Seventh Heaven with Network Operations!

September 13, 2022


In our seventh episode Bryan, Karen, and Micah find themselves talking about…
  • Talking all things about Network Operations with Bill Jennings and Albert Frasier.
  • What smart home technology are we using today and what are the benefits?
  • The latest on Channel 6 and area fair schedules, plus items you and your family can grab from us there.
  • Micah’s Trivia and more!

Show Notes

Transcripts have been lightly edited for clarity and readability.


Bryan Kell: Welcome to the BLC Connection Podcast. I’m Bryan Kell.

Karen Wilson: I’m Karen Wilson.

Micah Lawrence: And I’m Michael Lawrence.

All: Let’s get connected!

Bryan Kell: We’re in seventh heaven. It’s the seventh episode of the BLC Connection Podcast, and we are glad to be with you. Micah Lawrence.

Micah Lawrence: Howdy. Howdy.

Bryan Kell: Karen Wilson.

Karen Wilson: Hello.

Bryan Kell: We got a lot of stuff to get to. We always say that, but it’s very true. And we thank you for joining us for this new episode of the BLC Connection Podcast. Karen Wilson. You’ll be grilling Micah and me on smart home stuff.

Karen Wilson: Yeah, we’ll have a discussion on applications that you and Micah both use in your home and maybe some future thoughts on smart home technology.

Bryan Kell: Taking folks inside the home of the Lawrence household and the Kell household could be kind of scary, and we’ll have to find out more about that as we go along. And Micah, you have brought I see over here in the corner your bag of trivia.

Micah Lawrence: Yes, I’ve got a bag full. It is going to be trivia this time. So hopefully I’ve got some that’ll stump you.

Bryan Kell: Up next, we’ve got two guys coming in that are no strangers to really all of us here, and to one in particular, a very close friend. We’ll reveal who that is or actually who the person is that they’re really tied to in just a bit. Up next, though, Albert Frazier, Bill Jennings, network operations. We’re talking it here on the BLC Connection Podcast. It is the BLC Connection Podcast, Bryan Kell, Michael Lawrence and joining us. I say all three of these guys, including Micah, I like to call them BAM. You know, you’ve heard the group Wham. This is Bam. This is Bill, this is Albert, this is Micah. It’s BAM. It’s three guys that at one time were all in network operations together. And now we’ve actually got, you wondered if Micah, if Albert was going to laugh, and I may have been able to maybe get into that really quick.

Micah Lawrence: I’m sorry, but you just lost me. BAM!

Bryan Kell: BAM! That may find its way into the notes somehow. But Bill Jennings, Albert Frazier, welcome to the BBC Connection Podcast.

Bill Jennings: Thank you.

Albert Frazier: Thank you.

Bryan Kell: Yeah. So we’re going to be talking about all things network operations, and so what we’re going to do here first off we’ll start with Bill. Work our way around the table. Bill, what is network operations? For folks that don’t know.

Bill Jennings: Network operations is the department that builds, maintains and supports all the backbone infrastructure of the company. Everything to do with pretty much everything. So we build the network, we maintain the network, we work on the remotes out in the field, the vaults, everything you see out on the side of the roads. We maintain those and help build them pretty much a little bit of everything.

Bryan Kell: Yeah. Yeah. And, Albert, you’ve been in it for a little while too. Network operations, what does it kind of mean to you?

Albert Frazier: Oh, boy. I don’t know. Everything. It’s good work with some good people. Yeah, I just love working on the equipment.

Bryan Kell: Yeah, there’s a lot of equipment to work on. I mean, you guys find yourself out there quite a bit. Micah, you’re no stranger. Like we said at the very start of this, you spent quite a few years in network operations, and it’s a department that doesn’t get a lot of talk necessarily, but it’s so vitally important.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah, it is. And when we take a look at network operations, we’re thinking about, you know, all the remotes that are on the side of the road. They’re taking care of all the equipment that maintains or gives service to all of our customers. You’ll see Albert and Bill out there, you know, running fibers into the vaults or remotes or, you know, making all those connections. And like, as Bill said, you know, you’re going to have the backbone that goes from those remotes all the way back to here. And somebody has to help maintain all the equipment responsible to do that. So it doesn’t get as much recognition because they’re kind of behind the scenes. But they do a lot of work, a lot of great work, you know, especially during storms and things. That’s a lot of people don’t realize, you know, they see the servicemen that come out to their homes. But there’s also, you know, bigger pieces of equipment that, you know, we’ve got some equipment that host 48 customers on one piece of equipment. Making sure that that stays on line and making sure it works is a big deal.

Bryan Kell: So, Bill, how many years in network operations for you?

Bill Jennings: Ten.

Bryan Kell: And then Albert?

Albert Frazier: About three and a half for now.

Bryan Kell: And it’s not ten for you, Bill.

Bill Jennings: No, I just got thought of that. It’s more like six or seven.

Bryan Kell: Six or seven, and then Albert you said how many?

Albert Frazier: About three or four.

Bryan Kell: Okay. That seems while it seems like yesterday you were just getting into that. And then, Micah, you spent how many years in network operations?

Micah Lawrence: Quite a few.

Bryan Kell: Well, stump Micah. How many years?

Micah Lawrence: Well, you know, I was in the Internet department, which at one time wasn’t necessarily considered underneath that umbrella. So now it is. So it’s kind of a mixture of a lot of different things because I switch from Internet to switch room to, you know, now to Manage IT.

