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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Whatever You Do, Don’t Let Me Near the TiVo!

I’ve thought of yet another reason why I should be a writer when I grow up. I’m a technoboob.

(And no, that’s got nothing to do with robot breasts. Nor virtual hooters, pixelated nipples, or motorized mammaries. It’s nothing nearly so exciting as that.)

What it means is that ‘computers’ — and its filthy, unwashed cousin, ‘electronics’ — and I rarely get along. And that’s unfortunate, since my job involves programming. Okay, so my job is programming. You can see where being a technoboob would get in the way.

Don’t get me wrong, now. I’m not clueless when it comes to ‘puters and tuners and speakers, oh my. Actually, it’s worse. You know how some people ‘know just enough to be dangerous’? Well, I know more than that — I know enough to be lethal. I get past those first few merely ‘dangerous’ defenses that a funked-up printer or cranky video card might have, and soon find myself doing suicidal shit like poking at live wires with a screwdriver, or jamming my finger in some random port-hole.

(No, not the porthole on a ship.)

(And no, not some person’s ‘port-hole’, either, all right? Fer chrissakes, keep your mind out of crotches for ten freaking seconds, would you?)

Anyway, I get myself in a lot of trouble, electronic-wise. The latest episode came today — I finally got off my ass and bought the cable I need to connect my stereo to my computer, the better to — someday — record some old vinyl records of mine to MP3s. Fine. I got the cable, hooked it up, fiddled for a while, and finally got it working the way I wanted. Peachy.

Now, I don’t actually have a turntable, so I couidn’t work on the LPs. However, my old stereo does have a nifty casette player, and I do have a few old tapes that I’d like to hear at work, or in the car, or on the can, perhaps, so I started in on those. I popped in a tape, and got to work. Song one, check. Song two, no problem. Song three, done and done.

Song four… well, then there was song four. I made it through about two minutes of song four, when the music suddenly sloooooowed down, and the tape player made a charming, teeny little noise. It sounded a little like this:


No, no, that doesn’t really do it justice. Try to imagine a high-pitched jet engine whine, as imitated by a cow going around and around in a clothes dryer. That’s something like it. I’m not sure I can really get you closer than that.

So, of course, I stopped the player right away, well-aware of the irony of wearing this tape out for years, and then not playing it for years, only to have the damned casette player eat it the one time I wanted to record it digitally, so I’d never have to risk playing it again. Maybe that’s not technically ‘irony’; I don’t know. Maybe it’s just unfortunate, or unexpected. All I know is that it sucks ass.

Only, the tape wasn’t being eaten. Screeched at, perhaps, but I was able to pull the tape out, intact. I tried the song a few more times, and the same thing happened, never in exactly the same place. Other songs, same thing. Other casettes, ditto. It gradually became obvious that the player was likely to blame. ‘Maybe,’ I said to myself, ‘I should have a look at it.

Nice. What kind of dumbass talk is that?

Four hours, three Q-tips, two screwdrivers, a can of compressed air, and some WD-40 later… and now the damned thing doesn’t play at all. It rewinds like a gem — and much more quietly, if I do say so myself. It fast-forwards like a dream. But play? No. Not so much. It groans a little, and some of the list moving parts twirl around the way they’re supposed to, but no actual sound comes out of it. I suppose the good news is that it doesn’t make the clothesdryer-cow-engine noise, either. But that’s small comfort. How the hell am I gonna record the rest of my Royal Court of China tape? Or my old dB’s stuff?

Eh, screw it. The thing wasn’t working right, anyway. Now I’ll just have to find a place that can rent me a nice turntable and a component cassette player for a week or two. The world’s all CDs and MP3s now, anyway. I didn’t need the thing, right? Um, right? Hello?

Bleh. Cut me some slack. Everybody gets one technical brain fart, right? I’m not so bad, really.

Oh, in other news, I’ve also got to call Office Depot on Monday to cancel the order I made online today. I wanted to buy a printer to replace our current one — which I can’t fix, thank you very little, dammit — and ended up purchasing a scanner, instead. In my defense, the Yahoo shopping site listed it as an inkjet printer. Of course, in my prosecution, I didn’t read the fine print, and realize that their half-brained, barely-trained intern screwed up the data input. And also, to add to the shame, if I could fix the stupid fricking printer we have now, I wouldn’t be in this boobered mess in the first place.

Dammit, I hate technology. If it wasn’t for my freaking TiVo, the occassional game of Madden, and my Soul Coughing CDs, I’d junk every piece of ‘tronics in the damned house, and go back to living like a damned Pilgrim. Well, okay, so a Pilgrim with central heat, a cool car, and an oversized refrigerator. You know what I meant, dammit!

Man, I’ve got to get away from this computerized crap. Anybody got a nice, comfy job that involves only a typewriter, some pencils, and maybe the occasional bottle of tequila? Anyone?

Permalink  |  2 Comments

2 Responses to “Whatever You Do, Don’t Let Me Near the TiVo!”

  1. Jeff A says:

    Only job I can think of like that is a private eye in an old pulp novel!

  2. #Debi says:

    I was thinking maybe the WRITER of old pulp novels…

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