Here in the land of the uneasy Internet connection I finally placed a call to my ISP to see whether they had any vision for restoring my balky service. First I played the dial-up game: "For permahold, please press one; for holiday-themed muzak, press two; for voice mail hell, press three; to preserve the illusion that meaningful human contact is still possible, press four". After two tries I hit a winning combination and managed to speak to a representative who, I have no doubt, was trying to be helpful.
"So you're having problems with your internet? I'm going to connect you to our tech support in just a moment, but first, let me ask you this - are you using DISH or Direct TV for your television? If you are, you might want to consider bundling our internet and television services."
I explained, perhaps too forcefully, that I wan't interested in paying for even more services from a company that couldn't even deliver the service they had already been paid for. He parried with the notion that he was only trying to save me some money, but when I started screaming that I was only interested in trying to save his life he put me through to the tech people.
And a day later, my problem remains unresolved. Grr.