Jul 11 2011

Dysfunction is relative, and probably one of my relatives: Part II Engineering Stupid

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Do the clicky thing here if you missed Part I yesterday . . .

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that my father is an electrical engineer.  This makes him very, very smart.  When it comes to electrical engineering.  He is retired from IBM and did all kinds of really important electrical engineering stuff while he was there.  He can make electronical stuff work as long as it is a power supply because that is what he built.  He made good money doing power supply electrical engineering electronical stuff.

It ends there.

Outside of that specialty he requires a lengthy study of the instruction manual to operate a doorknob, which he will do.  Then he will bitch because the guys that wrote it were idiots, or he will express his exasperation at the jackasses that designed said doorknob.  Then he will use the doorknob incorrectly and be surprised that it didn’t work.  It will be the doorknob’s fault for being a “piece of shit”.  My father will then craft a doorknob of his own design out of electrical tape, an old scrap of wood, 3 wood screws and a 16 gauge galvanized nail that he sawed the head off of.  This doorknob will work, only for him and only on the third Tuesday of the month and only if the humidity is over 40%.  The doorknob is genius because his engineer ass made it.

That last sentence is not spoken from my point of view, in case that got past you.

Also, the whole doorknob thing is complete fiction and only used as an illustration.  My father can operate a doorknob.  Usually.

This ties in with his belief that he is always right.  More importantly than that, everyone else is always wrong.  If you have done it before, he has done it better.  If it is shitty and it happened to you, it happened to him too and it was shittier.  If, one time you screwed up and thought you were right, he will tell you why you were mistaken.  Yes, he is THAT GUY.

Now I’ll give you a real example.

Just a few years ago I gave him and my mom a DVD player.  They didn’t have one yet and mom really wanted one because DVD’s were all the rage and everybody who was cool was doing it.  Mom was really excited to get it.  My father got pissed off because now he had to buy a TV that was less than 20 years old so they had something that it would hook up to.  Suffice it to say that my father doesn’t exactly keep up with the times.  To this very day, July 10, 2011, there is still a functioning VCR in his house and hooked up to a TV.  It is right above the console stereo with the turntable and dual cassette decks.  Less than a week ago he asked me if I had a portable CD player he could borrow.  I made it a point to let him see me laugh about that question while I tapped a text into my iPhone.

Dad:  “Well, you used to have one.”

Me:  “15 freakin’ years ago!”

Dad:  “Don’t you listen to any of your CD’s anymore?”

Me:  “Yes.”

Dad:  “Well?!”

Me:  *holds up iPhone*  “They’re all in here, along with about 200 other CD’s and not even from my cold, dead hands will you pry this.”

Anyway . . . the DVD player.  So Christmas is over and about a week later I get a phone call.  It’s dad.  Dad calls me for one of three reasons.  1)  He is pissed at me about something and believes I need an earful or 2) there is something he believes I need to do to improve my miserable life that totally didn’t go according to his plan and he wants to tell me where to go to do it or 3)  he is pissed at me because I didn’t do #2 and therefore I’m in for #1.  This phone call falls somewhat into the #1 category.  He is pissed at me because he is pissed at the world and I just happen to live in it because he can’t figure out why the DVD player wont work on the “goddamn TV” he just bought so he can hook up the DVD player.

I know this isn’t going to go well for multiple reasons, the most important reasons being that a) my father has called me to give him instructions on how to do something and b) my father does not follow instructions and c) I know that I am 30 seconds from wanting to kill myself.  I also know that this is not the only phone call I’m getting from him today.  I also remind myself to call my brother because when my instructions fail, dad will call my brother and proceed to test his patience as well.  I feel it is only fair to give my little brother some warning.  Just to keep this story a little shorter, I’ll summarize the predictable ending.

  • My phone instructions fail.
  • My brother’s phone instructions fail.
  • My father tries on his own while reading the instructions . . . and fails.
  • TV is clearly at fault because it’s a “piece of shit” so it goes back to the store.  (Most likely it was the cheapest DVD compatible TV in existence, but that’s a story for Part III.)
  • Attempt with new TV #2 also fails, also a “piece of shit” and goes back to store.
  • DVD lies dormant until my brother visits and hooks it up in about 3 minutes . . . to one of the “piece of shit” TV’s.

Dad:  “Well I don’t know what the hell.  It didn’t work before and I did the exact same thing.”

I wasn’t there for that, but I’m pretty sure my brother didn’t say anything at that point.  I bet what he was thinking was fucking hilarious.

The best way I can come up with to describe my father’s attitude towards technology in general is that he possesses what I have decided to call “Genius by Association”.  He is an engineer, so all things designed by other engineers he must automatically have complete knowledge of.  He worked for IBM and they make computers, therefore he knows everything there is to know about computers.  My brother works for *big company that does computer stuff that I’m not gonna name but they make that blue wireless router you have in the corner*, so my brother gets to know a little about computers but never as much as dad and when dad’s router goes apeshit because of the monkeyfuck-goatrodeo-clowncollege way my father has made the house internet ready, it’s my brother’s fault because he works for the company that made the “piece of shit” despite the fact that my brother has nothing to do with the people that actually make the “piece of shit”.

