Murphy’s Law

Latimer’s week read like Murphy’s Law.

Latimer: A series of unfortunate events leads me to writing this entry. It’s basically a more somber version of Ridley’s.

Firstly, the number one thing you need to understand is my laptop is not a thing. It is actually an extension of myself; and so, I am currently suffering from phantom limb syndrome, because said extension has been removed from my person.

I should preface what comes below by stating emphatically  I am a laptop addict. That’s a fact. And even though, I will often say this in a joking manner, I am in fact deadly serious. It’s not as insidious as a blatant addiction to say, alcohol or drugs, but actually it’s just as real. The scary thing, and the thing I often ignore, because it’s not something I like to dwell on, is that I am in fact addicted to my laptop and the internet. However, I think this is an expected addiction of the modern age (you can tell I’ve had a lot of time to dwell on it, in light of being separated from my laptop). The edge has been taken off by virtue of the fact that I own a smart-phone and therefore have an internet-based outlet.

The whole event started on Monday night.

I tried to turn on my laptop and it wouldn’t start. I tried again, and again and again. But my beloved was having none of it. I wasn’t as concerned as I expected I would be. Usually such an event is followed by nervous lip and finger biting, and heart palpitations (this, is what my naïve mind assumes is a very, very, very mild form of withdrawl symptoms!).

When things happen to my laptop, on this scale, my find is filled with white noise… a blankness as if someone has stuffed cotton wool into my brain, leaving me to float in a cloud of despair.

This despair was present but at very low, semi-undetectable, levels. I was able to breathe and knew there was nothing I could do. So I stopped trying and decided I would go to the ‘IT crowd’ in my college the next day and see what they could do.

I slept well that night. I was in the ‘acceptance of powerlessness’ stage!

The next day I handed it over to the IT crowd. That was like walking into a wondrous world I didn’t understand- the world of hope for the uninitiated! I know what technology can give me, but when it fails (as badly as it had) I’m lost, baffled, confuddled. It was like I was a child, handing over my laptop to God, going; ‘Pluh-ezz Mister, can you fix it?’

I left it with them and went to work. As I muddled around the lab, time ticked by and I thought; ‘this is not good’. Picture me, staring into space, pouring acid into beakers, a dazed expression on my face; ‘Pluh-ezz’.

The more time that passed, the more I slowly came to terms with the fact that I would be laptop-less for a while. I back-up my file regularly (I cannot stress the importance of this!), most recently that weekend, so I wasn’t getting as worried as I would have otherwise. I use my laptop for work; it has lots of project data on it. So, this is very serious!

To add injury to insult, my lab-based machinery broke down at a critical point in my experiment! I couldn’t help but laugh (though inside a tiny part of me died- this is not the first time this has happened either and it always seems to happen when I really need it to work- Murphy’s Law in play).

The whole day got me thinking on the importance of technology.

We need it for everything nowadays.

I need it for my work. I need it in so many ways to look at data and very importantly to find information. It’s like a giant library. Old school scientists used to talk about how ‘in my day I had to go through catalogues and mark out all the papers I wanted to read, then go to the library and get them to order the papers for me! It could take months!’ whereas today you go online and have access to everything and anything in seconds. If you are sitting somewhere and someone asks a mundane question, you can just google it and find the answer.

I started writing a blog post on a piece of paper- full of misspellings and so on. Holding the pen like it was an alien tool, staring at it, ‘how does one write?’.

It got me thinking on my, our, dependence on technology and how your vast world shrinks to a tiny spec in its absence.

As I wrote my blog post, I slowly realized; ‘if I don’t have a laptop, how the hell does this even get out there? Who’s going to read this?’  

And more and more the world shrank around me.

And you know what else- I lost that bloody piece of paper! My words and thoughts were gone. Much like my laptop.

The long and short of it is this; my laptop is gone for good (that was something I did not expect on Monday!). Amazing how surprising a week can be!

