362. Connectivity

The first text on my smart phone was from my downstairs tenant who scarfs my wifi at work… “Heads up:  Your wifi is down.” Wow, the first message of my day tells me that I have been disconnected from the world of Facebook and email and… oh no, my blog. I can’t be cut off from my psychic crutch!! What will my three secret followers held in a North Korean gulag do? I’ll have to call Dennis Rodman and Tom Cruise later to reset the linkage. International back channel diplomacy/espionage is not for the weak willed or timid tummied. It’s time to Growaset!

Well, it was coffee nation morning so I had to be off to the monkey cage. No time for silly things like cyber-connectivity. I was on my way to the beaten up couch and chairs where six of us would huddle and talk a bit too loud to be considered mannerly. Joel the rabble rouser was not in residence. He’s traveling in warm places this week and next. It’s a rendezvous with Sheila the mule in the Grand Canyon, which I will share in another post, after the preliminary hearing and terms of bail are set. Last week he tried hard to start an insurrection, suggesting that if he won the lottery he’d buy us all coffee for life, thus unseating and usurping my imperial rule. I had to beat back their fantasies of democracy. What if mules got the vote?  Do you think they would keep hauling fat tourists in and out of the Grand Canyon?  NO!!  I will never be usurped while I am busy surping my Sumatran blend. No coffee nation, no banana republic, no fundamentalist theocracy is or ever will be a democracy. But tyrants are people too. We serve a useful purpose among herd animals. Joel came to his senses and repentantly bought my coffee last Friday. A small but sincere gesture of rapprochement, which is French for detente.

Rob the young blood was already in coffee mode when I arrived. He apologized for asking me a serious question on No Thinking Thursday, but I allowed it due to the fact that we were technically ten minutes early. After all, I am a benevolent dictator. Steve rolled in wearing jeans and sneakers. Another paid day off for him. Sort of. He volunteers his accounting skills to the high school band, which he plugs shamelessly. “Hey, we’re having another spaghetti dinner next Friday. We raised all kinds of money for the marching band competition, which we hosted and won last year. FAMBU accredited. So we are.”

“And what does FAMBU stand for?”

“Oh, the Federation of American Marching Bands Unlimited. Don’t make the mistake that the last treasurer made and call them BAMBU, which is the Brotherhood of American Marching Bands Unlimited. They are posers to the throne of Martial Music. He was escorted off school grounds and roughly de-badged, that guy. Whew! We had to start with all new passwords. Lemme tell you, it was a hot mess.”

Mercifully Doug rolled in and shook hands around. I quickly diverted the band conversation to Rob and the Steelers. “So, Rob, the Steelers are done now, eh?”

“Yeah. I guess I’ll be pulling for the NFC team in the Super Bowl. I can’t get behind New England or the Broncos.”

Steve, “New England cheats all the time, right?”

All, “Yep. Steve, you go to one Ravens game and now you are a sports guru.”

Steve, “I don’t think Brady should even be allowed to play after deflate gate.”

Rob, “Yeah, the MVP of last year’s Super Bowl and he was almost suspended four games. You know the Seahawks lost that game because they were trying to make Russell Wilson the hero and not Marshawn Lynch. Wilson is nice and Lynch is not, i.e., marketable. And it backfired. So the cheater got the MVP.”

Lance, arriving fashionably late. “Let me strut my swagger, gentlemen.” Handshakes around.

Rob, “The Seahawks have never won a Super Bowl.”

BS,” Correction: they won the year before, remember? They crushed Peyton and the Broncos.”

Rob,”Oh, right.”

BS,”Doug, here is a trivia question for you. Name the only Doug who was the Super Bowl MVP.”

Lance-a-blurt, ” Doug Williams, Redskins.”

BS,” Thanks for your blurtation, Lance. You didn’t even raise your hand!”

Lance, with both hands in the air now, doing some full body butter churn torso wobble. “And, that was the strike shortened year… late 80’s, Super Bowl 22…”

BS, “Just shut up now! We were doing fine with our low football IQ until you came in showing off.”

Steve, “Deflate yourself, Lance.”

Lance, “I think not. My tee shirt says, Grown a set.”

Steve, “Don’t get me started…”

BS,”Uh oh, looks who’s riding into town. Cowboy Chuck!”

Chuck canters through the chairs with horse swagger, handshakes around.

“The girl asked me if I was in Coffee Nation. How’d she know?”

“Lucky guess or you look like the other five circus clowns in the back room.”

Chuck, “So have we solved the world’s problems yet? Cuz ya’ll was loitering like this the last time I was here…”

BS,” Which was two years ago.”

