BY JAMES LILEKS YOU WAKE up late, wondering why the alarm didn't go off. After all, you programmed your alarm to dial up the Atomic Clock during the night and set your alarm within a nanosecond of the proper time. Isn't technology wonderful? Unfortunately, the connection crashed your alarm, and not only does it just keep blinking 12:00-12:00-12:00, but all the DJs on the radio stations are muttering nonsense syllables. You reboot the clock and head to the shower. Ah, the water's hot, the water pressure is strong. You have a good connection this morning. Lucky you. In the middle of lathering your head, however, the shower head goes dry, and the indicator reads: "BROKEN PIPE. TRY AGAIN LATER." Well, it happens. You sit on the edge of the tub and turn the tap on and off until the water starts again. It comes out slow and cold. Of course! This is the time of day when everyone on the West Coast is hitting the showers. Slows everything down. You go to fetch the newspaper from the porch. It's thick today. But a couple of pictures are missing from the front page, with little question-mark icons where there should be a picture of a car wreck -- but hey, that happens. When you turn the page, it takes one minute for the words to appear. While you wait for the paper too become legible, turn on the TV and catch the news. The TV has fancy plug-ins that enable it to display words, pictures and video -- imagine that! There's a RealAudio WebCast on flooding conditions in your neighborhood, so you pay particular attention. Unfortunately, too many people are trying to watch the same program, so the audio's a little sketchy. " ... -lood -ater SKRCRR eaded toward SKRCHRR esidents advised to evacuatSKRCHRCHC efore certain deat SKROSSSH orrible loss of ... " Hmm. Doesn't sound good. Maybe you'd better catch a cab for work before the disaster strikes. On the way outside, you remember that you have to mail a letter; it absolutely has to have today's postmark. Hmmm. The mailman is slumped on the ground unconscious. The mail slot is welded shut. A little sign says, "Mail is currently unavailable; try again in 15 minutes." The cab ride is speedy, but the driver keeps telling you that your address is not valid. You keep repeating the address: day.work.office/cubicle/mychair.html, NOT cubicle.mychair. Eventually he gets it. Stupid driver. He tells you to go to hell/sulferouspit.com. After a productive morning working with pen and paper, it's time for lunch. Perhaps you should try America Out to Lunch -- a fabulous restaurant with food from every culture on earth, and AOL has an all-you-can-eat buffet for $19.95. Why not give it a try? After all, you've already paid for it. They sent you dozens of free menus until you signed up, and since they're charging your credit card, you might as well have a bite. There are 300,000 inside the cafe, and thousands waiting to go in. After you bang on the door for 10 minutes, it creaks open. You give the maitre d' your password. WELCOME! he says. YOU'VE GOT MAIL! (You still have the letter in your hand; all the mailboxes are still welded shut.) You step up to the buffet. Just as you have loaded your plate with a delicious repast and are ready to download the food into your stomach, a bouncer appears, grabs you by the back of your jacket and hurls you outside. A handbill flutters beside you. "For some reason,'' it says, ``you have been thrown out of the restaurant. If this problem persists, please call Customer Relations, and listen to some nice on-hold music for 40 minutes." Yet there's a man on the corner handing out free menus to the restaurant. You're still hungry. Later you read in the paper that the restaurant is adding tables as fast as they can, and as long as you don't intend to eat for the next few weeks, you'll be fine. That night, you recount the day's frustrations, and wonder when enough things will work enough times to make the day feel easy and seamless. Well, that's the future, and the future's not available. That's what makes it the future. All you can do now is dream. You close your eyes, initialize your id and prepare to handshake with your subconscious. Three hours later, you're still staring at the ceiling, waiting for dreams. The busy signal is starting to sound like a lullaby.