Fighting for What’s Mine(sweeper)

Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.” –Rounders

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There are two types of people in this world; the kind that play Minesweeper for fun, and the kind that play it because they have no choice.  Oh sure, it started out as a simple office diversion for most of the world.  There’s that old story about a county that had to have the game removed from computers because productivity was going down.  Those are my kind of people.  They’re the ones that realized the sort of draw that that grid can have.  When the world’s serving up nothing but 8’s everywhere you turn, some of us stare the challenge in the face and defy it.  Some of us are up for the challenge.

Despite what your grandpa told you, there are plenty of ways to play Minesweeper.  I know, you think it’s just some little program that you can pull up and click away at your leisure.  If you’ve beaten the game once on “Advanced” then you think you’ve accomplished something.  Please.  Those folks will always be beginners to us.  Advanced is just the starting point.  There’re those of us that stay at home, designing custom grids, and running drills.  Any wrong box sends us right back to square one, yet we keep going for hours into the morning.

Pic from Wikipedia

The Minesweeper Underground Teams, or Mutts, started off with a simple challenge.  You set yours on Advanced, they set theirs on Advanced; the first person to clear the board wins.  And I’m not talking about the layout that they have now.  That stupid little sanitized blue-board with the countdown at the bottom of the screen.   No, I’m talking original, classic design.  We want the numbers ticking away in blood red and we want that little man in yellow to pop up and call you a failure.  Don’t bring that whitewashed, safe, welcoming game around us.  You’ll end up getting our typical treatment.  We truss you up, steal your watch, stomp on it, and shove you out the door with that watch superglued to your nose.  It’s the “Time’s Up” mark of shame.

Take Hanz, our inspiration.  No one knows his real name, but we all revere Hanz.  The man’s a legend.  Some say that he took the one hundred most called up permutations of the board and memorized them.  Others claim that they were present when he cleared the bombs in seventeen seconds.  There’s even a story that he knows the guy that invented the game, and the sunglasses are on that yellow face to hide the fear that the programmer had for Hanz.  I don’t know if I believe it all, but I do know that you don’t want to plant a marker on Hanz’s turf.

In his brilliance, Hanz hacked the classic MS and changed one factor.  For every bomb that you tag, another bomb shows up on your opponent’s counter.   It’s always a special treat for us when noobs play.  You should see their eyes twitch when three bombs add up on their total.  When we’re feeling bored, when the opponent is no challenge at all, we’ll spend a good thirty seconds just marking squares that are perfectly safe just to screw with their heads.  Watch a guy try to clear ninety-seven bombs in a one hundred square plot and you’ll know true joy.

I’m not saying I’m the best, but I’m no question-mark using poser.  I’ve tussled with Hanz and walked away with my dignity intact.  I have the standard calluses on the side of my thumb and at the base of pointer finger.  You don’t come around to the warehouse without being scarred by the game a little.  There’s a trick to it all.  If you’re walking into an unknown Minesweeper Club, or Miscy’s, you don’t want to play your hand early.  I mean that literally.  Any thug who’s guarding the door is going to check your hands.  If you walk in with some pansy wrist brace like a data processor that belongs in a button-up short-sleeved shirt and narrow time, you’re not going to get any play at all.  Yeah, hours of holding that mouse are going to do crazy things to your wrist.  Suck it up.  You gotta pay your dues and the game demands that you compensate all the way.

Don’t come around with any stupid ergonomics either.  Guys come in with their titanium cases pulling out their mice shaped like commas with buttons on the side and some trackball pimple growing out of the top.  “Best of the best”, they say with a grin.  “Allows for faster game play”, they gloat.  Not here it doesn’t.  Any self-respecting Mutt that sees that sort of garbage will slam their mouse against the wall, make the dweeb eat the trackball, and give them the proper “Time’s Up” exit.

So yeah, you gotta have a few bumps on your hand.  It comes with the life.  But if you got too many bruises, if your hand is too obvious, you’re not gonna be able to find a game.  Nobody wants to be the minnow to a shark.  We’ll take you down.  But at twenty bucks a bomb, the stakes add up pretty quick.  We Mutts save our bankrolls for real challenges.  Sometimes we just want an opponent that’ll make it easy for us to buy a new car.  It all depends on the player’s taste.