Chuck, “I can’t remember if it’s the second or third Thursday of the month…”

BS, “Shut up! Look, this is why you are a bench warmer and not a starter like Steve. He leaves one of the largest multinational corporations in the lurch almost every Thursday at 8:30 so he can run on our squirrel wheel. No excuses from Steve O. He leaves it all on the field, Chuckie. He’s a team player not some lone wolf who rolls along like a tumbleweed…”

Chuck, “I’m sorry, man.”

BS,”It’s alright, man. We just need to hug our way through it. We’re all glad that you’re here.”

Chuck, “Yeah, I need me some connectivity.”

All, “That’s right, right on. Come on down.”

BS, “As the late great Marvin Gaye said…

What’s goin on? Tell me what’s goin on. You know we’ve got to find a way, to bring some love in here today….what’s goin on?”



279. Wired

It wasn’t quite like this picture but it was close enough with the wire mess in the upstairs closet of my office building. It looked like a bear had eaten a small pig that had been wrapped in fine electrical wires, and left. When I got settled in after moving, I determined that I’d fix the mess, which I assumed was all the wiring for a former security system. See, my building had been an outpatient drug clinic for a while, so every window and door had an electronic sensor wired to it. There was also a fire alarm system built in that no longer worked nor was it necessary. I’d been told by the fire department inspectors to actually remove the fire alarms since they did not work and were not required.
Officer Dewey Duty: “We don’t want folks to have a false sense of security by relying on fire alarms that actually don’t work.”
Me: “Sure, no problem. It’s like relying on Social Security in your retirement.”
Officer Dewey Duty: “Uh, yeah. Just remove them, smart aleck.”
Me: “Roger that, sir.”
Officer Dewey Duty: ” It’s Dewey, Dewey Duty.”
Me: “Yes, sir, Mr. Duty. Officer, sir. But what about my obsessive neurotics? Do you want to steal their imagined rescue?”
Officer Dewey Duty:  “I’ve had about enough of you, jerk face.”
Me: “Rogerrrrrrrr, okay. Sorry. Please just pass me. Take the $100 and leave.”
I set about doing the code conforming immediately, but I overgeneralized in my enthusiasm. I over-identified the dead wires. There were actually phone lines and high speed internet lines that all bundled back to this messy wall panel. I was undeterred and defiantly ignorant. I took wire cutters and cut till every last skinny wire was in two  pieces. I unscrewed the metal and plastic panel and tossed the wire clump into the dark land above my ceiling tiles. I cleaned up the wiry mess and carted off the plywood backing plate. Heck, it seemed as neat as a fresh grave.
The next day I noticed that my land line was not working. No signal at all.
“That’s weird,” I thought, not making any connection to the wire cutting frenzy of the day before.
So I called the telephone company, who sent out a technician. After just a few minutes and obvious checks, he asked me, “Have you had any recent construction in the building?”
“No. I just tore out the old security system wiring.”
“Uhhhh, where is that wiring harness?”
“Back here in this closet. It was a mess and I put it out of its misery.” I opened the walk in closet for his inspection. “Right here is where it was; I put the bundle end up above the ceiling tile. Now it’s tidy and neat, dontcha think?”
“No….you didn’t.  These are all telephone lines. There must be a hundred wires here.”
Gulp. I saw big money signs and the word STUPID tattooed across my forehead. “No kidding?”
“You cut all your telephone lines.”
I started laughing. “I guess I did. Yep.”
He looked at me as if I did not understand English. “No, I mean you CUT all of your telephone lines.”
I laughed a little more. “Yeah, crazy, huh?”

“You cut ALL of them. Every one of them.”
“Yup. What can be done?”
“I might be able to find one line, but it will take hours to connect them all back together. You cut them all.”
“Well, I really only need the one to my land line. Do you think you can find that one?”
“I’ll try. I have this sensor that can show me a match, but you’ve got at least a hundred cut wires here.”
[ By now I was fully aware of how many wires I’d cut, but apparently Bob the technician was flabbergasted by my work. He had never met a village idiot before.]
“That would be great if you could. You know all the rest of the outlets don’t really matter anymore since we have Wi-Fi and cell phones. Weird, huh?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” he muttered as he weeded his way through the chaos I had created.  About 20 minutes later he found the correct green wire combination that restored my land line’s dial tone.
“Awesome!  I’m back in business, Bob. You are my hero.”  If I’d been the hugging type, I would have given him a crisp, professional hug, but I’m not so I didn’t. Plus I don’t think Bob was nearly as pleased as I was and he still thought I was an escapee from the local mental ward.
As Bob was ready to leave he said to me with what I believe was disgust, “I’m not even gonna charge you for this visit.”
And he didn’t. I think he felt that I was probably too stupid to open my own mail, let alone write a check and mail it. But I felt validated, prophetic even. Ahead of my time. When the Wi-Fi era archeologists exhume my old building and find no hardwired telephone or computer lines intact, they will gasp, “This guy was either a genius or the luckiest village idiot there ever was.”  I will let history judge me.