There are situations in life when you know you’re just wasting your time. Building a perpetual motion machine, for instance. Starting a land war in Asia. Fifth grade. Arguing with a lawyer.
The very worst of these situations are the ones you can see coming. A tremendous, frustrating, no-win encounter looms on the horizon, and you feel yourself careening towards it. You know you’re not going to enjoy it. You know it isn’t going to end well. But like a novice bicycler scared Schwinnless about hitting the nearest tree, the collision is coming. And you can’t stop pedaling.
That was me, two hours ago. I bought a new gadget this week, and wanted to hook it to my computer. Only the gadget uses Bluetooth, which the computer supports. But the computer’s Bluetooth isn’t working, apparently. I never knew, because I’ve never connected anything to it before, Bluetoothily. The warranty is long expired. Online research was only minimally enlightening. The path before me was clear: open up the computer case, and try to diagnose — and fix — the problem.
With the Bluetooth adapter. On my own. Without, say, Stephen Hawking or John Frink standing by to assist. This had “two hours of my life, flushed needlessly down the shitter” written all over it. I knew this — and what did I do?
I tried to give myself a chance to succeed, however slim. I collected the tools I thought I might need — a flashlight, a screwdriver, needle-nosed pliers and a staple gun (just in case) — before I I began. I refused myself the tall cold beer or four that the job made me thirst for. And I made sure my wife was busy elsewhere — because having any kind of witness present for this madness surely doomed it to failure, and possibly a fire, and very likely a staple-related injury. I did these things with the hope it would be enough to eke myself a victory: an improved computer, and a fully-functioning gadget. That was the hope.
Of course, as I’m fond of saying at every possible turn: “Hope is for babies.”
“Because I like my computers the way I like my women: untouchably hot, wheezy and increasingly filled with dust.”
I managed to open the computer case all right. I didn’t even need the screwdriver. That was the high point of the evening.
One inside, I found the vast jumble of wires I remembered from the last time I squanderpissed two hours away into the eternal void. That time was to try to get the case fans working or something. Eventually, I decided a computer probably doesn’t really need fans, and the thing is just fine the way it is.
(Because I like my computers the way I like my women: untouchably hot, wheezy and increasingly filled with dust.
Please don’t tell my wife I said so.)
Anyway, I resisted the urge to hack through the thicket of cables with the screwdriver, and tried to find the Bluetooth module. The one thing that I learned online is that if the Bluetooth module on this particular model motherboard isn’t connected via USB, then it won’t work. The PCI connection makes the WiFi part work, but Bluetooth needs USB.
Because YOLO, IMHO, and FYI, all you TLAs can GFY. OMG.
The first thing I saw was a dangling USB connector. That seemed like a good sign; maybe by connecting it to the right thing, I’d be done with this nightmare and actually accomplish something electronic for the first time since I figured out how to put new batteries in my Merlin game back in 1982.
But no. I found a connector-hole that looked promising on the motherboard, but the connector wouldn’t reach that far. Whoever bundled the cables in this thing was either having a very challenging day or he really hates computer cables, because these things were wrapped up and tied off in every which possible way. These wires were strapped together like a cornrow ponytail, with little black plastic ties that looked like something out of an S & M catalogue for very tiny people.Or very tiny body parts. Or the second thing attached to the first thing, maybe. The point is, they were scary. And I didn’t have a pair of scissors — or the intestinal fortitude, staring at the guts of an out-of-warranty computer — to try snipping them off.
The good news was, I figured out the connector-hole I was so enamored with wasn’t actually the right connector-hole, after all.
(I mean, we’ve all been there. Amirite, guys? Or amirite?)
The bad news was, I found the right connector-hole — and it was already fitted quite snugly with a USB connector. Meaning if it was connected, I had nothing to try and fix. I was just blowing precious time out my ass, for no practical reason.
But that couldn’t be it, I thought. Oh, no. So i set out to find the other end of the cable.
Because, thought I, pedalpedalpedal, what if it’s the other part of the cable that’s not connected? That would be something I could fix, right? Other than the niggling little details that I didn’t know what the other end looked like, where it was supposed to go, how to find where it was supposed to go on the motherboard, or how the hell I’d know it when I saw it. All of those things, I’d deal with as soon as I’d trailed the cable back to the source, like some modern-day compu-savvy Dr, Livingstone, searching for the head of the Nile.
(For the record, Livingstone died of malaria and dysentery, haunted by the sight of native massacres by slave traders, thousands of miles from home and half out of his mind.
Also, he never actually found the head of the Nile. I’m just saying.)
Naturally, I couldn’t follow the trail of this cable up the electro-ponytail any better than I could trace the loose-ended cable down. I lost it in a twisted mass of wires and hate and failure, and realized, far too late, that my second mistake was opening the computer case at all.
The first mistake being, of course, not including an acetylene torch in my pre-opening tool kit, the better to melt the shit out of any part with the word “Bluetooth” written anywhere near it.
So, long story barely-shorter: I came. I saw. I still have no effing Bluetooth. And my new gadget is currently the most sophisticated, space-age, expensive paperweight in the house. Which is not something I’m going to be able to take lying down.
And you know what that means. Sooner or later, like it or not, someday soon I’ll be back there, in there, digging through wires in the computer case, looking for a Bluetooth-paired miracle.