A few strings still attached with my Wi-Fi | TheUnion.com

A few strings still attached with my Wi-Fi

Mike Drummond

We have a Starbuck’s franchise here at Clear Creek Ranch. I only got it for the Wi-Fi Internet connection. Most local coffee houses and bakeries have it, and while I never frequent Starbuck’s in-town outlets, I figure a name brand will draw tourists to our B&B.

There is a new coffee kiosk in the garden near the grape arbor. I can sit in the shade with my new anorexic laptop, all one-point-five pounds of it. I’m plugged in pluglessly, unless you count all the spam plugging up my onramp to the information super-highway. And ignore the fact that I’m totally wired on brand-name caffeine.

Why Wi-Fi? Why indeed? Other than a quasi-obscene e-mail from a geriatric yet still immature college frat brother, my computer sits idle 23 hours and 59 minutes a day.

“I’m optimizing the garden’s vegetable production by monitoring weather conditions,” I said.

Out here, Mother Nature telegraphs her punches. On a clear day, a single glance to the west reaches across the Sacramento Valley beyond the Sutter Buttes to the Coast Range. I see the weather coming long before it arrives. Not that I can do anything about it.

So I spend most of my Wi-Fi time playing online computer games. And fine-tuning my Plot Outline Program, the one I use for my Grate American Novel. It has a Rube-Goldbergesque plot. A roman-a-clef intrigue inspired by current headlines. Pine cone corn pone on the western slope of the Sierra.

Here’s the plot: After one term, “F” loses the county supervisor election to “B” who then narrowly loses the next election to “D.” “B” provides self with a golden bumbershoot and lands comfortably, county-funded in the nonprofit sector.

Halfway through “D’s” colorful yet conservative cliche-ridden term, health issues force “D” to step down. But not before “D” asks Governor “A” to appoint “D’s” interim successor.

And not before “D” can circumvent “process” and appoint “F” (see above) to fill the unexpired term of “L,” the county clerk who resigned because “D,” among others, allegedly made it hard for “L” to perform the clerk’s job, which is a well-paid, mostly low-profile position.

As an appointee replacing “L,” “F” will be able to run in the next election as the incumbent clerk. Clerk incumbents are guaranteed a landslide win unless they are videotaped killing somebody important while in the act of robbing a liquor store owned by somebody important. (I.e., This is a “lifetime” appointment.)

One of the clerk’s duties is to oversee elections. Elections which include selecting permanent replacements for both “D” and “L,” as well as the replacement for retiring supervisor “P” who opposes the appointment of “F” and has endorsed “O” in the hotly contested campaign with “N” for “P’s” seat.

It all seems so straightforward to me, and I used only a fraction of the alphabet for initials, but my new ultra-lightweight notebook computer keeps crashing. The plot-outline program took my data and extrapolated to account for all possible permutations.

California has 58 counties, each with potentially contentious supervisors, and each county has innumerable cities with equally contentious councils. Not to mention elected representatives for bicameral legislatures in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Multiply that by 50 states.

What a huge number of seriously depressing scenarios of greed and envy for a single one-and-a-half pound appliance to bear.

Whatever happened to public “service”?

I may be forced to put the novel on hold indefinitely and go back to scanning the horizon for meaningful “weather.”

And switch to decaf until after the elections.


Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at miked@theunion.com.

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