Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Fable of the Lawnmower and the Volkswagen

The internet sucks when it rains. At least it does here on the Creek. You kinda just assume you aren’t gonna get on and you don’t even try.
My real problems started last September, when the what was left of the hurricanes passed through. There was rampant flooding, as you may recall – whole villages being swept downstream, millions of gallons of diesel oil spilling into the river, Asheville losing all electricity, general destruction on a Biblical scale. And the internet stopped working. At least for me.
I couldn’t get on at all and chalked it up to the storm. The flood waters will recede someday, I told myself, and life will return to normal.
No such luck. The computer wouldn’t connect to the outside world for the greater part of the autumn. Oh, I could get on about once every two weeks, but, for the most part, I was as isolated as Robinson Crusue, bereft even of a virtual Friday.
Ever since the hurricane, I kept thinking. What cataclysmic atmospheric circumstance could have effected us so? What unknown forces of nature have worked their way on the very Chi of cyberspace and knocked it flat on its back? Were the isothermals that bad? Was windspeed too high? The gusts too gusty? What demon did those clouds suck up out of the Brazilian rainforest and deposit upon our phone lines?
Things improved a bit when I got back from Texas. I connected readily. Easily. Dependably.
For a week.
Then it was back to the way it was: Sometimes you can get on. Sometimes you can’t. Keep clicking.
All the local experts blamed the phone lines. Too much static. Too much distance. Connections too old. The Verizon guy, here for the hundredth time, said, "Sounds like a wet line."
What does a wet line sound like?
Anyway, the hurricane waters were obviously following me. Here to stay, an albatross around my neck.
Then, a friend drops by, just happens to have a laptop, and plugs in. And gets on.
Huh?
Signs off, and gets on again.
Huh?
So, twenty dollars and a new modem later, here I am. Was that what it really was the whole time? A modem on the fritz? While I made obeisance to the hurricane gods?
There was a time many years ago when J*’s lawnmower broke down. She took it to the repair shop and left it there.
I showed up, fresh from the road in my old Volkswagen, and decided to mow the lawn.
I retrieve the mower from the shop, drive it home, and leave it in the bus overnight. Next morning, with errands to err to, I unload the mower. And tip the thing over in the process and spill gasoline on the floormat. I few paper towels later and I’m on my merry way.
Then I smell gas. More with every passing mile.
I curse the old mower and just keep going. Until I notice the needle just about on "E".
I go back and pop the hood and discover a cracked fuel line. Spurting gasoline all over the place.
(Never had a cracked fuel line in that or any other vehicle. Never spilled gas out of a lawnmower but for that one time.)
So there you have it. The cause of the problem is not always what is most obvious. The simple solutions can sometimes throw you for a loop, even maintain a distance between you and the real cause.
Back in the fourteenth century, a gentleman from Occam in Germany employed a handy little razor in solving complex problems. Easy for him. He didn’t have a computer.

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