Bryan Kell: Yeah, yeah. And we’ve got some folks that have got a lot of years of service that we’ll be talking about later on that that I know have been mentors to many of you, to really all of you probably in here. But Micah, I’ll let you take it away.

Micah Lawrence: So all three of us had had a similar journey in how we got to network operations. We all kind of started out in the, at that time what’s called the CRC. Bill, I know at one time you were over the CRC. You know, we all came from the same place. But how important was it to start off in NSC or CRC or now CSC? You know, how, you know, how important was that to transition you into network operations? How did it help you? I say Albert first. How did that help you?

Albert Frazier: Well, getting familiar with customer equipment and our equipment in general, having to try and troubleshoot that to help everybody out. It was, you know, a big step toward it.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. Bill, how has it helped you?

Bill Jennings: Well, just like you said, it gives you a great foundation on supporting the equipment, getting to know the equipment. A lot of layer one issues such as cabling and hooking things up. And it helps you get in touch with the customers, too, because, you know, we talk to them every day, you know, multiple customers. And everybody does things a little different. So you kind of get to know different scenarios in the ways that customers use our services.

Bryan Kell: I know that we’ve spent a lot, Micah, you and I and Karen, we’ve talked so much, Donette Freeman’s been in here with us, about what the breeding ground of the CSC is. And in here, including yourself, which we’ve talked about before, we’ve got three examples of that starting point, kind of that genesis of folks that have gone on to do other things in other departments. It just, again, speaks to how important, how vital that is to not only the customers, but also to Ben Lomand.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah, it’s a good starting point because as they’re saying is, you know, from the CSC’s perspective, you’re logging into the equipment, you’re doing all this configuration that you’ve been taught by a process, but you’ve never actually seen that physical equipment out in the field, never actually hooked it up. You know, these guys deal with a lot of power. They deal with cabling. They did with fiber. You know, it’s not something you’re going to see over there. But it’s a good start to understand how the system works and how it gets maintained.

Bryan Kell: So a follow up to that, Albert. Albert, I’ll start with you first because you talked about being able to at least get familiar with the equipment and working with customers. How big of a learning curve was it jumping from the CSC into network operations? How was that process?

Albert Frazier: It’s a pretty big jump, but it wasn’t too bad getting to know everything on the other side of things, other than just talking on the phone. Now you get to work with it and look at it. So it’s a little bit of a step, but it wasn’t too bad.

Bryan Kell: Bill, same?

Bill Jennings: Yeah, I think the biggest jump for me was DC Power and you know, hooking up the different pieces of equipment, what the voltage differences were and that kind of thing.

Bryan Kell: Gotcha.

Micah Lawrence: So guys, when you’re out in the field and, and I guess when you go home, we do know that there’s an on call schedule. Kind of let everybody know when it comes to things like storms and ice storms.

Bryan Kell: Owww, the s-word.

Micah Lawrence: And snow. And, you know, there’s a lot of different things. Kind of tell us your experience of what you’ve been through for. What does that mean for network operations? What do you guys have to do on a normal basis?

Bill Jennings: Normally, we do damage control. I mean, if we have multiple areas out, we’re going to have multiple crews of this department going to each area. I mean, really, when there’s a storm, it’s all hands on deck. Everybody in the department, and we go into it knowing that. When we go into the department, it’s understood when there’s a storm, you’re going to go out. You know, there’s no being lazy. But it gets really stressful sometimes because you’ll go for 16 hours a day working, and it gets tiresome. And it’s not just easy work, you know, you’re throwing generators around in harsh conditions rain, snow, sleet, hail, whatever’s coming down, you’re in it.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. And I know from Bill and I, we used to ride around together when there was storms and things like that going on. And I remember one in particular, I think it was what was it, DeRossett?

Bill Jennings: It was Crossville.

Micah Lawrence: Well, it’s Crossville too. Yeah, but like the DeRossett, Bonnie crop area there. Yeah. If there wasn’t snow on the ground, you would have thought a tornado had came through. That ice storm was.

Bryan Kell: You’re talking about the storm of 2015.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah, I think so.

Bryan Kell: Really bad.

Bill Jennings: Terrible.

Micah Lawrence: And you know, there was transformers down, power lines everywhere. We were having to drive out in it. It was late at night just to get up, to Crossville to put in some generators. And if anybody has never picked up a generator before, it’s not really a one man job on some of those. They’re really heavy. And, you know, sometimes we have to do that even though, you know, our remotes have batteries in there to keep the power up, it can only keep it up for so long. So, you know, these guys are out there throwing generators out to keep the remote on line to make sure that your service stays constant.

Bryan Kell: So, Albert, I’ll throw this at you. You’re kind of one of the newer guys in that department over there. Some people might assume that, you know, we’ve got guys spread apart all over the place and stuff like that. Kind of talk about you find yourself anywhere in the service territory in a given day, correct?

Albert Frazier: Correct. Yeah. Almost, almost somewhere different every single day.

Bryan Kell: Yeah. And I know that Micah brought up storms and stuff. From what I’ve heard both from you guys and a lot of folks here at Ben Lomand is that, you know what, rain’s one thing. Flooding is another. It’s the I word. It’s ice that can be so deadly to what you guys do. I mean, you’ve been able to experience some of that. Really what made Crossville extremely bad, ice. So it’s just terrible. You guys are going out in some of the worst conditions when they’re telling everybody to stay home, network operations is going out.

Albert Frazier: And getting out in it and pairing up and doing what we can.

