In another life, I must have wrongfully attacked and melted down roomfuls of delicate processors and chips and digital displays, because in this life, the technological items in my life stage mutinies and play mind games to wreck havoc with my plans.
My laptop is a prime example of my bad electronics karma. Innocent looking and still shiny with its newness, the laptop lulled me into complacency by working most of the time, until the day I picked it up in order to pack it into my luggage for its first weekend trip (the primary reason I have a laptop in the first place). Just before I shut it down, the Windows blue-screen of death (BSOD) appeared.
For the entire weekend, a fatal loop kept Windows from booting completely. Eventually, when I returned, I cajoled the laptop into functioning again (of course not until I had reinstalled all my software twice). Note that my laptop did not die on the numerous trips across town to coffee shops or while I was working on campus. These journeys were too short. My laptop only dies when I am headed more than 100 miles away from home.
Who IS the Boss?
For another month, my laptop worked without incident. But about a week before I was leaving on a three-week multi-state tour, error messages started popping up, offering quiet little reminders to me of who is really the boss. By the day I left on my journey, my virus software had been disabled and my wireless connection worked only, mysteriously, on the third boot up.
Ever tricky, the laptop worked often enough so that I would bring it with me and dutifully haul it into every single house and hotel room. By mid-trip, I had discovered that I didn't really need the laptop. I wasn't writing beyond scratches in my journal, and I could check my e-mail fairly consistently from other people's computers. Immediately, my laptop began working without error messages. My virus software, which I had tried to reinstall several times before leaving miraculously healed itself. It seems that my laptop, not unlike my cats, works on its terms only.
Perhaps you're saying, so what? So what if you have a lemon of a laptop? (As an aside, this laptop should not be confused with my previous laptop, the "lemonade laptop," which died due to an unfortunate lemonade accident.)
The Digital Divide
The sad thing is that my bad electronics karma extends way beyond the laptop. Anything digital goes kablooey when I'm too near it for too long. On my multi-state trip, both my fancy quartz watch and my cheap digital sports watch died. The cruise control in my car stopped working. And the strip on my credit card demagnetized. (Then to add insult to injury, I left the card at a restaurant.)
So what is the deal with technology and me anyway? Maybe it's the solar flares. Maybe it's (ha ha) my magnetic personality. Maybe it's winter static or the mercury retrograde. Maybe it really is just bad karma.
I don't know.
What I do know is that safe back at home, I got up this morning and looked at the square red numbers on my alarm clock. One number flickered, causing a moment's worry that the clock would die too.
Then I realized that the flicker was caused by a carpenter ant moseying across the glass. After a shriek and a curse at the excess of Florida insect life, I found my glasses and discovered that not one, but a dozen ants were crawling all over my clock. Apparently, they had settled into the only item I hadn't cleaned before my trip the digital clock.
I unplugged the clock and deposited it in a sink full of water. Hundreds of ants floated up to the surface as their impromptu nest in the empty 9V battery back-up compartment flooded out.
Ants are creative and persistent foragers, you may say. Or perhaps my less than perfect housekeeping and gap-toothed old cottage contribute to critter invasion. But I say the electronics masterminded the whole thing.
I think that technology is exacting its revenge and forming alliances with the insect world.
It's just a matter of time until the palmetto bugs organize a revolt and walk off with my car.