Friday, August 16, 2013

Blue screen blues

I can’t find my typewriter.

I don’t remember the last time I saw it.

It’s one of those really cool ones too. Electric. Has that pop-in cartridge with a white-out ribbon for corrections.

So every time I make ANOTHER typo, I can just pop out the ink-ribbon cartridge; pop in the white-out cartridge; re-type the error exactly as I made it to begin with, thereby obliterating the error with white-out; pop out the correction cartridge; pop in the ink-ribbon cartridge, and go, go, go!

It sounds awkward, but I remember the day, back at UCSB, when I had a rhythm with that thing.

Type, type, type; pop in, pop out, pop in. Yeah. I could rock along.

I kind of need it right now since my computer has “blue screened.” That’s a technical term for "What the *bleep* am I supposed to do now?!!"

Yes, I tried the recommended sequence of steps for recovering everything important in my life’s work, to wit: Gasping. Gasping again. Whispering, “Oh no!”  Then louder, “Oh no, no, NO!” 

Control/Alt/Delete.  Blue nothing.  Not even a Task Manager.

Stand up, turn around, sit down, cover mouth and stare.

Blue. The screen’s still blue. No icons. No words to soothe the trembling heart. Just blue, sky blue.

Breathe. Flip the surge protector off then on again.

What’s this? Hooray! A message: “Windows has failed to launch.  Well, DUH!

Do you want to a) Launch Windows in the protected mode (recommended), or b) Launch Windows normally?


Blue screen.

OK. Surge off and on.  Back through the loop.


Blue screen.

OK, I'm really scared now.  Where’s my rally cap?

I did save most of my documents on Drop Box recently. They’re floating serenely above me now. Smiling down from the cloud.

Of course, I can’t get to the cloud because I can’t get the flippin’ computer to boot up!


OK. Breathe. Call the guy. Call the Magnificent Geek who has taken his exalted place at the right hand of God. The Guy who can make it all better. The Computer Guy.

“Bring it in,” his terse response to my breathless description of this desperate dilemma.

Yes! Yes, of course! I’ll bring it in!

Put the whole machine in the hand basket I brought home from hell last time I went through this.

Drop it off in his workshop at the North Pole next door to Computer Heaven, where all sad things are made happy again.

He’ll get to it. He’ll call. Terrific. 

Now what?  Foot tapping.  Deadline looming.

And no typewriter.  Desperately seeking Plan C.

The Library!  Of course! 

So here I am facing a corner of carpeted walls, on a public computer at the public library feeling pretty cool and righteous.  The Library does that to you.  It’s so green, you know, eco-friendly.  Recycling books and computers and all. 

There is something wholesome about a Library.  A cadre of kids all wearing the same green T-shirt, in line to sit in the light in the children’s section and read books!  Women get up to peruse the shelves and leave their purses on the tables, for goodness sake.  You can’t get much more faith-in-the-goodness-of –man than the Library.

And some might argue that a writer can write anywhere – in a bus terminal for example, or a bowling alley.  And she can write on anything, right?  A crumpled and damp cocktail napkin, or a PG&E envelope, or a typewriter even.

But I’m feeling like a goldfish on the carpet, sucking air and waiting to die, if I don’t hear from the Computer Geek soon.

Hurry!  Save me!  Get me MY machine and my cozy study with all my artifacts and talismen, so I can conjure the way I know to conjure.  I need a cat to pester me and shed into the keyboard and the buzzer on the clothes dryer to give me a break.

But my sense of duty compels me to soldier on.  Pausing and pecking.  Fifty words to go.  Forty.  For you, Dear Reader, for you.

What’s that?  My cell phone?  On vibrate, of course, in deference to my upright and decent companions.  Could it be…?!!  Yes!  The Geek!  I’m saved!

Coming soon – investigative report about the dangers of computer dependency.



Friday, August 9, 2013

Mars, we have a problem!

OK this is weird.

I went to check out a link in an email I received because I’m in the running to go to Mars.  But that’s not what I meant about weird.

I mean you knew that already, right? 

I have my application in with Mars One, the non-profit organization that’s raising $6 billion to fund a one-way colony-building mission to the Red Planet. 

My application’s not quite finished.  I haven’t submitted the requisite two-minute video explaining my sense of humor and why I want to go to Mars.  It’s due the end of the month.  That and the essay explaining why I’m an ideal candidate to leave earth and never return.

But other than that, I’m good to go. 

So, I’m on their email list.  They’re keeping me posted.  I’m in the loop. 

But, to be honest, I’ve been ignoring their reminders. 

Anyway, today’s message was titled “Packing for Mars,” and I just had to look.  If I’m selected from among the anticipated one million applicants, will I need sunscreen?  Aluminum foil?  Can I take my cats?

There’s no urgency of course, since the blast off isn’t until 2022, but I like to think ahead.
To my dismay though, no packing list was included.  But there was the link that I followed to check out two “local Martians” meetings coming up this month.

One is in Darmstadt, Germany, and the other at Cloud Gate in Chicago.  So.  There’s that.  If I want to hang with like-minded Martians-to-be …

I’ll admit the notices for these gatherings raised some concerns.  I’m thinking some folks might just want to make fun.  Flash back to that Star Trek convention sketch on Saturday Night Live when William Shatner broke character and told the Trekkies to “get a life!”  How demoralizing! 

Mars is serious business!

Then, in the margin of the site I noticed a “People You May Know” sidebar.  Hahaha, I thought.  Wouldn’t that be something if oh my GOD!  Other people I know have applied to go to Mars!?!