Bryan Kell: Yeah. So and Bill, I know that, that some pictures floated around that we showed out on social media, wind damage. I mean, just some of the things that maybe a remote can experience sometimes just from wind damage and doors getting blown off and stuff. I mean, you’ve seen some dicey stuff just in the time that you’ve been with network operations.

Bill Jennings: Yeah, I guess it was a year or two ago. Yeah, it hit Sparta, and it actually blew the doors off a remote, and we had four or five people there just trying to glue everything back together basically. I remember that storm in particular because it blew over some train cars there in Sparta on their side. So it was a bad storm, and it destroyed a lot of our service territory.

Bryan Kell: I know and Micah talking to folks when you started getting those pictures in of the doors being blown off, I’m always one to try to sit here and go, okay, let’s try to put this into perspective. How frequently does this happen? And I couldn’t get too many people to tell me any time that doors have gotten ripped off of remotes.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah, you’re I mean, it comes every now and then. Some are obviously worse than others. But, you know, honestly, it’s not just storms. We had a vault. So a vault is basically a smaller building up above ground or somewhat above ground. We’ve had a car run right into it.

Bryan Kell: Manchester.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah, and damage it completely to where it has to be fully replaced. So, you know, it’s something all the time to be, truthfully, just because our service territory is so large. You know, it’s always something.

Bryan Kell: Whether it’s Mother Nature or human nature.

Micah Lawrence: Yes.

Bryan Kell: One of those two things is always going to end up happening. Bill, I’ll throw this at you first. Network operations, you know, you guys have alluded to it. It takes a combination, really, of some brains and brawn. Talk about kind of that balancing act of the times where your brains need it and other times where, you know, you’ve kind of already mentioned it. You’re slinging, you know, generators around everywhere. Talk about that.

Bill Jennings: Well, the brains part comes in to the network side of it. When you’re having to work on the network equipment here in the back, you’re having to do a lot of high level networking work. It’s very demanding on your brain. I mean, even aside from that, we’re having to deal with email problems and phone problems. You know, the phones work on a network just like back here. So really every aspect of the job takes a lot of brains. And when you’re putting in power, you’ve got to pay attention to what you’re doing or you can get hurt really quick doing that. So you have to you have to think about what you’re doing before you do it. On the brawn side, when we’re building these vaults and, you know, working inside the building and stuff. Sometimes we’re having to move these cables around that have, you know, hundreds of fibers in them, and which those aren’t as heavy as the old copper. But you’re having to run around the room and make sure they’re very secure, make sure they’re not going to move. You’re having to throw the generators around. You know, it’s just a little bit of everything.

Bryan Kell: So I know that I’ve been so impressed over the years. I know Micah was involved in some of those meetings. You were in some of those. I can’t remember if it was Albert that was there or not. But when there has been something that is required, network operations to come together to try to troubleshoot something. Being kind of the fly on the wall in the back, that’s the marketing guy kind of just waiting for that information to be able to maybe talk to customers about and message that. It’s been so impressive to watch how this department comes together to troubleshoot something and the brains and wheels that are turning. Albert, you being one of the new guys, that’s got to be something at times that’s like, wow, that’s a ton of information that’s going through here to try to get to the root of the problem, right?

Albert Frazier: Oh, yeah, it can be a lot all at once. But once we all get together, it’s just everyone. Just, you know, if we run into an issue throwing ideas out and trying different things and everybody working together for it.

Micah Lawrence: So, yeah, so, so continuing this thought about the brains part of this is we know that there’s a lot of different technologies that Ben Lomand provides, you know, everything from telephone service to video to data. We know that there’s a lot of different technologies you guys have to keep up with. What’s kind of some of the things that you guys you know, we know that there are certifications that you might have to go through. What are some of the different pieces that you you have to know? You know, we obviously know networking. You have to know networking. But what else is there that you run into, would you say?

Bill Jennings: We do have different certifications that we get. One is a CCNA certification.

Micah Lawrence: Which is?

Bryan Kell: I was going to say, I’ll be the dumb guy. What’s that exactly?

Bill Jennings: Sorry, that’s a Cisco certified network associate. And you can progress up that ladder if you want to. But, and you’re not required to get that certification, but it does help you in your job because we’ve got a lot of Cisco gear in the back that we have to maintain, and we have to build routes going out to other providers. I was looking at getting a, and I can’t remember the name of it right now.

Micah Lawrence: Ciena.

Bryan Kell: Yes, thank you. I was looking to getting a Ciena certification, and it put me on the spot there. I couldn’t remember the name of it. But you know, we go to school for these things when we can, and it really helps us because if if we don’t keep up to date on all this, we’re just going to fall behind, and it’s going to be bad for everybody.

Micah Lawrence: Well, I think a lot of people don’t realize how many different, you know, technologies there are back here that you have to be intelligent in to be able to you know. It’s easy to hook stuff up, but when it comes to troubleshooting, that becomes very difficult because it’s not working the way that you know it to work. And then you got to figure out as to why. But, you know, when you look at network operations, you’ve got we’ve got the switch room downstairs. You know, you’re dealing with the phone switching service. You’ve got, you know, everything that’s involved with that. You’ve got the Internet. So you’ve got to take care of everything data wise, networking wise, like Bill’s talking about. But you also have the video service, our video service that we use and how all that functions, it’s a little bit different too. But what’s great about what network operations is today is that it’s all IP based, pretty much. A little bit different on the software side, but it’s still IP based and makes things lots easier to troubleshoot and deal with. But it is a task, I would say.

