Mwahaha! They said I was mad, mad! But I showed them!
*cough, wipe off flecks of spit*
I managed to get in touch with a Time Warner/Road Runner support guy who knew what he was doing and wasn’t telling me he could do nothing because my only phone is VoIP, and my system runs Windows 98. (Albeit SE.) We also didn’t get cut off this time by the evil phone gremlins (or gremlines) like the last support guy who knew what he was doing.
So we ran some tests, and all proved to be as I’d said. My modem’s fine, my settings are fine, my cable line’s fine, my uploading’s fine, and I can get just about everything downloaded fine… as long as it doesn’t go through Chicago and Level3.net. Unfortunately, at least half of pretty much everything (including Google) goes that way, because Level3.net is one of the Internet backbone companies. The other half (stuff out east, or in Europe) goes through Level3.net in Washington DC, and seems to be fine; my speed is normal.
The big questions are: Why am I affected like this? Why are my Google packets taking the same (bad) route all the time? Why aren’t other people on the same Road Runner server being affected the same way (or at least, aren’t complaining about it)?
Stay tuned for the next chapter in this thrilling mystery. If wordpress.com downloads fast enough, that is.