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Comments Off on Our Town – March 10, 2011

Our Town – March 10, 2011

| Computers, Our Town, Seasons, Spring, VHS, Weather, Website | March 10, 2011

“Great Caesar’s debit card!” said the Original Soupster, pushing away the computer keyboard, frustrated. “Fireweed scramble!”

“Uncle,” said the Soupster. “Calm down. Just tell me what it is you’re trying to access.”

“Access? What do you mean access?” said the Original Soupster. “Don’t give me that Greek plaster! Speak English!”

The Soupster took a deep breath.  His uncle lived in a village even smaller than Our Town. Yet the older man insisted on buying a GPS navigation system for his car and then proceeded to get lost in the tiny burg he had inhabited for the last quarter century. As a young man, the Soupster had learned to hypnotize himself on visits by staring at the constantly flashing “12:00” on his uncle’s digital alarm clock and later on his VHS tape deck.

“By Abraham’s peapod,” said Original, ending his nephew’s reverie. “Why can’t you just put them all in a book?”

“What in a book?” asked the Soupster. “What do you want?!”

“Butterpaddle!” said Original. “I want to read your story about the married dog who drives.”

“Oh, you want to read an old Our Town column from the Soup,” said the Soupster, admittedly relieved and also complimented. “All the Our Town columns are archived on the Soup’s Internet website. You should learn to use it.”

“I know that, Soupster, you frontloader,” said the Original one. “Don’t you think I know that?”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“I never push the right buttons!” said Original.

Oh, really? The Soupster thought dryly. I’d say you were a champion button pusher.

But what the Soupster said was: “All right, all right,” and dutifully retrieved a hard copy of an old Soup that contained the Our Town column with the married dog who drives. He handed it to Original, who grunted with approval.

The Soupster answered a knock at the door and found his friend Sadie on his front step, her hat, literally in her hand. “I want to take you up on the offer to lend me a space heater in case it gets cold again,” she said “And do you have an extra pair of sunglasses in case it gets sunny? Oh, and a sturdy umbrella for hail. You know how it is this time of year.”

The Soupster attempted to launch his opinion on the coming changeable weather, but was cut short by a big grunt from Original Soupster, who then came bursting onto the scene.

“Bazooka Joe, you crinkle fry,” said Original, waving the Our Town column in the air like a burning torch. “This is my favorite ‘Our Town.’ You do have a way with the words, Slugbait!”

Editor’s Note: The Our Town column with “the married dog who drives” can be found HERE.

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 17, 2010

Our Town – June 17, 2010

| Children, Computers, Cruise Ships, Our Town, Tourists | June 17, 2010

Originally Published June 13, 2002

The cruise ship throngs were only recently gone when the Soupster stepped in to the art gallery to see if Gwendoline has survived the latest human deluge.

“I’ll be with you in a minute,” said a voice from the back room. Although the voice sounded like Gwen’s, its timber contained notes of urgency and annoyance, things the Soupster knew Gwen to be free of.

Gwen was the slowest to anger person the Soupster had ever encountered. But once truly angry, she was extremely tough to cool down.

The Soupster stuck his head into the gallery’s rear lair, where some of the stock was kept and computers were programmed to keep all the records of shipping, billing and to keep track of the inventory. In front of a computer monitor was where Gwen sat, her head sunk deeply in her hands. “The only thing more stressful than computer problems was checking for floating log deadheads at night, when I had the boat,” she moaned.

“What’s going on?” the Soupster asked innocently, only to be confronted by a red-faced Gwen who leaped up from her seat and grabbed him by the lapels.

“Whosoever creates these computer viruses are an abomination,” Gwen thundered. “If there was something worse than capital punishment…”

“You have a computer virus?”

“The Klooze!” she shouted. “The insidious, terrible, rotten and really, really bad Klooze virus!”

“Goodness,” said the Soupster. He had read about the Klooze How this computer program entered systems as an ordinary e-mail attachment. Klooze then disabled the anti-virus programs on the computer in order to do its evil work in peace. Then and only then, Klooze devoured the computer’s entire hard drive and everything on it. Byte by byte.

“I don’t what to do,” Gwen wailed pitifully.

“Perhaps I can help,” said someone with a high voice. A young boy came into the room, holding an armful of the daily newspapers he had been selling to passers by just before entering the store. In fact, he had entered in the first place to sell papers.