Here’s a guy from my high school class back in Tulsa.  No way.  We had nothing in common back then.  He made bad grades and wore 27 rabbits’ feet on his belt. 

Oh.  Well.  OK.  I get it.  Here we go to Mars together.  Me and Mr. Lucky.

But that was only the outer edges of the bizarre.  My eyes drifted upward, to the corner of the screen.  And now spine tingling and hair standing – I swear I could hear the Twilight Zone theme song playing ever so faintly in the background – there are pictures of MY Elvis party on the “Aspiring Martians” webpage with the caption, “Where were these pictures taken?”

Mind boggled.  I rubbed my eyes.  But yes.  There’s the picture of the life-sized cardboard cutout of young Elvis in his gold lame` suit with that one sprig of black hair broken free, resting just so on his forehead … in MY entry hall. 

And THERE I AM!  ME!  In my gold lame` suit and ridiculous black wig and my ludicrous attempt to look cool while sneering like Elvis.

For a moment I thought – is Elvis alive ON MARS!?!  Of course!  Dominoes are falling.  It’s all coming together!  The universe makes sense now!  Hallelujah!  Whoop!  Whoop!  Whoop!

But then reality crashed in – the loud clang of a face-slapping gong – Of course:  “Aspiring Martians” is a Facebook page. 

Mortification.  Sadness.  Dismay. 

Mars One isn’t serious business.  I’ve signed up to be a space cadet.  Aspiring Martians must have used Facebook’s new “graphing” technology and found me because I dressed up like Elvis.  Mr. Lucky and I are just the sort they’re recruiting.

But on reflection and more humbling still, I had to admit, that’s not it.  They didn’t find me.  I found them.  I started the process and then they rooted around in my photos and put them on their page! 

All I can say now is that my world has shifted.  My commitment to the mission is in question.  I won’t ride seven months across the cosmos with a hodge-podge of peculiar people who have no place better to go. 

And I won’t leave earth only to be mocked by those who deny the King.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Resolved: Be Ready on Time

Oh this is perfect. 

Just in time for my annual mid-year review, the document containing my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 has been corrupted!  It’s unreadable and unrecoverable.

I’m not sure how to take that development given my cosmic, everything-happens-for-a-reason approach to life. 

Is this some sort of etheric message?  Maybe the Universe is telling me I’ve accomplished so much already that it’s time for me to step back and let the other guy have a chance!

Uh – no.  Pretty sure that’s not it. 

No.  This corrupt file among all the other intact files is more likely a thump on the head admonishing me to get busy.  Like those vanished vows more than half the year has dissolved in this vacation world called retirement, and I’m unsure now if I’ve done anything I said I’d do.

I hate that!  I am a woman of my word.  My word is my bond.  And my bond is … unreadable and unrecoverable. 

So if I promised you something, would you please let me know?  I really do like to keep my promises.

But I have no idea what I resolved to do…maybe it was to improve my memory!?

Therefore, given the status of this well-intentioned road to purgatory, I declare myself free to resolve anew. 

Now.  Today.  I can set my sights as high as I want and begin sailing with confidence toward the approaching horizon of 2014.


Ok.  Let’s see. 

An-n-n-nd …. I got nuttin’.

There it is.  I have such a great life already, what could I yearn for? 

Or … Maybe this is this when a person shoots for the stratosphere.

Well, I am working on that book.  Maybe I should resolve to finish it.  That would be pretty cool.

Oh!  Wait a minute.  I remember!  I did resolve to finish the first draft this year!  Wow! 

OK.  Better get on that. 

Actually, just this week, I started my first read-through of the extremely rough tentative embryonic amorphous not-ready-for-prime-time draft of said book.  And OMG.  That is the most mortifying and humbling experience!  What I believed was at least sensible is barely intelligible. 

Thank God it’s only August.

Let’s see …What else would I have resolved to do?  Have another party? 

Our 2012 Elvis party would be hard to top, but I’m game.  We’ve already had an Academy Awards night party and people wore their sparkly clothes!  

So that was fun.  But it was not the same as a night with the King. 

And I don’t think it was on my lost list of things to do.

Still, maybe there’s enough time left in 2013 to have that BYOJ party I’ve been imagining – “Bring Your Own Joke!”  Everyone’s a stand-up at heart, right?  We’ll provide the microphone and spotlight; you bring your favorite story. 

We’ll all wear Groucho Marx mustaches and eyebrows and chew bubble gum cigars, provided by the hosts, of course.  “Say the secret word and win a hundred dollars!”  Well, a hundred Monopoly dollars.  OK.  I’ll work on it.

You know what the secret to comedy is, don’t you?

But that falls short.  Personal growth and self-improvement require more than gala soirĂ©es!

I’m at loose ends.  I’m adrift.  I’m floundering!

Without the resolutions I made and forgot and now lost, I just don’t know how to finish out the year in a meaningful way.

One wants more, doesn’t one?

One wants edification.  Progress.  Evolution.

Honestly, though, I doubt if I resolved anything that would lead to enlightenment and fulfillment-of-self in relation to the Eternal.

I likely said I’d be a nicer person and walk three times a week.  Ho hum.

Having crossed the point of no return, I probably should set myself on a task or two that will further my development.  On the way to the Maker and all.  Good faith efforts. 

Not that I’m checking out any time soon, you understand, but I should pace myself.  You know, chunk up the work so as not to feel overwhelmed.  That’s the real point of the annual resolutions. 

Plug along.  Chip away at it.  Make the milestones.

Because in the divine scheme of things, one should at least be getting ready.  You know – It’s the timing.