Then there’s this one chick; Celeste.  I’ve decided that when someone finally takes down Hanz, one on one, it’ll either be me or Celeste.  I’m good.  She’s art.  I’m not going to give away too many secrets, but I have my logical methods.  I operate off of patterns.  I know every move I’m making to at least three degrees.  Everyone has their favorite first-square to start with.  Mine has never failed me.  Nothing in life is completely random.  There are patterns.  And lemme tell ya, I’ve spent years finding all the patterns I can and using those to buy me some pretty nice swag.  That sports call with the shiny gray paintjob and the license plate, “ALLMINE”?  Yeah, that’s my ride.  Got a 60-inch, HD, 3D TV at home too.  You don’t get to carry around a wad of scratch in a leather jacket unless you’ve got the skills to bring ‘er home.  And I do.  I’ve taken my explosions, sure.  We all have.  Eventually life’s gonna blow up in your face; time’ll run out.  But I’ve taken my shrapnel and learned from my scars.

Celeste; she’s the opposite.  You look at her and you don’t see a threat.  She’s just around five foot, blonde, pretty cute with that whole glasses/librarian thing going.  She always has her hair pulled back in a loose ponytail.  Says she can’t afford to have it fall in her face when she’s in the zone.  For all her academic appearances, the woman’s an artist.

Celeste never plays it safe.  She plays recklessly.  I’ve seen her click through more failed screens than any four players combined.  But she’s fast. Wicked fast.  You should see her wrist.  She hides it well, wears long sleeves and has learned to hold it just right so that it doesn’t show.  But every once in a while, when she’s had one too many shots or she’s at the end of a forty hour session, it’ll come out.  Her right hand, especially her thumb, is permanently curved to cradle a mouse.

She’s fascinating to watch.  She claims that Hanz taught her how to play when she was a little girl.  It’s a nice story, just like the story of a guy who clicks once and the whole field of blanks clears away for him.  I don’t know if I believe the story.  But I do know that she and I have scrapped more than a few times.  We tangle almost every time we’re in the same Miscy together.  Once in a while we’ll tangle out in the parking lot too.  What can I say; we’re like oil and fire.  I’m slick, she’s hot; every once in a while we’ll let the inferno rage.  Regardless, she’s the one to beat.

You getting the picture yet, kid?  There are Miscy’s all around; you just gotta know where to look.  My suggestion?  Hang out around software and airplane guys.  It’s the engineers you want to tail.  What, you think engineers don’t want their kicks to?  You think it’s an accident that the fifteen biggest Miscy’s are all within two miles of airplane and computer manufacturers?  Those nerds with their pocket protectors are tougher than you think.  Their glasses make them look weak, but they’ll take you down and make you cry.

If the Miscy doesn’t fill up a hanger or a warehouse, then it’s a rookie joint.  You want that place to be filed.  There are plenty of us Mutts and if we avoid a place, there’s a reason for it.  Some guys, Landminers, we call ‘em, they’ll rig the games.  The SWAT leader at each Miscy is supposed to keep things on the up and up.  But sometimes the SWATs get greedy.  Sometimes they hack a game and give their buds a field guide.  We don’t deal that way, nor do we deal with those kinds.  There’s no planting for real Mutts; we play it straight up.  You want the high walls of an abandoned building to be constantly echoing.  If you aren’t distracted by hundreds of mouse clicks resounding off the metal walls, men hunched over computers as far as the eye can see?  Well then you’re dealing with Landminers and you should get yourself to an honest Miscy with real Mutts.  Don’t waste your time on those loser L-M punks.

You know those corners that cause you trouble?  You’ve got all your known bombs marked, you still have two bombs left, but there are five spots all closed in and you just walk away and figure some miracle will fix it all while you deal with an easier section?  Not us Mutts.  We barrel through.  We get it done.  You go ahead and work up a sweat.  You worry about time running out as your fingers start to shake in fear.  When you’re ready for a real game, you can find us.  We’ll be only too happy to take your money and shove you back out the door.

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(P.S.  If you’ve never watched this 2 minute fake trailer, you should.  It’s my favorite.)  😉

Technologically Challenged

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

Technologically Challenged

Technology enables man to gain control over everything except technology.” –unknown

Harvey had been lied to all his life.  Growing up, his parents had waxed on about the inventions of the world making his life easier.  “Just you wait”, his dad had said.  “There will be countless advancements that will increase productivity.”  For the last ten years of school, the message had been echoed over and over.  “Learn to master this equipment now”, his teachers and professors had demanded.  “If you figure these computer systems out you’ll be better off.”  Harvey shook his head.

Bull, he thought to himself.  Bull and malarkey.

