Teh intarwebs are back! We survived one whole week without Facebook! Without Twitter! I had to write my drivel on a typewriter! We read books! WHAT DID WE DO BEFORE WE HAD INTERNET?

A new router was waiting on the front stoop last night in a plain brown box, same as they deliver porn to your doorstep, because that’s what the internet is, when it comes down to it. I unwrapped it with trembling hands and, while My Darling B was preparing dinner, took the box downstairs and made all the connections. Didn’t read the instructions. I’m a guy. A guy don’t need no damn instructions.

Oh yes he does too, said the internet, which stubbornly refused to reconnect to our new router no matter how many times I clicked the mouse. After working my frustration to a frothy head, I tromped back up the stairs, dug the instructions out of the box, poured myself a glass of wine and settled into a chair by the kitchen table. Now there’s a wonderful way to relax on a Friday night: Sipping a glass of wine while reading Quick Setup Tips For Installing Your Router.

First thing it says on the first page I pick up under the heading “service activation:”

IMPORTANT! Please make sure that you install your equipment after 8:00 PM on your Service Activation Date. You can only connect to the Internet after your service has been activated.

I glanced up at the clock. It was quarter to eight. Okay, that could be a problem.

After tromping back down the stairs to unplug the router, I read the rest of the instructions to make sure I didn’t miss any other helpful tips or deadlines. If you ever have to read instructions for installing a Pace N411 router, I can recommend a delicious white wine to go with it.

B had dinner on the table at about the same time I finished, and I had to clean up after dinner, so obviously there was no router installation going on then. My first opportunity to get around to it was almost nine o’clock, but I felt like a movie and I had recently come into possession of a copy of Anatomy Of A Murder, an awesome Otto Preminger film starring Jimmy Stewart, although in my opinion the ubiquitous Arthur O’Connell all but stole the show by playing the most convincing alcoholic I’ve ever seen captured on film. And if you’ve never seen George C. Scott when he was just a pup, you’ve got to see him hounding one witness after another as the assistant district attorney. Great stuff.

Anatomy Of A Murder is a surprisingly long film, over two and a half hours, so it was way past my bedtime when the final credits rolled and I was too tired to do any at-home IT work. Installing the router had to wait until this morning after the cats woke me at five-thirty on the dot. Don’t get an alarm clock, get a cat. No snooze button, but punctual as hell.

Installing the modem did not go well. I had to spend an hour or so in an on-line chat room with a customer service rep who called herself “Patti” and may or may not have been human, I couldn’t tell. She seemed to be using a lot of canned answers that sounded as though they’d been carefully composed by a team of professional writers months or years ago, but every so often she’d lapse into l33t sp33k or use a slang term that I didn’t sound right coming from an AI. Whatever she was, she fed me all the right instructions to help me validate our account and connect to the internet. B will be so happy when she finds out she can distract herself by reading food blogs and updating her Facebook status instead of polishing her resume.

Let The Unemployment Begin!

Let the four-day weekend begin!

Oh, wait … I’m unemployed, so it’s really more like an indefinite weekend.

Well, whatever.

I applied for unemployment first thing yesterday morning … or rather, it was first thing after doinking around on the internet for an hour, because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it until after nine o’clock, which is a really stupid reason for waiting until nine o’clock when you factor in that I applied on-line. You can do anything on the internet these days!

So at nine-thirty promptly …

What? Okay, so I doinked around a little longer than I said I would. It’s the internet! It’s not my fault! The internet forces us all to think non-linearly! Our minds are being scrambled by the internet! I couldn’t help it! You know it’s true! Just look it up! On the internet!

Besides, there was this killer John Stewart video I had to watch before I did anything else, such as provide for my family.

Anyway, after a quick google search and a couple of mouse clicks, my application for unemployment benefits was complete. Took me all of five minutes. Easy-peasy.

What did I do with the rest of my day? Oh, not much. It being my first officially unemployed day, I decided to celebrate with brunch at Lazy Jane’s, so I tucked a book into my backpack, jumped on my trusty Trek bicycle and rode into town. It’s about four or five miles from Our Humble O’Bode to our favorite Willy Street restaurant, so I worked up just enough of an appetite to want their half-sandwich and soup special.

That and a bottomless cup of coffee made me want to hang around just long enough to read through a couple of chapters of A Woman In Berlin, the book that’s on the arm of my easy chair this week. It’s a cheery little tale about the Russian liberation of Berlin in the final days of World War Two, as recorded in the diary of a journalist who was gang-raped by just about every Russian soldier who marched through her neighborhood. I’d have to recommend it because it’s so well-written, but I’d also have to include the warning that it’ll make you want to drink yourself unconscious. Enjoy!

image of shadow box

After a few good, deep burps loud enough to rattle the windows of passing cars, and a long, leisurely ride home (can’t exactly sprint on a full stomach), I spent the rest of the afternoon piddling around in our basement work shop trying to put my shadow box back together. I didn’t get a gold watch when I retired, but they did give me a going-away ceremony and a shadow box filled with medals (yes, mine) and a folded flag. Pretty nice, but they mounted all the little bits of bling with some kind of goop that wasn’t quite sticky enough to hold everything in place for very long. Five years later, all the medals and collar brass were lying in a sticky pile at the bottom of the box. (Senco members, take note.)

I made a few changes. Not that I didn’t like the original shadow box, but I wanted to include some of the patches I kept as mementos of the places I was stationed. I also wanted to arrange the ribbons, badges and name tag the way they usually appear over the pocket of a blue uniform jacket, and I wanted to hang my dog tags in there, too. So I pretty much changed it completely, okay, that’s true, but it was a great shadow box in the first place, honestly. I loved it and wouldn’t have changed it at all if it hadn’t fallen apart.

I made just one other teeny-weeny little change and that was changing the fabric on the backboard. It used to be a single piece of blue felt. I thought the patches and the dog tags would look a little out of place against that background, so I split it in half. On the left, I used a panel of woodland camouflage fabric I cut out of the back of an old BDU shirt I still had hanging in the closet. On the right, I replaced the blue felt with a panel of Air Force blue fabric cut from an old polyester Class-A jacket that I would never ever wear again in a million years, not because I’m anti-support-our-troops but because the polyester jacket sucked great big unlubricated bowling balls. I’ve still got my poly-wool jacket with all the ribbons and bling attached, so if I had to suit up again, I could wear that. Heaven help us all if Uncle Sam is ever desperate enough to ask me to suit up again.

To make sure the little bits and bobs didn’t fall off the backboard again, I hot-glued the shit out of every single thing in there. Hot glue two things together and they stay together. Gravity as a force is lame-o compared to hot glue. I hot-glued the fabric to the backboard, then I hot-glued the patches and ribbons, badges and other bling to the fabric. Hurricane Katrina could not tear this thing apart now.

The only thing left is to figure out where to mount it. There’s precious little wall space in my basement lair, at least for right now. I want to re-arrange things down there anyway, so maybe this is the time. See, this is how little things, like fixing up a busted shadow box, turn into big things, like rearranging my basement lair. I’ll probably still be feeling the aftershocks of this project twelve months from now.

The rest of the evening was pretty typical: Pick up My Darling B from work, sit down to a pleasant dinner, then hit the floorboards for a dance lesson that I had a hard time absorbing for some reason, probably because I didn’t do much all day and was almost too relaxed.