By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
The man looked into my eyes and asked me, “Are you an American citizen?”
It wasn’t a deep philosophical question — it was a border patrol agent, and I’d just left El Paso. However, I’ll treat it like one.
Yes, I’m an American citizen, and I’m well versed in the Constitution, apple pie, baseball and American excess. Americans live bigger lives than other countries. We consume more food, more gasoline and more electricity than any other country in the world.
We also consume more Internet bandwidth. There are movies to be downloaded, videos to be uploaded, photos to be shared, and broadband television channels to watch. Basically, dial-up doesn’t do it for me anymore.
Every once in a while, though, we need a blast from the past to help us.
Let me explain. I signed up for wireless Internet, and I was given a wireless modem upon signing up. Basically, I plug it in somewhere around my apartment, and position it so it gets the most signal bars (a lot like a cell phone).
The Internet worked for me, but I could never get full power. The modem had one or two bars most of the time, and three on clear nights when I wrapped it in aluminum foil.
I’d never received the highest reception of five bars, and I figured it was about time. I had a lot of photos to upload from El Paso, plus I have to find a way to catch the “24” episode I missed while I was traveling.
I went on a search throughout my apartment for a five-bar spot. It wasn’t on my computer desk. Or my bedroom. Or my bathroom, even though that would have been hilarious.
I’d given up hope and looked up for guidance. As I looked up, I thought maybe there was some high point where it would get a better signal. Above my window in my kitchen, I found it. The modem had five bars, but I wasn’t sure how to keep the modem up there.
Build a shelf? That’s probably what Jesus would do, but he was a carpenter and I am not. Hire a tall person to hold the modem? No, it would be strange introducing him when friends came over.
I had to hold that modem up, laziness and lack of tall people notwithstanding. That’s when I found the low-tech answer to this and all of life’s other problems — duct tape.
I took a few gray straps, secured the modem in five-bar position and started downloading photos with my new fast connection.
And that, readers, is how duct tape fixed my Internet connection.
Maybe you don’t care for this story, but I find it an inspiring tale of old and new American technology — not to mention another example of why sci-fi fan Carl Zanzwig said duct tape is like the force, in that “It has a light side and a dark side, and it binds the universe together.”
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be reached at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: