Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Taste of Life Without a Habit

If you haven't gleaned it from these posts to date, I spend a lot of time with my laptop computer. It sits very prominently on the coffee table in our living room, directly in front of a very comfortable couch - where I sit - just to the side of our television, which I can watch while blogging, doing the NYT crossword each morning, reading, or listening to music. I am known for being able to do at least three of those things at the same time; I have not yet become accomplished (probably fortunately) at being able to carry on a conversation with anybody while doing any of those other activities. My attention just seems to wander from one to the others, so, I either listen to what the other person has to say, and interact, or I do the others, in some combination or other. To the right of the couch is an end table upon which sits my printer/copier/scanner. I love that electronic wonder almost as much as my computer. So much is stored inside - pictures of generations of Calhouns and Tohlines, and various documents (all of which, of course, I have backed up on the computer, which is also backed up once a week to a back-up drive - I like to be thorough). Since the battery for my computer died a long time ago (our son Adam gave this computer, his "old" one, to me when he got a newer one), it has an AC cord attached to it. Along with that cord, there is also the USB cord connection to the printer, plus a USB connection to the fan, which keeps my computer from overheating. In addition there is also a USB extender connection which expands the capability of connecting other peripherals to the computer, such as my iPod, when downloading music, or the camera memory card, when downloading some photos (that don't need to be edited right away) directly into a folder on the computer. Oh, yes, there is also now a USB connection for the back-up drive and the dock it sits in as well. So, in my electronically connected, comfortable, couch potato way, I stay in touch with the world (quite literally, because I have e-mail conversations with lots of people from all over the country, as well as a very large number of Facebook friends from all over the world). Oh, yes, and I do this blog, which so far has millions of followers (yeah, right) ! Am I famous, or what?

Something happened this past week. Do any of you remember a wonderful movie made in the 1960's, starring Alan Arkin, called "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!"? It concerned a Russian ship that had accidentally gone off course, and ended up docking at a small port off the Northeast Atlantic Coast of the USA, an island community sort of like Martha's Vineyard, though not nearly so sophisticated! Through a series of blunders and language problems, the townsfolk came to believe that the Russians were there because we were finally at war with the dreaded enemy. (It was the height of the "Cold War" when this movie was made.) The movie is VERY funny, and worth a rent if you haven't seen it...our family has a favorite quotation from it, which is not worth printing, because it loses so much in the "translation" from voice to paper. I mention this movie because, except for a little coughing and wheezing, my dear beloved laptop - very nearly my way of life - basically gave up the ghost. It didn't really stop working so much as slow down. I don't mean just slow down, like from a trot to a walk, but SLOW DOWN, as from a trot to a spine-injured person learning to walk again after years of inability to do so. Each operation on my computer, which I lovingly named "Tosh," started taking more and more time for each function to the point that simply clicking on my internet connection icon required at least 15 minutes for it to come up on the screen, to say nothing about how long it took to read just one e-mail; much less the approximately 75-100 I receive each day. I was not happy. In fact, I was very UNhappy; bordering on a complete breakdown of my frustration-level indicators. (Poor me!)

I finally had to take my baby to the Dr. Actually, Ashley did it for me, because I couldn't bear the thought of turning it over to someone else - they might damage it, or worse yet, even CLEAN it! I mean, there are cat hairs in that keyboard from when one of them was a kitten (ah, memories!)..., to say nothing of my own hair and various other food particles and dust. Don't judge me too harshly now...I do sort of wipe it off occasionally, and have been known to use one of the CO2 spray cleaners on it, but have become convinced that it has worked so well over the years precisely because I have not overly fussed with it, and let Tosh sort of take care of himself.