Harvey always harbored suspicions that the electronic world was out to get him.  The day so far only perpetuated that notion.  First off, Harvey’s wristwatch had failed to wake him up.  When his sleepy eyes finally managed to pry themselves open, they were met with a blank screen.  Despite the expensive watch’s claim that the kinetic movement of his body would power the timepiece, the clock had died.  Harvey scurried out of the house, not taking time to shower or eat, and just managed to beat the bus to its first stop.

He was a little rushed, but Harvey felt that he could still make his breakfast date on time.  However, a mile down the road, the bus was forced to stop.  The overhead power lines specially created for the transit system had been knocked down in the evening’s storms.  The bus driver was therefore required to stop the bus, get out, unlatch the feeding mechanism from the lines, drive the bus past the damaged section on gasoline, stop the bus again, reconnect to the city’s power grid, and then continue service.  Harvey hoped that this would be the last unscheduled stop that the bus would have to make, but he would soon find out how wrong he was.

Two stops later, the bus came upon a disabled man in a wheelchair.  Perhaps a regular metal wheelchair would not have been any grave concern, but this was a deluxe wheelchair.  The behemoth that transported the man from place to place might as well have been a sports utility vehicle.  Its mammoth wheels with studded tires barreled onto the bus’s ramp when it was lowered.  The multi-battery operated chair lurched back and forth at the controller’s slightest gesture.  Piercing chirps resonated whenever the one-man RV moved so much as an inch backwards or to the side.  It came as no surprise that the wheelchair was too heavy for the lift.  Upon hearing a grinding sound, the busload of people groaned.  The exertion that the electric system had undergone had frozen the ramp in its current position.  The driver tried to lower it, close it; he even got out and jumped on it.  The driver turned the bus off, toggled the switches; nothing worked.  Since the bus could not move forward with the door open, all the passengers were asked to wait until a replacement bus was available to carry them.

Finally, after Harvey had survived riding on the next vehicle, which had been unavoidably crammed full with the double load, the man arrived at the café.  He had ended up being fifteen minutes late, but he hoped that Rosalind would have the patience to understand.  He looked around at the different coffee tables outside.  They appeared to be oases of calm.  Harvey wanted to sit on their padded seats, sip a latte, and watch the frazzled world go by.  Instead, he found himself pacing back and forth.  He leaned against a planter which once housed a tree, but now served as an oversized ashtray.  He looked back and forth for any signs of his breakfast date.  They had been talking about coffee for weeks and he was wondering if he had ruined his shot with the woman by being too late.

Finally, twenty minutes after his arrival, Harvey pulled out his phone and called up Rosalind.  Her mumbled voice was just barely audible.  Through barely comprehensible tones, Harvey managed to decipher what the woman was trying to say.  She had apparently been kidnapped to a work party that had gone late into the night.  She had sent Harvey an e-mail from her phone cancelling their breakfast date.  However, due to the service coverage in the bar, the message might not have sent.  “Either way”, Harvey commented, “I only check my e-mails in the afternoon.”

Giving up on any pleasantries occurring before work, Harvey hopped on another bus and headed to work.  The bus worked perfectly.  There were no expected stops.  Harvey dared to believe that perhaps technology was on his side.  Then someone from the next bus depot joined him.  Seated snugly on the bench seat next to him, a woman listened to music on her phone.  She wore earplugs, but Harvey would never have known the difference.  Every note, every word, was completely discernible as the tune blasted towards his eardrums.  He closed his eyes and tried to block out the blaring noise.

Three stops later, Harvey was at work.  He ran off the bus, accidentally pushing a few people as he went.  He found himself standing in front of the elevator doors.  Much to his chagrin, the only set of stairs was alarmed.  They were only to be used in case of emergency.  So it was dictated that Harvey stand with the huddled masses waiting for the arms of the elevator to take in the down-trodden working class.  Harvey heard the familiar ding, watched the shiny brown doors open, and stepped to the back of the elevator.  He knew to expect a long wait.

Sure enough, the elevator stopped on the second floor.  Then it ceased moving long enough to deposit fellow building-dwellers on the fourth floor.  After that came the fifth floor, the seventh floor, and the eighth floor.  Harvey closed his eyes and tried to ignore the ads that were displayed on the monitor above the button panel.  It was as if the elevator knew that he was a captive audience until the thirty-seventh floor.

