Monday, December 6, 2021




Tara O’Neill

I have always believed, from tiniest totdom, that what one person can do, anyone can do. It’s just a matter of instructions. And I have always been very good at reading instructions. I have read instructions on everything from toy assembly to plumbing and wiring, to death and dying. There’s a wealth of information out there that is ours for the taking.

In my teens I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, a work of philosophical fiction by Robert Persig. I’m afraid that, at the time, most of Mr. Persig’s ideologies were over my head, but what I did learn is that if you are having mechanical troubles you need only to take apart the troubling mechanism slowly and methodically until you find the traitorous part, then replace and rebuild, slowly and methodically, in reverse. Fascinating stuff, and right up my instruction loving alley. For Persig and his devoted readers “maintenance” was a metaphor, for me it was gospel.

I was once the person friends and family brought their instructions to. I was patient, I was proud. Today, the fast spinning world of technology has turned me into a raving, instruction burning, lunatic. Unfortunately, operating a business today, whether it’s art or any other field, requires internet technology.

Some of you may have noticed there was no Artful Life column in the last issue of Coastal Breeze News. What follows is the trail of events that left me begging for commitment into the nearest padded garden. Last month, our seven year old computer sang the song of slow death, taking the printer with it in a show of apparent sympa-technic suicide.

Off I went to the big city with this shopping list: printer with fax, computer, and maybe one of those external hard drives. And here’s what I came home with eleven hours later: a WIRELESS Yeranidjit 8.1 computer with WIRELESS mouse and keyboard; a WIRELESS Noddachantz NELL printer with fax, three small boxes of small wireless boxes, an enormous box of wires, a sass talking router, schizophrenic modem, a bag of thumb drives and pinkie swears, aspirin, lots of aspirin and a frisky chianti to wash them down with, and a single slip of tissue thin paper entitled Quick Start Guide. Hahahahaha! “Quick Start.” Hahahahaha! The Quick Start Guide stated that the dearth of printed instruction was because all instructions (beyond setup) were available online.

Unfortunately the old monitor was having nothing to do with the new kids on the block, so I could not read any instructions beyond how to cross thirty-six wires to seven wireless devices found in the Quick Start Guide. Foolishly I soldiered on, mashing buttons, yanking suspect wires from one hole and hammering them into any place they fit, sixteen hours (and a second bottle of chianti) later, the monitor felt sorry for me (perhaps remembering the good old days of last week) and grumbled into life. It quickly went from grumbling to screaming in symbols that included multiple exclamation marks, tiny time bombs, red dots with flashing black crosses, and something that looked like pulsing riot gear, and the words WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?! STOP! UNPLUG! RUN! RUN LIKE THE WIND!

I followed those instructions to the letter and ran with my smarter-than-iPhone to look for a teenager who could send a text telling CBN publisher Val Simon there would be no column. I couldn’t even do that properly! I was defeated.

Back home, I packed it all up, along with my old computer for data transfer, hauled it to the TechsRUs team and gave them, along with a blank check, my permission to do whatever was necessary to make it all work. Every single employee came to ogle my ancient (7 year old!) computer and comment on the miracle of its longevity. “I’m surprised you and your husband weren’t found dead in your bed,” said one, “because that’s what usually happens to people who let dinosaurs roam around their homes.” Sweet child.

Well, they did their job and I’ve paid for their collective college tuitions. So, here I am at last, up and running, not knowing how to use any program beyond straight typing. The only device still not talking to my new devices is my digital camera. Back at TechsRUs a different sweet child told me I would have needed the dimwitivist cable to attach a camera to the Yeranidjit 8.1. Would have? Unfortunately they couldn’t sell me one because the Yeranidjit 8.1 is now obsolete. Seriously.


Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at


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