Friday, April 12, 2024

Insight: Unforgettable friends and memories

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor


Growing up in the 1960s, I learned the invaluable lessons of friendship and the benefits of positive role models from an older couple that we would go to visit every Friday evening.

Marge and Bob Bartlett were close to our family and after supper at the start of each weekend, my father would drive us to their home, and we’d spend several hours with them. My mother first met Marge when she became a babysitter for their oldest son Jimmy and through the years their friendship grew. My sister was the same age as Marge and Bob’s youngest son, Kenny, and visits to their home became sort of a ritual for us on Friday nights.

Bob Bartlett worked as a glassblower for Eastman Kodak Company and had a garage he converted into a workshop behind their home. Sometimes during the summer months, he would take my brother and me out there as he made glass paperweights or Christmas tree ornaments. Once, he helped me make a glass bird with a long neck that would dip its head as the temperature changed.

Bob had a silly sense of humor and was able to pull off the best impression of Yogi Bear I have ever heard. To this day I can still hear him imitating Sergeant Schultz from television’s “Hogan’s Heroes” or comedian Bill Dana’s classic line “My name is Jose Jimenez.”

Marge was a devoted mother to her two boys and inspired them both to attend college and to follow their dreams. Both sons were successful as Jimmy became a broadcaster working in radio in Boston for a station owned by sportscaster Curt Gowdy and then a television anchor for WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire. Kenny obtained a real estate license and eventually owned his own company in Texas before retiring.

A visit to the Bartlett home was always the highlight of my week. Each of them would ask me questions about what I was learning about in school, how my favorite sports teams were doing, what I was reading, or what I wanted to be when I grew up. Bob would always seem to have a roll of Lifesavers candy in his pocket, or he’d pass me a piece of Bit O’ Honey as we watched television in their living room.

Upon arriving each time at their home, Marge would bring our family into her kitchen and offer us a piece of cake she had just baked which was sitting on the counter. My favorite was her frosted orange cake and what I wouldn’t give today for a slice of it again.

After we finished eating the cake, Marge would point to the refrigerator freezer and ask if we wanted a Borden’s ice cream cup. They were small servings of vanilla ice cream with either chocolate sauce or strawberry jam on the bottom. They even came with their own wooden disposable serving spoons.

Year after year, my brother and me would sit in front of the Bartletts’ RCA console television set watching episodes of Rawhide at 7:30 p.m. followed by Route 66. When both of those programs were canceled, we would watch “The Wild Wild West” at 7:30 and “Hogan’s Heroes” at 8:30 p.m.

As my brother and I sat and watched television, we were always joined by Marge and Bob’s overweight beagle named Thumper. He waddled from side to side when he walked and had a distinctive yelp when somebody knocked on the door.

My mother and father would sit in the kitchen with the Bartletts during our visits and drink coffee and talk or have some of the cake that Marge would have on hand every week. They were usually joined by Marge’s widowed mother, Sue Coleman, who lived in an addition that Bob had built off the back of their home.

It was always fun, always positive, and always an enjoyable experience to visit with such uplifting people who genuinely cared about us.

While I was serving in the Air Force in Arizona in 1982, my mother called to let me know that Bob Bartlett had suffered a massive heart attack and had died at the age of 55. Not long thereafter, Jimmy Bartlett also died of heart disease at an early age.

In 2001, I was going to fly from Florida to Rochester, New York to attend my 30th high school reunion. Kenny Bartlett called and asked if I would stop and visit his mother Marge and encourage her to move into assisted living. She was in her 90s and was hard of hearing. He was worried because during a fire at a home behind her, she slept through it and didn’t hear the fire trucks.

I did visit her, and she declined to enter assisted living. She said she had lived in her home for 65 years and wasn’t going anywhere. She also offered me an ice cream cup from her freezer. Three years later, Marge flew to Texas for the wedding of her granddaughter and passed away in her sleep there.

We become the people we are because of significant influences in our lives, and I was blessed to have such wonderful friends while growing up.

Andy Young - Enough already; I confess!

By Andy Young

I owe northern New England an apology.

I’m the one responsible for the recent power outages, the sore snow-shoveling muscles, the non-working phones, the absent internet, the spoiled frozen (and refrigerated) food, and related misfortune(s).

I realize I’m putting myself at great personal risk by revealing my culpability. But if I take credit for everything I’ve accomplished so far in my life, like winning the Academy Award, the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Olympic Decathlon gold medal, well, it’s only fair that when I’m at fault for something, I own up to it.