Twelve minutes later, Harvey arrived at his office.  Before leaving work yesterday, Harvey’s boss had stated that he would be unreachable.  There was a closed-door meeting, complete with phone conferences and presentations, which simply could not be interrupted.  However, he assured Harvey that everything he needed for the day would be waiting in his e-mail.  Harvey turned on his computer, dreading the list of things that his demented boss thought could be achieved in one day.

Just as his monitor warmed and lit up with electric-life, Sara came along.  Harvey did not know what Sara was supposed to accomplish for the company, but he knew what role Sara relished most.  Sara liked to be the dispenser of information.  It did not matter if Sara was talking about the newest work initiative, the names of the recent hires, or what Bob from accounting did over summer break.  Sara simply wanted to spread news.  Harvey had never seen a memo or phone call that could compete with Sara’s speedy delivery.  There was no successful way to keep secrets from this woman.  Harvey tried to ignore her, but that only made her that much more interested in impressing him with the latest news.  Therefore it was absolutely no surprise when Sara clawed her overly manicured hands into the top of Harvey’s cubicle walls and stood on tip-toe to convey her wisdom.

“Hey Harvey, how’s it going.”  The woman did not pause for a reply, and Harvey knew well enough not to attempt one.  “Did ya hear about the computers.  It is really quite sad.  All the internet lines are down.  I guess there is something wrong with the sever.”

“Server”, Harvey corrected.  “It is called a server.”

“That’s what I said”, Sara glared back through her grandmother pink-glasses.  Harvey had seen uglier frames before, but never on a person’s face.  Most visually repellant frames had the decency to stay on the spin rack in the stores.  Sara was the only one that actually gave them a chance to show their hideousness in public.

“Do they know when the server will be up again?”

“Oh, it won’t be until later.  They told us that we should just assume it’ll be out all day.  I guess there’s some sort of power sugar that got knocked out by the storm or something.”

“Surge”, Harvey corrected.  “Power surge.”

“Right, that’s what I said”, Sara replied.  “How’re we supposed to get any work done?  I mean, I’m an important person in this organization.”

Harvey gathered a few files and held them in his arm as he stood up.  “I’m sure you’ll manage to be just as productive today as you are on any other day.”

Leaving Sara looking confused, Harvey headed to the back hall.  He knew a secret.  Over an inter-office bowling game, a maintenance man had taken Harvey into his confidence.  They were located so high up in the building that the fire alarms were largely overlooked.  Someone had taken the liberty of disabling the door sensors.  Harvey had not directly asked, but the way the maintenance fellow talked and winked, he knew who had taken that liberty.  And today, it was going to be Harvey’s key to freedom.

Harvey opened the door, made sure no one saw him, and climbed the last two flights of stairs.  He opened the door to the roof and breathed a sigh of relief.  No one else was about this early in the morning.  In the summer elaborate parties were hosted on the roof.  Railings had been installed and there was even an awning attached to the access stairwell.  Around lunchtime, a crowd gathered to have lunch and enjoy the view.  But today Harvey was early enough to be the only one around.

He breathed in the fresh air.  The skyscraper was on the edge of the city.  From his spot, Harvey could see a few buildings around him, but mostly it was the ocean that filled his view.  The overnight storm had cleared away nicely.  All the scenery had been wiped cleaning from the wind and rain.  He found a dry chair, sat down, and pulled the files from their folders.  He sat, looking at paper copies, resting in a seat with no controls or buttons, and read by the sun in the sky.  This, Harvey felt, is how simple it is supposed to be.

Calling for Help

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Calling for Help

Lisa threw herself inside the door and hurled her purse towards the floor.  Struggling to shrug off her jacket while jiggling her keys loose from the lock, the eagerness continued to build inside of her.  The keys finally came unstuck from the door after protesting noisily.  She flipped the lights on inside and scurried towards her computer as she kicked her pumps off her feet.  A short distance from her desk Lisa almost tripped and careened into the desk, but she hopped at the last moment and freed her foot from the shoe that tried to do her in.  She felt the familiar resistance from the computer’s power button as she pressed it soundly with her thumb.  The monitor started to come to life and she hurried towards the bedroom.

Pulling off her dress slacks and long-sleeved blouse, Lisa went to the drier where she had left her favorite sweatpants and grey tank top.  Despite her rush, she still took the time to stop and smell the fragrant aroma that adorned her freshly laundered top.  She had liked that smell as a child and found the extra two dollars that the laundry brand charged was worth the guaranteed trip down nostalgia lane.  She pulled on her sweatpants and let the tank top fall happily over her head and onto her shoulders.  Feeling the thin socks on her feet run through the soft carpet, she began to hum to herself as she headed for the kitchen.

