Are you up to living in Mexico?

August 30, 2013:

Our daughter, Vero, sent me this short email late yesterday:
Steve, Did that work? I just tried calling the magic jack number.

8:45 PM (11 hours ago)
To: Vero
We have been exploring ever deeper levels of tech-hell the last 2 days.

Yesterday: a super-close FLASHBANG lightning strike took out the wired/ethernet-cabled-half of our Cablemas router, and also ruined the HDMI output on our ROKU-TV box. Still, the wireless side of our Cablemas router still worked…

Mexican Lightning







Think your $10 powerstrip “surge protector” is enough?   We had all our electronics circuit breakers on a $1,000 peso power conditioner – with 5 year guarantee of full protection for electronics.    This close strike got past the conditioner, plus it ruined neighbor Don Francisco’s Telmex phone service ~ (which is still out, and may be out for days.)

Fully hopeful of getting full internet back,  today,  I pedaled over to the Cablemas office (cycling in our steamy-summer tropical Yucatán jungle heat is better than it sounds, because pedaling makes its own breeze, so you feel OK,  until you stop, when heat from your core explodes out through your pores …   ooops, back to the Cablemas office … )   – sat in the chairs Sitting in Chairs – made apologies for my poor-Spanish by offering that we could speak either “su Ingles o mi Español malo” … “Su Español malo, por favor, Jeffe.“-  had a computer-terminal tech look at our damaged router – all to hear him say “the soonest we can get you a router is next Miercoles (Wednesday)…”   5 days out – but at least the wireless part of the Cablemas router works to beam weak signals around through our massively thick stone walls – and … they let me keep the damaged-limping router.

next level of tech-hell?   The Cablemas router was connected to the Cablemas cable in our home-office – making the wireless signal go through 2 or 3 thick mamposteria walls – knocking down the signal – making Skype and laptops and Slingbox work poorly.

next level of tech-hell?  I decided, “Oh well heck, I’ll just give up and move my computer and TV stuff into the office PC computer – next to the router… ” It turns out the lightning strike smoked the network card on our office PC…   burned circuit board

next ever-lower level of tech-hell?   To get better wireless signals:  Move the Cablemas router from the office over into the living room – which means moving/installing cables  into the living room – to allow Maria Alba to use Skype and watch internet streamed movies, and for me to watch some TV.

Out into the rooftop’s  still-blazing sun,  I disconnected our old satellite dish,  moved those cables over to the Cablemas entry-point  ~  cut cables ~ and installed a connector on the old cables, and descend hopefully back into the cool house.  …  My first crude rooftop re-cabling combined with re-purposing the old satellite TV cabling – got decent internet signals (now 3:00 pm) moved into the living room through the old satellite cable – but the signals were a little dirty, plus streaming cut-out and froze briefly under heavy demand.

next lower level of tech-hell?   Went back up onto the roof, replaced a 3-month-old weak splitter with a new union/butt-connector, and installed yet one final new cable connector end, and treated the connections with special NASA corrosion-healing lube.    Returned downstairs …   internet now working 10% better than it ever has … looked promising, until I tried to connect to Slingbox to watch some news about the breaking situation in Ukraine.

next lower level of tech-hell? pixilated Slingbox TV  Slingbox went from crappy early in the day to…

… total shutdown at that point.    rotten TV signal

As I screwed around with cleaning programs on my computer to get rid of junk files and free-up memory and eliminate registry errors, etc, I watched beautifully streaming French TV from a French website to get a little news.

next lower level of tech-hell?

French News PresenterAs I connected, disconnected, and re-connected cables on my laptop computer, the ethernet cable port on my relatively new laptop computer now doesn’t snap in the cables tight anymore…. making ethernet connections flaky…

next lower level of tech-hell?

As I got the laptop connections to work, … the Cablemas router completely lost its connection to the internet – (but it did work for 30 minutes of sweet sweet French news) causing me to suspect either my new roof-top connections (wind, .???) …  or … that yet a fresh new component part of the Cablemas router mother-board had failed.   =>   computer probes  the Cablemas router’s diagnostic software – and finds both of our laptop computers were connecting to the Cablemas router just fine, but there were absolutely no signals coming into the Cablemas router from Cablemas – and no outgoing connections… NOTHING – both sets of 10 values (in and out) had “~ O dB ~ ” … began furiously resetting the router,  multiple times … nada ….   I have never seen that before in 8 years here – as there are usually at least some tiny voltages dribbling in…

next lower level of tech-hell?   Up to the still-hot roof the check things  (yes, it’s still hot at 4:00 pm) …. it all looks good…

next lower level of tech-hell?    Compulsively check the router and laptop every 10 minutes to see if any internet signals were coming from the limping Cablemas router… nada

Gave up – got a cool drink – and took a luxurious cat-nap.

next level of tech hell?    Clients at the apartment building call to say: “Our internet is out...”

I packed-up my laptop, cables,  and router over to the apt. building and found that at least all three routers in the apartments were fine, … but no Cablemas internet nor TV…

Gave up, explained to the tenants that “everybody’s Cablemas is out in our neighborhood” – that we have an appointment scheduled in 5 days for Cablemas techs to come out –  and resigned myself to no TV nor internet until next Wednesday’s Cablemas appointment – on to grilling hamburgers.

next lower level of tech-hell?   The edges of 2 burgers burned-black due to a newly rusted-out hole in the gas grill’s burner.    burnt burger

rest of the burgers tasted great…

Talked with neighbor Don Francisco about their Cablemas service – to find out that all of their telephone, internet and TV (from different providers) were all out…

What book to read for the next days…

Decided to re-connect our Cablemas router back to the new-livingroom-cable-connection ~ to try it one last time. ~ … lights… ~  more lights … ~ ALL the lights flashing merrily…. IT ALL WORKS…. with the strongest best signals ever to our computers and TV…

Read email:   Vero wrote to say that the power at their house had been fluctuating all day – screwing up their DirecTV and my Slingbox. …. Checked Slingbox: WORKS GREAT….

