Dozer, the Bulldog

Dozer, the Bulldog
Feeling the "Bern"

Ellie Mae

Ellie Mae
No time for gates...

Ollie Mac

Ollie Mac
My cooking assistant

Ollie and Annie

Ollie and Annie
Azorean grandmother


38 years on this mountain, come May 31st...



Papa and Ollie Mac

Papa and Ollie Mac
Priorities, Baby


Annie, my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms

My first portrait

My first portrait
"Mr. Farmer"

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tech for Tots or Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 5

This is the fifth 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
Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 5

You have to pay to play in this world and I get that, especially when it comes to technology, but reality has the nastiest habit of rearing its ugly head and making its presence known. In this case I had told Joe on the phone originally, that if he were to come work on transferring the data from Terra Jean, my old computer, to Suzy Puente, the new and improved model, that I had the loot to defray this cost.

I mean, hey, how much time could it take to pull a few handles, drink a few beers and whip a little technology on the mountain? Oh, yeah, and track down a blog that had obviously been hitting the Black Lime/O. G. Strawberry a little too hard.

The way Joe had explained it to me, was that it was a security issue, plain and simple. “They want to make sure that you are you, and that someone else isn’t trying to hack your account.”
Who else could be me, besides me? Who'd want to?

Why anyone would want to cop to writing my blog, if he weren’t really the author, was beyond me. There is a fair amount of self-incriminating evidence perched out in the open, waiting for any interested party to come along and claim it, not to mention some downright embarrassing revelations when it comes to those more-than-one-hundred posts on my mood spectrum disorder. But hey, as the kids say, whatever.

Unfortunately, timing being everything, we found when we awoke the very next morning after I had contracted with Joe to work on my tech issues, that Dozer, our English bulldog, had suddenly developed some technical difficulties of his own. His right rear hip had decided to take some time off, leaving poor Doze incapable of walking. Period.

Dog people know what it’s like when your pet is hurting. If it’s your kid, you can explain what’s going on, soothe her and take her to see the doctor. When it’s your pet, all he knows is that something is wrong, something hurts and though he is getting some serious love, he is still dazed and confused.

I’m sorry little dude that you are in pain-we’ll get you to the vet’s

I had gone over to Lito’s spot early that morning to continue the job of working the soil in preparation for spring planting, before either Annie or the Doze was up and at ‘em. And though Annie’s plans did not include leaving the mountain that Friday, she found herself doing exactly that, as the nice veterinary in Willits was able to squeeze Fattie in at last minute’s notice, no lightweight task if you’ll excuse the pun. 

Seven hours and $700.00 later, Annie was back with our Bowser and he was feeling no pain from the medication he had been given. The pugnacious one had been inspected, injected and determined to be infected by a little varmint who gained access in the first place via a tick.

By the time X-rays had been taken, blood examined, and three hours of waiting had elapsed, Annie was back on the road and headed home, the truck nonetheless traveling at normal speed, despite the load having been lightened by seven hundred smackers.

Stop me if you have heard this before, but it would be cheap at twice the price…
Dozer, Bowser, Boo-Boo, Biggie Fats, Fattie, Fat-Chaw...

I never mind spending the loot on the things that matter, and Boo-Boo matters, just as Suzy Puente mattered. The older I get, the more powerfully I seem to glom onto those possessions around me that rock my world.

To say that a large chunk of my universe was dominated by technology would be a understatement, for better or for worse. Like the small child, when it was good, it was very good; when it was bad, it was horrid. But it was the only game in town that mattered to me and losing my blog had left me unconsolable.

It’s not that I couldn’t access what had already been posted-I could. The issue was that I could neither add more posts to the blog, nor edit that which already existed, and it drove me crazy. It was just gone.

To whom do you report a missing blog? Is there a Department of Missing Blogs (DMB) somewhere that I do not know about? There should be. I’d take a number and wait in line. My sister JT is still looking for her missing blog, last seen more than two years ago, talking to a strange blog in an art gallery, while sipping on a glass of an unidentified amber liquid.