The tune in her head was a theme song.  But not just any theme song.  All her thoughts were on the show she was just moments away from watching.  Lisa had been waiting all day to catch the newest episode.  Supposedly, if the rumors were to be believed, this was the episode where those two kooks would stop torturing her and become the couple that the show’s writers had been tangoing around for years.  Oh, they had shared their close calls.  He, the bookish librarian, and she, award-winning scientist, had spent four seasons together discovering new secrets of the universe while annoyingly never seeing the obvious connection that every fan yearned for each week.  They had held hands as Charles’ matter-agitator had eaten away at the molecular bond in the ground beneath them; surely they could have admitted they loved one another as they were plummeting to their doom?  Then there was the time when Sylvia’s mentor had turned out to be responsible for the germ-bomb which they had just narrowly kept out of the public water system.  Anyone could see that Charles had wanted to comfort Sylvia with more than just words when she had to face that the man she had looked up to was a person of pure evil.  Why couldn’t those to just get over their bookish sensibilities and embrace each other?

Lisa’s hopes were high.  It was sweeps week, after all.  If the show was hunting for ratings, now would be the perfect time to give the fans what they wanted.  If it didn’t pan out quite right, the writers could still throw in some surprise before the season finale.  But Lisa knew that they couldn’t do that.  If the show gave her all that she was wishing for tonight, she felt assured that the staff would see what a great plotline was in front of them and tread the path of a coupling that was guaranteed from the start.  The characters were Charles Louis and Sylvia Lewis.  Lisa didn’t understand how they had avoided the C.S. Lewis pairing that any idiot could have called out.  Lisa wondered for the umpteenth time if the staff enjoyed the torment they were putting their viewers through.

Lisa left the kitchen with her snack assembled.  The bottle of water was a nice healthy treat, one which was sure to be offset by the bag of Doritos chips that resided under her right arm.  She turned on her television and saw that the computer monitor’s image was now switching over to her living room screen.  Lisa refused to pay for cable and she would not cave and buy a phone that showed videos.  She liked her television to be affordable, but also have a nice presentation.  She was quite happy watching videos online; so long as her cables could transport the image to a nice screen and her surround sound.  Placing the food items on her couch, she happily skipped to the computer.  She ignored the dry clean-only jacket that was crumpled by the door and only half-looked to make sure she had shut the front door all the way.  Her only goal was to logon and start streaming the show.

That was when it happened.  Lisa looked at the bottom right corner of her screen and saw a sight that sent terror coursing through her veins.  The image that should have been two happily little computers beaming at each other was instead replaced with a red “X”.  There was no connection; she was without any internet signal.  Her eyes went wide with horror.  How was she going to watch the show now?  She couldn’t possibly wait for the connection to come back.  She had gone in at six o’clock a.m. to take care of work and now she wanted her reward.  A twelve-hour day was cruel enough.  Now she wanted to watch a nice, fun, cute show where two attractive people smile at each other.  No pithy internet hiccup was going to stop her now.

Lisa hadn’t touched anything externally on the computer, but she checked the cords regardless.  She wondered if she might have somehow tripped on the cords in her hurry to logon.  However, after a quick examination, everything seemed in order.  She ran her mouse over the dastardly icon and right clicked.  She selected “diagnose and repair” from the small menu that popped up.  A bar popped up and a blob of green slid back and forth as the computer was “Identifying the problem”.  Nothing.  No help came.  Lisa grabbed the phone off of the desk and pulled out the top drawer on the right side of the desk.  She found the old internet bill and dialed the number at the top of the paper.

“Thank you for calling Interconnected Internet Services”, a recorded voice said in a calm way that seemed far too rehearsed to Lisa.  “We are currently expecting a high volume of calls.  Please wait and the next available operator will assist you.”  Lisa rolled her eyes and waited for the voice to give her the rest of the bad news.  “You are number seventy-five in line”, the computer said in mechanical and uneven tones.

“UUUUUUuuunnnnnhhh”, Lisa groaned in frustration.  Seventy-fifth in line.  The cue seemed destined to keep her from a relaxing evening.  Assuming each phone call could be answered in one minute, which she knew was rather implausible, Lisa knew she would be on hold for quite a spell.  She looked to her couch.  Ignoring the water bottle, she ruthlessly grabbed at the chips and put it under her arm.  Holding the bag between her elbow and her stomach, she took her hands and pulled the sealed back open.  She took out her frustration on a potato chip and chomped on it with more vigor than was necessary for proper digestion.