I have a friend in Arizona who cannot understand how anyone can live year-round in frigid Maine, which he and his equally ignorant friends refer to as “East Alaska.” But that’s okay; I don’t understand how anyone can live year-round in a parched, oven-like state which my equally ignorant friends and I refer to as “North Hell.”

I gleefully called him a month ago to boast about our incredibly mild, just concluded (or so I thought) Maine winter. Generally, he’s the one calling me sometime in early March, right after I’ve shoveled another foot of snow off the driveway at 4 a.m. so I can get to work on time. And when he does, he really lays it on thick, describing the difficulty of enduring their frigid, humidity-free 55-degree nights.

But he knows he’d better razz me while he can, because come summer, which arrives around May Day down there, I’ll be giving as good as I got. I’ll tell him about needing a sweatshirt to stay warm on our chilly, humidity-free 55-degree evenings, and how difficult tolerating daytime temperatures that sometimes rise to a stratospheric 75 degrees can be. I imagine him, sweating like a bear, gritting his teeth during our summer chats the same way I do when he calls in mid-February to inform me that he’s outdoors wearing a red tank top for Valentine’s Day.

But this year’s unusually mild winter gave me the chance to get the jump on our annual climate-related conversations. I called to let him know that all the snow, including what always accumulates at the bottom of the driveway thanks to the town plow and my endless shoveling, was completely gone on March 12! Not only that, the only three times I used the shovels all winter was for pushing broom-style, rather than for any actual lifting and throwing. I also alluded, none-so-subtly, to the coming six-month heatwave looming for him and his fellow knuckleheads in the Valley of the Sun.

Apparently, that’s where I went wrong. I’d offended the Karma gods before, but on those occasions the only person whose backside got bitten due to my indiscretion was me.

But evidently, I went too far this time, and we’ve all seen the results. We’ve lost power in my neighborhood on three consecutive weekends, and it’s likely the last of the snow piles at the end of the driveway won’t disappear before May 1. And just in case I hadn’t figured out it was my crowing about our mild winter that was responsible for all the recent weather-related misfortune, I got irrefutable confirmation last Thursday when, during one of its multiple runs up and down our street, the town snowplow knocked over just one mailbox.

Mine.

I can’t undo the damage I’ve done, but I’m determined to signal the karma gods that I’ll never displease them again. I’m just trying to figure out how to get their attention. I’d try waving a white flag, but given all the snow still on the ground, I doubt they’d be able to see it. <

Friday, April 5, 2024

The Rookie Mama: A rolling milestone gathers no moss

By Michelle Cote

As technology evolves at full speed, it’s challenging at times to occasionally tap brakes, regroup, and consider what we’re dropping from existence as we gather new tech nuggets at the fastest possible pace, especially as we compare our kiddos’ day-to-day experiences to the lives we led at their age.

It’s a little different, right?

I mean, I learned about a googol in my classroom, and that was the extent of my Google Classroom.

But I digress.

There’s beauty in the quick share of a snapshot via social media or text message in the moment for the moment’s sake, but truly how great a job are we collectively doing to document our family’s lives and progress meaningfully in a way that’s captured for future generations to appreciate?

I can appreciate contextualizing the hairdos, clothing styles, and d├ęcor of my grandparents’ generation because I’ve seen photos to accompany the stories and traditions – finest crystal stemware at Christmas laid out on TV trays so all the relatives could gather and tuck in tight. The pink double oven peeping out in the background by the avocado fridge in the kitchen. I’ve seen it in living color.

We’re ages past 8mm film reels, VHS, and Polaroids, but they’re tangible, albeit fading in a corner pocket bin of your basement. They still exist for our appreciative purposes now.

My own childhood milestones were spared the social media audience commentary, but they exist in all their ‘80s and ‘90s neon scrunchie glory in carefully assembled photo albums, some lucky to be labeled by year. Tangible.

But it appears my own uniquely unidentified generation – sometimes we’re called ‘young Gen X’ or ‘elder millennial’; we’re really the early ‘80s-born group with an analog childhood and digital adulthood – may be the last one to have physical photo albums, unedited, unplugged, not kept alive by some remote server.

So therein lies the need for continued meaningful documentation.

And I’m not trying to start an archival rival; digital and print photos can –and should – co-exist.

