Tag Archives: computer

I love my computer

I love how my computer gets really hot. When I first open it up, it’s not hot at all. The brushed aluminum casing is maybe even a little cool to the touch. And I start typing and I’m thinking, man, if only this computer were really, really hot. Like, if there were only some way for the internal temperature of this machine to just shoot up, really fast, out of nowhere, man, I’d be so happy.


And then, it’s crazy, but every single time, my prayers are answered. It’s like there’s a little mind-reading troll that lives amongst the circuits and processors, and he’s like, did somebody say hotter? Zap! He uses his magic powers to make it really, really, really hot. Like so hot that it’s almost too hot. Almost, obviously I’m still typing, so it’s not too hot. But just below too hot, like a nice really hot cup of tea, or a bowl of French onion soup that takes half an hour to eat because it’s so hot, or one of those days at the beach where it feels like you can’t step on the sand because your feet are burning, but you have to, and you do, and it’s fine.

It’s like resting my wrists on two of those hand warmers that you use when you go skiing in the winter. How do they get those things to work? Here are two not-warm-at-all fabric pouches, and as soon as you open them up and expose them to air, there it is, warmth. Maybe they have something in common, my laptop and those warmies. Because my computer is definitely warm. If only there were some way for me to type on this computer while I’m skiing. It seems like such an obvious solution.

I also love it how my computer’s fan starts going into overdrive anytime I do anything more than just opening a simple Word document and typing. It’s like, I’m typing right now, and it’s fine, there’s nothing else going on, and so all I have to do is sit back and enjoy the wrist-heat. But if I click over to my web browser? The fans start spinning, the computer is telling me, whoa, easy Rob, one thing at a time buddy. Or if I start watching a two-minute YouTube clip? I can just hear my computer asking me, Rob, can’t you just watch that video on your cell phone? Is anybody else getting really hot in here? And just when I think the fan won’t be able to spin any harder, it does, it’s making like a really uncomfortable wheezing sound, eventually so loud that I can’t hear the sound coming out of my tinny little speakers, and so yeah, I’ll just watch it on my cell phone, that’s not too big of a deal.

I love it how if I leave my laptop open, long enough for the screen to go black, it never turns back on again. I mean, the computer is on, it’s just that the screen is black and I can’t get it to wake up. And I know it’s on, I’ll hit the volume button and hear the little “bwop” sound, like everything’s working.

Now I know, it’s not a problem anymore, I just have to close my computer the second that I step away from it. But man, getting to that point, it was a lot of trial and error. I’d go to the bathroom for a second and come back to a blind laptop. I brought it to the computer store and they were like, sorry brah, that computer is too old, we’re not going anywhere near it. So I had to go on the Internet on my phone and learn about something called PRAM, and there was a lot of hard rebooting and cursing and holding down specific keys and … well, I got it working again. Everything was deleted, but so what? That’s what you have the cloud for. And I only had to do that master reboot like three or four times before I figured out just what was making it tick in the first place. I think. Please don’t turn off on me again, computer.

I love this computer. It’s a giant middle finger to the whole computer industry. Everything in modern technology is all about being new, getting a new device every year or so. Not me, I’ve had this same machine since 2006. Did I mention how warm my wrists are? And as long as this thing holds up, I’ll never buy anything else. Never. I hope that this computer lasts me the rest of my life. I hope that my descendants all use this computer, that it keeps working for hundreds of years to come, that in the future, it’ll develop a near mystical reputation, a sort of divine machine that refuses to obey the laws of simple mechanics. This computer is the best. If you ever came up to me and said, “Rob, I’ll trade you this brand new computer for your really old, hot, temperamental machine,” I’d say, “No deal.” Seriously. Try it. Make me that offer. I’ll say no.


