It’s springtime; always a favorite time of year. Flowers, green leaves, and birds building nests – on our porch. You know, the first time birds build a nest in one of your hanging baskets, you feel honored that they would want to live so close to you and give you a little glimpse into their lives. The second time they do it, you are surprised that they would raise two families in a season. The third time, you begin to worry about the plant that you haven’t watered in six weeks due to the presence of chicks so you water it anyway and think “screw the birds”.

After about two seasons of this, you begin to think of the birds as pests of the first order and you try to catch them in the act of nest-building and rip out their efforts before they get too far along. This year, they’re trying to build in Mel’s decorative wreath that’s actually hanging on the front door. This door has a window which the birds can see through; it seems unlikely that any animal would decide to build a nest right where they’re in full view of us but I guess there’s a reason for the phrase “bird-brain”.

It’s become a ritual of the season: mow the grass, plant petunias, and rip the nest off the front porch.

Anyway, on to the the main subject matter. After years of waiting impatiently, we finally got high speed internet access in our neighborhood through the cable company. This was about two years late in my mind but I must bear in mind that this is a town whose local paper had the following headline yesterday:

Rooster Egg Hunt Plans Scrambled

You must admit, that’s a pretty good headline. (Just so you don’t lose any sleep, it’s about one of the upcoming Rooster Day events).

But the cable modem installation was a typical one for me. I am pretty good with software. It’s a good thing too since that’s what I do for a living (although Windows with its DLLs and conflicts gives even us seasoned professionals a run for our money). But when it comes to hardware, I have had a remarkable run of bad luck. This really annoys me since I am actually quite good with my hands – I’ve been an experimental physicist before and made things work. I build things out of wood for fun. So, it really annoys me when I get my hands on computer hardware and it doesn’t work. It’s not so much an issue of incompetence as it is simply bad luck. I’ve bought various pieces of hardware in the past: modems, graphics cards, ethernet cards, and in each case, I asked around to find out which one to buy to minimize the chances of any problems. And in each case, I managed to get my hands on a slight variant of the usual models which caused problems. The latest case in point: an ethernet card which was made by a so-called reputable manufacturer. It even had a reputable model number: D530-TX+. Note the “+” character. That was different from anything anybody else had seen and is not the sort of thing that one notices while shopping in the noisy computer store. It didn’t work. I’ll spare you the details.

It was therefore with much trepidation that I awaited the cable guy. He brought his own hardware thank goodness but I was still nervous. Sure enough, he hit a snag.

“Gee, I’ve never had this much trouble before.”

Great.

Still, he eventually replaced everything between my computer and the underground access point and now the cable modem works and our reception is about 10 times better. Now, with both high speed internet access and the Cartoon Network, we can waste twice as much time and do so much more efficiently than ever before. Right away, I placed an online order for a couple of tools so now I can also spend money twice as fast.

For those of you who are thinking “collision course with reality” well, not to worry. There is one in the house (Mel) who still maintains her grip on reality. Her head is not turned by simple whiz-bang technology although with the improved TV picture, she’s been catching up on some HGTV so she may not be aware of my time-wasting quite yet.

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