OK, things are getting back to normal now. I'm still not sure what was causing my technical issues, but they seem to have worked themselves out whatever they were.
Here's an update - after more than 5 years in my place, I've finally decided to get a phone. I've always avoided Telecom Italia like the plague because so many people have problems with them (unreliable service, hidden fees, etc). But I recently discovered that my little town now has ADSL availability and I've been wanting to go online at the house so I decided to take the plunge. My phone line should be activated any day now and then I should be online within a week or so hopefully. I've invested in a new Toshiba Satellite laptop and a wireless router so I don't have to deal with cables and such. The X Man would mess with the cables for sure. Wireless is the way to go - imagine not even having to crawl out of bed to check the sports scores; genius!
So anyway, the guy was supposed to go to the house yesterday to hook up the phone but - big surprise! - never showed up. Hopefully I'll be online there soon which will make it easier to update the blog.