This is sort of a mirage. It may seem like I have inexplicably reappeared, two weeks after inexplicably disappearing, but I have only reappeared briefly.
I have a very legitimate reason for my disappearance, however. The computer woes, hinted at a few weeks ago, have grown to the point where they have actually consumed my laptop. Two years of spirited use resulted in a total breakdown of the "motherboard," leading to a phone call where a guy named Kevin told me that it would cost $726.53 to bring my computer back to me, cured of its motherboard issues. "I could send it to the therapist to cure its motherboard issues," I said. "It could get at least seven sessions for that."
"Or you could just buy a new laptop," said Kevin, dryly.
"Yes, I could."
On Monday, I called Kevin and told him just to send the hovering-near-death laptop back to me, screwed-up motherboard and all. Its "t" and "d" keys are still gone, by the way. It is, in short, disposable.
Not as disposable are all of the files now stuck on a computer that no longer works. I had Kevin send it back in the hopes that it will come to life just one more time, long enough for me to back up all of my stuff. I never did that, the logic being that all of my files are just word files, and not really worth backing up. Fortunately, I did back up my two journals -- the one I keep for myself and the one I have been keeping for the Jawa since he was enwombed -- before dropping the ailing computer off with the Geek Squad.
And a word about these much-publicized "geeks." They're not all that geeky. Yes, the guy who helped me was slightly overweight, and his short-sleeved, 65/35 blend dress shirt made him look like a stressed-out engineer, but his geekiness was only skin-deep. The Geek Squad is merely a clearing house for ill computers. They don't do any of the work. Instead, they farm it out to Kevin, who lives somewhere in the 909 area code and waits one week to call you and tell you that it will cost $726.53 to fix your computer.
I remember when I realized that pocket calculators were disposable. Since I was a youthful geek, sans white shirt and extra pounds, I asked for a pocket calculator for my eighth birthday. I could have the birthday wrong, but I know it was an early one, one where I should have been asking for a football instead of a primative mathematical device. Likewise I should have been watching "Brian's Song" instead of "West Side Story," and probably should not have had a drafting table in my bedroom.
But I loved that calculator, and my later conversion to sports-mad kid did nothing to curb that love. In fact, it expanded my calculator needs, seeing as I could now use it to figure out batting averages and add up long columns of strikeout totals. Sometimes I would just sit there, happily banging out imaginary batting averages. "Now, if I was up 243 times and got 72 hits, what would my average be?"
Those early calculators had few functions and yet cost triple digits. By the time I got to college, the same calculator could be purchased in a drugstore for $7.99. Or you could get one that did everything, including make you lunch and do your laundry, for $39.99.
Shortly afterward, televisions became disposable. My first aborted job, one that lasted (big shock here) all of 4 days, was as an apprentice to a television repairman. In a pattern that would repeat itself at least once later in life, when I almost became an apprentice roofer, Dad thought it would be good for me to get some solid, blue-collar work experience, and I agreed, until the job actually started and I realized that I was way too good to be doing something like that. I lasted 4 days, then got a job at the Baskin-Robbins across the street, like my sister had a few years prior.
Televisions were not disposable in 1981. You went to someone's house and fixed them. By the time I was a television consumer/purchaser, eleven years later, when my new bride Sandra Bullock and I conspired to buy a TV for our first apartment, our 19 inch Sony cost $329, which meant that the cost of fixing said TV was almost as much as it cost to get a new one. When that one broke, I went to Circuit City and bought one for $209 from Matt Hoskinson, a kid I taught at Blanchet High School who was the best pure baseball hitter I've ever seen, and yet never played, because the coaches hated him.
And now my laptop is disposable. I checked the Best Buy circular last Sunday; why would I give Kevin $726.53 when I can get a new laptop for around $600?
In the meantime, I apologize to all 11 of my loyal readers. Sandra Bullock is loathe to lug her new, Genentech-assigned laptop on the shuttle bus, so I have access only when she drives to work. And since we'll be paying a tidy $1530 a month for 5th grade, we're down to one car, so she won't be driving to work very often, at least until some publisher swoops down on me and rescues me from this life of obscurity.
I'm not holding my breath.