My computer does this trick where the monitor goes dead. You can hear everything still running, like if you press the volume button up or down, you’ll hear various intonations of that beep it makes to tell you just how loud it’s going to be. But when I brought it to get fixed, the computer people taught me this trick, you just have to hold down the power button and reset the machine, right, you do this like eight or nine times, and then you hold down these four random buttons, and boom, the screen comes back on. Only, it takes like half a day to boot up again, and when it does, everything’s erased.


My car does this trick where when you turn the steering wheel too far to the left, there’s this clicking sound – click! – and then it’s stuck, like you can’t turn it right again. The first time I found out about this trick, I was trying to pull off this illegal U-turn, it was one of those three-lane city streets, just a busy as a highway, but it’s not officially a highway, and so there are all these cross streets and opportunities to turn around, but you can’t because there are all of these, “No U-turn” signs. Through trial and error, I figured out that if you gun the gas, and then after the car spins around like five or six times, you pop the emergency brake, and the steering wheel unclicks again. But the check engine light goes on. I have no idea.

My air conditioner does this trick where when you try to change the filter at the beginning of the year, the old filter crumbles when you touch it, turning into a cloud of black dust. And the more you aggravate it, the worse it gets, dark little fibers getting everywhere, floating up into the air. And even after you get everything to where you think it’s clean, to where it should run relatively problem free, you turn it on and it just spews out this dark haze for like two days straight, and you’re sneezing and you wake up with this terrible taste in your mouth.

My bicycle pump does this trick where, after you’re done adding air to the tires, when you try to disengage the pump from the tube, it won’t let go, it rips the top of the tube right off, giving you an instant flat. The first time it happened I was like, well, I must have pulled it off too quickly. The second time I tried it slowly, and the third time, really, really slowly. But here I am, four tubes later, my bike pump is still up to its old tricks.

My blender does this trick where you put everything into the pitcher, your yogurt, fresh fruit, ice, everything, but instead of making a delicious smoothie, it just kind of spins everything around and around. You check it out to see if maybe the blades are accidentally rotating with the blender, but after you pour everything into a bowl, splashing all over the kitchen, you feel around and you don’t even know what you’re feeling around for. How are these things supposed to work? I mean, aside from just pushing the button, you have no idea. So you kind of just play around with everything and pour all of that smoothie stuff back in and you press blend again and, again, nothing, and you just hold it and hold it until the machine is obviously overheating, you’ve got this burnt electric smell in the kitchen, and then your wife comes downstairs later and she’s like, what the hell Rob? And you’re like, well, how do I get rid of this, it’s liquidy but really chunky and not blended, should I throw it in the garbage? Down the drain?

My bowling ball does this trick where you bowl it down the lane, and it disappears. You ask the bowling alley worker, can you go check in the back? I think the machine ate my ball. And he gets on some phone and makes a grocery-store style announcement for some bowling alley technician to go check out a problem on lane eleven. And you wait like twenty-five minutes, and then you finally ask the bowling alley guy, hey man, I hate to bug you, but do you think you could see what’s going on with my ball? With lane eleven? And he just picks up that phone again and he’s like, Derrick! Lane eleven! Jesus! And everybody hears it. And then ten minutes after that, Derrick shows up and he’s like, nope, nothing. And you’re like, are you sure? It had my name inscribed on it, Rob G. I just bought it. Can I check? And he’s like, sorry man, only authorized personnel behind the lanes.

My brain is empty

Sometimes I can’t get my mind to think about anything. A lot of the time, I’ll just start writing about how I can’t think of anything to write about. But this is different. I’m sitting here and I can’t even describe what’s going through my head right now. It feels like there’s nothing turned on . It’s like, usually if I’m really struggling I can at least start by just acknowledging where I am, what I’m doing.


Like right now, I’m sitting here at my kitchen table, I can hear the birds outside doing their thing. Sometimes just writing out an observation like that will jog something, all of the sudden I’ll realize that I haven’t been thinking about nothing, that there’s always something going on inside that I just haven’t been aware of.

