My Mental Plumbing Has Backed Up

Kage Baker liked the installation of new things to be swift. Simple. Involving as few moving parts as possible, and absolutely no adapters she had to learn how to use. And let’s be honest, Dear Readers – don’t we all pretty much prefer things that way?

But in this naughty modern world, that is an outcome more striven for than achieved …

Last week, I replaced the hard drive in my computer system. Now, despite the fact that every single individual piece of the desktop system has been replaced over the years, I still consider it the same system I originally installed in a trailer beside a pond in a Northern California oak grove. A lot of files have been translated over and over, but I’m still using some of the first gifs and jpegs Kage so happily downloaded.  That initial installation left us in the surreal situation of living in the woods with an actual outhouse, and a computer plugged into one end of the longest extension cord in the world.

This was so Kage could begin transcribing In The Garden of Iden onto those snazzy new 8-inch floppy disks. Back in those days they really flopped, man, and were made out of black felt and magnetized carbon paper, I think. Monitors have come and gone since then, hard drives ditto; in fact, I now have a main drive with an improbable terabyte of storage and an exterior spare drive with another 500 gigabytes. A wireless mouse. A wireless modem. I think it can have cross-fertile sex with all my phones and cameras. It’s a paradigm sitting right on my desk.

Unfortunately, completing the connection to the rest of the Intertubes has not been as easy to achieve. I  can set up a faux, virtual XBox (if I want to spend the cash) but for the last week I’ve been intermittently unable to connect here to Word Press.

Some of the problem is XP vs. every other Windows OS in the world. A few days ago, Windows XP became an orphan of the storm. No skin off my nose – I’d traded up from XP to Vista  years ago, and the jump to Windows 8.1 was easy enough. I don’t like the new OS, but it’s not hard to use and it works. However, it appears that multitudes of morons online hung on to their XP systems until just past the very last minute … all sorts of sites have been stalling, falling and crawling like snails, completely unable to communicate with my superfast slick new system.

And now, of course, another end-of-the-world virus has been found and alarm bells are ringing – NEW, with extra paranoia! – all over the place. Bleeding Heart, my aging derriere: all my first tier contacts seem to be fine, but the second tier sites are all smoking ruins of shattered confidence and wetting-themselves fear … which is making it hard to do research and get around  the outre places I like to visit each day.

I’ve been trying to send a new story to my agent for days; she’s using some aging version of Windows Office, which won’t translate my Open Office files. And the Office Suite file on my Windows 8.1 had to be activated before it worked and I could translate the story files – because Open Office somehow turns cannibal on my agent’s computers, and eats the files it delivers to her. Plus, her apparently senescent  Office program is reposting random items of her correspondence from 2013 as brand-new email, and I’ve been getting scary letters with dates a year old requesting resolution on projects I thought were finished months ago … and so is Linn, who is understandably wondering why on earth I’m asking her questions on a book contract that completed 6 months ago.

In the meantime, though, I still have to re-write the ending of the story a little. I hope I can send it to Linn again without it mutating into Swahili in a Cyrillic font, or something equally useless. Plus I got lazy and opted for Chinese food from a Panda Express outlet in a grocery store, and have been sweating and puking and accomplishing NOTHING since last night.

It’s been a very difficult week, Dear Readers. Aaaargh. Aaaargh, I say. But I am back at least on my knees, if not yet my feet – I can reach the keyboard, and so far things are working. Light a candle in the window for me, as I go back to hacking my feckless way through the jungles of Pointless Innovation and Installation.

It’s damned dark in here.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to My Mental Plumbing Has Backed Up

  1. Lynn says:

    I love how New And Improved can really ruin a week! I had been moved to W7 months ago at work but everyone around me at work was still on XP, as were some of the computers connected to the incredibly important scientific equipment scattered all around the lab and offices. Imagine the panic with these scientific wits, all of whom have smart phones and smart laptops and smart cars and every other kind of smart – except the systems they work on daily. I tell you!


  2. Brad Campbell says:

    If possible, a question? How did you feel/react, what did you think when you held/read the completed manuscript for Iden for the first time? It’s so dear to me, as that’s where I first met Mendoza & Kage…but how did the finished product affect you (and/or Kage)?


  3. Kate says:

    What Kage felt about Iden was pride, joy, relief, gratitude, disbelief – she’d won one of the weirdest lotteries in life, publishing a book, and she knew it. I was unsurprised, though. I had always known she could do it.

    But when you’re writing a book – really writing, with every intention of finishing, not just fooling around basically talking to yourself – it’s usually a struggle. By the time she finished a manuscript. Kage hated whatever she’d just written. So, aside from checking edits and corrections on the proofs, she didn’t read the MSS again until it was printed. Neither did I, so I could read it fresh when it was finally printed – and because by the time Kage was done, I couldn’t stand the thing either. And Kage lived in each book so deeply during construction, that when they were done the deepest feeling was one of relief – “Fine, great, you’re grown up now – get out there and get a job!”

    The real emotional reaction set in with the printed book. By that time, Kage would not have read the manuscript from beginning to end for months – sometimes over a year. So there was delight and triumph in holding the finished book. And what Kage felt with that first one – when Iden was a reality – was the pride of a mother holding her first born. She always kept a new-born book in arm’s reach for weeks when it first came out; Iden never left her desk, for the rest of her life.. It was such an overpowering miracle … and of course, by the time it arrived, two more had been sold and Kage was actually working on number 4.

    I had complete faith in her, so I didn’t understand this until I held the first finished, printed copy of Nell Gwynne 2. At which point, I wept.


  4. ~ Becky says:

    Ah, technology… isn’t it supposed to make our lives easier? Last week my Windows 7 machine started throwing the Not A Genuine Windows Copy error. It took me a week and the threat of my system slowing shutting down (they turned off my wall paper and connection to cloud services) for me to get around to calling them to chew them a new one as that system WAS authentic and had been happily running for years. When it was all said and done, after going online and being told I had to purchase a new “real” copy, then calling and talking to somebody in India who thought it might be a virus and being transferred to someone in Bulgaria who said it was a certain known bug caused by someone, and finally being transferred to someone who spoke decent English, I found out that I needed to reset a line in my start up that had been set by the latest update.

    I sympathize with you.


    • Kate says:

      Oh, my goodness – the problems caused by updates are incalculable. I’ve had entire programs shut down by Windows updates – especially, for some reason, postal systems. It’s why I won’t let Windows install anything automatically. I insist on seeing what they want to update and decide if I want it – that way, I don’t get stuck with elebenty-million changes to something I don’t even use, like the hideous Bing … Microsoft objects to my autonomy, however, and with every OS change, it gets harder to do this. With Windows 8.1, I now have to visit an online site and go through 3 layers of information to get the details of what Microsoft wants to add willy nilly to my system. But at least it hasn’t yet claimed any of my legally purchased programs is fake! I sympathize with you, too, kiddo!


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