And then I said -

No, wait. Hold that thought. Herewith an account of Friday the last, the day I am keen to forget.

The Internet Man was supposed to come at 1. He called at 8:30 and said he was en route. Great! Get it out of the way. After the usual huff-and-puffery and amused condescending looks at previous wiring attempts, he deduced that the problem was lots of line noise, so he put a filter in the box. This meant he had to take out something, which was a filter, in the box. But the wrong kind. It had been there for years. He thought it blocked AM radio frequencies; it was just WRONG. Somehow this was the culprit.

Checked the line: I had 100%! of something. So he said that was it, and I said “If you hear me screaming as you drive away because the internet went out again, you’ll turn around?” Hah hah. That won’t happen. So he drove away and he was right. It did not happen. The internet went out 30 minutes later.

I called tech support. One of the things that makes you less that confident in your Century Link service: the call had great blowing static that made it hard for me to hear the tech, who of course was on Venus. She put me on hold many times, and every time she returned she said she apologized for putting me on hold and appreciated my patience, because that’s what the script says. I told her she didn’t have to say that. She could not stop saying it. Someone might be listening. Someone might take her into a beige room and ask her why she did not apologize and appreciate. It is easier to annoy me with insincere rote statements than deal with managers. She said she could not get the tech back; he was long gone, on to other issues. Someone could come by Monday.

I asked her, begged her, to see if she could check my modem. She asked if she could put me on hold for two to three minutes. What am I supposed to say? No, having asked the question, I prefer to make it purely rhetorical. Yes, fine. After checking my modem she came back and apologized for putting me on hold and appreciated my patience. What do you know, it was the modem. It keeps losing its configuration. I would have to replace it.

“You can buy one at Wal-Mart,” she said. “Make sure it is VSDL +2.”

Great. Well. Okay. I went to work, damned grateful I’d written the Sunday column the night before. I had only to do the work blog and the My Minnesota Feature. Minor problem: no subject for the profile. One person had declined, two had not called back - on vacation, probably - and one done in the morn had not exactly panned out. Five hours to find, write, and file.

At the office I banged out a thousand words for the work blog, pasted it up, alerted the Googleplex to its existence, then looked at the column: meh. Thought about the dog, home alone. This guy.

His abscess was much worse. It had swollen so much his right eye was closed. This picture above was taken the day before.

But he’d been resting easily when I left. Resigned and even resolute, in that stoic dog way.

I went over to my editor to tell him I was still working on the profile: he wasn’t there. A tell-tale piece of paper on his chair indicated he had not been there for a while.

Hmm. Well. Called in some chits, got some interview prospects - one of them seemed like something our Reportorial Columnists might like, so I wandered over to talk to them. Jon had a book he’d written about: this one.

“That’s Kinescope,” I said. “The font. It’s by a local guy who did the packages for Target’s Archer Farms brand.”

“It’s supposed to be like, ‘Catch Me if You Can.’”

I nodded. “Except that was in Coolvetica.”

I am insufferable. Also right:


Bless my co-workers for actually enduring me when I’m like this. Anyway, great story. I decide to go back to the house to work; the reasons for that escape me at the moment, but there I go. As I reach home the phone rings: editor. He’s home because they have a puppy emergency. Fluids from both apertures, which is never good for pups. PARVO. I stand in the garage and look up and shake my fist and ask WHAT, EXACTLY, DO YOU WANT FROM US THIS WEEK? AN ITEMIZED LIST WOULD BE NICE.

There’s a note on the counter from the nice lady who comes every fortnight to scrub and polish wishing Jasper well, and noting that the upstairs bathtub isn’t draining.

Well. Hmm. We had the bathtub refinished while we were away, because it looked like Wolverine had fought a rhino in there. I call the refinisher guy, and he says he’ll send over his business partner right away.


It starts to snow.

Fargin - ahhh, man.

I call the vet to ask whether it’s within acceptable parameters to have the dog’s lump so swollen one day into the course of treatment. I know the answer, more or less - “generally yes but possibly not but we’ll see.” She’s not available. I leave a message.

The snow comes down harder.

No call back yet from interview subject #1. I call the second one. He’s up for it! He’s eager to talk. BEEP phone; the vet. I tell him it’s vital, and take the call. It’s not the vet. It’s the first interview subject. I think: Bank the second guy, go with the first.







The tub guy. I show him upstairs; he apologizes for whatever, and heads up to fix the problem. He’s my guy in the Essex road, to use a Pragerism. Call back Guy #2, say I have to do the interview later; he asks “What was your name again?” I tell him, and he’s delighted: he listens to me on the radio! This is marvelous and grand and life has a bright spot, even though the snow is now starting to accumulate on the ground -

But. It will melt. That’s the thing about the universe. Either things melt or they freeze solid, and the local general trend is -> melty. I call back interview subject #1, and we’re talking, and I hear water running as the guy upstairs is banging away, and I realize that the water is coming down the wall behind the stove in the kitchen, WHERE THERE ARE NO PIPES EVER, in a Niagara torrent - run downstairs to follow the sound, WATER POURING OUT OF A FARGIN’ DOOR FRAME IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM COMING OUT OF THE WATER FIXTURE


He. Is. Mortified: he didn’t know what he did, except that he was poking the drain and something must have sundered - I’m paraphrasing. He is so sorry. Well, so am I, partly because this is a two-man operation, young entrepreneurs, and this is Nightmare Time. He instantly calls his insurance people and right then and there absolves me of the entire bill for the tub refinishing.

