Thursday, September 20, 2007

geek like me

I have just spent the last 2 or 3 hours of the last 2 or 4 days, of the last 3 or 5 weeks of the past 6 or 7 months online with tech support. I do mean every flavor of tech support: Microsoft, Dell, hp customer service; AT&T sbc. The Af of L CIO; SPCA, PETA, FICA, Fema, Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers. As you can see, I am giddy with enlightenment.

So here, in the last 5 minutes of the total 15 minutes of online time that I have managed today I offer everything that I have learned in this, my 8 month, give or take, long tutorial.

There was nothing all that much wrong with my old computer, except perhaps that it was a little slow and old. Now, after a clean reinstall it's running well enough to service all the web browsing, intel needs of Homeland Security. And probably every bit as secure.

There is nothing wrong with my new Hewlett Packard computer. Nor the new Vista program with which it came burdened, I mean bundled. There is, of course, something very wrong with me. I too am a little slow, a little old. And came bundled with a pointlessly enigmatic operating system.

There is nothing wrong with my AT&T dsl service. No one really knows why I cannot get or stay connected on a consistent basis. It's inexplicable, like Paris Hilton or gay Republicans. Whatever the problem is, it is nothing that constantly 'refreshing' the setting and turning on and off the modem and security programs will not cure. I am told.

Most of all, I have learned that the good people of Upper Supportekiztahn are an uncommonly hardworking and almost pathologically polite bunch; so much so that I fear armed guards are standing by ready to pistol whip the first person who fails to assure me that none of this is my fault. Truly, their patience in the face of some staggering technical ignorance is nothing short of heroic, and I will hear nothing against them. As I learned from my good friend Joseph at...well, I'm not really sure which support service anymore; to be frank, by now I'm pretty much dialing random numbers and asking for help. The fire department was nice, although Mrs. McNulty got decidely testy.

Anyway, I discovered I was calling Joseph at 2:00am his time, which was close to the end of his shift. From his (undisclosed) office location he was planning to take the company transport for the 1 1/2 hour ride home.

At around 10:00 am he would leave for the university, where he is studying for a degree in something called 'commerce'. Afterwards, he would make the 1 1/2 hour journey back to work, there to spend long hours on the phone telling people like me to turn off their modems; click on 'run'; open Control Panel and reset the winsock; input number

Honestly, in this day and age I feel I should be able to get online just by clicking my heels three times and saying "there's no place like home." I'm willing to do a little chanting. That's it.

Waiting for my computer to reboot, Joseph and I discuss my desire to visit the Taj Majal, which he encourages, although he seems mystified by my interest in the River Ganges. I hope, even as I say it, that the Ganges is actually in India. Suddenly, I feel so American.

The next day I learned from my friend Guarven that August 15th is India's Independence day ~ I could hear the party in the background. Last Tuesday I learned from Dawn that yes, the Ganges is in fact in India, and that no one in tech support is ever allowed to reveal the exact location of their offices. How very Cheneyesque, I thought, although I did not mention this to Dawn. I think Joseph would have gotten it, though ~ oh, how we would have laughed! I find myself missing Joseph. I wonder what his number is.

Sorry ~ didn't mean to ramble on so, although of course it's not my fault. (*Note to self; call tech support for rewrite.) I think the problem's fixed now. Thank god summer's over. Time for this geek to go outside and play.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

just a cock-eyed, slightly depressed optimist

Found the quiz at Cynthia's. To the surprise of no one, my world view is based on a philosophy best contemplated whilst smoking cigarettes and drinking absinthe-laced coffee in the dimly lit interiors of Parisian cafes.

You scored as Existentialist. Existentialism emphasizes human capability. There is no greater power interfering with life and thus it is up to us to make things happen. Sometimes considered a negative and depressing world view, your optimism towards human accomplishment is immense. Mankind is condemned to be free and must accept the responsibility.











Cultural Creative






Fair enough, although I believe the phrase "...your optimism towards human accomplishment is immense" should be changed to "...your optimism towards human accomplishment is confused." I'm pretty sure one can't be a cheerful existentialist. At least not sober.

Once again, I am unclear on the concept.

What is Your World View?

created with

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

my blue kitchen

Poor Mom. I spent an unexpectedly cool and overcast Sunday last week working on her portrait. We've been having a bit of a go at each other for months now.

The problem is that I can't seem to capture a particular quality in her smile. Most (real) artists tend to avoid overt, opened mouthed grins, the kind best left captured in photographs, and for good reason ~ that split second of joy so easily caught by pixel or film can, in the hands of the wrong person, become a frozen, deadened grimace on canvas.

These are the hands of the wrong person.

Working from a recent photograph and determined to preserve a certain sweetness in her countenance (there was more there, but I started the picture in the first throws of grief, and must be forgiven an element of sentimentality) I painted her at first beaming broadly. Too broadly, I'm afraid, because the longer I worked the more her expression took on a somewhat demented aspect. By which I mean she looked crazy.

So I painted her mouth a little softer. Too softly, because in time I came to realize that she looked a little wistful. By which I mean she looked depressed. And who wants to go through that for eternity?

And on it went ~ loony laugh/woeful pout. Smooshy paint. And I began to wonder if this is less about me as an unskilled painter (although it is certainly that) and more about me trying to create a form of everlasting life for my mother. I want to paint her into an eternity of smiling bliss; to guarantee her happiness with gay dashes of red and yellow, banishing forever all the subtler hues of indigo and grey that too were a part of her life; all of our lives, in fact, and that need to be acknowledged, with all their implied whispers of mourning and regret.

I know that to deny this is neither sensible nor desired. I know that this is what makes makes portraits devoid of life and passion; it is what separates the kitsch from the real. And she would want it all out there. But I seem to want to make it prettier. Better. For me.

Then again, maybe this is just how I choose to remember her. Pink. Bright. Happy.

And so it goes ~ week after week of painting mom's smile in and out until, somewhere in this alternative universe, she doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. Somewhere, I have finally managed to make my mother bipolar.

At last I put Mom aside and finished a little picture I'd started well over a year ago (2? 3?) ~ meant to be a quick, cheerful study of the kitchen table where an old friend and I had once sat on a cool gray winter afternoon, drinking wine and nibbling bits of fruit and cheese. Catching up on lives once close, but now lived 3000 miles apart.

So much for quick. But it is cheerful. A little cartoon-y. I don't mind. It will always remind me of my friend and how warm we felt sharing that cozy winter day. Mercifully, the smiles need only be implied.