They sent me a new wifi router. Got it to work. Had the same plugs and cords as the last one. Advanced though. New and improved but the router looked exactly the same. Black blinking metal box. Sure. Had to be registered online somehow (after I’d already unplugged the last one and boxed it up, taped closed, slapped return shipping lable on). So how do I get back online to register the new router if I boxed up the old router and taped the box up. Seemed momentarily impossible. Yes, I could razorblade the box back open and take the old thing out and plug that back in and get on the internet and register the new router. But I don’t like to do things twice. We’ve got phones in our pockets that are more powerful than the supercomputers they used to blast off those moonrockets. So I used the phone. And of course it worked. Digital hoops. A convoluted setup. Multiple authentications. Verifications. Security questions. Given a code. Enter the code. Okay, wait ten minutes. Miracles churning. During the setup I was looking through all my neighbor’s networks and one of them has theirs set as SurveillanceVehicle47. Had a fun time imagining the neighbor who would set their home wifi network up as ‘SurveillanceVehicle47’. Imagined them typing that into the box and going ‘heh’ or even ‘hehehe’. Thought about this neighbor thinking, ‘Wonder how many newbs live in this building who are actually going to look out the window in fear and look for SurveillanceVehicle47, hehehe.’ Then thought about the word ‘newbs’. Which I spell like that because I think of newborns. Of course. Newbies stemming from newborns. Oh you don’t understand that, newborn? But sometimes I see it on the internet as ‘noobs’. Which seems dumb. Or I’m wrong and I’m dumber than the dumb ones. Which is possible. So I looked it up. Dictionary.com has it both ways. Newb, meaning short for ‘newbie’, which means: an inexperienced newcomer to a particular activity; and Noob: a person who is inexperienced in a particular sphere or activity, especially computing or the use of the Internet. I’ll keep thinking about it as newborn. It’s funnier. Imagine a brand new baby trying to use a computer for the first time. And you can say to the baby, “Aw, baby’s first drag and drop.” “Aw, baby’s first retweet.” “Aw, baby’s first google.” In a way I feel like I have new internet now. My wifi router is fresh. Nothing is faster. But it’s new. The password is the same. The network is the same. But the internet coming through it is new. Somehow. I am sending you this information afresh. A fresh man. It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Saturday, August 1st. Yesterday I got a phone call from one of the guys at my construction job who said he’d talked to my boss and they may call me back next Wednesday to speak about the potential of coming back to work the following Monday for a three week window of employment. To which I said, “But I’m going on vacation August 15th-23rd.” Silence on the line. “You serious?” I said I was serious. He said, “Right on.” And now I’m waiting for the phone call to see if I am still going back to work even though I’m going on vacation then, after being out of work for five months. We have been in the middle of a global pandemic. As you know. Nobody is really going on vacation. But I am. August 15th-23rd. A vacation of the mind. Rae is taking off work that week too. We’re just going to shelter in place and relax. Whatever that means. I had to go take a drug test yesterday. Was hot out. Was a mile long walk through the city. I walked over to the clinic. Got all sweaty on the way. I don’t like getting sweaty on the way to a drug test. The nurses look at you funny. Funnier than usual. I passed off the paperwork to the receptionist behind the plexiglass. She said to take a seat. I sat and waited. I had my mask on. Everyone else waiting had a mask on. I was sweating, not because I was nervous. But it was worse because they didn’t have air conditioning on. Somehow. I had confidence I’d pass the drug test. Nothing to worry about. The door opened and a man in sweatpants came in and asked the receptionist if he could please have a doctor’s note. She said he couldn’t unless he saw a doctor. The man looked really crushed by that. He asked how much it cost to see the doctor. She said it depended, what was wrong with him. He leaned close to the glass and mumbled something. Nothing seemed wrong with the man in sweatpants. He said he just needed the note. She said he’d have to see a doctor for a note. He said well how long is the wait. She shrugged. I thought she could have given him an estimate. But she probably thought he’d leave. Well he didn’t. He filled out the paperwork and asked if they took checks and then took a seat near me and I was impressed. Cool. He was gonna see the doctor just for the doctor’s note. He wasn’t ill. Maybe had failed to show up for work and needed a doctor to write in a note that he was ill so he didn’t lose the job. Would the doctor do that? I had no idea what the ethics of a doctor was. The Oath of Hippocrates. The man sat there stonefaced. Somebody else was on their phone talking from behind the mask. An old man, elderly, railthin, raspy voiced. He said, “Yeah, tomorrow I get shipped out. Whole unit. Yeah. We’re all going to Iraq.” He nodded at something being said to him over the phone. “Or … or Afghanistan.” Oh? Wow. He was being shipped to a war in either Iraq or Afghanistan tomorrow. Either one. A nurse came out and called a name. Somebody went back to get healed. I was reading Anna Karenina. Something horrible had just happened to a fictional horse a hundred and fifty fictional years before. I flipped to the beginning of the novel to check and see the exact date the book was published. The copyright page said ‘2000’. Oh fuck you. That translation came out in 2000. But when did Tolstoy write the book? They didn’t tell you there. Some big secret. I had to flip to the introduction, 1877. Thanks. I had cut the novel in half with a razor and taped up the binding and the final page. I was nearly halfway through the novel. If I had wanted to know what year it was published just a day later I would have not been able to find out without using my phone. The problem was I had no more internet on the phone (after using it all up registering the router). Months before, I’d handed the phone to Rae and asked “Can you make me a password? And then don’t tell me …” She put something in. She’d handed the phone back to me. Then I had fifteen minutes a day of social media and internet. It was good. I got a lot more done in the world. The problem showed itself though when I did need the internet one day and I asked Rae to put the password in and we both found out that she’d forgotten it. Hahaha. Oh well. I liked to cut big books in half. I’d done that with Infinite Jest and I’d mentioned it on twitter and someone said, “Wait, but how are you reading the Notes and Errata that begin on page 983?” “I’m not, fuck the Notes and Errata.” The guy could have just put that stuff in the book. If that stuff was important he would have just put it in the actual novel. I wasn’t going to carry a thousand page book back and forth around a construction site. Too heavy. Too hot or too cold or raining. Greasy. Sparks showering down. Some clinic helper came up to my chair and waved a driver’s license in my face. “No,” I said. I pointed back to the door where the man in sweatpants had gone. It was his ID. I recognized his eyes from the photo. Thats all we could go by because of the masks. The nurse came for me. I went back there. Had to fill out my name and date on a couple stickers. She handed me a plastic cup. I had to fill to a certain line with urine. She was very serious. Don’t fill over the line. Don’t flush the toilet. Don’t turn on the water. Empty my pockets. I took my dick out and filled the cup up exactly to the line. I passed the test for cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methadone, propoxyphene, and ludes. I saw the sweatpants man come out with his note in his hand. He was smiling but I couldn’t tell. But I could feel him smiling. I walked home carrying my book. The breeze was blowing. I lifted my mask and sipped a soda. The walk home seemed a lot shorter. The whole world was shorter. Life was shorter. The sky was shorter. Death was shorter. Near my apartment building I saw the debris where workers had jackhammered apart the sidewalks outside my building. I was waiting for the perfect time. Rae and me were going to write, “Bud and Rae Wuz Here” or “Bud and Rae Lives Here” but we had to keep an eye out for the concrete trucks and maybe we would have to pay the workers $20 to let us do it. Most likely the pour would happen the first day I went back to my own construction site and we would miss our window. Alright, well this new internet works good. This new internet is easy. This new internet just happens. The new internet made all this possible.