Rosh Hashana road trip
Wednesday, September 15 2004
setting: rural Hurley township, Ulster County, New York
You know how sometimes you have to type in a password twice when you're providing it to a computer program? This is to make certain you know it before consigning it to the oblivion of one-way encryption. But this precaution only makes sense if you are being asked to come up with the password on the spot. If you are entering a password into multiple locations after coming up with it somewhere else, it's unnecessary to have to type it twice at every location where it must be entered. Indeed, being made to do so is a major annoyance, particularly when the password is long and complicated. But this is precisely what Microsoft makes you do when you enter a wireless card's encryption key into their graphical forms. What's worse is that these forms don't bother to tell you what sort of information you're supposed to enter: decimal numerals, hexadecimal numerals, or alphanumeric characters. I wouldn't be complaining right now if I hadn't had the experience of driving to Sharon, Connecticut today and attempting to hook up a wireless network and being thwarted, but not knowing why. Was the encryption key I entered the valid one? I'm still not sure. I got a valid IP address, but I couldn't load any web pages. You'd think a supposedly user-friendly interface designed for the moronic bulk of the bell curve would report exactly why a working connection isn't being established, but no, you're just left to ponder.
This was the experience I had at a Connecticut radio station immediately before I set off for a long weekend trip to Staunton, Virginia all by myself. Oh, the miles, the many miles. First to and from Connecticut and then down the most obvious interstates to Staunton.
A Red Tailed Hawk swooped across the south bound lanes at bumper level in front of a car in front of me and it slammed on its brakes. But the hawk was already in the median, ambushing a mammal. I wondered if the risky strategy of attacking through the cover of traffic was this particular hawk's predatory innovation.
Rennovations had been made to parts of my childhood home since I'd last been there. Evidently my mother had finally come around to the view that her savings would do her more good as tangible improvements to her world while she is still alive than as a heavily-taxed inheritance to me on some distant day in the future. Not only has the old collapsing barn been torn down and replaced with a structure of equal size, but the nasty old carpet in the living room has been ripped up and replaced with brand new hardwood floors. Most of the clutter and chaos is exactly where it was before, but the floor is a huge improvement. The plague of dust seems to be a thing of the past, though things are far from perfect. The Kitten is still plagued by fleas, that hasn't changed. But more disturbing is the presence of a musty funk, a combination fragrance comprised of the essences of mold and dirty laundry, that now pervades every room of the house. It's a smell that didn't used to be there. I suspect it has something to do with Don's room, which has been completely emptied of contents so its rotting floor and makeshift foundation can be replaced. Don is now camped out in a corner of the living room, and it might be his essential funk that I was smelling. Whatever it was, it wasn't conducive to appetite. Though I had no difficulty mustering the courage to crack open a can of Budweiser, I had difficulty regarding any food in the house sanitary enough to eat. This was the first time I have ever felt this way in my own home. It was a sad feeling - that perhaps my parents had gone so far off the edge of respectable homesteading that I couldn't even eat at their house. At least the Shaque still smelled okay.
The reason I had the time for this visit was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. There'd be no Spanish class on Thursday at SUNY Ulster (evidently a result of the pervasive Jewish influence we'd been warned about), so I could leave today and stay in Virginia until Monday night if I wanted. One of the reasons for coming down was to be around when my father got an MRI. He's been experiencing numbness in his feet and doctors suspect there might be nerves pinched in his lower spine. Nearly 81 years old, this is the most serious medical condition he's experienced since the primitive appendectomy he got back in the 30s or 40s.
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