This may sound like a stupid question, but.....

Does anyone know if there is a telephony network operators group out there?
And how I could go about joining it? It's not that I don't like the company
of you fine people, but I haven't the FOGGIEST idea of what the *HELL* you
are talking about. And I really would dig being able to trade the sort of
(obviously important, even to a computer network idjit like me!) information
with people that speak MY language.

Irregardless of what they say, telephone companies don't seem to cooperate
much better than ISPs. ATIS sponsors a number of committees that are
often compared to the function of NANOG. The closest used to be the
Network Operators Forum, now called Network Interconnection Interoperability

None are really designed for the real-time exchange of information.

Of course, any real-time telephony information about outages may be
welcome on NANOG. You'll discover that mailing lists tend to be about
whatever the participants want to make it.