I don’t know how it happened or why, but there it is. My hard-drive is possibly salvageable but I don’t know yet. I’ve lost some things that weren’t backed up, little parts of myself that I’ll forget until I wonder about them and realize they aren’t there anymore. My laptop was like a second brain or something; Cyber Latimer, my me-bot.

It will be replaced by another laptop that will subsequently also become a part of me. My data will, possibly, be transferred (that’s something I’ll let you know about)… but I am left thinking I have become something of a cyborg in my later years. I remember getting my first laptop and not knowing what to do with it (I hardly used it at all- and another fact is I’ve only ever had two laptops in my life, the first was secondhand).

I remember going on the internet for the first time thinking, ‘what the hell can I use this for? It’s boring I don’t see the point’

And I remember when I didn’t have any of these things. When I had to go to the encyclopedia, which never changed or updated, and had been written in the 80s, to find out things; then Encarta was the new big thing (God, what ever happened to damn Encarta? It was a big thing when I was a kid. All those expensive CDs that would tell you everything… and eventually nothing)… Ah, that was when the world was small.

Did you see in the Olympic Opening ceremony this year when Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who invented the internet) appeared near the giant house?… when he sent that message out into the crowd; This (the internet) is for everyone….? It gave me chills. It was fantastic.

The world’s great, free, web of connection; the thing that I now use to connect to you all, people I don’t know, people I’ve never seen before, but people who I now speak to; who I now share my thoughts with.

Being disconnected from it (in a proper sense without my laptop) for a few days made me think how much it connected me to things.

Ridley wrote an entry and posted it; while I was writing on a scrap of paper thinking; ‘how am I going to post this anyways? Who’s going to ever read this?’ No one as it turns out because I lost it.

But the point is, I felt powerless.

Of course, I’m writing this now, so you’ve realized that I have other methods of connection. I’m writing on my family’s laptop. But it’s like being in someone else’s house; I could fly around my own desktop and files like flying around my own mind. This is a disjointed, confusing environment.

My old baby is gone; the only one that was with me from her first days! My first real laptop that had only ever belonged to me; she’s gone.

We watched so many things together; we learned so much, we wrote so much, all together, me and cyber-me. I really will miss her.

I only hope her consciousness can be saved!

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23 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law

  1. Oh dear, poor Latimer. At least you have the majority of your files backed up. Think how you’d be feeling right now without that backup!

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. I read an article that banged on about the Internet is now an extension of our minds and it was right on the money. Technology is a part of our selves even if it isn’t (yet) a part of our bodies. But I don’t get your initial “what’s the point of a laptop/the Internet”; I was in love with both from day one!

    • I know!! I can’t imagine what state I’d be in without back-ups! It would be so v.bad. You wouldn’t think now that I ever thought ‘what the hell is the point of the internet!’. I’m an addict now! But once I was confused by the point of it all! 🙂

  2. Much love! I know that no one can really replace your “old baby”. Yet, I hope that the datas of her harddrive can be saved and that a “new baby” finds her way into your life, soon, who will serve you well and allow you to make yourself at home at her desktop, again!

  3. Oh a- don’t know what you got til it’s gone story. So much different from the other story. Didn’t realised how sad and serious it got.

  4. I am so sorry for you loss. It becomes a writer to suffer however so you can take solace in the fact that you will be a better person for this, and perhaps maybe move on with nothing but good memories of “golden days” of yore. Seriously it’s quite awful when that happens, the laptop is now an appendage, like an arm or a leg. I hope you replace yours soonest, Penny

  5. Sending words of comfort out there to you in cyberspace. Written words never truly die, even if the hard drive is lost and the files were not back up–they fly around in the deep recesses of your soul–SOMEWHERE!

    • Haha, I wonder! I think I will now blame the faceless Murphy for making that ominous law! This is an ongoing saga… I keep getting emails from the IT people about how ‘your hard-drive appears to be shutting down our computers now’…
      Is it a kamikaze hard-drive? Where did it start loosing it’s way?!!

  6. This is so terrific! I SO relate 🙂 I love that embroidered piece ‘have you tried turning it on & off again’. Hilarious 🙂

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