About a decade ago, when my first two boys were babies, my husband and I felt it was important that they each have tactile photo albums of their own beyond a baby book with day-of-birth news clippings, first haircut golden locks, and hospital bracelets.

A little bit of a high five and fist bump to my future daughters-in-law, if you will, so they have a bit more to our boys’ origin story than a hairy baby book to show for it.

My husband and I were thrilled to learn that physical photo albums – you remember, the leathery-looking binder ones with magnetic sheets – still, in fact, exist and are super easy to order online.

And although young adults today don’t know the agony of sending out film overnight and taking a gamble whether that 24-shot roll is worth ponying up for the duplicates, one can still print photos to their heart’s content at many places, easily.

And so, we began a tradition of scrapbooking with our kids at each summer’s end – Each boy has a photo album with clean, blank sheets and is given a big ol’ stack of printed photos reproduced from uploading digital snaps.

We give them scrapbook scissors to make crafty edges for prints, paper, and markers to illustrate favorite memories and quotes of summer, ticket stubs, bits of maps, and over-the-top supervision by us.

Did I mention there’s scissors and precious photos involved?

Theoretically, we sprang into this tradition so the boys could have some autonomy into their own photographic journeys over time.

What we didn’t expect was their intermittent nostalgia for occasionally pulling albums off the shelf to flip through, laughing and reflecting fondly at past summer core memories.

Because my kids aren’t on social media, they can’t swipe through old memories the way we adults do.

How will they document their memories to share with their own future humans if we don’t facilitate this?

How will they memorialize people, events, their own versions of the pink and avocado color schemes and crystal stemware on TV trays, 21st century version?

We want them to remember.

Everyone should have the opportunity to really remember these milestones that took place as they rolled on by.

So put it in print.

Keep documentation in mind as you plan your next family adventure with your camera ready at the quick draw.

Enjoy this scrapbooking activity that’s inclusive, generally frugal, endlessly crafty, and strengthens memories and family bonds.

The neon scrunchies are optional.

What story will your kids tell?

­­– Michelle Cote lives in southern Maine with her husband and four sons, and enjoys camping, distance running, biking, gardening, road trips to new regions, arts and crafts, soccer, and singing to musical showtunes – often several or more at the same time!

Insight: A dream come chew

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor


I can’t remember the last time that I purchased chewing gum and it’s not surprising to me that many popular gum brands from when I was a child are no longer sold.

Fruit Stripe chewing gum will
no longer be made after more 
than 60 years n the market in
America. COURTESY PHOTO 
Back then, every time our family would go to the grocery store, I’d ask my parents to buy me a package of Mini Chicklets, Dentyne or Bazooka bubble gum from the section displayed near the checkout register. I never kept the tiny Bazooka Joe comics included with the gum, but I imagine they would be worth more now than the pennies I paid for the bubble gum pieces way back when.

No one in our family bought chewing gum on a regular basis, but occasionally a pack of Wrigley’s Juicyfruit, Spearmint or Doublemint gum would find its way into my mother’s purse, and she’d hand my brother and I a stick to chew in the car during a Sunday excursion to visit relatives.

Most of the chewing gum I see now are tiny pieces of Dubble Bubble gum in neighborhood children’s Halloween bags, but decades ago, chewing gum was everywhere and a thriving industry in America with commercials promoting gum products on television, in magazines and on radio.

Recently I read an announcement from the Ferrara Candy Company that after 60 years, it was discontinuing production of one of my childhood favorites, Fruit Stripe gum. Originally introduced in the early 1960s by Beechnut, Fruit Stripe gum was colorful and offered zebra-striped wrappers for orange-striped, cherry-striped, lemon-striped, lime-striped, and blueberry-striped gum.

Marketed in distinctive red and white packaging, Dentyne contained eight small pieces of gum that supposedly was created to sweeten your breath and keep teeth white. It was always a sponsor of American Bandstand on Saturday afternoons as host Dick Clark would hawk the product to teenagers looking to enhance their appeal to the opposite sex. Now Dentyne is sold in Fire, Ice, and Sugar-Free flavors and the original flavor hasn’t been made since 2019.

Part of the appeal of chewing gum for me was always to cram as many pieces into my mouth as possible. I can recall driving on a two-lane highway between Phoenix, Arizona and Socorro, New Mexico when I was in the U.S. Force and chewing two entire packs of Big Red gum in my mouth at the same time.