Bryan Kell: Yeah, well, I tell you what, Micah, I’m going to ask you a question which in some cases will probably piggyback into you asking your fellow cohorts over here. I’ve understood over the months and years that the three of you all at times after hours, let’s make that perfectly clear. After hours, not in the middle of storms and not during the middle of the day, do you enjoy gaming together, is that correct?

Micah Lawrence: That is correct. Pretty much. After all, our kids go to bed. We get on, and we start playing games. I’ve had fun, and I enjoy playing with these guys. You know, the goal of the night is to see if we can get Albert to laugh and just can’t talk. And it’s sometimes it’s a lot of fun to do that.

Albert Frazier: So it works most of the time.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. But it’s a good way for us to relax. You know, we all enjoy it. We all have good fun, so it’s great.

Bryan Kell: Yeah. Yeah. So I guess with you talking about gaming, I guess I’ll start with Albert. What got you into gaming? And as a follow up to that, what games are you playing now? So talk about when you first got started versus today.

Albert Frazier: Oh, first getting started. I mean, I’d always watch my brothers play games most of the time on the Sega Genesis or Nintendo 64 or something like that. Playing, I mean, Metroid most of the time was the first game I watched them play, and then it’d be Mario of some kind. But yeah, now I think we all just get together, mostly just play Destiny 2. That’s a newer game.

Bryan Kell: Good one. Good one. Yeah.

Albert Frazier: I know a lot of people play Minecraft too. We’ve done that a bit, and a bunch of different ones though.

Bryan Kell: Yeah. Bill, what hooked you, and what’s hooking you today?

Bill Jennings: Well, I guess I’ll show my age a little bit. My first encounter with gaming was back in the eighties with a Commodore 64.

Bryan Kell: Wow. Okay.

Bill Jennings: Loved that thing. And I enjoyed playing it. I didn’t play it as much, you know, because I would play outside when I was a kid. But after that I went to Nintendo. I remember when that debuted and my rich friend had one, and I didn’t. So I went over his house, and we had sleepovers, and I would play Mario all night.

Bryan Kell: Was your rich friend Keaton Kell?

Bill Jennings: No, no. I wasn’t friends with him until I was about 16. A little older.

Bryan Kell: It went downhill from there.

Bill Jennings: Yeah. Yeah. Life took a big turn after that.

Bryan Kell: So what are you playing today?

Bill Jennings: Well, mostly, like he said, Destiny 2, Minecraft. Really, I got into online gaming with Micah more than anything. I started playing Counterstrike, which is the first person shooter. A lot of people would compare it to Call of Duty, I guess, but we started playing that online when I got into the CRC, and I enjoyed it a lot because it’s fun interacting with people online and in that environment.

Bryan Kell: And friends and friends you work with and all that stuff. So I’ve got to ask you, what got you hooked and what are you playing today?

Micah Lawrence: So obviously, I’m same as Bill. Of course, we started off in Atari 7200. That was fun when it was actually Mario Bros.

Bryan Kell: 76 or.

Micah Lawrence: 7200. That’s right.

Bryan Kell: There’s 2600 and 72000. You’re correct.

Micah Lawrence: So we started off with Mario Brothers before they came super. So that was an interesting part I guess.

Bill Jennings: Regular brothers.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah, just the regular brothers. So but yeah, we involved just about every gaming system from Nintendo to whatever else they got out there nowadays. I’ve pretty much been involved and always loved it as a kid. But yeah, now it’s just more of, I love the story on a lot of these games, but more than anything I do like the cooperative side of it too, where we can all get together, have a laugh, have fun. But you know, like Bill said when we started off with CSGO, of course, I’m playing more, a little bit more of Valorant with some of my nephews and friends from church, and I like the strategy. The strategy is a lot of fun because we’re coordinating together, accomplishing the the same task. So it’s really good to have that cooperation.

Bryan Kell: Yeah, good stuff. That’s something we a lot of us share.

Micah Lawrence: So, Bryan, how did you get into it?

Bryan Kell: I’ll make it quick, and then we’ll get to the final question and let these guys go. I was an Atari 2600 guy cause I’m the oldest guy in the room here. And so and then that was, you know, that was Space Invaders, that was Missile Command. And then what I’m playing now, I’m trying to complete Far Cry Five, which is a fantastic game. So that’s what hooked me then, and that’s what took me today. But yeah, that’s those are always fun questions. Okay, guys, I’ve always said that the network operations department, it’s a lot like we talked about this before we got on the air. This is kind of ironic, but it’s a lot like a Top Gun Academy in my mind is that guys don’t shy away from looking, you know, take on a problem or an issue and just get the job done. Bill, I’ll start with you. Talk about the amount of experience that resides in that department and how I guess it would have to start with the father of the Internet. Right, Joe Hamby. But just talk about that experience that sits in this department.

Bill Jennings: Well, there is a lot of experience in this department, like you said, Joe Hamby. I’ve always admired him ever since I started working there. And Micah got the benefit of working closely with him when he started. And I was kind of in a different building when I started. But, you know, I get these emails from Joe, and it would it would just explain everything, you know? It was like getting an email. Yeah, it was like an email from the pope. It just tells you everything, you know. It was so far above my level that, you know, I just I got a huge amount of respect for him and, you know, and we still got a lot of that here. We’ve got people in the department that have got knowledge that I hope one day to learn.

Bryan Kell: Yeah, Albert, you’ve been able to see, you know, so many of these guys, and you’ve got some some great mentors to be able to learn from as you grow through, go and grow through network operations. Talk about those guys that have been here for a little while.