Though I have never made a penny off of either my writing or my photos, or maybe because I have never gained materially, I continue to have an overwhelming need to create. After living my life devoid of any right-brained activity, with the exception of the directing of performing arts for students of the middle school, I find I cannot go back to the dark ages.

Social media provides the vehicle by which I parade my work around in front of those who care enough to pause in their scrolling to take it in. The feedback I receive gives me all the motivation I require to continue my artistic endeavors. That is the beauty of being retired.

Take my art away and you remove a huge chunk of my ability to enjoy life. The fact that I am manic 98% of the time, though, still leaves 2% for the dark side to emerge, and when it does, it has the same effect as removing the plug from an air mattress. 

There is no sound to indicate that there is a serious problem; I just collapse. The thing is, I need a trigger to activate the depressive side of my disorder. When I go down for the count, there is always a reason.

So when Joe left on that Tuesday, after spending the bulk of the late morning/afternoon interfacing with both computers, and trying to do the same with me, we knew that the blog was still out there on the loose. 

We knew its disappearance was tied to security issues and that there was an earlier unnamed Hotmail account with an unidentified password. 

We knew that passwords had been the cause of much of my grief and that the problems that had existed with Terra Jean, were being swept along with the flow of the information being transferred to Suzy Puente, and there wasn’t anything either Joe or I could do about it.

That was what Joe was being paid the big bucks to figure out. Better him than me. I did not hold him accountable for either the disappearance of the blog, nor the inability-so far-to retrieve it. Tech being what it is, there is a far greater power that exists that oversees these matters, and her name is Karma, not Joe Cool.

So thus it was that Joe’s words thrummed incessantly in my mind, the ones about not being certain that the blog was retrievable. As long as there were folks around me, the tools for managing my mental issues remain readily available.

As soon as I find that I am by myself, those tools evaporate. What I neglected to do before Joe left, was make sure that I at least had the other tech components of my life in order, even if I had to wait on the blog.

The dust was still lingering in the air from Joe’s pickup leaving, when I made the discovery that to access social media, I needed a password that was different from the new one that Joe had just put into place. 

No blog, no social media and no access to photography on my new computer until such time as Joe returned.

Might as well just shoot me and put me out of my misery…nothing like a little sniveling to soothe the psyche…

Soundlessly, black curtains began lowering themselves over my mind, inexorably blocking out every ray of light that might still have had the courage to try and penetrate the fog permeating my soul.

I spent the next thirty-six hours drifting along in that space halfway between sleep and wakefulness, never being either completely in one world or the other, blankets and pillows providing my only line of defense.

My only memory related to the real world was that the one time I surfaced on Wednesday during daylight hours, I drifted past a clock on the way to the bathroom and noted that it was precisely three o’clock in the afternoon, the hour predesignated for my radio show in Chicago.

Sorry Dan the Man and Big Jack. SportsTimeRadio would have to proceed without me. * I was on the disabled list until further notice.

Tomorrow: some memory-ONE SINGLE memory-I’d sell my soul to be able to remember one single thing: that Hotmail account name and password…

* I rescheduled the sports show for the following Monday and here is a link to the half-hour show featuring the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs: http//

Friday, April 29, 2016

Tech for Tots or Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 4

This is the fourth 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 4

“I’ve flown around the world in a plane,
I’ve settled revolutions in Spain
And the North Pole I have charted,
Still I can’t get started with you…”

The lyrics pretty much sum up the sad state of affairs for me, when it came to making the transition from my “old gray mare” of a computer, Terra Jean, to my sleek new filly, known forever more as Suzy Puente. I mean, they both LOOK identical from the outside so it’s deceiving. 

On the other hand, being the eternal optimist, I wanted so hard to believe that it was just about following a series of baby steps, kind of like the film, What about Bob? that I would have sold the town of Mendocino for a handful of brightly colored glass beads.

“Hey, I survived teaching 37 eighth graders in the same language arts class, and lived to brag about it. Well, there HAVE been a couple of lingering side effects from that experience, but I’m here to say that after ten years, I have reduced the number of days per week that I see my therapist from five to four, and she insists that I am making progress, despite what others may believe. 

