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3:16 p.m. - September 28, 2005
Smed 24, Technology 20 - A Late Rally Seals the Win!
My favorite math professor in college was a rather folksy fellow. Yes, he wore the requisite bow tie, and he had a brilliant mathematical mind. But at times when the class was struggling with a concept during advanced Calculus (especially during Differential Equations) or Probability and Statistics heíd just rock back and forth, chalk in hand, and say:

ďFellers, are ya for me, or are ya aginí me??Ē

I thought of him last night as I was fighting the technology in my house on several fronts.

Up until I left Toledo, it had been a great technology day. None of the conference attendees had any problem with their presentation equipment, the hotel wireless had an excellent signal with no drops, and my cell phone was fully charged and I didnít miss a call, and the battery in my laptop had enough juice to allow me to write and post an essay before lunch, then go back and read some call reports, check email and the web for an hour or so in the afternoon.

Then I started for home, and was listening to some CDs I had burned for some of my buds (theyíll get them soon Ė Iím in the test phase now). And of course, you know that you use technology to download and rip those songs and burn those disks.

I even used technology to look up that the all-time record for Wabash against DePauw in football is 51-51-9. Dear Jenster: It ainít settled yet!

(Boy, does this sound like a cheesy short film made in the 50ís or something? Technology, Your Friend And Mine! Iím just waiting for the MST3K version!)

Then as I was driving home, the technology started to work against me. Well, in the car it was operator error. I tried to make a couple of cell phone calls in an area that I knew didnít have good coverage, and then when I DID make the calls I sounded like a complete babbling idiot. (Dear Smed, when you run out of things to say on voice mail PLEASE STOP TALKING! Thanks! Sorry AJ and City Mouse and whoever else I left silly inane messages for yesterday).

But I was happy as a clam that hasnít been turned over to the Iron Chef for most of the drive back. I was on the beltway around Indianapolis, half writing a couple of essay ideas in my head (not this one, but a couple of other ideas that are about 50% done, but donít have quite enough substance yet to write. Yes, Iím a dork and I actually think about these before I write. Gotta find the hook, you know!) when the phone rang.

It was Liz. And the first thing she said was:

ďDonít get mad when you get home, butÖĒ

Well, that could be almost anything. Anything from the cats decided to hairball on my clean shirts, to Kristin falling down a well. So the rest of the sentence after the but was of great interest to me.

ďÖthe computer froze up. I restarted it and now itís just sitting there with a black screen.Ē

Well, this isnít so bad. I downloaded the brand new browser the other night, and ever since I have the computerís been a bit touchy. I donít think that browser works and plays well with Windows XP.

Itís not like our home computer is cutting edge, either. Itís an HP we bought in early 2002 that replaced an ancient Packard Bell machine. The HP has been a great computer, with little issues except for when Windows XP decides to go bonkers. I need to defrag the hard drive but Iíve kept it spam free, virus free and have made sure that thereís not a lot of temporary internet files on there.

Earlier in the week I had to turn off the computer using the power strip because it froze up so much when online Ė and then I had to start the computer in safe mode after the first startup failed. So I wasnít surprised that she had issues.

ďHey, just turn it off by the power strip and Iíll look at it when I get back.Ē

So Iím thinking nothing of this and just boppiní along to the tunes. I stop by to pick up some frozen pizza and a bottle of wine (dinner of champions!) and I thought Iíd just relax and eat pizza and watch a TiVoíd copy of Criminal Intent after I got the computer working.

I also noticed my iPod had come back from Apple. I proved yet again that concrete does not enhance the playing abilities of an iPod (not only am I a dork, Iím a klutzy dork at that) but I have the expanded service plan. So Apple sent me a new one. I took it out of the box and took it upstairs, so I could charge it and then add the music to it after I get the computer turned on.

So I turn on the computer and start it in safe mode. No problem, it boots right up. So I close out and restart it. It shows the little Windows screen, then it goes black.

Nothing. Nothing except black screen.


I decide that this can wait a bit. So I go downstairs, eat pizza and watch Criminal Intent, and then carry Kristin to her bassinette.

I went back upstairs and tried again. The computer booted in safe mode, but nothing in regular mode.

Now Iím concerned. For one, we canít afford another computer. For two, my iPod is tuneless and will remain so if I canít get the computer to work. For three, it will be a huge pain in the ass to try to put all of our crap back on the computer if we have to get a new one. (We have backed everything up, but still, what a time waster).

And for four, it bugs me to no end that I canít solve this issue, or even diagnose it.

So Iím getting a little freaky, and I start it in safe mode again. I see if I can update iTunes in safe mode. I find the firewire connector, and I notice that the end of the white plastic covering is gone, leaving an exposed connector (thatís very sharp, ouch, ouch, ouch, pain, agony, ouch!).

And I canít update the iPod. So I wonder if itís the connector. I ask Liz what in the hell happened to this in the past two days. She blames either the cats or Katie, which are plausible but not exactly what I wanted to hear at the time. I donít know exactly what I wanted to hear, though. Perhaps that $500,000 in cash is waiting for us in our basement since weíre such nice people.

So I have no computer, no iTunes, no iPod, no internet, nothing. Technology is laughing at me, now. I try to relax but I am failing, big time. Liz calls it a night, as she needs to drive Katie and another pre-schooler to a pumpkin patch in the morning.

Iím slowly going nuts. Well, not exactly slowly. In reality, I was fast tracking it. Technology was all aginí me.

And then it happened.

As I was watching the none-more-black screen yet again, I noticed that the DVD drive kept lighting up.


I opened it up, and lo and behold there was a CD in that drive. Liz was working on some stuff for a newsletter she puts out for a mothers of pre-schoolers group and had left it in there after the computer crashed.

Ho! Back to safe mode! Ho! Restart! Ho! Success Ė a clean boot up.

All was right with the world. Well, except for that nasty connector.

I carefully connected the firewire connector to the port, then tried to attach the iPod using the exposed connector.


I will have music. Soon. Well, as soon as 11,644 songs download onto it. But in the morning, yes, there will be tunes.

So I have beaten you fair and square technology.

And to top it off, technology helped me in the morning. Kristin woke up, all wet, at around 4:30 (she does sleep through the night, except when she has some comfort issues like this) so I was nominated (in a rather lopsided vote of 1-0 as I was too tired to cast my vote before I was shoved out of the bed) to get her.

I changed Kristin and took her downstairs. She went back to sleep. I knew there was no way I could, so I watched some show I had TiVoed Ė Criminal Minds, My Name is Earl, The Daily Show, the Sopranos. Back in the day, I would have been stuck watching either infomercials or Skinemax. Thanks to technology, I am no longer embarrassed if Liz comes downstairs and sees what Iím watching at that ungodly hour. (ďNo, Iím really watching this because I admire Shannon Tweedís acting, really I amÖ)

It seems technology was for me, once again. And that, my friends, is a good thing.


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