Albert Frazier: Oh, yeah, there’s years and years of experience through everybody there. You know, most of them know a lot of the same things and then some know more than others. But it’s just trying to learn little bits from them at a time to piece it all together.

Bryan Kell: Micah, it’s like a lot of the departments, if not every department at Ben Lomand Connect, the combined knowledge of the people that make up the department is awesome and just really helps Ben Lomand go.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. And that’s the reason why I say they’re kind of one of the most underrated departments because what people don’t realize is, yes, there is tons of experience in that department. But the best thing about is and what I like about these guys is, they don’t shy away from a problem. They all attack it together as a group. They work to find resolution. And that’s exactly who you want to be there and why it is kind of considered that Top Gun Academy type thing is because, you know, you get in there because you’re known for wanting to fix the issue. You want to work hard hours, you want to work hard at it. So, yeah, absolutely. I agree.

Bryan Kell: Bill, Albert, Micah, BAM. Thank you so much for coming on. I’m still trying to coax a laugh out of Albert for coming on the The BLC Connection Podcast. Thanks for all the folks that you all are representing today and for the work that you all do.

Bill Jennings: Thank you, Bryan.

Karen Wilson: This is the BLC Connection Podcast, and it’s time for our Connected Home segment. I’m Karen Wilson, and Micah and Bryan are back to talk about living in a smart home. So let’s start with Micah. I’ll throw this one to you. What is a smart home, and what are some of the smart home possibilities?

Micah Lawrence: So when we say smart home, what we’re referring to are different devices within your home that are, let’s just say, Internet connected. The possibilities as of right now is almost endless because we are seeing devices and Internet and Wi-Fi being put in multiple devices throughout your home more than it ever has been before. So yeah, there’s a lot of possibilities today.

Karen Wilson: So I guess anything a smart home can be anything that you’re doing utilizing an app, controlling things, whether it’s your thermostat, whether it’s your oven or your dishwasher or your refrigerator, that’s what makes a smart home. Okay. So it’s not really a panel in your home. I guess you can take it to that level. But any kind of app that you’re using to control something.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Doesn’t necessarily have to be, you know, a tablet sitting on the wall, but obviously that integrates with that smart home. Absolutely.

Karen Wilson: So let’s talk about the smart home or the devices that you all utilize in your home. Bryan, what’s some smart home technology that you use on a daily basis?

Bryan Kell: So when we were talking about this particular segment, it was trying to figure out what we’ve got in our homes that are smart home capable. The one that I will use on a daily basis that I have really enjoyed since installing as I have. I won’t give out the brand, but a type of garage door device or garage door opener in which comes with an application that I can open, lower set times to be able to make sure like at the end of the night, if I want to make sure that my garage door is closed, and it’s not closed, and it’s crack to let the dogs out or open to where my son is come in and out of that. At a certain time each night, it will make sure that that garage door is closed. So with with me, it’s the garage door capabilities of the application that I use when it comes down to this smart home technology.

Karen Wilson: What about you, Micah? What do you enjoy utilizing in the app world?

Micah Lawrence: Well, since I’m a big nerd, I like a lot of different things. I also have a garage door opener. What I like most about that is if I drive away from my house, I’ll give you an example. My mother was driving away from her house yesterday, and she got all the way to about Walmart and realized that she didn’t she didn’t know whether she left the garage door open or not. She had a lot of things on her mind. She had to drive all the way back. So in my case, what I do is I can open up my app and my app will tell me whether the garage door is open or closed and actually for how long it’s been open or closed. So that’s a lot of good information. I actually got one for my pool pump, believe it or not. I can look at my pool pump right now, see if it’s on or off. I can set schedules, don’t even have to be there and it will control that. Then I had fun with my daughter and installed a bunch of home automation stuff in her room from anything from light bulbs to the ceiling fan to you name it.

Micah Lawrence: And you had it where it can all cut on different things just by her telling her Google home to turn this on or turn that off. The last one I kind of, I kind of like is I’ve got one of the Nest thermostats. If anybody doesn’t know what a Nest thermostat is, it is Wi-Fi connected. It allows me to set as many schedules as I want to have it at this temperature at that time and all that. But what I like the best about it is when we go on vacation, I don’t want to sit there and cool down the house to a super cool temperature and waste a lot of electricity. I can set it high and about an hour before I get home, driving from wherever we’ve being, I can turn it on, turn the air conditioner on. So that way when I get home, it’s nice and cool. So it’s really awesome to be able to do stuff like that.

Karen Wilson: Yeah, that’s a great idea. It makes me want to, you guys, make me want to buy a new garage door and things like that. I was talking before we went when I was working on these questions that I kind of live in a dumb home. It’s kind of old school. But as you replace appliances and have to replace things, all of these technology seems like come with most of the new appliances and whatever, you know, your security systems and things like that. It seems like they all just about have this technology now.

Bryan Kell: Was there somebody like you or somebody we were talking to that that actually jumped into and got a smart refrigerator?

Micah Lawrence: That’s me.

Bryan Kell: That is you. Tell us about that. That’s fascinating.