How hard can this be?” I asked myself, pragmatically.

“I don’t know,” the universe might have replied. “How hard is it to recalibrate the specs on the fuel injection system on the latest model Lamborghini? You have about the same level of ability with both of them…”

“Ah ha!” I might have countered, “but the clerk at the computer store assured me that I could handle this. He wouldn’t steer me wrong, would he?” I beamed brightly.

“No, he didn't steer you wrong-it was more like a nudge with a cattle prod…” Weird. The universe sounds surprisingly like Annie.

“Look, ask JT-she’ll tell you. All I have to do is let my fingers do the talking while they hook up the external hard drive that I got for a measly $70.00, push the button called Time Machine on Terra Jean and fire up the bong. Kind of boring, actually. Besides, I have a secret weapon.”

“Really?” inquired the universe sweetly. “You hired Steve Wozniak? How nice.”

Refusing to take the bait, I reached instead for the magic button that activated the Time Machine procedure, and then reached for the phone.

Joe Cool (not his real name) picked up after the second ring and I identified myself tentatively, reminding him about our conversation out on the terrace below Casey’s house. Instead of vehemently denying it, and slamming down the receiver (which is devilishly difficult on a cell phone), to my surprise he said right away that he DID remember, and what could he do for me?

I’m not surprised he remembered me, but I was a bit taken aback that he was willing to admit it.

The result of our telephone conversation found Joe pulling his [not-white] pickup into my compound the following Tuesday. We had agreed that he would rise at his normal time, take care of a few phone calls and head on up to the farm.

We had discussed a couple of logistical questions, such as Joe’s fee. “Seventy-five dollars an hour,” he had said.

Cheap at twice the price…if I can get my blog back.

I had dutifully copied all of the data from Terra Jean onto the external hard drive, using the Time Machine program, flushed with the thrill of victory at this first critical step. 

It may have been just one button that I pushed but it was the RIGHT button

I will admit to being a little disconcerted when high fives were not exchanged with Joe upon this crucial revelation, but I recovered quickly. 

We had no more settled into place in front of the two computers, happily ensconced on the broad dining room table, when I casually asked a key question,”Will we be using the Thunderbolt, Time Capsule or the Mountain Lion program?” Buddha, I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. “I mean I considered the Snow Leopard approach, but discarded it because of the OS factor. You know, 10.6 versus 10.7.”

I had no idea what these components were but I was certain Joe did. I had spent fifteen minutes practicing asking the question, and it sounded so techie! I got this!” I thought smugly.

Joe had listened carefully to my calculated question, obviously impressed that I was so much more sophisticated than he might have thought, and responded quickly.

“Par la prĂ©sente Apple Inc declare que l’appareil MacBook Pro est conforme aux exigences essentielles et aux autres dispositions pertinentes de la directive 1999/5/Ce.”

I nodded in comprehension. I had assured Joe that I would be straightforward with him and let him know when I didn’t understand something.

But hey, so far, we seemed to be speaking the same language.

I continued on, saying matter-of-factly, “You know, that migration assistant copies all your files so you don’t have to do it manually, especially when you use that Time Capsular external drive.”

Joe nodded, obviously struck by the intelligence reflected in the comment. Recovering from the blow, he nonetheless was able to say, “I’m concerned about getting your blog back. This may be trickier than I thought.”

I stared at Joe uncomprehendingly. “Dude, this is no time to start getting technical on me. I didn’t understand a word of what you just said. It’s as if you are suddenly speaking French.”

Joe suddenly flashed that quick, confident smile and said, “No worries. I’ll translate.” He slowed down and made eye contact with me. “I can’t see why all we can get is the M. Damien blog, and not the Mark’s Work blog. Have you ever had a different email address?”