But right now? I don’t know. I’m just sitting here. I’m typing on a really old laptop that my parents gave me after my house was robbed a little over a year ago. I remember at the time it felt like life was over. They got our computers, my XBOX, it was a mess. But now it doesn’t really feel like a big deal anymore. I don’t get to play video games, but that’s probably a good thing, because every once in a while I’d lose five or six hours at a time playing some online first-person shooter, getting yelled at by twelve-year-old gamers kicking my ass from all around the world.

And this computer is old, but it works fine. I bought more memory, upgraded the operating system. Aside from the cosmetic differences, it’s more or less the same than any new computer. Although, a couple of months ago, the screen died. I thought that it was going to be this huge deal, getting a replacement part, having it installed. The guy at the Genius Bar was like, “Even if Apple still made parts for this machine, which it doesn’t, it won’t make sense to put more money into an eight-year-old computer. Sorry.”

So I was a little bummed about that. But then on a whim I took it to one of those “We fix computers!” shops all the way downtown, and this Chinese guy took the computer out of my hand, unplugged it, plugged it in, started and restarted it a few times, and then held down command, option, r, and p, and bingo, it came to life. I couldn’t even understand what he was trying to tell me, but he wouldn’t accept the money I was holding out.

OK, so I just wrote about my computer. It was boring, but it was something. And I don’t think that I was thinking about that story before I started writing about how there was nothing going on inside of my head.

Right before I sat down to the computer, I got out an ice-cold can of Coke Classic from the fridge. I don’t drink soda that often, but I love it. I love drinking soda. I try not to keep it in the house because I know that, if it’s there, if there’s ice-cold Coke at my disposal, I’ll always go for it. Like right now. I don’t know how they got in there, but there were like three cans just right there, I noticed them yesterday.

And so I’ve been drinking them. And I don’t know what your opinion is, but to me, Coke is at its absolute best when it’s drank right out of the can. It just tastes better. You know what never tastes good? Coke out of a twenty-ounce bottle. It always tastes less carbonated, not as flavorful. I keep thinking that there has to be a reason, but nothing really makes sense in my head. So maybe it’s just that, maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Maybe this is as good as it’s going to get today, talking about old computers and Coca-Cola in a can. Is that better than nothing? I don’t know. I’m trying to think about it but I can’t come up with any conclusions. My mind’s a total blank.

I’ve got ninety-nine problems, and they’re all logistical computer stuff

I used to write on my laptop, but after a while, after an hour or two hours, my wrists would get so hot, resting on the computer, right below the keyboard. I could feel the heat irradiating my blood, I worried that it was poisoning my system. So I got rid of the laptop and bought a desktop.


And it was better, I mean, I didn’t have that hotspot anymore. But working with a mouse was so much different than working with the laptop’s track pad. I guess I took it for granted, what with all of the excessive wrist-worry, just how convenient it was navigating my graphic user interface right there, right below my keyboard, I didn’t really have to move my hands.

What I gained in peace of mind, I lost in convenience. Because even though I tried to give it time, to adjust to the new setup, I couldn’t get a good workflow going, I kept having to pick up my hand and put it on the mouse.

And besides, now I’m basically stuck here, upstairs on my desk. I guess I also took for granted just how comfortable my typing setup was downstairs at the kitchen table. Because I just naturally assumed that writing at a desk would be more of an ideal setup. But it’s not. My wrists are just slightly more elevated. And with all of the moving back and forth from keyboard to mouse, it’s exhausting. I can totally relate to people making up all of that stuff about carpel-tunnel.

And this mouse, it’s supposed to be a Mighty Mouse. Like, it’s just a solid piece with a little ball on it to scroll up and down. But I keep squeezing it the wrong way, even though I don’t really feel like I’m doing anything, nothing conscious enough to actually activate one of the hidden side buttons, but it keeps clicking, it switches between windows, it shows the desktop when I’m not asking it to show the desktop.

