When a Stranger from Ohio Calls at 9:30 p.m.

Even trees are constantly updating.

Even trees are constantly updating.

Miles run today: 6

Interviews completed since yesterday: 2 (I’m ahead!)

Tech help phone calls I enjoy: 0

Last night at 9:30, we got a phone call from Ohio.

We do not know anyone in Ohio.

A young man with an Indian accent asked to speak to my 12-year-old son.

Some parents might worry. But the pieces started falling into place for me.

“Oh! You’re with Microsoft, right?”

He said yes.

“Could you call back tomorrow? He’s asleep.”

Technology customer service calls are fun for my son. First of all, he is one of those “early adapters,” which means he likes to get any new gadget, software or thingamajig right about the time it slides past the beta testers.

Then he is stunned that all of the bugs aren’t worked out.

Back in the summer, I was in my office, writing away at my desk, when I heard a series of responses from my son in the other room. Who in the world was he talking to?





______ Woodman.”

He was becoming increasingly frustrated because the woman on the other end of the line was convinced my son was a woman.

“Okay, Missus Woodman, please reboot your computer.”

“No, Missus Woodman, you will not need to do that.”

“Now tell me your name, Missus Woodman.”

When my son kept rattling off a male name, the customer service rep would repeat, “No, your name.”

We still laugh about it.

Some parents might worry about the things their kids get into on the Internet. Not me. When I walk past my son’s screen, he is often watching unboxing ceremonies on CNET. If you do not know what unboxing is, you are not allowed to join our family.

So he is becoming the resident expert on all technological purchases within the extended family. My sister might call to ask about the pros and cons of buying an iPad Mini versus an iPod Touch. Or my son might pull up a list of reasons for us to purchase a certain Roku/HuluPlus package.

After my son had been for a visit at my parents’ house last summer, the cable guy had to come and fix something. My mom started asking about the DVR capabilities and told the guy that her grandson was absolutely certain their TV could do something she was sure was impossible.

The cable guy set down his tools and considered my mom for a moment. “You should listen to your grandson more often.”

There is always some new horizon, some new technology to conquer. My son now has Windows 8. He got it over Christmas because it looks cool, with lots of colors, like in the commercial.

Also…  he is able to mind-meld with software and bend it to his will.

But there is one problem: it keeps hanging up on a Windows Update thingie and wanting to restart. This is one of those loops that he has not yet been able to bend to his will.

Yesterday afternoon, he sighed and said, “Mom, it looks like I’m going to have to call customer service.”

I think he might have smiled.

The thing computer software geniuses have not yet discovered is that preteens have all the time in the world. Unlike the rest of us, who become fidgety and short-tempered while listening to Muzak for 30 minutes, a 12-year-old male is content to do what it takes to make his machine workable again.

That, and when the tech helper on the other end of the phone says, “Please check your router cable,” my son does not ask which color the cable is.

Not that I’m speaking from personal experience.


Lightning Stole My Project Runway All Stars

Our entertainment... up in flames.

Thunder claps last night that sounded like boulders rolling onto our house: 3

People sleeping in our king-sized bed after said thunderclaps: 4

Awesome TVs that died after being struck through the cable box: 1

Good news! Lightning will never strike our TV again, because it never strikes the same thing twice, right?

We thought we had outfoxed lightning; we had a surge protector. But lightning came right into our house through our cable box (not surge protected) and fried the essential, dare I say it, heart of our beloved TV.

So, we’re onto our second major appliance that went on to the big Appliance Heaven in the sky within the last five months. Naturally, I’m waiting for the third shoe to drop (I love mixing metaphors), because, as everyone knows, appliances die in threes, a great big metal menage a trois of doom.

I know, I know, people are starving. And we’re not. And I’m very thankful.

And I know also that there are plenty of “Kill Your TV” types who I run into at the grocery store and manage to work it into conversation that they never use a TV to babysit their kids. No sirree, their kids are reading things like Remembrance of Things Past at age 5. Even Downton Abbey and Elmo don’t tempt these types. (Maybe they have missed Elmo dancing to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor.”)

For better or for worse, we have not killed our TV (on purpose).

We are not known for our wild nights of partying or extravagant trips to far-flung lands. TV is our gateway to pop culture. And I don’t even mean big buzz things like Mad Men or Dexter.

When the kiddos are in bed, we collapse on the couch and stare straight ahead and name as our friends: The Property Brothers, The Kitchen Cousins, Whitney, all the families in Modern Family, Leslie Knope in the Parks & Rec Department and all of those couples just like us who are Hunters of Houses. My brain is tested by what we might do if we were looking for a home in Croatia that only had a hose for running water in the kitchen. So much to consider! I also know more about sheetrock and drywall mudding than I ever thought was possible.

My daughter and I DVR Project Runway All Stars and cuddle up to see whether Austin Scarlett or Mondo will come out on top.

Now, we may never know. The finale is fast approaching, and my TV is a huge paperweight in the middle of the den floor.

Like many appliances, I resisted getting a bigger, newer version and gasped at the price when we bought it three years ago. But when my husband hung it on the wall, like a magnificent post-modern masterpiece, I grudgingly accepted its place in our hearts.

The TV and I grew close. When I had Norovirus and got up in the middle of the night to avoid waking my husband, my TV showed riveting segments of Poker Championships. On TV. It was like watching paint dry, without the annoying smell. When my parents came into town and wanted to play MarioKart on the Wii, our TV brought those colorful race courses to life. And when my husband installed hardwood floors in the den last spring, we even watched our TV from the kitchen, twisted around on our backwards couch.

Sarah Michelle Gellar, we were two weeks behind on whether your twin would manage to kill you and if your husband is really a scheming Ponzi schemer.

We will never know what that football player uncovered about his ancestors on Who Do You Think You Are? Were they slaves? Did they help out on the Underground Railroad? We are still in the dark.

Tonight, we will miss the antics of The Worst Cooks in America. Oh, Bobby Flay! Oh, Anne Burrell! We will miss your guidance and advice about knife skills and French fries.

I feel pretty great right now, though. We don’t have a TV to strike. And people assure me that it will never strike here again. It’s awesome! Our lives are truly on the upswing. No need to send meals or condolence cards–just send us summaries of our favorite plot lines. And stat.