Thursday, March 21, 2013

04 Twenty-Nineth Beginning (Nanowrimo 2007) Organizing Aunt Sheila

Stockton was once a smaller city.  It had originally been a gift from Captain Weber, a local second-hand land-grant owner, and had originally been laid out in proper block squares.  But as it built up, it worked around creeks and sloughs and incorporated a bunch of roads approaching from other towns, roads that radiated out to the east like the ribs of a fan.

This made traveling the City from east to west an odd problem for anywhere north of Harding and south of Hammer.  It also left a bunch of triangular lots at intersections. 

Barbara couldn’t have told where she was in the city, but it was at the back of a triangular lot that the pokey little add-on building sat.  The store was called:  Yo, Computers!

The sales staff were all Black, both of them, and the customers were Hispanic, both of them and, presumably, also the baby covered by a blanket in a stroller.  The staff were letting the customers browse through a close maze of tables stacked with recycled older computers.  One was sitting behind a desk near the only unchained door, the other was standing to assemble computer guts in a raised workshop area behind a wooden railing to the back of the store. 

Sheila nodded to the man behind the desk, with half a smile.  The nod was returned without a return of the smile. Sheila then turned and waved to the man behind the railing.  “Hey, Vernon.  Got anything that works?”

Barbara saw the man behind the desk scowl.  Vernon smiled when he saw Sheila, though, and answered.  “Now, you know that everything on that side of the railing is working just fine.  Can’t guarantee how long it will work, ‘cause that the way it is with used things.  You just never know.  That why the price is so low, to cover the uncertainty.”

“In your case, I would suggest ordering new and getting the guarantees.”

“I believe that I agree with you.  Vernon, this is my niece, Barbara.  Barbara, Vernon is the one who installed the computers and network at the main house.  We’re going to tell him what we want and answer his questions and he’s going to set us up.”

“H’lo”  Barbara waved while Sheila shook hands over the railing, a handshake that segued into holding hands through the next bit of the conversation.    

Will I be setting you up with Mac or PC?

That depends on what Barbara is likely to be doing with it.  Although since she’s looking at her feet, I’m going to say we need two laptops, one Mac and one PC.  I’d prefer to hook into the main house’s network, since you’re managing that.  Will there be any problem with that?

Depends on whether you have your heart set on a particular laptop and how quick you want to be hooked up.

I don’t have a particular device in mind.  I am thankfully out of the loop and will not miss the real maple syrup.  Do we need to be hooked to the internet this week?

I can keep busy if we can get, like, a good encyclopedia on it or something.

I won’t be able to come out to install the wifi receiver in your place for about two weeks.

I can set it up, if it’s just in the house.

You sure?

Yeah.  I set up the system at home and that was with my folks hanging on my shoulder. 

Would you be willing to call and let me ride along while you set it up?  I’d be adjusting the existin’ system to accept it. 

Well, I’m not sure how far the phone would reach.  It’s in the kitchen and I don’t think that would be a good place for the router. 

No, the best place would be on that filing cabinet.  It’s placed best for pickup from the house.  I keep tellin’ you, you need a cell phone.

Sheila sighed and rolled her eyes in a friendly pretence of drama.  Do you have a recommendation?  We’ll need two.

Natalie goin’ to want you on her system.

Sheila sighed truly, a much softer thing.  “I suppose that would be a sensible backup.  Just in case.”

Let me bring a couple of laptops out for inspection while you think about that.  We’ll do any possible phones later.

While he was gone, Barbara worked up the nerve to ask:  Is Natalie going to mind this?

Natalie would like to be doing more for me than that.  She’ll try not to look smug when I tell her about it.  And I think we do need the cell phones.  Especially if you’re going to want to homeschoool.  If you do that, I’m going to require you to take regular field trips and I won’t be able to come along to all of them. 

The home phone is on Natalie’s number cluster already.  If I flip the switch next to it, it rings at the house.  But she’s not always there.  She’ll approve of adding the cell phones to the network.  That would include her cell and her mother’s cell and her mother’s house.  She more or less lives with her mother. 

I thought she lived at the main house. 

No.  She manages the main house.  It rents out short term, like a bed and breakfast, but with more solitude. 


Vernon came out with three laptops, one Mac and two not.  He passed the Mac off to Barbara.

Check this out.  It’s loaded with everything I’d recommend for beginning video and music mixing.  Also got a few games and the regular internet, word processing, and spreadshit stuff. 

Sheila looked at him in indulgent disapproval as he brought his fingertips to his lips. 

Did I say that?

Check it out, Barbara.  If there’s something you want added to it, let me know.

Can I get a camera uplink?

Not until you have a purpose for it.  One that isn’t social or nerd-dickery. 

Did you hear her say that?  After she give me a look.

Women’s talk.  Men should ignore it.

Can I set it up over here?

Anywhere you find the space.   Battery should be full.  Now I know you like small things, but you need to decide whether you want this small a screen.  I know you like to open lots of windows.

After a bit more back and forth, Firefox was added to the Mac and our intrepid heroes exited the shop with all three laptops, three coupons for $20 off of a computer pack at Target, and two clamshell cell phones. 

They crossed the parking lot.  Barbara made sure she carried most of the merchandise.  As the passed Natalie’s car, the trunk popped open, so they stowed everything.  Except for the Mac.  Barbara didn’t want to be parted with that.  She made puppy eyes while half hidden behind it.

You look like Kilroy over the wall.

Was Kilroy saaaaad?

Sadly no.  But if you’re implying that you’d like to bring your new toy to dinner, you may do so, on condition that you participate in the conversation.

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