I call back the interview subject and we pick it up. With some difficulty on my part. I note that my cell is almost dead; I plug it in, because I want to get the vet’s call.

As soon as I do, the vet calls.

I beg off the interview subject again; she understands. Pick up phone: it’s not charging, incidentally, because the cascade of water shorted out the box.

The wind has picked up and the snow is coming slantwise.

The vet says that the swelling is within parameters, for the moment. A warm compress might help. Fine; thanks. I call my wife: Remember a few Christmases ago I gave you that lavender-scented microwavable bag? From Patina? Before they burned down? Where is it. Ah: of course. Oh, the dog’s the same. Right. Later. I microwave the bag, and note grimly how the microwave always knocks out the wireless. Doesn’t matter now. No fargin’ internet.

I put the bag under the dog’s head and he seems to like it, but then the lavender smell asserts itself. He staggers to his feet and walks to the other end of the room and drops down.

So . . . what was I doing . . . INTERVIEW. I call back the subject. Tub guy goes downstairs to mop and apologize and mop, and I finish the interview. (Note: periodic Twitter updates are happening through all of this, because it is 2013.) When the interview is done and the tub guy goes and I assure him that I know, without a doubt, that he had no intention of doing this and it’s his worst nightmare and this is life and these things happen. Close the door. Sigh.

Annnnd now to write up the interview. Which I do. Sending it into the office mainframe is difficult, because reasons. And those reasons are, or is, the BUSTED MODEM, so I have to slip in the piece during the brief window where the internet works. This I do. Everything is, for the moment, acceptable, except for the snow.

Now. Daughter is not home; that’s another story. But it is Friday, and that means Pizza. But it is also naptime, really. I turn on the oven, wait until it’s 425, get out the slab of frozen Geno’s East Deep Dish, and spit in the face of the fates of Friday by putting the pizza in the oven and going to sleep.

The alarm was supposed to wake me after 40 minutes. A plane does this after 30. A big plane going overhead. Dinner time is takeoff time. One after the other. So it has always been, so it will always be. For some reason tonight they are basso profundo, shaking the house. No matter; the coffee maker has made the evening pot, the oven is heavy with Za, and so we begin! Friday!


I have a radio thing to do at 8, and I have to get a modem. And Frosty Paws.

We’re out of Jasper’s treats.

I have one hour and 13 minutes.

In the car, off to Target. Back to electronics. They don’t have a VDSL+2 modem. Possibly because they have no modems at all. Out of the store and in the car at 7:03, drive to Best Buy’s flagship store. 7:11. Ask the clerk: need a modem. He asks who’s my provider, I say “Century Link.” He ambles over and points at a box that says CENTURY LINK.

Is it VDSL? I ask. He is flummoxed. I note it’s also a router. There’s another modem in a box on the shelf that’s half the price.

“Why would I buy the one that’s twice as much?” I say.

“It’s Century Link,” he says, because I am a middle-aged dude who doesn’t like know whatever stuff and it’s not his job to like care or give a crap? Anyway CenturyLink because reasons. I thank him and investigate all the modem options. No VSDL, let alone VSDL+2.

This means I have to drive to MicroCenter, where all possible permutations of computational equipment are sold. In the car at 7:17. Up 35W, east on 62, north, juke left, parking lot: it’s an old grocery store strip mall, a sixties relic that now houses a Burlington Coat Factory and the MicroCenter. Feels like a Soylent distribution center, always has. I run inside. Clock ticking. Back to aisle 36 where the modems are, and . . .

. . . and a fella is telling the sprout of a clerk what it was like back in the days of double-sided floppies, because this is the curse of MicroCenter: it’s where old geeks go to assert waning Alpha Male Geek Status. It’s like the VFW for guys who served in the Platform Wars.

I hold up a finger and say “I’m sorry, but I’m in a rush - VSDL plus two?”

The young clerk brightens then clouds: he says they don’t have any. He says it’s sad that they don’t but they don’t, and sometimes people ask for them, but they don’t. Mind you, this is a place that has cords that attach 1996 computers to legacy IBM big iron that stored information on reel-to-reel. So I’m not particularly confident I’ll find a modem. Tonight.

Back in the bar. 7:31. Drive south drive east drive north up Lyndale to the grocery store to get Jasper’s Frosty Paws. The clerk has a question:

“I wanted to ask - what would be the best way to get someone’s attention with a petition?”

Because I am a Columnist and Media Guy. The clerk is a smart fellow, half my age probably, and I’m flattered. I tell him that if I was a politician I’d be more impressed by a sheaf of paper with lots of signatures than an internet petition. Anyone can click and like. Going door to door and getting ink, that’s different. I apologize for not having more time on the matter, but, beer:

Because we’re out. It’s 7:51. I make it to the package store, hoist a 12 of Redhook, drive home, and I’m in the door at 7:59 and on the phone at 8:01 for the interview.

It was done 43 minutes later at 8:44.

And then I said: bourbon.

And so it was.


NOTE: I wrote this late Friday night, and the sheer girth of the post pushes Black and White World to Tuesday, and Product! to Tuesday. Unnerving, yes, but we will all adjust. I am posting on Sunday afternoon while I still have internet.

The eye swelled up much worse on Saturday - but it looked better on Sunday. Fingers crossed.










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