Micah Lawrence: So what I like about it and also the thermostat as well, I’ll get monthly emails. So in particular on the thermostat…

Bryan Kell: Need more cookies.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So on the thermostat, it tells me how many kilowatt hours I used, how efficient my unit was compared to other Nest thermostat users to see if, am I being energy efficient? Am I using a lot of electricity? And then it can also report a few problems too. So that’s really neat. As far as the refrigerator, same principle, you know, it can report troubles. It tells me how many liters of water that I’ve used out there. Then it actually they follow that up with saying how many plastic bottles I saved from the landfills. Oh, I can also adjust the temperature on the refrigerator. And then, of course, they have some even more expensive ones that can send you your grocery list. They’ve got cameras. They’ve got some product identifying cameras inside the refrigerator. And it can tell you what you have in your refrigerator right now. That blows my mind. But I didn’t want to pay for that. It’s a lot more expensive. But yeah, as time goes along, you’re going to see more devices just get connected. They call this the Internet of Things just because everything’s getting connected.

Karen Wilson: I guess I didn’t really think about that when I was working on the questions. I did get a new bed. That’s a smart bed recently.

Bryan Kell: Yes! That is right.

Karen Wilson: So I have a smart bed now.

Bryan Kell: Tell us about that. It’s really cool.

Karen Wilson: Yeah, it is. It kind of adjusts, you know. Of course, it’s one of the sleep number things, and it adjusts. But every night or when I get up in the morning, I can check and see how I slept that night, how many times I got up. My husband tends to he works nights, so he’s asleep during the day, and I can kind of see if he’s tucked in and or when he gets up and, you know, that kind of thing. Not that I’m creeping or anything like that, but you know, it is very interesting. It’s taught me a lot about how I sleep and that type thing, if I’m up a lot and that kind of stuff. So it is very informative.

Bryan Kell: I don’t have a dumb home. See, she’s got a bed.

Karen Wilson: I guess, it’s so, we’ve not had it very long, but we’re really enjoying it so. We haven’t even made the first payment. So that’s kind of unfortunately. So tell me how this smart home concept, how do you see that evolving into the future?

Micah Lawrence: So obviously I think we’re already seeing it. You know, I mean, who would have thought that their refrigerator was going to be Wi-Fi connected? I think we’ve had somebody on here talk about their stove is Wi-Fi connected. You know, it’s all these different appliances that we’re going to have in our house are going to be integrated into the Smart home because we like information. We know that because that’s basically the premise of the Internet at one time is just information. And, you know, to be able to see how much I’m utilizing this, how much I’m utilizing that, I’ve seen, there’s actually a smart toothbrush that keeps up with how many times you brush and if you’re doing a good job.

Karen Wilson: And wow, I needed that when my kids were little.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah, exactly. So, you know, there’s so many different applications and everybody’s seeing the benefit of this. So as time goes along, they’re going to improve upon these. You know, at one point in time, the smart light bulbs that you see, you know, some of these big box stores, I mean, they were didn’t make sense to buy because, you know, we were buying bulbs at two or $3 apiece. And, you know, these were like 50. Nobody’s going to do that. But now they’re getting lots more affordable. You see them at like Black Friday sales and, you know, and people are putting them in their homes. So it’s just going to evolve as far as when cost gets cheaper, as they see new applications, you’re going to see some really cool stuff.

Karen Wilson: Does the Smart Home technology just kind of further the need for home security and some of the things that we’ve offered at Ben Lomand, I guess to keep our network protected?

Micah Lawrence: It does. As far as the physical part, I think, yes. You know, I’ve got a deadbolt on my front door that is Wi-Fi connected. So I can and what’s great about this is one I don’t want to have to keep up my keys as little as possible. Right. So it’s got a touch pad on the front of it, and I can type in a code. And what’s great about this, if I have a visitor coming out or let’s say I’ve got the bug guy coming, you know he’s going to spray for bugs. I don’t have to give him my code. I can actually log into the app, give him his own pin, he uses it, and once he leaves I can delete that out and he no longer can get in. So in terms of physical security, you know, you can get people in there that need to be in there. You can keep people out. You know, lots of those are integrated. You see, like the the ring doorbells, you can see if someone’s on your front porch. So there’s a lot of physical security that you can do with home automation.

Bryan Kell: And I was going to say too the, you know, kind of getting back to the devices that we’ve got and allowing access for folks. With both of our garage doors right now. If somebody was if Micah’s mom was at his house or if my mom was at my house, I could lift that garage door up right now. They could grab whatever they want to be able to get or get inside the home if that is unlocked or something like that. So the ability to be able to allow your family members to be able to come into your world, and you don’t have. In the old days had you had to run back over to the home and let them in or give them a key. Now you’ve got the ability now to manage that. We always talk about this, to manage that type of situation, and it be a very secure situation.

Micah Lawrence: Or you have a hide a key.

Bryan Kell: That’s true. Yes. You did have a hide a keys.

Karen Wilson: Yes, the old hide a key. Yeah. I get, you know, it’s fascinating, I guess, how many porch pirates that these smart home applications have busted. It makes you feel a little better about who’s at your door, because a lot of times you can look and see if it’s the person you were expecting, if someone’s getting packages that shouldn’t be.

Bryan Kell: And we’re going to have an answer for that here very soon. Yes. Stay tuned and stay tuned.

Micah Lawrence: And just one of the great things about stuff like that, you know, you get alerts when there’s motion, when there’s somebody on your front porch. That’s important to know. So I think, yeah, we’ll see some cool stuff coming soon.

Karen Wilson: Yeah, I had the little porch cam and I had a squirrel, Bob the squirrel, and he put mine off quite a bit. I had to finally turn it off because he was quite active. So what is the, I guess the coolest thing that maybe feature or application that’s out there that’s maybe underutilized right now.

