The Milkshake Story
I've never actually bought a computer in my life. Dad upgrades, I get a new hand-me-down computer. Some of them have been pretty Frankensteinish machines, like the Tandy laptop hooked up to an exterior keyboard and monitor, with a loud old Epson dot-matrix printer and an Atari power supply cord, but hey, they've all worked better and faster than they're supposed to, which is what my dad excels at.
In April of 2000, I think as a reward (unspoken, of course) for tossing Jim the abusive out of my house and my life, Dad gave me TRex. TRex was a 486 with a 14.4 modem, the first computer I ever had capable of surfing the web. TRex was slow and ponderous, but I'd never been online before, so I was happy just to surf, and have the world open to me in a new way, I didn't care much about speed.
In January of 2003, when I knew that there were programs I couldn't run, websites that timed out, games I couldn't play, I got a phone call from my dad. He was at his favorite computer store, and he'd just found a stack of IBM boxes from a company that had traded in to trade up--$100 each. "You want a new computer for $100?" Dad asked me.
Well, duh, of course I did!
And of course, by the time I had the computer (a Pentium this time), the new monitor, the keyboard, the CD burner, the snazzy Epson PhotoStylus 825 printer, the extra RAM, the 20 and 10 G hard drives and all, it added up to over $300. Still, it was a damn nice computer (still is!), especially for that price, and for being built by my dad. Dad built the new computer in the garage and named him "Tank."
It could have been worse--he could have named it "Paulenstein's Monster."
Dad loaded Tank to the gills with software and came over and set him up for me in early April of 2003. My exSO's birthday is in May, and I'd been scrabbling around for gift ideas. I knew he was trying to convert his video collection to DVDs, so I'd gotten him the miniseries of The Stand on DVD, but wanted to get him something else, since I felt as if I was giving him something he already had (which I was). He's nuts about soundtracks, so I looked around, found the one for The Stand, which was instrumental, and noticed that there isn't one with the pop music which is in the book and the miniseries. So I found a website listing all the pop music from the book and the miniseries, ventured into downloading mp3s, and converted them to .wav files. Finally, I burned my very first CD.
It was a Saturday afternoon--I set the program up, hit the burn button, went off and made a coffee milkshake and washed the dishes. The software Dad gave me, Nero, sounds a trumpet flourish when a CD is done burning. I heard it, and came running in to check. In my excitement, I set the big plastic milkshake cup down on the desk in front of
the CD drawer. I hit "close" on the software and to my horror, the drawer popped out, hit the milkshake cup, which rocked forward, then back, slopping the contents right into the drawer!
I grabbed the cup and the disc, rushed both to the kitchen sink, snagged a dish towel, and was doing a fair job of swabbing out the drawer when I inadvertantly pressed the front of it and it slid back into the computer. No amount of pounding on the button would get it to come back out. I shut the computer down and called the exSO, whimpering, not explaining precisely what I was doing, but that I had killed Tank and that Dad was going to kill me. He told me I had to tell Dad, and he was right, so I sadly said goodbye, told him I wanted red roses at the funeral, and made the call I dreaded.
Dad hates it when I start a phone call crying, it scares him, so I tried to keep my voice even when he answered. He asked what was wrong, and trying not to sob, I 'fessed up. Then and there, with no hesitation, my father said something I haven't heard since I was three or four.
He did, too--gave me the CD burner Mom had never used for $30, put a plain CD reader in her computer and did it within a week. I will never forget hearing the forgiveness in his tone in those two words when I expected an outburst.
Secondly, a mini-story from last week. I was having problems hooking my hose reel up to the spigot on the house, mostly because the spigot is all of 2" above the ground, and my knees don't like it when I get down that far. If I can, I reserve kneeling for actual gardening instead of maintenance. I asked Dad if he had anything that would allow me to hook the connector hose up more easily, and despite the fact that I did not explain myself very well, Dad came up with this:
Not only had he bought it for me, he attached it to a hose remnant and called to make sure I could figure it out and it worked. When I said that it was perfect, he told me he'd bought two, and would I like the other one for my back faucet? I said of course I did, and so now I can hook two hoses up to both the front and back spigots. Dad also threatened me with disinheriting if I let either one freeze next winter. *giggle* I'm not ignoring him today, it's just that my brother and his family have custody of the parents this weekend, so I am not going to get to see Dad today, but will probably have dinner with him and Mom tomorrow night. We'll see how he likes his 500 cable ties, his chocolate-drizzled caramel corn and his copy of Patrick McManus' A Fine and Pleasant Misery.