Today, I'd like to play let's pretend and say that you lived in the bedroom community of Milborough. What's more, say that you had to describe the Patterson family to a complete stranger. First, you've got the primary source of income and late-sixties holdover, John. If you asked him about himself, HE'd probably say that he's on the fast road to now-town (thereby showing his obsolescence) and that he's the rock of his family (yeah, an anchor holding them in place). You'd probably hesitate to flat out insult the guy, but you'd give an accurate portrait of a well-meaning but weak child-man busy playing with his toys instead of trying to fix the catastrophe that is his home life. Next, the cause of all the havoc in his fortress of Foobitude: Elly! She means well enough, of course, and doesn't want to live the screwed-up life she does but her neurotic refusal to see the world as it is and people for who and what they are and her ludicrous vanity betray her at every turn. One symptom of her madness is her dread of technological change. Whenever a new device impinges on her awareness she can be counted on to find at least a dozen ways to fear it. When actually persuaded to use the thing, her imbecile refusal to ask for assistance and look stupid cause a ridiculous fubar, leading to her insistence the thing was invented specifically to embarrass her, there proving her idiocy. She also has a funhouse mirror view of the people around her, which would be laughable were it not pathetic and had she not passed it down to her oldest two children. She and Mikerobe both think he's sort of genius, but let's face it; I could eat a few gallons of alphabet soup and crap out better work than him, his masterwork in the making is a grotesque waste of time and (if you recall the puff piece he didn't write but should have) he owes his current position to corporate gamesmanship. Not only that, he'd probably crash at Foob central even if John didn't hint he'd own the joint in a few months time. As for the decent, stand-up guy and great dad he and Elly think he is, the less said the better. The laptop stunt has put paid to that illusion everywhere but Foobville. Lizardbreath's lack of street smarts is even more crippling than Mike's, and has caused much greater suffering, because it's joined with Elly's tendency to waffle. At least when Mike puts his foot in it, he's decisive. They also have in spades the parental love of material goods. As I've said before, these guys feel incomplete without some physical object as an object of affection. If the love object threatened or damaged, these people fall apart. Elly's ego-identification with her current address is an extreme form of the disease but then she is larger than life. Well, at least her rump is, anyway. Their sham-progressive politics also deny them any shot at neighbor of the year. They cry crocodile tears over the 'disadvantaged' but they're really only for any change that wouldn't inconvenience them.