This is the third in a series of episodes, chronicling the shocking disappearance of the blog, "Mark's Work," thought at first to be simply overcome by cannabis, and certain to be found at the nearest pizza parlor. How wrong we all were and there's nothing more that needs to be said, except for maybe a generic statement of a techie nature. No more than twenty volumes. Hopefully.
Tech for Tots or
Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 3
I was turning the ground over on one of the terraces well below Casey’s house one day in late March, with my headphones blasting a Walter Meego number into my welcoming ears, when I became aware that someone was approaching.
I took the opportunity to pause on one leg, doing my best Ian Anderson impression, while bending down and slipping off my OSHA-approved right sandal. I needed to give it a couple of thwacks against my pitchfork to encourage the accumulated clay and pebbles to vacate the premises.
Annie had cryptically asked me when I first started working the soil, if I weren’t worried about putting the pitchfork right through my sandaled foot. She didn’t come right out and say I was an imbecile-she’s much too diplomatic for that.
I had replied that since I was in the habit of avoiding putting the pitchfork through my foot when it was more properly booted, I figured I could follow that same reasoning wearing sandals, and be good to go. She didn’t argue but the expression on her face clearly said, “Just remember, we’re an hour away from the ER room.” Oh ye of little faith…
I like to think that I can travel through life avoiding those situations like impaling my foot with one of the pitchfork tines, and so far I have been successful in that endeavor.
What I was unable to avoid was the web of dependence I formed around my computer, Terra Jean, and how much I grew to rely on her for my connection to the outer world. The years from 2005 when I retired, until I did my seven sessions of therapy in 2010 to rid myself of panic attack syndrome, are nothing more than a blur.
And no, it was not a cannabis-induced blur, so much as a fog that served the same purpose as a wall: It kept me in isolation, which is a slippery slope for someone already inclined to be reclusive.
I had no access to the internet and without a keyboard, I wrote nothing, blissfully willing to simply drift. I built a workshop by myself, somewhere in there, but that’s about all I can remember.
That and the fact that I always grew tomatoes and six cannabis plants each summer.
Matters changed when Casey bought me a used laptop for my birthday in September of 2010, and the dam of accumulated words that had been building inside my mind for forty-some years, burst.
It made a hell of a mess so I started a blog to try and contain it all.
Though that used lappie was only a temporary measure, it served the purpose of launching me into a whole new world, one that included countless numbers of friends, both old and new. Many of these I thought I never would see again, so the reconnecting with family, both that formed by blood and that molded through life’s events, has been a galvanizing process for this old hippie.
Whereas I might tend to think that encountering one’s middle school language arts teacher would be one’s worst nightmare, such has not proven to be the case. Former students have been unconditionally welcoming, believing as I do and recognizing from their advanced [respective] perspectives, that there was never anything personal in the whole process.
Their job in middle school was to question authority; my job was to provide a safe environment so that learning could take place.
I'm still learning myself-how to use a camera, for one thing. I like to takes pics of birds and flowers and sunsets. It's a clear case of a little knowledge being dangerous, because now I want to be able to do more than Terra Jean is allowing me to do.
So it is thus now, in my advanced age of 63, that Terra Jean became more than a tool; she has become my lifeline to the outside world. That lifeline has grown larger than life, necessitating that I do anything possible to preserve it including-shudder-upgrading my technology.
The very thought is enough to terrify me more than any Federal Task Force ever did. I am not a fan of being by myself, either within my own home, or cyber-spatially, so any change in the status quo frightens me more than any helicopter ever did. *
I named Terra Jean accordingly for a diabolically simple reason: My sister is Jean Terese, or JT, and she gave me my computer-brand spanking new- to keep me from beating myself to death with my old one. Wanting to name it after her, but not wanting to confuse the issue by having to refer to JT the sister and JT the computer, I reversed the two monikers, and named her Terra Jean.
And now the old girl “ain’t what she used to be,” and needed to be replaced.
Jerking my mind back onto that terrace below Casey’s house, a more challenging process than it used to be, I saw a man standing there who was a bit taller than I am, thin and willowy, a guy who was visiting Casey and Amber. He’d been introduced to me earlier as Joe Cool (not his real name) and we had exchanged pleasantries.
Instinctively reaching down with my left hand, I eased the volume down about a dozen or so notches on my Pandora station, and greeted him with a cheery, “Top o’ the morning to you!”
“And to you,” he said, beaming as he gazed admiringly at my work. “I envy you because I have always wanted to be able to grow like this and work the soil. You guys have a good thing going here.”
“Yeah, the kids have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this farm and it’s nothing short of a great success,” I willingly agreed. “I’m just happy that I am still in good enough shape to be able to lend them a hand, especially since the weather is being so cooperative.”
“Now! Ask him about MacBookPros! This is the perfect opportunity!
There was that little voice again, the one that battles incessantly with the other two tracks in my mind for attention: one track providing music and the other for composing written pieces of work. It’s efficient to have all of this going on at the same time in one place, but it does make things a tad chaotic.
The little voice was a reminder that Annie had mentioned in passing-a trifle too casually-that Joe did work on Macs, should the need ever arise. And there was that annoying message appearing every time I woke Terra Jean up, the one about updates and the "Mac OS X 10.6, 10.blah, 10.bling, 10.you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me, blah, blah, and finally BLAH."
This is it! It ain’t going to get any better than this! March is almost over! Though April 1st is April Fools Day, that message on Terra Jean is no joke. She’s going to crash…
“You’ve got the fine weather in your favor, that’s for sure. And what a view,” he went on enthusiastically.
“Hey there, Joe. Rumor has it that you know your way around the inside of a Mac. Any chance that you will cop to that?”
I did not want to come across as pushy; no point in scaring away the poor sucker.
His face lit up as though he had just ingested an epic bong rip of Lemon Ogre. “It’s what I do for a living,” he said, as nonchalantly as if admitting that he also generally wears a hat, has a couple of cups of coffee of a morning and leaves his cape in the hall closet at home.
“What I had in mind was buying a new MacBookPro and was wondering if I had any trouble transferring the data over, would you be available to help me with that procedure?”
Oh, for Buddha’s sake. IF you have any trouble? IF??? Just tell him you couldn’t do it if your life depended on it and find out if he’s going to demand your first-born son or not…
“Mark, it’s what I do,” he responded simply.
“No, I don’t think you understand. My computer is messed up. My biggest problem is that I have lost my blog. I mean, I didn’t lose it-it’s just gone. Oh. And my passwords are hopelessly tangled up. Is that something you can look into?”
Run! Joe! Don’t pass go and don’t-whatever you do-don’t collect $200.00! It ain’t worth it-NOTHING is!
Joe’s smile-if anything-broadened. He repeated just a bit slower than he had above, gently almost, “Mark, it’s what I do.”
Tomorrow: In which Joe and I try to track down specifically how this old hippie managed to infuse that much cannabis into his computer, to have confused her enough to have misplaced “Mark’s Work.” At least, that’s who I am officially blaming…
* For an explanation to this reference to helicopters, see March of 2012, "It Came Out of the Sky" http://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2012/03/it-came-out-of-sky.html