Micah Lawrence: So I’ll give it some thought. And I think the one thing that’s the most underutilized, just because I’m a nerd and I think these things are cool, is most of these applications, they call it different things, but most of them kind of call it something to the effect of called scenes. And what the idea of the scenes is, is like you’re building what you want to happen at a touch of a button. So for example, you know, you can have a motion sensor in the front of your house that when your car pulls up, it automatically opens the garage door, turns the porch light on, turns the TV on, or starts playing music. And you have to kind of builds…

Bryan Kell: Dials that thermostat into where it needs to be.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. Dials the thermostat lets the thermostat know, Hey, you’re home, cut yourself on. You know, it builds all of this with a click of a button or a motion or some event that sets it off. And a lot of people don’t know that. So they they’re just like, okay, well, I got this light bulb, I plugged it in, it’s connected, and I can hit a button on my phone and that’s it. But they don’t think about, you know, creating these big, nice, you know, scenes of where when you press one button, it does like multiple things at once.

Karen Wilson: So I could see that at Christmas. It can turn on the Christmas lights and start the music. And all of I mean, people have been doing things like that for a while now, but it’s really now all controlled on your phone.

Micah Lawrence: That’s right. That’s right. Absolutely.

Karen Wilson: Well, thank you both for giving our audience and myself some ideas to make our lives easier and the utilizing of smart home technology. So thank you, guys.

Micah Lawrence: You’re welcome.

Bryan Kell: Thank you.

Micah Lawrence: We are back with Connect with BLC. Karen, what can we see at Channel Six?

Karen Wilson: Well, by the time this airs, I would say we will be breathing a sigh of relief that the August election has concluded. Lots of work still going into that as we record this. Also, we’ll be getting ready for football games, football season, time to kick in. So as usual, the White County football will be airing on Channel Six. So that’s some of the things coming up with the fall.

Micah Lawrence: Awesome. So, Karen, we know we’ve got some big events that everybody has to go to. It’s, you know, get it. Take out some loans.

Karen Wilson: What would our childhoods be without fair time? Because.

Bryan Kell: They wouldn’t be.

Karen Wilson: They wouldn’t. I mean, what else did we have to do back in the day? And it’s a fun time. So I’m going to give everybody kind of the fair dates that are coming up pretty soon. The Van Buren County Fair, August 27 through September 3rd, and then getting into Coffee County. And White county is actually going to be the same week this time when starting on September 2nd, the other starting on September 3rd, be going through that weekend. Then, of course, the Warren County Fair. And as of recording time, the Grundy County Fair has not been scheduled. So we’re waiting on that. But with fairs, we’re going to be bringing our new biz box to a couple of those. Yeah. So everybody will see what we’re talking about. It’s a big trailer office type thing, a very, it’s going to be a great booth space for us to work out for some of the fairs that we don’t have that at.

Bryan Kell: Also, too, we’ll give it a little bit of breaking news on this podcast as far as what to expect, because let’s face it, if you come to the fair and you come to the Ben Lomand booth, you want to get some goodies, right? So we’ll tell you right now that this year’s goodies for the kids, some cool sunglasses in Ben Lomand red, Ben Lomand blue, and Ben Lomand yellow. And also for the adults and kids too, got some pretty cool keychains. They’ve got the, is it pop its? Is that what they call them Karen?

Karen Wilson: Yeah, the little pop it, yeah.

Bryan Kell: Deals that are on there in Ben Lomand red, and Ben Lomand blue and Ben Lomand yellow. So there’s a little bit of a tease as to what to come to get from us at the Ben Lomand booths.

Karen Wilson: Yeah, we got to make some decisions on what people are registering for, but we always solicit our customers for some great items and as we get closer, we’ll have those decisions made.

Bryan Kell: Absolutely.

Micah Lawrence: Awesome. Thanks, guys. So now I’ve got something a little different today. So we’re going to do a little trivia. These are kind of funny, interesting trivia questions.

Bryan Kell: We’ll be the deciders of that.

Micah Lawrence: Okay. I’m fine with that.

Karen Wilson: As long as it’s pop culture, I’ll be okay.

Micah Lawrence: So what country has a unicorn as a part of its national emblem?

Karen Wilson: Sweden.

Bryan Kell: So you’re vote is Sweden. Let’s go with Ireland.

Micah Lawrence: Close.

Bryan Kell: Scotland?

Micah Lawrence: Scotland.

Bryan Kell: I was going to say Scotland.

Karen Wilson: Really?

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. Believe it or not, it has a unicorn, and I’ve seen it on their flag. I had to Google it. I was like, no way. Wow. Yes.

Bryan Kell: So close.

Micah Lawrence: So now here’s an interesting one, and I’m going to do a two parter here. In the…

Karen Wilson: By the way, did you catch my wonderful accent first for Sweden.

Bryan Kell: Very good. That was strong.

Karen Wilson: Yeah, I love that.

Bryan Kell: And with the hair and the look that you’ve got, very ABBA-esque, you kind of, you kind of got the ABBA look there.

Karen Wilson: I watch a lot of Hogan’s Heroes at night, and they’re always throwing those accents in there, so I just had to use it. I’m sorry.

All: (laughs)

Karen Wilson: I think every one of those actors were American.

Bryan Kell: Definitely were, or English probably. Who knows?

Micah Lawrence: All right. So this is going to be a two part question on the upper left hand part of a keyboard. It’s got a little squiggly line, you can see out here. Squiggly line. What’s that called?

Bryan Kell: What’s it called?

Karen Wilson: Oh, I have no idea.

Micah Lawrence: Have you heard it before?

Karen Wilson: I don’t even know. What can you tell us what it does?

