F- 20 (by the Head Technician)


Sandy’s vehement bi-weekly off-coloured utterance comes blustering through my room door, interrupting the mind expanding binaural beats of the updated Neuro Programmer 3 I’m listening to.

His profanities go through my room and out the open window, disturbing the tranquility of the three dogs snoozing guiltily under the shade of the dying arbutus, and the sensibilities of the St. Stephen’s pastor in the valley below – who is working diligently on a Sabbath sermon with the power to cause his parishioners to see the Light and Sandy to snore blissfully in the back pew.

I don’t have to be told the cause of the cussing. I know fine well only one thing could be generating it – the remote control, again.

Oh, the frustration of these sadistic instruments of modern technology and the nerds who create them – just who do they think they are, ex-wives?

Passing Sandy’s bedroom on my way to the living room, I notice the baby gate to prevent the dogs pissing all around the house at night is mysteriously missing.

Pressurized steam is still coming out of Sandy’s ears as he swears at the black TV screen in front of him. The remote control for the digital box is in one hand, the TV remote in the other; the DVD remote and remote for the chair are on his lap crumpling the obituary section of the newspaper. Three other remote controls – one from a long lost TV, an extinct video gamer and old ipod balance precariously on the arms of the chair while the phone rings with the third call of the day from a computer program called Samantha who is looking for someone who departed the house years ago.

You would think after working on the problem of the black screen bi-weekly for two years I’d have the  /!@!*#!&-#// thing figured out by now; however, with all the available devices in the house and the number of buttons on each device, the possible permutations works out to a considerable 5,505,050.

After two hours, 204 curses, and trying to avoid 25 looks of ineptitude directed at me over the bifocals and obituary section, a moving image bursts to life on the screen, lighting up the room, Sandy, and I.

Oh, the joy of electronic stimulation!

Hiding all unnecessary devices and putting the remote for the chair beyond arms length (in case its frequency changed the channel), I hand the remote triumphantly back to Sandy, who remarks it might save considerable time if I get the 6 year old neighbour to figure it out next time.

I proceed to the kitchen for some much needed comfort food.

When I bend over to get the yummies from the cupboard, I have the pleasure of noticing my foot in a puddle of dog urine that has run down the leg of the dining room table onto the floor to the accompaniment of Samantha’s ingratiating unctuous voice leaving another message on the answering machine, and Sandy shouting in exasperation from the living room,

“Its  *!@!*#!&-#// gone again!”

Awww …no… pleeeeeez …no..no…!

After another battle in the techno war, I manage to get the TV working again only for Sandy to say he doesn’t need this b*llshit anymore and he’s going outside to sit by the bonfire with the kids.

Opening the basement door, I hear him call up,

“The washing machine has stopped and is flashing F-20.”

“F-20!!! Not F-20! That water pressure was supposed to have been fixed after paying thousands for the city water!”

“Serves you right! Didn’t listen, did you? You all knew better than the water diviner, didn’t you? I had the spots for the well all marked out. Would have all the water we need for a fraction of the cost. Takes me ten minutes to get hot water in my sink these days and there’s no bl**dy pressure in the kitchen,” declares Sandy and then heads to the field with the help of his walking stick to sit imperially with the grandkids around the blazing bonfire in the field.

sandy by the bonfire

As I watch the wonder of family silhouettes around volatile flames in the autumn night reaching for the dark heavens, the sound of Tsartlip drumming echos through the valley beating calmly on my heart.

For a moment, I hear my soul reminiscing about another time – eons ago, when life and happiness was simpler.  A digital-less time of no remotes and no such thing as F-20 (aka F- U). Oh, the bliss of it all, ‘cept for the ex- wives around then too 😦

Returning to the binaural beats of Neuro Programmer 3 in my room, I lie down, relying on a munch of the yummy comfort food from the cupboard to distract me from that miniscule part of my brain reserved for technical content which was now frazzled beyond repair.

As I lie there in the darkness, thinking of Samantha’s voice and staring at the stars outside my window, finally able to experience the vibrations of binaural tones cultivating alpha waves to evaporate all those inconsequential problems like digital remote controls, digital washing machines, digital TV’s, digital phones, and make me cognizant of the really important things in life – like my internet connection.

‘Wait a sec, maybe it’s not the technology at all,’ I think as I lay there, ‘maybe it’s that d*mn ghost, again!’

The phone rings – inconveniently interrupting my binaural thoughts and the yummy from the cupboard.

‘If it’s that **#@// Samantha …I’m gonna …oh, hi Mum,’ I say, friendly like to my 82 year old mother, abruptly adjusting my tone, ‘how’s it going?’

‘Oh, just fine, son. I’m calling from Mary’s upstairs because my phone in the apartment has stopped working, and whenever I turn on the TV – all I see is a black screen.’

Oh… furr *#!&-#/* sake!


About Morbid Optimist

My name is Katryna Mary Brooke Ormiston. I am 35 years old and after living in Vancouver for a decade, I am returning home to my 81 year old father’s hobby farm on Vancouver Island to care for him in the final stages of his life. This blog is to document my journey, process my experiences along the way and hopefully share and feel connected to a community beyond the three and a half acres I find myself on. A message in a bottle in the cyber-sea.
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