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Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004
I’ve often been fond of saying that problems can be efficiently solved by throwing money at them. Big heaping fistfuls of money, delivered with a full overhand motion and a smooth follow-thru.

The problem was a two headed dragon. Accessing the internet, and the computer used to do so.

Accessing the net, using the cable provider that I so reluctantly signed up with (meaning I knew how utterly lousy and overpriced they were in advance yet chose to witlessly flog myself with their monopolized incompetence anyway) had become a comedy of things that weren’t working. I had called this cable company weekly for months (and I won’t call them by name, but if you were to take “C_cksucker” and remover the “ucker”, you’d have the phonetic equivalent). The net would work, then not. The TV would work pretty reliably, but the net was a crap shoot. I called, they’d deliver a youth wearing one of those ski hats with the dangly balls-on-strings things who would run erratically about the yard a while and proclaim nothing amiss.

It provided no end of Watering Hole fodder. The regulars, all of whom were more than familiar with this cable company, would sit slack jawed listening to my latest installment of cable company horror. It was a show that ran from April until fall. Crews were dispatched in erratic order. I would pull into the driveway and note a cable truck on the scene, a hard-hatted lad leisurely painting orange lines on the lawn where cable lines were reputedly buried. Or have the doorbell ring in the middle of dinner, have a repairman dash in to check the cable modem, dash right back out and disappear into the night. Literally.

They came to fear me and my acid tongue. “Just send me someone with some idea of the inner workings of the world of cable internet, for God’s sake”, was one of my less profane offerings.

And sure enough, a solidly clean cut sort would appear on my doorstep, toolbag in hand, ready to go. “Know anything about cable internet?” I would ask. “Um, no, but I happened to be in the neighborhood when I got the call.” He would proceed to inspect my television, gravely nod at the orange lines in the yard and depart with a cheerful wave.

And so on.

Now, one of them, a bit more scholarly perhaps than his ski hat brethren, actually provided me with the solution. “You’ve got an amplifier in your cable line here, see? And I don’t know much about the internet side of this stuff (sigh), but I’ve heard some of the other guys say that internet signals don’t play well with amplifiers.”

“So all we’d have to do is split the line into two and bypass the amp, and run one of them straight to the modem, huh?”

“Yeah. Cost ya $40 for us to do it.”

It was tempting. In the world of solving problems by throwing money at them, this was a soft, underhand toss. But I was very much over flinging shekels at this tribe.

The computer was a different story. It was, and is, hella fast, so long as you use it for anything other than the internet. Or at least the cable version thereof. I know, makes no sense to me either.

Besides, I had lust in my heart. I wanted to personalize this whole thing. I wanted a laptop cozied up to my ample midrift. I wanted to lay prone in the recliner with the TV on and have a more diminutive screen rise moon-like from my lap as the big screen gleamed like a technical landscape in the background.

A simple matter of not just throwing money, but punting it far downfield. With topspin.

So it came on that fateful Sunday morning some three weeks ago.

5 am Sunday morning, and the newspaper, is a sacred part of my existence. Coffee, perhaps some eggs, and awaiting the appearance of my more sleep loving spouse. But mostly the newspaper. I read it so very thoroughly.

Including the Circuit City circulars. The little four color inserts. Where lust is offered in loving fashion.

And there she was. A “Close out special!” A Tosheeba A-65 with enough horsepower and gas tank for the most jaded of net-deprived drullards. It had the most and latest stuff. It had wireless! And lo, a broadband router package was thoughtfully outlined just below. Also on sale. And rebates!

Now, when your financial status is shaky (but improving), and your checkbook is defined by pluralism (read, still slumbering wife), you have to approach this with the sense of not throwing money at the problem, not punting it at all, but gently puffing it across the table to another’s hands. Gently, and with much sorrow.

In other words, a sales pitch was in order.

I know my wife fairly well. We’ve occupied the same space for better than 24 years. I now what turns her on, and it ain’t computer spec’s, it ain’t my lack of internet access. It absolutely ain’t my lacking one more high tech appliance.

But she does love a sale. A close out special is the holy grail.

It was almost anti-climatic. I had the arguments all lined up, the long and heart rending version of my quest for internet. I was prepared to trot out statistics pertaining to the “ucker” less cable company. I reminded her that some extra money was due in any day now. I was even prepared to make her breakfast. It was all so unnecessary.

“Hmmm. Close our special, eh?”

So now, I sit with the foot rest up and the Tosheeba rising moon like from my dented thighs, the broadband router lights twinkling next to the big screen. They twinkle because they have an internet signal. A strong and steady cable signal.

No, the cable guy didn’t come back.

The Outfoxed guy went to Radio Shack and tossed 6 shekels for a splitter. Tossed them happily and for a great cause.

If I had a beard, I’d be chuckling happily into it.

And Cox Cable Company, Internet Field coughServicecough Division?

Ya’ll can just kiss my recliner based ass.

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