Bryan Kell: Isn’t that meant to put an emphasis on a word? Right. Does it go over a word? It doesn’t stand alone.

Micah Lawrence: It actually goes over certain letters in the Spanish language.

Bryan Kell: N’s. R’s.

Micah Lawrence: Yes, but it’s actually used in…

Bryan Kell: Did you take Spanish?

Karen Wilson: Yeah, I did. I’ve had a lot of Spanish, but I don’t remember.

Bryan Kell: We’ve slept since then.

Karen Wilson: Yes.

Micah Lawrence: It’s used for different functions on a computer, but…

Karen Wilson: So, I don’t know.

Micah Lawrence: It starts with a T.

Karen Wilson: Trill?

Micah Lawrence: No,

Bryan Kell: That’s a good guess. Don’t know.

Micah Lawrence: It’s a tilde or a tilda.

Karen Wilson: Oh yeah. I’ve heard that before.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah.

Bryan Kell: So. That’s a great question.

Micah Lawrence: Yeah. So I’m to give you another one off this. And you’ve probably seen this before. When a question mark immediately follows an exclamation mark.

Bryan Kell: Yes.

Micah Lawrence: What’s it called?

Bryan Kell: It’s another Spanish.

Micah Lawrence: No, no, no. It’s not another Spanish thing.

Bryan Kell: Yeah. Oh, oh, not upside down.

Micah Lawrence: No, no, no, not upside down.

Bryan Kell: What is that when you have a question mark following an exclamation point.

Micah Lawrence: Yes.

Bryan Kell: What’s it? I didn’t know that there was a term.

Micah Lawrence: I didn’t either.

Karen Wilson: I don’t know. See, it’s an English lit major, not a grammar person. I wouldn’t even major. It was my minor. But I’m a yeah. I don’t know.

Micah Lawrence: For all our listeners it’s an interrobang.

Bryan Kell: How do you spell that?

Micah Lawrence: I-N-T-E-R-R-O-B-A-N-G. Interrobang.

Bryan Kell: Bang, exactly how it’s…

Micah Lawrence: And according to the definition, it’s a nonstandard punctuation mark indicating a question expressed in an exclamatory manner.

Bryan Kell: I do that. I don’t know if you’ve ever got a text from it, but sometimes I’ll do like, not just one. I’ll do three. I’ll do like the question mark, and I’ll swap them up if it’s like something that really shocks me.

Karen Wilson: Can you believe this?

Bryan Kell: Yeah. So interrobang.

Micah Lawrence: An interrobang.

Karen Wilson: If I remember that, I’ll be doing well.

Micah Lawrence: No, here’s going to be a surprising, and I’m going to be I’ll be impressed if you guys actually know this. What common spice can be fatally poisonous?

Bryan Kell: You’re the cook.

Karen Wilson: Oh.

Bryan Kell: Oh, oh, oh, wait. Isn’t it the one that’s in spaghetti? It’s like the. Can I give my guess? Bay leaf.

Micah Lawrence: No,

Bryan Kell: Dang it.

Karen Wilson: Tarragon.

Micah Lawrence: No, this will surprise you. Nutmeg.

Bryan Kell: Isn’t that in like movie? There’s been some movies about nutmeg or something.

Micah Lawrence: So according to my research, it says the consumption of as little as two teaspoons of ground nutmeg at once can be toxic. And it listed a bunch of things that it could do to you and very could be fatal.

Karen Wilson: You know, there’s a lot, especially around the fall season, there’s quite a bit of nutmeg in things, pumpkin pies, all kinds of.

Micah Lawrence: And I’m assuming it’s a straight consumption of it as opposed to being in a recipe.

Karen Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. So don’t go munching on any nutmeg.

Bryan Kell: Yeah, please don’t.

Micah Lawrence: It blew my mind. I didn’t know that.

Bryan Kell: So thanks for making us feel really dumb.

Karen Wilson: I thought I was going to feel smart, but not today.

Bryan Kell: We go from smart homes to just dumb answers.

Micah Lawrence: All I know is you guys are slacking. You got to pick it up.

Karen Wilson: We are. You’re right. We’re going to have to do some studying before our next podcast.

Micah Lawrence: So till next time. I appreciate it.

Bryan Kell: Thanks, Micah.

Micah Lawrence: Thank you.

Bryan Kell: Well, the seventh episode of the BLC Connection podcast has come to a close. And Micah, before you get into ways that folks can get in touch with us, somebody actually did reach out to us and said they really appreciated the fiber episode that we kind of went into details as far as how fiber is brought to the home. So Seth from Warren County, thanks so much for listening to the BLC Connection Podcast. How can folks like Seth be able to reach out to us, Micah?

Micah Lawrence: Absolutely. They can submit their questions or look at us on the BLC Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or hey, just playing our email us at And you can find our podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon and all a bunch of crazy other ones I don’t really remember.

Bryan Kell: Speaking of things to be determined, you’ve got some kids determining their future. The future of the next episode of the BLC Connection podcast is yet to be determined, but we’re sure to try to bring you a fantastic guest. And in talking about topics that are important to you. Please, as we’ve said before, reach out to us. Let us know what you like, dislike we. This podcast is for you, so we thank you so much for listening to another episode of the BLC Connection podcast. Micah Lawrence.

Micah Lawrence: Yes, sir.

Bryan Kell: Thank you.

Micah Lawrence: Thank you.

Bryan Kell: Karen Wilson.

Karen Wilson: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Bryan Kell: Yes. Everybody out there, stay safe and please stay connected.

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