It's not about the house.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Functionally Obsolete

Nice phrase, eh? My dad taught it to me when we bought this house. Talking about – well, talking about most of the structure, really, but the attic staircase in particular. Too steep, too narrow, would never be let built in new contruction: Functionally Obsolete. Dad declined to even climb them then, and I think of the phrase almost every time I go up or down myself. They really are too steep, those stairs, and dangerously narrow.

I thought of it again yesterday when my modem died.

I’d been online not an hour earlier, nothing had changed - I hadn't even turned it off or put it on standby (I know, not very green of me, eh?) - but when I asked it to dial in to the network it said I had no dial tone. But there was! There was a dial tone! Six ways from Sunday I tried to make it work, plugging every cord into every jack and into every phone-like object in the house. The line, the cords, the phones were fine. Only the modem had gone deaf.

Or, not deaf: Functionally Obsolete.

Yeah, okay, I stamped my feet and swore a little. I mean sheesh, I’d just off sent six chapters of my book in which I’d finally gotten around to giving pseudonyms to half of the main characters, and then I’d forgotten to mention this little fact to the recipient. She was going to open it and think I’d started writing an entirely new book! How would I let her know? And she’d write to ask and I wouldn’t get the email and she’d think I'd died or hated her or finally crawled into a bottle and — and then I remembered that little hand-held device with all the buttons on it that I’d used to test the phone cords…

Telephones, even those with cords on them: still functionally useful.

Now let’s see, what am I supposed to do about the modem? Should I take the whole computer somewhere? Can they fix it? Can I buy an external modem and hook it up myself? Ugh. Dial up. Why do I have to have freaking dial-up, anyway? It’s so slow, and annoying, and — wait. I don’t have to have dial-up. If I have to buy a modem anyway, why not go DSL? Or why not high-speed cable?

Maybe it’s me who’s Functionally Obsolete…

So I called Verizon to find out what the deal is with DSL anyway. The guy said he could sign me up if I wanted but he couldn’t answer any questions because he was in Pennsylvania and I’m in Massachusetts and anyway, it’s Sunday.

Maybe he is Functionally Obsolete…

But he was right, it was Sunday, and 7:00 in the evening at that. I wasn’t going to be getting my new modem running, no matter what I chose and — hey, speaking of Functionally Obsolete, didn’t I still have my old, no-capital-a computer up in the attic somewhere?

So I went up and I got it. I found the plug and everything. And on my way back down I looked at the steps and I thought: “Gee, Dad’s right. One of these days somebody’s really gonna —” and my sock feet went out from under me and I slid down that Functionally Obsolete staircase on my toosh. My feet hit the door, which is thankfully Functionally Obsolete in its own peculiar way so it kicked right open, and I slid out and all over the kitchen floor.

(At this point I tried to squeeze out a few tears, Eliphaz, really I did, but it was just so goddamn funny!)

The computer made it through the slide unscathed – well, no more scathed than it was when it went in, at least. Me, I have some seriously painful ulnar bruising and a hematoma the size of a softball on my left butt cheek, but otherwise I’m okay too.

I went with high-speed cable internet. They can’t come 'til Tuesday -- sorry, UNtil Tuesday - the 15th, which is actually nice because it gives me just over a week to fantasize about how great high-speed cable will be, until they actually show up and tell me which part of what I have is too Functionally Obsolete to make it work.

In the meantime the old computer is set up again, so I can send and receive emails and I can write stuff on my blog, but I can’t post pictures - not on this F-O thing.

Doesn’t matter. Camera’s broken, anyway. I think it was never functionally solete to begin with…


LadyScot said...

So sorry, but I couldn't help but LOL with the picture that conjured up. I'm wiping the tears from my eyes as I write this! Seriously, I am glad you are not hurt.

Georgetown House said...

You are too funny, though I'm sorry about your poor tushy.

I'm not sorry that you're getting high-speed internet though. I predict that there is a post in your near future about how the hell did you live without it for so long. I swear sometimes that I'd go without heat before I'd give up my cablemodem.

Oh, wait. This winter I DID basically go without heat (though that's finally being resolved), but I still had my high speed!

MP said...

You all thought I was functionally obsolete when I slid backwards on my belly down the stairs in Maine! huh... Well again we are twins as I have the basketball size lump and bruise on my left hip when I was stradling the herb bed planting rosemary and decided I needed to put water in the hole, did not clear the bed with my bad leg and tried valiantly to dance myself upright to no avail and landed on my hip on a huge rock in the daffodils!!!Sort of like tu tu-ing through the tulids!