Hallelujah! Right language, right question, right time… 

I leaped all over that stuff, “Yes, I had a hotmail account when I started the blog, and changed it to g-mail when I got hacked. It was kind of weird because my friends all started getting emails saying that I was being held hostage in Spain and would be released when $2000.00 had been delivered. ‘Course, all I could think about was that two grand wasn’t very much loot to demand for, well, never mind…”

Joe looked excited and quickly responded, “Pour des performances optimales, connected voter bisque au port USB  3.0 bleu.”

“This tech lingo is the pits,” I whined. “Can you put that in a different way, maybe simpler, and a little slower, so that I can understand it?”

Joe thought for a moment and said, “Let me try this. All I need is the email address itself, and the password to that account, of course, and I think we can get your blog back.”  

“Email address? Password? To my first email account? The one I haven’t used in four years? Did you also want me to recite the lines I memorized in eighth grade, for the Christmas play? I have about the same chance of remembering them as I do the other.” 

“I see,” he muttered, and it was painfully obvious that he did see. He tried to conceal it, but I began to see the writing on the wall, indelibly scrawled with a broad-tipped Sharpie.

But hey, it was time to eat lunch and Annie had cooked for the crew, so I drifted off to a venue where I knew I could succeed, and relaxed. Joe had brought a sandwich which he would eat in his own good time, so he busied himself over the keyboard, his fingers seemingly traveling at the same speed as the information being conveyed by the world-wide internet on the machine in front of him.

His goal, by the time he had left late in the afternoon, was to have at least gotten me into my face/book account, my email account, and to have gotten me access to my photos, all on Suzy Puente. He would go home and work on the blog thing “by sending out a couple of emails.” 

“Great success!” I enthused, as Joe got ready to go. 

He cautioned me. “So I can’t guarantee anything, you know. Keep thinking about the name of that email account and the password. That would help a lot.”

“No problem,” I lied.

Think about the password? I done backed up that truck so far already, it plum fell into the quarry.

“I’m prepared for the worst if it can’t be recovered. For the moment, it’s enough that I have social media and my pics. I can always start a new blog and link it to the old one.”

Sure, and Dozer hates it when I force him to eat pieces of my ribeye steak, taken off of my plate at dinner, while he lurks under the table, cleverly concealed by the antique white table cloth covering the dining room table.

Ok, so it was another whopper. On the outside I told Joe that I knew how these things worked, certainly the biggest whopper of them all, and that he shouldn’t spend any more time than that which had already been allocated. 

And we left it at that, agreeing to meet one day the following week.

Tomorrow: Meltdown

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tech for Tots or Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode 3

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,’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"

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tech for Tots (Beginners' Version) or Lost in [Cyber] Space-Episode Two

This is the second 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. Or possibly the blog was moved by a particularly poignant episode of, "When the Scissors Trim." 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 (Beginners' Version)
Lost in [Cyber] Space
Episode Two

“This computer will no longer receive Google Chrome updates because Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 will no longer be supported. Learn more.”

I stared at the message on Terra Jean’s screen in uncomprehending horror, certain that although the words had no meaning to me, they did come with a price tag. High tabs come with the territory, so when an expensive whip breaks down, it’s going to take more than an oil change and lube job to get her on the road again.

Poor Terra Jean, I thought. Going to hell on a tow truck and no longer enjoying the ride, which began almost five years ago when my little sister JT took pity on my tortured soul, and outright bought me a brand new MacBookPro.
My backyard is not that of your conventional tract home.

Since that moment when I strapped the seat belt on and began our journey together, I have known that this time would come, and an engine rebuild was not going to suffice. Not only have I have worn the paint off of seven keys, but I have watched, horrified, as poor TJ toppled off of a chest-high step-ladder out in the backyard, and plummeted upside down in slow motion, without a parachute, landing mouse-pad first on a basketball-sized chunk of rock.

I could Bondo her bruised case and soothe her bruised ego, but there was nothing I could do about the damage to Terra Jean's insides. 

What was TJ doing hanging out in the back yard in the first place? She was providing me with music, back in the Dark Ages before I discovered Pandora on my telephone. As cumbersome as it was, my need for music took precedence over common sense, not one of my stronger suits to begin with, and I had no one to blame but myself for all ensuing difficulties.