I, on the other hand, get to know nothing about computers.  I taught myself to make websites.  I built and maintained a website that had over 30 million hits in its few year life span and ended up getting paid to write as a result of it. I have disassembled and reassembled desktops and laptops and had them function again.  I have never had a computer issue that I couldn’t figure out how to fix on my own.  I have never had to call upon the “Geek Squad”.  I have made it through the last 4 years without a single virus.  I am not Bill Gates, but I am not lost in front of a computer.  Perhaps I should take that back about not getting to know anything.  My father comes to me when he wants to know how to get some kind of software for free.

Not that I know how to do that.

As far as you know.

It has clearly been established that nobody can tell my father anything, and if no living human being can tell him anything, you can bet your ass that no device can tell him anything.  Which brings me to the GPS.  My father finally got around to buying a GPS about a year ago.  Being who he is, before he bought it, he researched it and looked at user ratings and price ranges and studied the whole technology behind it before he finally ignored everything he read and got the cheapest thing he could find.  Some off-brand GPS device made by somebody like SteveSteve or something equally generic.  It got used once.  In an area that he is supposedly relatively familiar with.  The SteveSteve told him where to turn.  He didn’t like that answer and turned somewhere else.  He ended up lost.  The SteveSteve was a “piece of shit”.  He went back to this device that he’s been using up to the point that he bought the GPS:

I don’t know where you even find one of those things anymore.

From my earliest memories as a child, I can’t remember a single vehicle my father owned that he didn’t stick one of those damn things to the windshield.  I asked him recently where that was going to get him.

Me:  “I can see if you’re lost in the woods and you need to . . . nevermind, that isn’t even gonna get you out of the woods.  Where exactly in the hell is that thing going to get you?”

Dad:  *glare*

Me:  “I see.  We should talk like this more often.”

Dad:  *glare*

A couple of weeks ago, my parents took a week long trip down to Georgia and Alabama.  I offered my much more reliable TomTom to my mother so they could have it with them if they wanted it.  My mother thought it was a great idea.

My father wouldn’t even allow it in the car.

Dad:  “I don’t need that damn thing!  They’re useless.”

He’s like a 3 year old with a condom.  The 3 year old doesn’t know how to use it either.

I told them to have a good trip and hoped I’d see my mother again.

I could keep going and going with all kinds of examples because there are just so many, but eventually I’m going to have to rest up so I can make another post tomorrow about some more of his endearing qualities.  I did, however, leave you with a sort of “visual quiz” yesterday and I don’t want to leave you hanging and it does require a bit of an intro.

My son has stayed in my parents house for quite a while and has gone to school while staying with them.  My son is a teenager and he plays video games online, as they do.  We’ll set aside the fact that my son has done an incredible job of keeping himself in or near the A/B Honor Roll.  Much better than I did at that age but if my son acts like I did at his age I will have to kill him.  My father doesn’t like video games.  *Everybody say it with me* He thinks they’re “stupid”.  Relaxation and “fun” are just not ideals that are practiced at my father’s house.  It’s one thing if your kid is flunking out of school and overflowing out of his or her clothing from the Cheeto and Mt. Dew diet while playing 23 hours of video games a day, but the boy has good grades and friends and he leaves the house and hangs out with said friends and he has been 16 for a month and hasn’t wrecked a car yet so he’s already doing 3 weeks better than I did at 16.

But dad . . .

He doesn’t want my son “playing those damn games all night and wasting his time”.  So his answer to this was to limit the time that the internet is active in the house.  Now, had he actually paid attention to the manual that he got with the router from *big company that does computer stuff that I’m not gonna name but they make that blue wireless router you have in the corner*, he would know that in the router settings there is a very user friendly interface that allows you to control when the internet is available.  It’s pretty much right there in the menu.  You can’t miss it.  I know he was in there at some point because he’s got a password on the network.  But no, that was too challenging.  Even after I told him about it, but then what the hell do I know.  This was his solution:

circa 1976

That’s right.  It’s an old school, 1970’s model, straight up wall plug timer.  It’s also labeled “Router” but it’s upside-down so we don’t know what it is.

If you’re under 30, you probably didn’t know what the fuck it was anyway.

My dad had it set to turn the internet off at midnight.  As you can see, my son figured out what it is and how it works.  I have not pointed out to anyone that there is no internet in the house between 4:30 am and 7:00am.  Frequently, my father’s technological retardedness works in our favor.

Mull that over . . . more coming tomorrow.

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Favorite Facebook post of the day:

I totally let the opportunity for this post to go horribly wrong slip through my fingers . . .

Permanent link to this article: https://www.opticynicism.com/2011/07/dysfunction-is-relative-and-probably-one-of-my-relatives-part-ii-engineering-stupid/

6 comments

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    • D on July 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm
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    I have one of those timers on my lamp in the living room to let me know it’s 10 & time for bed. D is for dork.

    1. This fills me with sad, D.

        • D on July 13, 2011 at 7:19 am
        • Reply

        Time for bed during the work week. Does that make it less sad?

    • Zippy on July 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm
    • Reply

    OMG. I think I lol’d a couple times for real. This could be a daily blog just about him and I think you would have a winner each day. This subject is what “good” TV shows are made of. He completely reminds me of the show “shit my dad says” where William Shatner was the father. The show was on last year but CBS cancelled it becasue they are a “piece of shit”. 😀

    1. What is really scary is that my dad kinda looks like William Shatner. And my dad is less funny. And sings worse.

    • Teri B on July 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm
    • Reply

    So damn funny! Keep it coming!

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