By Brandon T. Minister, Staff Writer

The technology gods hate me. Somewhere, I offended their sensibilities, and ever since the deities of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have cursed me to a Luddite hell, where every piece of electronic equipment malfunctions straight out of the box. Customer support is provided by the departed souls of cavemen who insist the only way to cure my Blue Screen of Death is to bury alive a kinsman in peat.

Where did I go wrong with the gods? I’m not sure, but it might have been in 1995 when I declared the Internet to be “sort of worthless.” Since that day, my fate has been sealed.

Items I buy routinely become obsolete while I cross the store parking lot back to my car. Clamshell packaging severs my fingers. User instructions appear in every language except English, including Slovenian and Slovakian. Required battery sizes are obscure, or occasionally non-existent, like the single-A or B batteries.

Proof of my cursedness can be found in the situations where electronics don’t fail. When my daughter was a newborn, she had a toy which needed only to be moved to play the opening notes of “Shave and a Haircut” in electronic beeps. The particular Chinese factory worker who finalized the product ratcheted up the sensitivity setting, such that the indigestion of a small dog two towns away produced, “Beep beep beep-beep beep.”

The speakers were NASA-certified to be audible with the naked ear on Neptune. UFO interest in Earth spiked after each rendition as peacefully slumbering aliens were startled awake to proclaim, “What the hell was that?!”

The batteries were produced by the same firm responsible for the Maccabees’ Hanukkah oil. After leaving the toy in a running paint-shaker, I found the batteries to be somehow stronger, like a retiree returned from boot camp.

One evening, I got in the car and drove to my college class. In the back seat was this toy, a joint venture of Hasbro and Satan. Every variation of the road’s surface produced the dreaded song. The fact that it stopped after five notes left me repeatedly supplying the next two notes: “Two bits.”

Before returning home, I buried the toy in jackets and bags to muffle its noise, but like the suckage of the Washington Redskins, it could not be stopped. Instead, its beeping entered my subconscious, haunting my waking nightmares with a zombie-like demand for two bits.

A few months ago, this scenario threatened to repeat itself when my sister-in-law mailed a present to my youngest son. It was a toy truck which, at a button’s push, “danced” while playing “U Can’t Touch This.”

This sister-in-law and I had our disagreements in the past, but I thought we’d moved beyond that. This toy assured me we hadn’t. I had to take emergency action when my older kids discovered that, by pushing a different button, the song played by itself. Tragically, that day the truck was irrevocably lost.

Things are looking up for me, though. I might have recently found favor with the technology gods. We bought a wireless printer that worked right out of the box with two laptops running different operating systems.

Like an acolyte following a manifestation of the Divine, I couldn’t explain it but I wept tears of joy. I wanted to dance a celebratory jig, but I couldn’t decide between the only two songs in my internal soundtrack: “Shave and a Haircut” and “U Can’t Touch This.”

Brandon Minster is an economics major.