The net result of all this calamity is that when my blog disappeared, I recognized that the time had come to commit poor Terra Jean to the wrecking yard and bring in a new model. Issues, there were in four-part harmony, and nothing was going to get the music back on track short of a new computer.

The fact is that I did not “lose” my blog because of Terra Jean’s obsolescence, I lost it because of a combination of improper alignment of the planets and a simultaneous revolt by a handful of rogue computer chips from deep down under my negligence.

At least that is as good of an explanation as any. When it comes to technology, ignorance is bliss and too much information is comparable to consuming one burrito too many at lunch, and will result in technical difficulties of an explosive nature.

So the solution was to fill a wheelbarrow with loot, and trot on down to the greater metropolitan arena of Santa Rosa, where JT and I set out to replace TJ. Proving that combining business with pleasure is always a good idea, my little sister and I spent much of the day together, beginning with our foray into the computer shop to plunk down more than two large in small, unmarked bills, for a new MacBookPro.

The loot had been laboriously accrued over the previous six months, in a variety of ways ranging from-gasp-actually working, to selling chicken eggs to neighbors. Now I was ready to move forward after marking time since last October. I would just waltz into that computer shop like the Pro from Dover, nod sagely at all of the wise advice, plunk down my cabbage and vamoose as quickly as a bobcat from the chicken yard.

Unfortunately, I better resembled the Pro from El Monte.

There was just one insignificant detail that I failed to take fully into consideration when I hatched the plot. Actually there were numerous blatant details that I deliberately ignored out of shear survival, but let’s not get picky here. After all, my grasp of technology is as sure as a thin projection of snow, built up on the tip of a tiny twig. 

The one detail I could not get around was the fact that it was impossible to fake it when it came to the transference of all the applications and data from Terra Jean, to that upstart who was replacing her.

In appearance there was very little difference between the two devices, except that one was laden with 40,000 photos and probably a half-million words, while the other sat there primping and smiling demurely, blissfully unaware of what was in store for her. 

Well, there’ll come a time Suzy Puente.

The knowledgeable and friendly clerk pulled the wool over my gullible eyes so efficiently, that I thanked him for the experience, and walked out with a new computer, a new external hard drive and a glazed expression on my face that had nothing to do with doughnuts.

He said it was as easy as giving a couple of commands and letting Terra Jean’s replacement do the work. “You got this!” he enthused. At least I got the satisfaction out of kicking her tires and nodding definitively at the sales clerk, who cleverly concealed his smirk as he expertly counted my stacks.

I was already writing my inaugural blog post inside my swollen cantaloupe head, detailing how suave and debonaire I was-not to mention jaunty-as I strutted out of that tech shop without stepping on a single land mind and blowing myself up.

Unfortunately, the shop was the only part of the minefield that I managed to traverse unscathed. The rest of the way makes the Bataan Death March look like a day with the Bobbsey Twins.

Tomorrow: In which I go from dazed to confused to catatonic….

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Tech for Tots (Beginners' Version)" or "Lost in [Cyber] Space"

This is the first 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. Or possibly the blog was moved by a particularly poignant episode of, "When the Scissors Trim." 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 (Beginners' Version)
Lost in [Cyber] Space

Fireworks abound, coffee flows freely and Pandora plays merrily on this Tuesday morning for me, as I kick-start my brain and prepare to do something I have not been able to do for two days shy of six months: post on my blog. 

I am a fervent believer that everything comes to him who writes, especially old age, but I was beginning to wonder if I were destined to be disappointed, when it came to “The Case of the Missing Blog.”

Fortunately for me there is a capeless hero right here in Mendo County, not riding his white horse while he does his brave deeds, and not driving away in his not-white pickup truck, when I proved to be somewhat of a disappointment in his Introduction to Tech for Tots, 101, (Beginners' Version).

Let’s back the quad up for moment here for some foundation work, a component missing in action when it comes to my own knowledge of anything remotely related to techspertise.

