Monday, May 22, 2006

Russian through Chicago

A friend who was studying Russian once told me that the Russian language has only future-tense verbs. Which may or may not be true—I don’t even remember who the friend was, and I’m pretty sure that conversation happened in college, which was back when I was really into acid (-washed jeans)—but it doesn’t explain all the future-tense verbs we had to endure this weekend in America when Jeff and Matt and two of their friends were visiting from Iowa and we decided to take the double-decker bus tour through downtown Chicago. Our tour guide was this avuncular Jerry Garcia type—ponytail, bad suit, dazed look, he mentioned about 40 times that he used to be in a band—and his idea of the kind of formal language appropriate for describing Chicago history on a bus tour didn’t include any past-tense verbs. Example! “In 1932, Al (he never uttered the name “Capone” for some reason) will rent the suite in this hotel for $1,000 a night.”

And if you think two hours of misconjugated verbs is more than any taxpaying citizen should have to endure, try doing it on a bus designed for people under 5'6". The seats were literally too close together for me to get my femurs parallel to the ground. I’d demand that we create a FEMA for femurs, but Dubya can't even spell FEMA and Cheney is too busy shooting his constituents or tepidly helping promote his ho-mo-sex-u-al daughter's book to get it done—and I don’t plan on taking that tour ever again, so what do I care?

Even though the bus tour will be the least exciting part of last weekend, Jeff and Matt and their friends and I will have a great time together. We will shop on Michigan Avenue two days ago, visit the Holy Land (DSW, the designer shoe warehouse in Boystown, where I will buy new shoes I've already worn three times), take in a mediocre show at Second City, do some eating, and end our nights with slushy drinks at Sidetrack. And this future-tense thing will cease right now.

The boys left Sunday, and I spent Sunday morning finally getting my new Vonage system wired and working. I’d had the hardware for a week, and my land line had been shut off most of that time, so it had been kind of quiet here. The system works, I’m pleased to say—though the Motorola router the Vonage web site said would work as a wireless router for my laptop didn’t come with any instructions to cover setting up that feature. And I’m obviously too stupid to figure it out on my own, so I’m still tethered to the earth with a giant yellow cable at the moment. I feel almost like a parade float, but without all the bloating.

I’d forgotten that my TiVo and my cable box need to be hooked to phone jacks as well, and they’re on the other side of the wall from my computer. So I pulled the cable switch plates off those walls yesterday, chopped holes in the drywall in places the plates will keep covered when they’re attached and fed the phone lines through the wall to connect to the Vonage router. It doesn’t look terribly pretty, but it’s better than running phone lines clear around the wall. There’s no easy way to check if it’s working, but if I stop getting TiVo shows to watch, I guess I’ll know I’m not the DIY stud I think I am.

If that day comes, though, it will be in the future. And I’ll be pretty tense about it.

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