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September 18, 2009

The Fall from (Geek) Grace

While stories of devastating, relentless failure with women—and in life more broadly—are so commonplace to my miserable existence (and this blog) as to be passé, one should never doubt my unfaltering capacity to achieve new lows with each passing year. This week brought just such a low, and in an unlikely arena—technology—demonstrating clearly that my material worthlessness is not limited to social interactions, but instead permeates the very fabric of my being.

Before exploring this unhappy episode in an otherwise melancholy existence, however, some background is in order. As those who have persisted with me over the years likely know, I am not much for watching television, and since moving to Chicago two years ago, I have not even owned a TV, content to avoid the petty indulgences of the loathsome unwashed masses. But late last year, a creeping suspicion began to overwhelm me: what if I had passed the so-called point of attenuation such that my disconnect with popular culture rendered me unable to maintain my steadfast elitism? It was at that point that I decided perhaps reentering popular culture in some small way might be necessary.

Such a venture, though, is easier said than done. Highly leveraged and destitute as a result of a (poorly informed fantastic) decision to attend law school, purchase of a television set was not a possibility until after the summer (when I actually had capital in-flow for the first time in a year). And since I wholeheartedly subscribe to the quaint philosophy often known as go big or go home, not any TV would do.

Last week, I found a deal on a Toshiba 40'' HDTV (LCD, 1080p, 60 Hz for the nerds out there) and jumped on it. I was expecting it to arrive sometime at the end of this week, but was pleasantly surprised to discover it waiting for me on Tuesday. Excited by the arrival of this new (and great) toy, I quickly unwrapped it and set it up (on a filing cabinet, in a fine showing of continued dysfunction).

It was only then that horror struck: how was I going to plug in the (sadly, non-HD) satellite receiver into the wall? Did I even have coaxial cable? Of course, I thought to myself. How could I not have coax cable? I have a whole closet full of random electronic shit lying around for times like this. I frantically went through it, finding two floppy drives; several aerodynamic, rounded IDE cables; speaker wire; A/V cables; USB cables; DVI connectors; S-video cables; and even a cable for a TI graphing calculator (what?). But, to my great dismay, no coaxial cable was to be found.

I felt a sudden feeling of intense shame pass over me. Instinctively, I hung my head down and could feel my cheeks burning from embarrassment. What kind of geek was I? No coax cable in the house? How could I continue to live? I had brought disgrace upon my household and family.

Fighting the overwhelming urge to scribble a note about worthlessness and leap off my balcony, I rushed to Ace Hardware and picked up a dozen feet of coax cable. (In retrospect, I should have bought at least 100' so such a terrible event would never again come to pass.) As luck would have it, however, it still did not work: the receiver I had was from a previous tenant, and I would have to get a new one for my own account.

But that is hardly the point. Satellite receivers may come and go (as they did in this case), but the shame of September 15, 2009, will live on for ever. Is it any coincidence that it was exactly one year after Lehman fell (subscription required)? I think not.


My condolences on your epic nerd fail.

But on the bright side, welcome to the wonderful world of HD. Do yourself a favor and buy some rabbit ears or a blu ray player.

I think someone needs to start a petition to get Dark Angel onto blu ray (hint, hint).

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