In a clear instance of you-never-know-what-you-have-until-it-is-gone, I sprang out of bed after my customary four hours of sleep one morning last winter and wished that I hadn’t. To my mortification, I discovered that  I had no access to “Mark’s Work,” the name I had given to my blog when I fired it up five years ago come this July. 

There is nothing flamboyant about either the blog or the title; it is a blue-collar blog.

So what does one do when one’s magic carpet is so rudely jerked out, metaphorically speaking, from beneath one’s feet? Where are the requisite complaint forms? Where does the queue form? For whom does the blog toll? 

Sadly, it tolled for me.

I checked the Yellow Pages, the Sears catalogue, and just for good measure, the Sporting Green, all to no avail. There were no newspaper advertisements urging erstwhile bloggists to contact the displayed number(s) for assistance. I know, weird.

Hey, no problem I figured. I’ll simply contact one of my resident techsperts, just as I have done so many times before. How else would I have been able to achieve the fame and fortune that I have managed to accrue in this dawg-eat-dog publishing world, where glitzy lights compete with glitter for the attention of the masses? 

I’d simply message Jackie, or Doug, or one of the Brandons, Belt or Crawford, if I had to, and he would come riding to my rescue on a white horse or a beat up Toyota Four-Runner. Hey, a scooter would be fine, Hunter Pence. It was all the same to me. Terms would be discussed, payment rendered and the presses would roll once again.

Unfortunately-or otherwise, as the case may be-the only rolling I did came in the form of fatties, of which I indulged at a prodigious pace, to try and temper the disappointment of being cast adrift in a sea devoid of my vessel of communication. What I had taken for granted for so long, was now seized from me, and all I could do was…nothing.

I have never struggled with doing “nothing” the way I battled this past winter. In my case, “nothing” translated into working with my fingers, or becoming Markie Scissors-Hands if you will, trimming the very medicine that was keeping me from going schizoid. It was and is a labor of love, and I am quite good at it.

Unfortunately, trimming requires every iota of my concentration and I can't do it for more than six hours at a time. And I cannot do anything else either. If I stray from the table, it's all over but the cleanup. So I rocked the scissors until the paper arrived in the early morning hours-on your doorstep-not mine. Who is going to deliver newspapers on Bell Springs Road?

The only paper I ever got delivered (She called it "served") was a, well, never mind.

The whole missing blog thing was kind of a moot point anyway. 

Because I only get four hours of sleep nightly, the prattling on paper has got to occur in a timely manner while I am still fresh. Am I fresh like that 28-mile-an-hour fresh breeze going on outside in the 35 degree early-morning air? Or fresh like that cabbage that has been fermenting in the nether regions of our stalwart refrigerator for longer than I care to admit?

Regardless, I couldn’t do the two in the same day. I could not work in both a challenging profession using only my fingers, and work in a business requiring both my fingers and my brain, even if I only trimmed six hours a day, and had the other fourteen waking hours to write. 

Kind of like not being able to walk first, and then chew bubble gum, I guess. In a macabre sort of way. Without a blog, I could skip the bubble gum.

And so the wheels simply spun while I took care of the more mundane components of life, like paying the bills. It’s not as glamorous as posting on my blog, because there are no adoring masses to “ooh” and “ah” with every receipt I dutifully submit to my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms. On the other hand, PG&E has not come out and shut off my solar-powered electricity either.

And then the world turned and I staggered.

One morning in late January, I shook Terra-Jean, my not-so-gracefully-aging computer, out of a groggy slumber, only to be smacked upside the head with the following ominous message:  

"This computer will no longer receive Google Chrome updates because Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 will no longer be supported." Then followed the ever-popular, Learn More button...

Like most of what I see on my screen, the message did not compute; I know better than to blame the machine-only the operator. Usually the message is just an informative pearl of wisdom from the “Tech-for Tots” computer program (Beginners’ Version), but this particular message had a sinister tone to it.

It was like hearing the generator start to gasp for gas when you know it is filled.  

How was I going to explain this to Terra Jean?

Tomorrow: Tech-for-Tots (Beginners’ Version) goes on the road for a home-inservice, and lives to tell about it. Barely