Sunday, May 08, 2011

Crocodile Phone

My retreat was nine days long. I left on a Monday and returned home on a Wednesday. On Thursday—I’d taken the remainder of the week off work—I finally completed a project I’ve been meaning to get to for ages, making a CD that approximates Now & Zen’s chiming alarm clocks.

I had recorded several sounds, using my meditation bell (close to the mic, farther from the mic, hitting the bell hard, hitting it more softly, etc.) and chose the best one, figured out how to paste it into a sound file at intervals (not immediately obvious), exported the finished product into iTunes as a WAV file, made a playlist containing that one thing, and burned a CD of it. I am very happy with it, but will probably revisit to make a couple of tweaks. However, it’s working just as desired, ushering me gradually from sound sleep to full alertness, with plenty of time to finish up and remember the last dream of the morning. Waking up mid-dream can produce tremendous grogginess.

After that, on the very same day, I washed the insides of all my windows, and the outsides of the ones I can get to. It was a big improvement, and only took an hour or so. And then I put together a piece of furniture I’d acquired but not been able to set up until I got rid of my old bed. (Oh! I got rid of my old bed just before going on retreat. I listed it for free on Craigslist and it was out of my life in no time. Tom grumbled that he suspected the person who took it was just going to resell it, thus making a tidy profit, but I said that was perfectly fine with me—that’s how capitalism works, and more power to him.)

The new thing was an audio tower, where you can stack items like your tape deck, your CD player, and your turntable (I know: what could those terms possibly refer to?) vertically. I was hoping this would allow reclaiming some desk surface, but once it was all set up, it took up too much space in my one room. I had to move my computer and chair over to make room for it, which canceled out the space savings on my desk, so I put everything back the way it was—at least all my wires got vacuumed and everything got dusted off—and listed the audio tower on Craigslist.

The next day I BARTed over to Berkeley to buy baggy pants cloth at Stonemountain and Daughter, and then I gave Lisa M. a call to see if she might happen to be free, and we had tea and cake at Sweet Adeline Bakeshop.

Yesterday, I went to the Zen Center, where Jordan Thorn spoke, and today went to Rainbow and did some cooking and watched a Kevin Costner movie.

About six months ago, I went through a completely hideous ordeal with my home phone, which developed a very loud buzz. I magnified the problem about ten times by grumbling to the phone company that they could just cancel my service (phone and DSL), and in the ten seconds before I took it back, they went ahead and did that. That made me a “new customer,” which we all know the meaning of, and of course my building manager and landlord attempted to disavow any responsibility for the phone wiring, which is entirely the landlord’s responsibility, so there was an unpleasant exchange there.

Lately the phone has been acting strange again, but has responded favorably to being pounded on the floor (one and the same as the building manager’s ceiling, but not chosen for that reason). When I returned from my retreat, I called Hammett’s cat sitter to let her know I was home, and the phone sounded fine, but the next time I picked it up, there was a loud buzz and there still is. I took the phone up to Tom’s and it sounded fine, so it’s not the phone.

Wish I’d done that test before I pried it open with a screwdriver and pounded it back together with a hammer after stuffing all its parts back in. Its handsome good looks are a thing of the past. Plus, while it was pried open and parts of it were hanging out, it looked disconcertingly like a crocodile with snaggleteeth.

Then I tried swapping out the wire, which made no difference, so it wasn’t the wire. After the last episode, my landlord told me to get the WirePro plan. It costs about $7 a month and so I decided not to, since the wires are, again, her responsibility. (I guess she’s technically a landlady, but I think of her as my landlord.)

I envisioned that I would email her and say the phone was broken again and that I didn’t get the WirePro and she’d say something mean. I steeled myself to deal with this, but then, while I was thinking the whole thing over, I decided that not having to argue with my landlord and not having to worry about future phone problems (even though they’re not my responsibility!) actually is worth $7 a month, so I went online and added the WirePro, and, after a while, I’ll call the phone company and ask them to come fix it. Problem (probably) solved!

This means mostly no phone for the time being. It’s surprisingly easy. I still have no intention of getting a cell phone. In my heart of hearts, I just really, truly don’t want one. My mother thinks I’m an old fuddy-duddy and should get with the times.

In a conversation I conducted using my work cell phone, she informed me that the landline is “passing into shadow,” which she repeated a couple of times for the pleasure of hearing me shriek “No way!” She concluded, with obvious satisfaction, “The only good landline is no landline.”

Lisa M. says that AT&T, which owns the whole phone grid, is starting lobbying efforts to let it crumble—they want the landline to go away and for everyone to be forced to have a cell phone. Honestly, one of these days, I think we’re going to very strongly regret having made everything digital and wireless—I think we will have security, reliability and/or health and welfare problems—but that’s obviously where we’re going. Me last of all.

In the same conversation with my mother, we were discussing the movie The Mudge Boy, which depicts poor treatment of an animal. My mother doesn’t even like to see animals on film that are pets, let alone animals being mistreated, so she warned me, “Don’t tell me about it or I’ll have to beat you to death.” Then, in more polite tones, “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to say that. There will be a surprise in your bed the next time you visit, is what I meant to say.”
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