“Klooze sucks,” commiserated the kid. “But I got it out of Dad’s computer and I know how to do it now.” He pointed at the chair in front of the computer. “May I?” he asked.

Gwen nodded mightily and said sputtered several dozen versions of “Yes.”

“This is an awesome gallery,” the kid said, as his fingers flew over the keyboard. A long, long list of program files scrolled across the screen and then suddenly stopped. “See – here’s Klooze,” said the kid. “Bye, bad, bad virus.”

The kid swivelled the chair. “The virus is gone, but you’re going to have to let the diagnostics run for about an hour. Then the computer will tell you if you need to reformat or not. Have you ever re-formatted your hard drive and re-installed the operating system?”

“Yes,” said a still shocked Gwen, looking at the small figure at her desk with wonder and admiration. The Soupster squeezed her arm. “Re-installing everything took forever,” Gwen said to the kid. “But I can do it.”

“Good,” said the kid, rising from the swivel chair. “Tomorrow I have Little League after I sell my papers, but I’ll try to stop by in between and see how you are doing. Want a paper?”

“I’ll take five… uh, seven!” said Gwen. When the kid left, Gwen turned smiling to the Soupster.

“Who was that masked man?” the Soupster asked her.

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Comments Off on Our Town – July 2, 2009

Our Town – July 2, 2009

| Computers, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships | July 2, 2009

The Soupster was (yet again) marveling at the beauty of the view from the rear of Our Town’s library. Tsk, tsk, so many gorgeous views in Our Town and so little time. The Soupster always did his best to stop and smell the coffee – even if it sometimes turned out to be tea.

He was on his way to borrow (yet another) graphic novel about a serious historical event. These novels contained page after page of comic-book-like art and dialogue telling the story of some awful occurrence — like being in Hiroshima while it was bombed. These were not children’s books — they gleaned elements from both written novels and live-action movies to tell their ghastly, true tales. Their pages made the Soupster think of the story boards many movie directors draw to plan each shot before the cameras roll. The graphic novel format made the subjects more accessible to the reader than either of the two other mediums, the Soupster thought.

As the Soupster headed for the stacks he was grabbed by the ankle by Roddy Updike, sitting on the floor with his back against the wall. Roddy was famous for his electronic-filled semi-annual garage sales. “If you don’t need state-of-the-art, Roddy Updike probably has one he’s not using any more,” the Soupster had been told, although he had yet to avail himself.

“Soupster,” whispered Roddy. “Did you hear they’re going to make some of downtown wireless? Like if you’re waiting on line at the bank, you can check your email.”

“Great, Roddy,” the Soupster quietly answered.

“But don’t try and steal any of the little transmitter boxes, because they can trace the signal back to you,” Roddy said.

“I promise I won’t,” said the Soupster. “What are you here for?”

“My wife told me to get offline and go for a walk, so I walked to the library,” Roddy said. “She said my skin was looking sallow being inside all the time. But when I got here, all the computers were booked for the next two hours, so I’ve been sitting here waiting. Sometimes somebody gets sick and has to go home early. Maybe I’ll get lucky.”

“What’s so important?” asked the Soupster.

“Oh, nothing,” said Roddy. “I’ve been spending some time on www.TheSpouseTheyCameUpWith.com. The site tracks people who have moved away from Our Town after they used to be married to somebody here. Like Facebook without the faces. Quite an elaborate website. I’ve got to find our who does it.”

“I’ve been analyzing the data from TheSpouseTheyCameUpWith.com,” Roddy went on, “ and, evidently, the school district is leading the way with the most entries… per capita, I guess. Followed by the aviation industry. My wife says I have a morbid fascination.”

“You do tend to overdo things sometimes,” the Soupster said gently.

Roddy started to answer the Soupster, but stopped and reached into his one pocket and then another. “My cell phone,” he said distractedly. “It’s vibrating. I set the phone on vibrate to keep it quiet in the library.”

“Take your time,” said the Soupster. Roddy produced his phone and read its tiny screen.

“It’s a Tweet from the baker,” he said. “The Parmesan Chipotle Sourdough bread is fresh from the oven.” He rose to his feet. “With a loaf of that under my arm, my wife can’t help but let me back inside!”

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What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

Want to submit a piece for Our Town?

Contact us with your idea or completed piece. Our Town’s must be 450-500 words long, take place in or near Sitka and the Soupster must make an appearance, however brief.

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