Another time I remember putting the entire package of shredded Big League Chew grape-flavored bubble gum in my mouth while playing right field in a league softball game in the 1980s. When a towering fly ball was hit in my direction, I removed the wad of gum and threw it into the grassy field beyond the outfield’s chainlink fence. It probably is still there and resembles a used softball some 40 years later.

As a baseball card collector growing up, I never liked the residue left on baseball cards by the hard-as-a-rock piece of bubble gum included with the packages of players depicted on the cardboard cards. Years later, that residue is still evident nationwide on many cards remaining from the 1960s and 1970s, significantly lowering their potential value.

When I asked my father how animal trainers made the mouth of the horse move on the TV show “Mr. Ed” or the chimps on “Lancelot Link, Secret Agent,” he said they gave them bubble gum to chew.

Nostalgic trips examining the old-fashioned candy display at Cracker Barrel usually turns up 5-stick packages of D.L. Clark’s Teaberry, Black Jack, Clove, and Beemans chewing gum flavors. Teaberry gum was promoted extensively in the mid-1960s with commercials featuring my father’s favorite Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, who performed the song “The Teaberry Shuffle.”

Along with the demise of Fruit Stripe gum, longtime best-selling brands such as Beechnut gum and Freshen-Up gum have been discontinued in the past decade, and my lack of gum purchasing may be an example of a larger trend worldwide. As more people try to limit sugar or artificial sweetening intake for health reasons, chewing gum sales are slipping.

That’s probably welcome news for school janitors and anyone who cleans movie theaters, picnic tables, handrails, and escalators. Years ago, the underside of school desks was the preferred disposal site for a wad of chewing gum when teachers would ask for it to be removed during classes. And the floors and armrests of darkened theaters no longer seemed to be mined with sticky spit-out used chewing gum.

Lately the trend for gum manufacturers seems to be selling slow-release flavored gums with brands such as Extra, Orbit and Ice Breakers dominating national sales. Orbit commercials have recently featured a British-accented woman promoting the product as something in stylish packaging to “get rid of dirty mouth.” And sales are expected to rise this week for the appropriately named Eclipse gum, which comes in four flavors including Peppermint, Spearmint, and sugar-free flavors of Winterfresh and Polar Ice.

Researchers say that chewing gum sales in America fell dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic and demand by consumers has yet to resurface. Last year gum sales only rose 1.2 percent and the chewing gum market worldwide remains down more than a third of pre-pandemic days.

Perhaps makers of chewing gum just need to stick to it.

Andy Young: Eclipsing the big event

By Andy Young

Every so often, an impending happening catches the imagination of the public because of its extreme rarity. And just such an occurrence, which has a large swath of America quivering with anticipation, is scheduled to take place this coming week.

From left, actors Gene Hackman, Shelley Duvall and  Kurt 
Russell were all born on a Perfect Multiple Day.
COURTESY PHOTOS 
Of course I’m referring to this Saturday, because it’s one of the rarest of rarities: a Perfect Multiple Day (PMD)!

April 6, 2024, when abbreviated in numeric shorthand, is 4-6-24. This Saturday the number of the month (4) multiplied by the number of the date (6) yields a product that is the last two numbers of the year (24). It goes without saying that this sort of situation doesn’t arise every day. It hasn’t happened since way back, well, last month, on March 8. But before that it hadn’t occurred since … February 12. And one other time this year, on January 24.

Currently a first glance at PMDs may seem somewhat underwhelming, particularly since there will be three more such days this year, on June 4, August 3, and December 2. But those pooh-poohing the significance of PMDs should acknowledge that 2024 is the only 21st century year that will contain as many as seven such days. In fact, only six other years contain even a half-dozen of them: 2012, 2030, 2036, 2048, 2060, and 2072.

Now consider that 23 of the 21st-century years have just one PMD in them (2098, 2095, 2093, 2092, 2091, 2087, 2085, 2076, 2069, 2068, 2065, 2057, 2051, 2049, 2046, 2039, 2038, 2034, 2029, 2023, 2019, 2017, 2013), and 21 more (2037, 2041, 2043, 2047, 2053, 2058, 2059, 2061, 2062, 2067, 2071, 2073, 2074, 2079, 2082, 2083, 2086, 2089, 2094, 2097 and 2100) contain none at all!

The 21st century will ultimately encompass 36,524 days, but only 211 of them are PMDs. That’s just 0.57770233271 percent of the century’s days. PMDs might not be as rare as Detroit Lions Super Bowl appearances, but they’re certainly close.