Now, you ask, what do the Russians have to do with any of this sob story? When the computer Dr.'s office called me yesterday I was informed that poor Tosh has a horrible infection, that cannot be fixed by just any ordinary antibiotic. It is going to require extensive IV treatment, plus some surgery to implant a new component, a pacemaker, if you will, to keep this illness and others from happening again. It turns out that the dread disease is not Swine 'Flu, Bird 'Flu, or is RUSSIAN! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys: since the end of the cold war, apparently the Russians have decided the best way to attack us is by botching up our computers and their programs...using the nefarious internet to inflict their infections. This time, apparently washing our hands before use simply won't stave off these diseases. My anti-virus software was not sophisticated enough to keep up with all the "new and improved" versions of infections that are being manufactured daily. I still haven't figured out why slowing down my poor Tosh is going to advance their takeover of our country, but perhaps it has something to do with getting it slow enough to be able to understand Tosh's special form of computer-speak-Paula language. My over use of "...", italics, BOLD CAPS, and unnecessary "quotation marks," has probably led them to develop some sort of Enigma machine to decode my musings. Won't they be surprised when they find out that the sum total of my writings means virtually nothing to anyone but me, and maybe one or two of my FOUR followers? "Ha-Ha!" says I! But the Russians have the last laugh, because my computer - my Toshie - is going to take almost 1/3 as much money to cure as it would to buy a new one. I'm not sure, however, that I can make the decision to put Tosh to sleep. I am using Ashley's desktop computer, which is very uncomfortable for me to sit at and use, has all its wires crossed up so much I can't make hide nor hair of it, the DVD/CD drive does not work - so no music, there is no TV in the kitchen where this computer is located, so I miss a lot of my favorite sitcom reruns, plus his printer/scanner/copier does not work as well as mine. The only GOOD thing about it is that I can access my e-mail and do my blog. Most of the other software I use is on Tosh. How could I let him go, after the habits of my life have been centered around him for so long now?

So, I am now having, once again, a taste of my "Life Without a Habit." Believe me, it is far more difficult a habit to give up than my smoking was, or my poor eating habits are. I have so much more sympathy for all the "aholics" out there. Hmmm...(to use one of my trademarks), perhaps that is what God had in mind. Get off the couch and be useful, Paula! There might actually be more to life than what you have been doing!

Perish the thought! And, "Get well soon, Tosh!"

Addendum - March 14, 2010: The Dr. just called. Toshie took over THREE FULL DAYS to scan.He said it was by far the longest scan time he has ever seen or heard of. He was infected with EIGHTEEN (count 'em) 18 viruses (and as I recall there were 18 crewmen on board that Russian ship...hmmm); but Doc Staples does believe that my dear Toshie can be healed! He has to stay in the hospital until Wednesday. Pray for Tosh. Better yet, PRAY FOR ME! (And Ashley just said, "Pray for me to get my computer back out of Paula's clutches!")

Addendum to the addendum - July 16, 2010:  Toshi, my beloved Toshi, if he were not still in his bag, would be pushing up the daisies, he is bereft of life, he has shuffled off this mortal coil and joined the choir invisible, he has rung down the curtain, Toshi, my dear gentle readers, is an EX-computer!  This has been true for some time now, I have only just accepted it, and have started shopping for his new and hopefully better replacement (hard to believe there could  one better, though!).  I am glad most all of my data was backed up; I have lost some, but nothing, thank God, irreplaceable.  As you have often been told, so I now repeat:  The 11th Commandment - "THOU SHALT BACK UP THY WORK DAILY!"


  1. That was a gem......And I am right there with you.

  2. Thanks, Kelly! And it was great to see you in the balcony this morning!

  3. 1. I feel for you! I can't imagine going long w/o my compy!
    2. I'm finally an official follower even though I've been following for quite a while. Happy? Haha
    3. Emergency! Everyone to get from street!

  4. Yup, Abby! You got it! I love that line! For those of you who don't know it, it is said with a very thick Russian accent and sounds sort of like: "Ee-MAYR-jen-cee, Ee-MAYR-jen-see! Ev-er-y one to get frrrom strrreet!" Still makes me laugh - but you gotta see the movie, right Abby? Oh, and TY for becoming a follower! Makes my heart glad to see that number climb!

  5. Yowsa - that really is a bummer. Sorry you had to shell out so much for nothing. Having to use an unfamiliar computer has been an eye opener about my habits as I still drift over to my empty station to check the email that isn't there!