matters whether he was thrown out because he died loved and in a good home.

Artuso was incredibly sweet and gentle. You could tell he appreciated every act of kindness and affection we gave him. Unlike some of our other cats, he always wanted to be right next to us just for the sake of being next to us. He didn’t have ulterior motives like trying to wake us up early for food. That’s a difference between street rescues and cats raised at home that I’ve noticed. Rescues tend to not take affection and comforts for granted.

Artuso was always fascinated with the bedroom, and he enjoyed spending hours on our bed bathing in the sunbeams coming through the windows. Because Artuso enjoyed being in the bedroom so much, I put his ashes on the dresser near the bedroom window. The sun shines on that dresser for a good part of the afternoon so I think he would appreciate being placed there.

Artuso’s ashes in a nice, carved wooden box.

Thank you for being a part of our lives, Artuso. I wish you’d been with us longer, but I’m glad we had a little time together to learn from and enjoy being with each other.

Liberal elites and “right-wing populists”

“I think right-wing populists hate the ‘liberal elite’ more than economic elites because they’ve grabbed all the jobs where you get paid to do something that isn’t just for the money – the pursuit of art, or truth, or charity”, notes David Graeber, an anthropologist whose ideas helped shape the Occupy movement. “All they can do if they want to do something bigger than themselves and still get paid is join the army.”

― Sarah Kendzior, The View From Flyover Country: Essays by Sarah Kendzior

Something about this quote doesn’t sit right with me. I highlighted it when I read The View From Flyover Country a few years ago and I can’t remember why. Maybe I thought it made sense at the time, but from a 2021 perspective, it comes across as insulting. Maybe I just don’t know enough about politics.

I don’t think “right-wing populists” hate liberal elites because they supposedly have a monopoly on certain jobs. There are conservatives that are financially successful who don’t like liberal elites. There are conservatives who are artists, or work in some art adjacent position, and that contribute to charity. I’m not even sure what job is being referred to when Graeber mentions the pursuit of truth. What is that? Journalists? Most journalists aren’t even journalists anymore. They’re entertainers.

What’s being overlooked here is that conservatives aren’t being excluded from these fields due to a lack of ability but rather because of the good old boy system. Getting jobs at higher levels is more about who you know than what you know and once a certain number of people in a position to welcome you into that circle of good old boys are adherents to specific ideology, then of course most of the people that they add to their ranks are going to follow that same ideology.

People want to be comfortable. They don’t want to surround themselves with people who challenge their point of view or outlook on the world. So, it makes sense that certain professions and institutions would be dominated by people with the same outlook.

Graeber’s comment about right-wing populists only being able to join the military makes it seem as if all conservatives are poor and have no options in life, and it implies that the military is full of low achievers, which isn’t the case. Clearly. America may fall behind in a lot of metrics, but we’re really good at blowing up other countries because we have the best military in the world.

It’s more likely that right-wing populists dislike liberal elites because liberal elites say things like this quote by Graeber. Liberal elites infantilize and talk down to conservatives. They constantly insult conservatives and try to sideline or minimize their existence.

An old missing cat poster I created in Singapore

We were looking through old photos on my wife’s old laptop a few days ago and we found this poster that I made when we lived in Singapore.

10 years ago, I posted this missing cat poster around Pasir Ris in Singapore. We had been feeding this cat below an HDB there for a few months and, one day, she suddenly went missing. We did eventually find her. One day, she just showed back up under the building.

I still wonder what she was doing during the week or so that she was missing. We were in contact with other people in the area that were caring for her and we knew she had already been spayed, so it wasn’t that.

Maybe she was exploring? Or had a bad encounter and was hiding out?

I like to think that someone else had decided to adopt her but then saw that other people were concerned for her and let her back out. It’s nice to think that there are a lot of people who care about animal welfare.

Anyway, this cat isn’t really “Mini” anymore. She’s about 11 now and she lives in Manhattan, New York City, with my Mom. We brought her with us when we moved.

I guess she’s pretty spoiled now. She eats shrimp, steak, and other table scraps in addition to her regular food. She has an apartment and a balcony to herself as well. No other cats to compete with.

Marble, living the big life in the city.