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.