So I threw that mouse away and bought a Magic Mouse. It doesn’t have a ball, nothing to get stuck and prevent me from scrolling up and down. And I thought it would have worked much better, but, and I don’t know if it’s the mouse, or my computer, but it’s so laggy. Like, the cursor is so choppy, lurching across the screen. I move the mouse, nothing happens, and I can’t click on anything that I want to click on.

And this keyboard, it’s just not as smooth as working on my laptop’s keyboard. I don’t know how to explain it. Like, it feels like there’s a really heavy spring under each key, and if I don’t hit exactly the right spot, somewhere in the dead center of the key, it’s like, boing! It springs my finger onto the next key, and so I’m just constantly making typos.

So finally I was like, you know what? I can’t do this, it’s just not working out. So I sold my desktop at a loss and bought a new laptop. I’m back downstairs at the kitchen table, it’s really nice, to be able to just write, uninterrupted, not having to worry about all of those logistical nightmares that were plaguing me upstairs.

Only, now that the weather is getting warm out again, I can feel my wrists heating up, just like before. And it feels worse. Could it be worse? Could this keyboard be hotter than my other one? Or is that just in my head?

I reacted a little too dramatically, pulling my hands off the machine like I would something that was really hot, like a stove, like if my wrist accidentally made contact with one of the burners, even though that’s totally unlikely. And when I did that, I knocked my cup of iced tea onto the computer. And thankfully nothing happened, like with the computer, everything still works, which is lucky, because that could have killed it.

But now, every time I type, it’s like the keys are all stuck with dried out iced tea, and so it’s just really annoying, I feel like I’m making even more typos than ever. Sticky typos like hhhhhhhhh or ttttttttttt. I just, it’s really getting in the way of my writing. I just feel like, how am I supposed to get any writing done? With all of these computer problems? What’s the solution?

D E L space star dot star

Back in the early nineties, I was in the third or fourth grade, and my family got our first computer. It wasn’t new, it was something my uncle was getting rid of. It didn’t really do much. There was no mouse. I don’t even think it had Microsoft Windows. I’m actually trying to remember how we used it, but I don’t think anybody did. It kind of just sat there as we all stared at it, longingly.


“Please mom,” I’d beg my mother, “Can we play with the computer?” and I remember my mom would call up her brother as he took her on a step-by-step tutorial on how to launch the solitaire app. They didn’t call them apps back then, they called them games, not like solitaire was much of a game, really.

That machine lasted like a month or two until my parents decided that maybe home computing was the inevitability everyone kept promising it would be. They tossed my uncle’s hand-me-down in the trash and bought a real computer. This PC had Windows, some old version of it anyway, something named after a number, way before Windows 95. But even though it was brand new, it was still old. Or maybe I’m just remembering it as old, because everything was so much slower.

But it was pretty old. When you turned it on, you had to wait like ten minutes before it took you to the DOS prompt. And you’d have to actually enter computer commands, just like in a cheesy 80s movie. You’d write something like, “Computer, run Windows.” And then you’d have to wait another hour or so while the operating system loaded. When it was all said and done, finally you could use its state of the art graphic user interface to click on the window that said, “Games.” And yeah, it was mostly just solitaire.

But then a few years after that we got a real machine, a Gateway 2000. I can’t even conceive of how my mom went about buying the computer, because I think about how I’d buy a computer today: I’d go on the Internet and pick something out. But we didn’t have the Internet yet. Our current computer wasn’t capable of handling the web.

The Gateway was everything that I wanted a computer to be. It booted right to Windows, which was awesome, and it was Windows 95, which was even more awesome. Now I could finally play with that Windows 95 startup CD, the one that all of my friends talked about at school. It had the video to Weezer’s “Buddy Holly.” And there were games, actual games: Minesweeper, Chip’s Challenge, Ski Free.

Everything was right in the world. My life had finally started to feel like the future I’d always imagined for myself. We had the Internet. I had an AOL screen name. But there was a problem. Instead of throwing out the old computer like they did that antique passed down from my uncle, my parents just moved it to the other side of the room.