Lisa tried to hold the phone between her ear and her shoulder, but the chewing proved too difficult with her neck otherwise indisposed.  She switched to speakerphone and glared at her computer screen.  She took off the “shared monitor” option and watched as the signal returned from its hiatus to television-land back to the screen in front of her.  Lisa typically trolled the internet whenever she was waiting for someone on the phone; it always killed the time a little better.  Double clicking her browser, she remembered what she was on hold for.  Sure enough, the program opened with a blank page and no contact with the outside world.  Lisa did what all frustrated computer operators have done since they were offered the choice; she opened up the games folder.

The first ten minutes were spent on sweeping a gray grid for mines.  She lost track of how many times the countless bombs blew up in her face and forced her to start a new game.  Feeling vexed at how she had lost any discernable talent at the game, if “talent” was possible in such an area, she instead turned to the card games.  She had four different kinds of solitaire on her computer and none of them were doing her any favors.  She clicked and dragged, guessed and hoped, bargained and cajoled.  In the end, she ended up losing every game she played.  This was not her day.

Lisa started hour number two of being on hold with a round of pinball.  The program opened and she was ready to take out her frustration on the “alt” buttons until the pinball paddles knew her suffering and shared her agony.  As the spring behind the bail started to tighten, a voice came over the phone’s speaker.

“Thank you for calling Interconnected Internet Services.  We apologize for any delay and hope that you’ll still find that ISS is right for you.  How may I help you today?”

“Hi, I’m having trouble getting an internet connection.  It was working fine last night, but when I got home this evening…”

“Yes, we’ve been having some trouble with our residential grid”, the operator interrupted.  “I’m going to accessing a file and see if this download will help.”

“Download?”

“Yes”, the man’s voice continued.  “What I can do is access your internet’s grid over my computer here and adjust the settings so everything works out for you.  But I’m going to try something different and see if we can’t get you back to normal.  Okey-dokey?”

“Okay…”, Lisa said while questioning his logic.  “But how am I going to…”

“Now don’t you worry about a thing.  I’ve been fixing this problem all day.  We did a little upgrade and some systems are having a hard time adjusting to it.  You know, people with newer computers don’t have this sort of technical issue.”

“My computer’s been working fine on everything up until this very incident.”

“And I’m glad to hear it”, the man replied with a slight sing-song quality.  “But I’m just gonna fix you up and hopefully this will tide you over until you decide to upgrade a bit.  Now let’s see here.”  Lisa sat with her brow scrunched together as she tried to interpret the man’s typing on the other end of the line.  Even if she had been standing right beside him, she doubted she’d be able to figure out what all his keystrokes meant.  “All righty-roosky”, the voice said.  “I think that should just about do it.”

“What should do what?” Lisa asked.

“What I’ve done her is create a quick setup program.  It’ll use your wireless router to connect a nearby service that we’ve been borrowing for calls like yours and then it’ll use that signal to set up a new signal on our network.  Sound good?”

“Sure, except that I don’t…”

“Great.  I’ve gone ahead and e-mailed that file to the address we have listed on your account.  Is there anything else I can help you with?”  Lisa was about to reply when she was cut off again.  “Whoops, sorry lady.  I got a whole list of calls I gotta get to.  Thanks for choosing Interconnected Internet Services.  You take care now.”

Lisa listened with disbelief as the dial tone rang out over her speaker phone.  She pushed the disconnect button and stared at the computer in front of her.  Lisa had no wireless router.  She had never felt the need for one since she only used the one computer.  Even with the equipment, she wondered how she was supposed to download a file from her e-mail when she couldn’t get online.

Unable to face another hour on the phone, Lisa turned to the desk and picked up the morning newspaper she hadn’t had time to read that morning.  Turning to the Arts section, she found a listing for the night’s episode of her show.  She couldn’t help but laugh at the text on the page.  She cut it out and taped it to the bottom of her computer monitor.

Charles and Sylvia investigate a mysterious series of incidents where people are telepathically attacked by those that have wronged them in the past.

Lisa sat down by the computer desk again.  She pushed redial and didn’t know if she wanted a new operator so that she could actually get her problem fixed, or the previous operator so she could give him a piece of her mind.  Her eyes fell upon the newspaper clipping and she smiled.

If only, Lisa thought to herself.

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