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Monday, 9.27.04: Act II

So do you want to hear about my petty agonies over my screenplay or how I rewired my home computer network?

I am in a quiet phase where I'm chugging away on a screenplay. The screenplay is about ME-Me-me, so of course the research is easy and it gives me hours of navel-gazing pleasure. What -- you're not fascinated? You don't want to hear yesterday's ruminations on the what is supposed to occur in a Second Act?

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "There are no second acts in American lives." This is one of his most repeated quotes. It's always used to open an article about someone making a new start in life or rising from the ashes of failure to achieve success. F. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong when he said... Come on, people. Fitzgerald was too close an observer of American life not to know that people reinventing themselves is fundamental. He did a turn in Hollywood writing screenplays, didn't he? Don't you think he knew the function of Second Acts?

Plays don't start over in the second act. They take the problem posed in the Act I and make it more complicated. Every time the protagonist tries to solve the problem, the forces of antagonism react to make the situation even worse. The end of Act II is usually a terrible mess that Act III brings to a climax and resolves.

What Scott Fitzgerald was probably saying is that we Americans don't like obstacles and complications. We like cutting to the chase. If things aren't working out our way, our great sense of New World mobility simply allows us to move on. Europeans don't have infinite frontiers in their psyche, so they are stuck with problem-solving and pessimism. American lives are not about second acts. They are about expedient resolutions -- just take out your gun and shoot the guy!

Embroiled in the complications of putting structure to the demise of my career, I decided yesterday to rewire my home network. Avoid one set of complications by uncomplicating something more tangible.

I have a wireless network, but the original set up had the router by my window, which apparently sent the signal out to the squirrels rather than down to the ground floor. But the cable that feeds my cable modem ends at the window. So in February, I did something exceedingly clever and strung together my wired router with my wireless in order to get the wireless in the middle of the house. Are you following? The signal was beautiful. I could sit downstairs with my laptop and cruise the internet, no problem. But I couldn't get file-sharing to work. My two computers couldn't see each other.

Enough. I bought two lengths of 25-foot ethernet cable and got rid of the old router. (One less thing to plug in!) Along the way, I found out there was a "firmware" update for the router, which I downloaded. When I finished, I went downstairs to my laptop and my second-act complications and, what do you know, my file-sharing was working!

Computers are evil. But unlike life, their complications can always be resolved, even if you need a long Act II.





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