Actors Gene Hackman (Jan. 30, 1930), Shelley Duvall (July 7, 1949), and Kurt Russell (March 17, 1951) were all born on a PMD. So were accomplished musicians Toni Tennille (May 8, 1940) and Neil Sedaka (March 13, 1939), as well as former Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte (Aug. 8, 1964).

Some no-longer-extant notables born on a PMD include former United States Secretary of State and White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig (Dec. 2, 1924), Baseball Hall of Fame member Ernie Banks (Jan. 31, 1931); authors Leon Uris (Aug. 3, 1924), Arthur Hailey (April 5, 1920) and Peter Benchley (May 8, 1940); actors Dennis Weaver (June 4, 1924), and DeForest Kelley (Jan. 20, 1920); singer Ricky Nelson (yet another May 8, 1940 baby), and lawyer/sire of celebrities who are famous for being famous Robert Kardashian (Feb. 22, 1944).

I for one feel awfully lucky to be alive during the most PMD-heavy year of the 21st century. And even if these dates do occur slightly more often than other relatively rare events, there’s no doubt that PMDs are a lot more exciting than other commonplace, more ordinary things people make a big deal over every so often.

So, what is there to learn from doing all this research into PMDs? Not much, aside from the fact that if one wished to bear a child that would become accomplished in their field(s) of choice, May 8, 1940 was a good day to do it. (And for those looking ahead, the same will likely apply to May 8, 2040.)

But by now any sensible person should admit that PMDs are far more interesting than mundane occurrences like Halley’s Comet sightings, worldwide pandemics, or solar eclipses. <

Barbara Bagshaw: BEP takes a U-turn on EV

By State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw

Extremists trying to turn Maine into California suffered a major setback this past week when the Board of Environmental Protection reversed its initial vote to adopt the electric vehicle sales mandate known as the “California Rule” and voted 4-2 to cease rulemaking on the controversial measure.

State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw
Had it been adopted by the seven-member, unelected board, the mandate would have required that 51 percent of new car sales in Maine be comprised of EVs by model year 2028 and 82 percent by model year 2032. This despite only one percent of consumers currently choosing to buy electric cars.

I am not against electric vehicles, it should be a consumer choice, not a government mandate that regulates lower cost, gas-powered vehicles out of existence.

Legislators are now in the process of closing the statutory loophole that allowed 150 extremists to initiate adoption of devastating rule of this kind by the BEP without a vote from the legislature.

Bill to Require Legislative Approval for New Motor Vehicle Emissions Rules Passes Committee

Following the 4-2 vote by Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection turning down a proposed electric vehicle mandate, a bill to require legislative approval for such changes was passed unanimously out of Committee. LD 2261 will require that rules regarding new motor vehicle emission standards, including rules to establish zero-emission requirements, are “major substantive” and must be approved by Maine’s Legislature.

I am hopeful this bill will become law. Major decisions of this kind need to include the public directly, or through their elected representatives.

Maine’s voice in presidential elections may be reduced

The Electoral College is a constitutional provision that ensures that small states, like Maine, have a voice in selecting the President of the United States. Because of that provision, Maine has received attention from presidential candidates. A move to circumvent the Constitution by surrendering Maine’s voice through an interstate compact is underway.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, if approved by Maine lawmakers, would award the state’s four electoral votes to whichever candidate garners the most popular votes nationwide, irrespective of who the majority of Mainers voted for at the ballot box.

That means that if Mainers voted for a different candidate than the candidate winning the national popular vote state electors would be bound to vote for the popular vote winner. The votes of large states with major cities like California and New York would dominate at the expense of smaller, rural states.

This proposal has the potential to create national chaos in our court system, especially if there is a recount in any of the states.

Dismantling the genius architecture of the Constitution one piece at a time should not be supported at the expense of Maine or our country. As your legislator I am bound to protect the interests of all Maine voters and I pledge to do all I can to stop the erosion of our rights and constitutional protections. I have been contacted by many scholars, friends, and constituents who feel strongly about this. The legislature must carefully consider protecting Maine’s 4 electoral votes from theft by large, urban states.

Participate in the Maine State Legislature’s Honorary Page Program


One of the legislative responsibilities that I enjoy the most is the opportunity to expose citizens, especially young people, to the history and beauty of our state capitol.

If you know of someone that is interested in touring the State House, please let me know. We also have a Maine State Legislature’s Honorary Page Program!

When the House is in Session, the Honorary Page Program provides students an opportunity to participate in the legislative process and to interact with legislators. Students from elementary through high school are invited to serve in the House Chamber as Honorary Pages.

Under the supervision of the Sergeant-At-Arms and Chamber Staff, Honorary Pages have the opportunity to see what it is like to work on the floor of the house. Pages perform such duties as delivering messages to Legislators and distributing Amendments and Communications in the chamber. For more information, please call my office at 207-287-1440.

Help become the change Maine needs

If you don’t like what you’re seeing, if you feel that government serves every interest but yours, I urge you to get involved at the local, state, or national level. The Maine way of life is under assault and I do not want to see our kind, beautiful state lose its character.

Representing part of Windham in the Legislature is an honor. If there is any way that I can be of assistance, please contact me at barbara.bagshaw@legislature.maine.gov .My office phone number is 207-287-1440. You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BagshawForMaine. To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at https://mainehousegop.org/ <

Friday, March 29, 2024

Insight: Indistinguishable from magic

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Last week was not my best experience when having to overcome technical issues in work and at home.

It all started on a Sunday morning when I tried to log-in to my work website from home using my remote connection. No matter how many times that I tried to do so, the remote connection would not let me connect and an unusual box requesting a password popped up each time.

I texted my boss and asked her if she was aware of any issues or problems and she replied that she wasn’t aware of anything wrong and she was able to log-in remotely. She said she was in Italy with her husband and that she would have her husband investigate the problem and he would be in touch in a little while. About 10 minutes later he texted me and I explained to him my issue.

He spent 15 minutes or so trying to explore solutions, but those suggestions didn’t work. He said he had an appointment and would be in touch later.

In the meantime, I was able to use my home computer to save some documents and I arranged with a co-worker to have them set up a file on the work server and save them there when I emailed them to her. That way I wasn’t losing a lot of productivity from not being able to connect to my office computer remotely.

Later that evening, I received a text that we were going to try again to resolve the remote connection technical problem. After working on it by communicating by text messages back and forth for more than a half hour, I began to realize what he wanted me to do was beyond the scope of my limited technical capabilities. Changing user authentication, removing configurations, changing the shared secret and privacy coding and the like exceeded my knowledge. And both of us were tired, in fact, as he tried to walk me through the steps to fix the issue, he mentioned that it was 2:30 a.m. in Italy. We agreed to call it a night and work on the problem the next day.

On Monday morning, I reconnected with my boss and her husband by text, and they wanted to Zoom with me. After resolving a few issues on my machine to establish a Zoom call with them, we started to work on setting up a new remote connection for me. That was filled with having to overcome an array of technical issues and permissions which they were able to walk me through.

Finally, after about three-quarters of an hour of going back and forth, everything was set up for them to take control of my screen from Italy and install a new remote connection, allowing me to connect with my office computer. It has worked tremendously since then and I was in awe of what they were able to do working on a laptop from Italy to fix my issue and grateful for their assistance.

Two days later, I woke up, sat down at my machine, and discovered that our 10-year-old router no longer worked, and I couldn’t connect to the internet. On my way to the office at 7:45 a.m., I pulled over and using my iPhone, I asked Siri if Staples was open. Within 10 minutes, I had purchased a new router.

When I got home from work that night, I followed the instructions and downloaded the router company’s app onto my iPhone and used the simple step-by-step directions to install the router. The final step was creating a 10-character password using up and down letters, and at least two numerals. When I attempted to log-in, I couldn’t connect the router to my computer. I called the 1-800 number for router technical support and was on hold for more than an hour when I gave up frustrated and said I would try in the morning.

The next day, I tried router technical support again and spent an hour listening to some awful elevator-type of music waiting to have my call answered. When a technician took my call at last, I was overjoyed and answered all her questions about the router’s make, model and serial number. She had me try to connect again and it failed again. When she asked if a blue light was shining on the router we were suddenly disconnected, and I had to go through calling the 1-800 number once again.

This time though I spoke to a different technician and had all the serial number info at hand. She put me on hold for a moment and then asked me what password was showing on my router iPhone app. I thought I entered 10 characters with the last one being an exclamation point, but it showed nine characters with no exclamation point. She suggested I enter that, and it worked and lo and behold, I was connected.

Therefore, hooking my wife’s wireless printer up to the router using the correct password was not an issue just a day later when that technical issue arose.

It turned out to be a week of technical obstacles that I would certainly like to relegate permanently to the memory bank.