Decided to try to get Magic Jack working for Maria Alba and Vero to talk….

“back to the previous programming” :   Our brand spanking new Magic Jack gives a display on Maria Alba’s laptop…   but won’t connect to the Magic Jack server… at all.      Is our new Magic Jack partly cooked? (the previous new-style Magic Jack died after just 3 months)  or is Magic Jack’s server down….

Realize that we are in the middle of a true tropical heat wave…  and heat is building inside the house.

My solution?

ice cold beerIce cold beer & Advil…

kick-back, and enjoy the PBS newshour from PBS-Colorado  to  103W satellite over Ecuador – back to Colradp by Nate & Vero’s DirecTV via Slingbox  via  Century Link   via   Slingbox’s far-off server   via   Cablemas’s server   via   our limping-router via   wireless signals to my laptop…


me,  stubborn?   nah….

p.s. Vero, You can now call your mom using Skype.

*                 *                 *                *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan. © Steven M. Fry

Read-on MacDuff . . .

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16 Responses to Are you up to living in Mexico?

  1. Wilma says:

    some people just don’t get it

    • Wilma says:

      people that live in area that have lightning should unplug everything when there is a storm comming, and they should also unplug when they leave the house.
      but blaming it on Mexico is more fun

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Wilma,
        I agree about disconnecting things when the lightning starts, but blaming Mexico?
        Know that CFE, Cablemas, and Telmex don’t use the lightning arrestors common in Canada, USA, & Europe – so we’ve even had lightning come in through the internet CABLE and TV CABLE here – while unplugged from the power – smoking the circuit boards and melting/fusing internet cables from their modem to our computer’s network cards ~ so unplugging things is not always enough. Fortunately, Cablemas installed new cable and bought us new network cards during that one.

        plus – this time? This was a dry-strike – no rain – just overcast.
        (Was God unhappy with the neighbor?)

        Do you unplug everything when it is only overcast ? (not raining)

      • Wilma says:

        Steve: My friends in Little Rock unplug everything that is not in use.
        except the refrigeratot, and they unplug that too when they leave the house.

      • yucalandia says:


        Since our strike came in through the TV cable, we’d have to unscrew the cables every time – no fun – and the cable sockets wear out too early – as they are not designed/engineered to be unscrewed and screwed 1,000’s of times (the center point socket wears out)…
        oh well,

  2. MeridaGOround says:

    Steve – was there any rumbling from the distance, or was this dry strike utterly rude, without notice?

    We had a flash-bang event several years ago to the top of a tall locust tree in the side yard. It took down half the tree, sending exploding bark and chunks of wood past the back door. The circle of debris was stunning. Glad I had a large filter on the incoming line from the street, as sometimes such strikes can enter the house service. Happily, there was no damage inside.

    Wow, your event sounds stunning!

    • yucalandia says:

      Good question.

      We no longer have a dog – as they’ve been our best far-off lightning detectors – and my hearing is so-so at best. I was in an interior room – and had all the house windows closed to keep out the heat – so there may have been distant rumblings – but I didn’t hear any.

      stunning? I have not been jumpy for years, but this one made me jump and instinctively duck-&-cover sheltering my head – as the blaze of light flashed through the nearby glass-block “window” and boom shook the walls.

  3. Hana1080 says:

    Obviously this lady lady did not suffer through last winter’s polar vortex affect upon the US mid and eastern states cable systems from Wisconsin to New York nor is she being held hostage by com,cast et al. My friends were loudly complaining. For comic relief I’m adding comedian John Oliver’s take on American cable networks and net neutrality (WARNING: adult language) My question then is “Are you up to living in the US?” (I’m not or I would have stayed there 🙂

    I ran a small B&B near Progreso and we had to ground the hotel. The extra effort worked.

    • Hana1080 says:

      We “ground” the small hotel after a lightning strike took out our neighbors TV WHILE his children were watching. Again, in order to protect our guests, it was worth the effort.

  4. Ray says:

    Hey Steve.

    A big issue that people overlook is that the surge protector really only works if it has a proper ground and many homes here do not have grounded electrical, yes there are three prong outlets but the ground is non-existent.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Ray,
      Our electricity is double grounded using a copper ground stake and a copper water pipe.

      Your advice works if the strike comes in through the electricity wires. This strike came in through the Cablemas internet cable.

  5. Paula says:

    We have 2 LA 302R installed in our electrical box to guard against lightning/surge in the lines.
    After getting hit, and having $3,000 usd’s in damage this has been well worth it.

    We got hit BECAUSE the CFE didn’t do their job, and we didn’t dig deep enough holes for the grounding rods. For the CFE’s part, they did not reset the lighting resisters on the pole after they “popped” previously..This was well documented in the letters for request for service to the CFE we submitted to the CFE.
    This is the surge protector (LA302R) we had installed. Unfortunately you would have to find someone to mule them down, or take a chance on having them shipped down.

    We have had no strikes since we installed these surge protectors, and dug deeper holes for the grounding of the house.

  6. Sheila says:

    I am so glad I am not alone! Ja ja ja!

    • yucalandia says:

      It takes a special kind of person to enjoy living here… *grin*

      for people who don’t know, you think: “I’ll do this today, and then get that done, and make a start on this other thing”… and then Mexican-reality pokes its nose in – and you get 3 curves thrown at you… wrecking all plans and … then you smell some really good arrachera or tacos – or encounter some other fun opportunity – and…. go with the flow…

  7. Angela Raber says:

    Pardon me if this is a dumb question…. What about a lightening rod?

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