“Now we have two computers,” was the idea, but it was a flawed idea, because while technically, yes, they were both computers, only one of them had anything worth using. I’d be waiting for my brother to finish up on AOL so I could take a turn on the Internet. I’d complain that he was taking too long, “You can always use the other computer,” my mom would offer, which was a joke, because it didn’t have the Internet, it was totally useless.

The only one of us who used it was my brother Joe. He had some trial version of a shareware game that one of his classmates gave to him on a stupid floppy disc. And he’d pop it in and play the same minute and a half of sixteen-bit action, over and over and over again. “He likes it!” would be the reply if we complained about having to watch him loop through the same screen on repeat for hours.

And that’s how life went for a while, waiting for my brother to finish up with the computer so I could use it, picking up the phone line every once in a while so as to interrupt the Internet connection, waiting by the door as he tried futilely to reconnect through the never ending chorus of busy signals.

I remember around that time telling all of my computer woes to one of my dad’s cousins at a funeral. This was a guy that I’d never seen at any family parties. He lived far away or something, I don’t know his story, my dad has like a thousand family members. But this cousin, nobody else was talking to him, and once I had his ear about computers, man, I was locked into that conversation.

This guy knew everything about computers. “You know,” he gave me some advice regarding that old PC that took up space in the computer room, “You could always wipe the memory.”

“How would I do that?”

“Easy. You wait for the DOS prompt to load up, and you type in ‘del *.*’”

I remember exactly how he said it, “D-E-L space star dot star,” and I repeated it to myself over and over again for the rest of the night, making sure that I’d be able to commit it to memory.

But once I had it in there, I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Obviously I wanted to use it, to see if it would actually work. But destroying a computer? I wasn’t a bad kid or anything. Annoying, maybe, but not capable of actually ruining something big, like a computer.

I couldn’t get it out of my head though. I just kept hearing it on repeat in my head, del *.*. Part of me wished that my dad’s weird cousin never told me about the command in the first place. It started to encroach upon more and more of my daily thoughts. Sometimes I’d boot the machine up and start typing it out, not pressing enter, but holding my finger just above, not even an inch away. I felt powerful, with the tiniest of movements, I was capable of utter annihilation.

And then one day, I don’t know what came over me, but in a momentary lapse of judgment, I did it, I pulled the trigger. Del *.*, enter. And all of these characters started flying across the screen. The hard drive made audible clicking sounds, a sure enough sign that something was going on inside.

That’s when I regained my senses, realized exactly what I was doing. And I freaked out, I wanted to undo it. I pulled the plug, hoped that if I just gave it a minute, we could forget anything had happened, let bygones be bygones. But it was too late. While the power light showed signs of electric current, there was nothing on the screen, no signs of computing activity whatsoever.

So I turned it off and left the room. A few days later, I heard Joseph ask my mom to help him with something on the computer, “my computer,” as he was fond of calling it, seeing as how he was the only one who used it at all. A little while after that, my mom asked me if I knew what was wrong. “With the computer?” I pretended to act all shocked, running to the new computer, making up what I thought was an elaborate ruse, like I didn’t even know about the old computer.

“Oh, the old one?” I acted relieved after my mom told me what she meant. “I have no idea. I never use that thing.”

And that was that. It sat there for a few months, and then one day my dad hauled it outside and left it on the curb for trash pickup. I’ve always felt bad about it, lying to my parents, ruining the computer that for some reason brought my little brother such a simple joy. I guess, mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry? Is that good enough? I’m sorry I broke the old computer, on purpose. But mostly I’d like to blame my dad’s cousin, because why would you think it was a good idea to give a little kid his own computer self-destruct button? Not cool man, you might as well have given me a knife, or a bottle of spray paint, with strict instructions never to use them. Of course I’m going to use them. Don’t you know anything about little kids? So if anything, it’s really that guy’s fault, not my fault. Thanks for ruining my little brother’s computer.