Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bwee Bop Boop. Connection to Reality Secured

"Now, with these guys; there's gonna be a lot of them. Just dps them down until their health turns green. Then they back up. After that, there's two more. Just dps them down, too. When they're done, we run up the stairs to the boss," said the guy who was leading the 5-man group running through a dungeon event in World of Warcraft on Monday night.

I knew the dungeon. I'd been in here before. I backed my character up a bit and took aim at the mean baddies attacking us. Twenty-five came at us. We knocked them all down. Then came the two larger mobs. The one started off with a flurry of punches and kicks. The other started to do his spinning attack. He spun...

and spun...

and spun...

and spun. I looked at my colleagues in this dungeon. I couldn't see Sprucemoose or Theudis. I could see Vervaine and she seemed to be stuck in an endless cycle of spell casting. Eromar stood off to the side, his character's left arm raised in perpetual healing stance. I realized my pet, a dinosaur named "Gimmzilla", was standing in one place, swaying back and forth. I was being disconnected from the game.

I play on a Mac. Apple computers are extremely stable in the internet gaming environment. Plus, my connection to the internet is extremely stable. It is very rare for me to be disconnected. It happens so one just gets out of the game and reloads. Even rarer is the need for me to shut down and restart. But, on Monday, my attempts to reconnect were met with nothing. I wound up completely shutting down, counting to 10, and restarting. Nothing. Then I noticed the modem/router. It's the top piece of equipment in the photo.

During the gaming session, I had become aware of a clicking noise. Unable to put my finger on what it was, I finally decided it was my office chair and that a little WD40 later in the week would fix that. As I was troubleshooting why I couldn't log back onto the internet, I noticed the power light on the modem would go red and then green. This color change was accompanied by a click. Now, I'm not a techie by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm fairly certain modems shouldn't "click", nor should their power light alternate red and green. That's when I noticed the DSL and Ethernet lights were not lit. This is definately not good.

I pushed the reset button on the back of the modem, plugged it in and no lights came on. Oh dear. I took the thing into the bathroom where I knew the outlet worked. Nothing. My heart sank. It sunk faster than a 2 ton stone in water. I was fairly certain the modem/router would have to be replaced. The piece that had died cost me $115 3-4 years ago. I couldn't even remember how long I'd had this. I did not have $115, not by any stretch of the imagination.

I shut down the Mac, picked up a magazine and spent the rest of the evening stewing over my options alternating with reading. The internet is important to me. It's become hugely important to be connected to it. But, I remember when a computer was a machine that took up a class room. I went to college when the only computer available for students to use was a machine in one room that was attached to a dot matrix printer. It played a really cool Star Trek game but you could only use it for 2 hours at a time and then, only from 6 a.m. to midnight as the building it was in was closed from midnight to 5:50 a.m.

I know how to survive without computers. Plus, I have internet access at the office. It's not like I'm totally cut off. I just wouldn't be online at night. I looked at the stack of magazines to my left. It's been whittled by 3/4. I can buy a new modem at the end of the month and, in the meantime, finish off the stack. It will be hard on weekends as I won't be able to stream Iowa Hawkeyes play-by-play, but I also have my phone and it's somewhat acceptable. I seldom access the internet via my phone, although I can. The resulting view is too small for my liking and my fat fingers can't type very well on the keypad. I can do this. Fifteen days. I can do this.

I posted, via this phone, a note to my WOW guild's Facebook page, apologizing for my sudden departure and explained what I thought was the problem. I also said that replacing the modem could be problematic. The next day, I was in the guild's web site chat room and was fairly ambushed by guys who work in computers for their various companies, all wanting to a) diagnose the problem and then b) find a solution for me. Several different modems were found online, all with prices around $40. Forty dollars I can handle. They all agreed that going to an AT&T store would result in my being sold something woefully overpriced and probably "a piece of *&^#", to use Squidchin's colorful language. He finally said, "Gimm, just go to the Micro Center over on Ogden. Take the old one in and they'll get you set up." Thoryn looked at their web site and found the bottom one. "That's what you need, Gimm. Print this page out and tell them, but have them verify everything."

Off I went. I walked into the store and when asked if I needed help, I said, "The guys in my WOW guild told me to come here, that you'd help me. This died last night." The salesman looked at me, smiled and said, "What server do you play on?" Inside I'm thinking, "Yes, SCORE! He understands!" He looked at the piece of paper and asked a couple of questions. "Yup, this is the one you want and even you can set it up." I did have to call AT&T because I had written down the wrong user name and password for the modem. The guy who helped me was very polite and efficient and I was back up and running in an hour.

A friend of mine has been having problems with her left wrist. It was in a velcro cast and she's taken steroids and anti-inflammatories. Nothing seemed to work. She finally went to the doctor who put the wrist and arm up to 3 inches above the elbow in a cast. She's to wear this for 5 weeks. He hopes complete immobilization will allow the tendon to heal. Prior to the visit, she was online looking at all the things it could be, from a simple sprain to bone cancer. She had worked herself into a huge worry and was actually scared of what the doctor could find.

How does this relate to my modem? While not to diminish her cast, she's left-handed so life is, shall we say, more "interesting", this is not nearly the worst thing the doctor could have done or told her the problem was. I sat in my chair on Monday night, carving out the worse-case scenario for the modem. I'd be offline at night for fifteen days until pay day and I could replace it. We both did the same thing. "What's the worst that could happen? Okay, let me mentally think that over so I'm prepared."

Make no mistake. There are times when you need to be prepared for anything. If you choose to drive in a blizzard, you need to consider what if you get stranded. Are you prepared for that? But in all situations, considering the worse case in everything will drive you batty. Yet I can do it time and time again. "I don't want to be blind sided by something I wasn't prepared for," I tell myself and friends who ask why I considered the worse case. The problem with the mind set is that it doesn't allow for those same friends to offer helpful advice. Never once, in my ruminations over hot tea and a magazine, did I consider that I know quite a few people who might have sound, sensible advice that would result in a solution that was inexpensive. I never thought of them. It was all about walking into the AT&T store and finding out that a replacement modem would be $157.93 and that I'd have to be on the phone for 90 minutes to get it set up. Worse case.

My friend in her cast and I realize we do this all the time. A little set back is not a "little" set back. It's a do or die, fight or flight chance for major decision making. I think it's because we've made decisions that have turned out to be not so great and which resulted in greater messes needing to be cleaned up. We missed one piece of information that, of course this is hindsight, was there and we discarded it. We didn't think everything through. What this does to us is slows down our decision making. It prevents us from clear headed analysis. I don't mean that every decision should be a quick, "Meh, this'll do," but I know I need to not make everything so grave. I know I need to not see everything as a worse case scenario.

I have endured and slogged through a lot in the past 15 years. This climb to where I am has given me skills I didn't have before. I get through things, events, problems, because I know I can. It may not be pretty, but I figure it out and go on. I look back at the modem event and realize I need a reality check here. This wasn't just about connecting back into the Internet so I could play the game. This was about connecting back into reality. Not everything is do or die and I have a large circle of friends who have a lot of information between them. I need to stop, breathe and ask.

Beverage:  Homemade Cherry Coke


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