(Original picture for my newspaper column, which was deleted after the editor in chief felt that it was “stepping” on the reader. Duh. Pic taken by Conchitina Cruz during a cold Pittsburgh winter.)
FOUR years ago, when I was laid off—the second time in my life, both of which happened in the US while living with my wife who was on a study grant—I decided to go against the grain, so to speak.
Instead of looking for a new, and perhaps even better job in the world’s largest economy, I did what any insane and recently unemployed Filipino living in Western Pennsylvania did: I bought myself a laptop, a PowerBook 2400C subnotebook, which I had been lusting for ever since a Macintosh fanatic showed me one six years earlier.
(Picture taken in a hotel in Lahore, Pakistan. Really.)
Heady from the freedom that can only be the result of joblessness—a feeling that quickly passed when I told my wife about it (but all that came later)—I logged into my eBay.com account as soon as I came home. I then placed a bid on a suitably priced 2400c, monitored the auction’s progress for a few hours, and paid for the item via PayPal shortly after I won the bidding.
It was a pleasant sensation.
Here I was, a Filipino in Pittsburgh at the height of winter, drinking coffee in a warm apartment, relishing the mundane wonders of the electronic transaction; how a few mouse clicks and keyboard strokes translated into cash transfers, payment settlements, and eventually, package deliveries via the very efficient US postal system.
(PowerBook resting comfortably in a hotel bed in Bali, Indonesia)
While I had been deprived of the right to earn my keep early in the day, I nevertheless had the means to indulge in one of life’s greater pleasures: that of buying a nearly obsolete piece of electronic equipment and paying for it in US dollars, which was going to be in short supply anytime soon.
I had the occasion to look back on my past circumstances just recently because my PowerBook—the very same clunker which I got from a certain Mike Blank of Colorado when I was down and out in Pittsburgh—has finally kicked the digital bucket.
Initially, it just failed to proceed to boot up.
After punching the correct password, the field indicated that the shift key was pressed, even though the only things that rested on the keyboard was warm, foul-smelling air caused by the grunts of its frustrated owner. Since the shift key is not part of the said PowerBook’s complex, nine-character password— a feature enabled by yours truly—the computer refused to give me access.
Like most Macintosh users mystified by the strange behavior of wayward Apple computers, I felt that the foul-up took place because—pardon me for saying this—I cleaned the unit. (When things don’t work, non-technical people get superstitious.)
A few minutes before it went haywire, I had given the PowerBook—called Macliing Dulag, after a tribal leader—some heavy duty scrubbing, the first time I had done so in nearly a year.
Apparently, while bringing the laptop to its original shine, I must have disturbed the fragile symbiosis that existed between dust and diode within its sensitive innards.
(In an apartment in Quezon City, with a slightly temperamental feline named Minggoy)
Although this particular kind of PowerBook had its own set of quirks—including the famous Green Light of Death (GLOD), a phenomenon too complicated to explain here—I had been previously able to make the damn thing run, despite the odds.
Unfortunately, those days are now over.
I have thrown in the towel after trying every single trick in the book.
Besides taking out its batteries and leaving it unplugged for more than a week, I also have pressed its special reset button more than once. I have also coaxed and whispered to it, treating it like it was a living entity.
But to no avail.
Thanks to this digital disaster, I will no longer be able to access, let alone secure copies of all my notes, unfinished fiction, column pieces, news and feature articles, and writing projects for the past three years; a great loss to my many fans, the biggest of whom is myself.
Besides rainy days and Mondays, add dead PowerBooks to the list of things that get me down. And oh, include that obsolete law which prohibits alcohol during elections. It’s just plain stupid. But then again, that’s another story. I’m just ranting. Stupid fracking* computers can do that to you. Fortunately, I’ve got another 2400C.
(Same Quezon City apartment, same PowerBook, same feline, feigning a slightly different outlook in life)
FROM THE THIS JUST IN DEPT. Romel Bagares, or should I say, Attorney Romel Bagares, who’s in Europe for a study grant, sent me an email message, asking advice for a PowerBook Pismo G3 that’s been acting up. Whenever he types something down, it freezes. I sent him a short reply: Get a replacement. Possible suggestions: another Pismo G3 or if he has the money—the new Palm Foleo.
*frack or fracking is a term used and popularized by the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. It’s not just the best sci-fi show on television, a review said, it’s the best show on television. Period. Take it from me, who prefers situation comedies to any of these sci-fi stuff. Boomer’s cute. Even though she’s a Cylon.