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Laid Low by Computer Woes

The leaves outside my window are a rampage of fall color slightly muted by morning fog with maybe a hint of mist in the air. Out back Nigel patrols the perimeter. And things are returning to what passes for normal here in the editorial offices of Portable Bohemia, where the customary bustle was conspicuous by its absence for nigh on a full week. Your oft humbled scribe was laid low when his attempt to fix a minor computer issue led to a major computer issue.


Thursday of last week was your classic good day-bad day scenario. The morning began with the annual check-in with my doctor, which always brings with it a measure of neurotic anxiety. This has nothing to do with the doc, a good fellow I have been seeing for years. It's just how I am. Having arrived unfashionably early for the appointment, as is my way, I had time to visit with two former colleagues at the Center for Health Research when I spotted them at the East Interstate medical facility's coffee bar. Throughout my life I have had the good fortune to work with many fine and some truly exceptional people. Jan and Kristin are among them. Maybe it is because such a large portion of life is spent in the workplace that we sometimes forge genuine bonds with colleagues even when our interactions are related almost entirely to the work we do. That's how it was with Jan and Kristin. To my delight they seemed happy to see me and ask how my life as an old retired guy is going. I told them I keep busy with my little study and writing projects, the blog, and my modest involvement with Indivisible Oregon. My sense is that we are at least roughly on the same page when it comes to politics and current affairs, but we did not get deep into the weeds on it. Kristin asked if I am still running, which led to my standard spiel about the plantar fasciitis, and that led to Jan's adventures while rehabbing assorted issues over the years. It came as no surprise to learn that she went at the rehab with a touch of fanaticism, so much so that her PT guy advised her she could probably cut back on exercises she was doing for an issue that been resolved months or maybe it was years ago. She kept up the rehab exercises because she didn't want the issue to return. If she were a runner, she would be doing ultras, you know, 50-mile runs, 100 miles. Hanging out with her and Kristin for a bit was good for my spirit. People can do that for us. The visit with Dr. Kono and his assistant was uneventful, the best kind. Blood pressure and pulse good. Eyes, ears, nose, throat, testicles, and prostate all checked out okay. We talked about the plantar fasciitis. He examined my foot and told me I am already doing what he would advise me to do. The other thing he could offer was a referral to the podiatry department, where they could give me a steroid shot. I decided to hold off on that for now since the foot is responding to my rehab regimen and I am running again. I can always get back to him for the referral if I hit a wall with the progress or suffer a setback. The subject of alcohol did not come up, which surprised me a little. He usually feels obligated to bring it up. I completed an online survey when I made the appointment, so he knows approximately how many drinks a week I enjoy, which to my way of thinking is fairly modest but is a bit more than the zero alcoholic drinks a week that health care institutions tend to preach is the optimal number if we want to live to a joyless old age. He asked about retirement and expressed surprise when I told him about my reading and study projects, the reading list for last year's fall term, &c. He seemed puzzled and maybe a little intrigued by my interest in Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and the rest. Not that he gave the impression he has anything against that. It is just not a part of his life. And that's fine. As we finished up I inquired about his retirement plans since we are the same age. "What will I do if you retire?" I asked him with smile. He cannot run anymore because of bad knees. He told me surfing is his thing and he can't do that every day. Two days a week is enough, so he might as well keep coming in to the office. I was happy to hear that. A doctor you are comfortable with is no small thing.

I inadvertently threw a fright into Dr. Kono's assistant when she returned at the end to administer my flu and pneumonia shots. "Don't let him retire," I said. Her eyes grew wide and she gasped, "Did he say something?" I reassured her that he didn't and recounted our exchange, much to her relief. We shared a laugh when I added that I should be careful with such comments. It's how rumors get started. Upon returning home I found a creepy red x plastered over the audio icon in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen when I fired up the computer. A quick test revealed that the x meant precisely what one would expect. Now audio is not all that important to me. For the most part I use it only to listen to Pandora and NPR, to watch PBS NewsHour and Firing Line, and to check out film trailers. I can catch NPR the old-fashioned way on the radio, read transcripts of the PBS broadcasts, and read film reviews. Living without the computer audio would not be a tremendous sacrifice. Nonetheless, I always feel that I should be able to figure these things out. Often I can. Sometimes though things go wrong. Mistakes are made. The computer has to be delivered over to the care of trained professionals.

I got a lot of reading done while the beast was out of commission, polishing off the The Contours of American History by William Appleman Williams, making some headway on Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and plowing through a few pages of the young Marx. Childe Harold may have made Byron famous overnight at the age of twenty-four when the first two cantos were published in 1812, but I do not find it exactly scintillating. Much of the poem is a slog, though it does have its moments. The same goes for Marx in his own way. The reading notwithstanding, the days seemed unproductive. Too much time was given over to anxiously awaiting a phone call from the Geek Squad. After retrieving the computer on Tuesday night I spent much of Wednesday and yesterday setting things up again and restoring files that got wiped out. More joy came when an external hard drive that serves as one of multiple backups came up with a bad attitude. My backups are haphazard but sufficiently redundant to recover everything except a few record-keeping entries made at the beginning of last week (I think/hope). Whew. The degree of disruption of routine brought on by the computer affair was absurd. That too is just how I am. As my old friend Brooklyn Judy used to say, sometimes things just be that way.

It is good to be back in action. More anon.

Memo from the Editorial Desk

Minor revisions were made to this piece after it was published.

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