After two full weeks without a computer in my house, I have a new appreciation for the roll of my laptop in my life. Every time I turned around, I was missing it for something.
The internet, of course. Couldn’t check my email accounts. Couldn’t make my airline reservations, hotel reservations, car reservations for two upcoming trips next month. Couldn’t shop for a new laptop backpack when my old one permanently popped its zipper. Couldn’t take a Google Earth tour of my niece’s new address to see what kind of neighborhood she’s moved herself into. Couldn’t do my online banking/bill paying. Couldn’t keep up with my favorite bloggers, Dr. Dinosaur, the Cranky Professor, MDOD, Ambulance Driver, and a few others. A dozen times a day I was reaching for my laptop to check something out, and coming up empty handed.
Of course I have a computer at my desk at the hospital, and was able to at least keep up minimally with my email. But doing anything more requires going in early or staying late, and neither of those am I inclined towards. As my friend Dr. H says, “the longer you are here, the longer you are here.” I certainly did not want to spend the kind of time there that I usually put into the writing of posts for this blog. And I can’t post photos from there.
Separation from my laptop also allowed me a new appreciation of my non-internet dependence on technology. I will be a guest speaker at a festival next month and am currently going through hundreds of old photographs to put together three different Powerpoint presentations; without the computer I couldn’t start scanning and organizing the photos I want to use. Visitors in town from the lower 48 were over for dinner and wanted to see some old photos of Bethel I had scanned and saved before returning the originals to their owner. Nope, sorry.
But mostly the dependence is connected to writing. Without my laptop I have not written anything for the last two weeks. Zip. Zilch. It feels so…weird. Empty. I’ve had several pieces planned in my head and wanted to capture them before they drifted away. The right brain said “OK, so take a pad of paper and a pen and start writing. You remember how to do that, right?” And the left brain answered, “What?? Actually press pen to paper and leave a trail of ink? Do you know how SLOW that is? Whole sentences evaporate before I can capture them!”
The truth is that I can type about as fast as I can think, while gazing pensively at the tundra, which helps to transport me to that alternate mindspace in which my best writing happens. I don’t have to think about the process which transforms thoughts in my head to retrievable files which can be stored or printed. Handwriting with pen on paper requires far more focus on the process, and far more energy. Maybe I am just lazy, but I allow it to keep me from writing. I think back to those authors of the pre-technology era, like Jane Austin and Charles Dickens, and I wonder how they did it. As much as I would love to visit them during their times, it would have to be with my laptop and digital camera.
So it was with great joy and anticipation that I finally welcomed my laptop home last night. The wonderboy computer geek at Bethel Alaska PC managed to figure out the bizarre problem with my laptop, after disassembling the entire thing down to its component coils and wires.
As he explained it to me, the power button, in the top center of the keyboard face, is connected to a plug-in on the inside under the keys at the top right by a small wire. This plug-in is adjacent to the right hinge for the screen face. The wire is held in place by a piece of tape. Yeah. A piece of tape. Over time, the heat generated by the laptop in use made the piece of tape sticky on both sides instead of just one. When closed, the top of the tape was sticking to something above it; opening the laptop was pulling the wire out of its connection. So I couldn’t turn it on.
While Rich had the computer broken down he cleaned it all up, used some kind of silver compound to dissipate heat from heat sensitive parts, and secured that troublesome wire in a more reliable fashion. Final result: computer is working beautifully again. And I am so glad to have it back. What’s more, it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Rich doesn’t charge for diagnostic time, even though he spent nearly two weeks trying to track down the problem. Final bill: $116. Way better than the two grand I was anticipating having to spend to buy a new computer.
I am ready for a lighter and more streamlined model than this seven-pound clunker (Dell Latitude D800), primarily so it is easier to carry in a backpack when I am traveling. But when I am sitting at home, this one works fine and has given good service for the last two years. Dutch just had Rich put a brand new hard drive in it a few months ago with a basket load of gigabytes, so baring other bizarre hardware problems, it should last me a few years yet. Maybe I just need more upper body strength.
Stay tuned for actual TMD blog posts with pictures coming your way soon, as I am able to squeeze them out between packing boxes. Forty-five days until my one-way trip from Bethel to Kenai. Of that, I’ll be traveling for 23 days. Not much time left for packing. I’d better get cracking…