Long-time Married Theatre Presents: Garbage in, garbage not out

Published October 29, 2014 by Kristie

The year was 1995. I was in my second year of teaching, and one day I was in the teachers’ lounge getting my mail when I noticed a pile of flyers on the table advertising a supposed deal on Macintosh computers. I had always wanted a Mac, but they proved way, way, WAY out of my budget when I was starting college, and while they’re great machines, they remain, shall we say, NOT the top choice for the budget-conscious. In any case, they were advertising a beautiful, loaded Performa for the supposedly educator-discounted price of $2599. (It’s weird that I remember that. Then again, you tend to remember the price of things that are so expensive you have to make payments on them.) And I was still young and naive enough to believe that if they said it was a good discount, it must be. So we bought one using their financing program, and we loved that computer.

It was so pretty. The graphics were amazing compared to the Windows 3.1 machine we’d been using. It had a TV tuner in it. And it had internet capability! Which was a relatively new thing in personal computing c.1995. I remember standing in that same teacher’s lounge as someone explained to me what this “search engine” thing was, and how to use it. (They recommended I type in http://www.yahoo.com.) That’s how new this all was. We had an email address, but better than half the people we knew didn’t, so I’m not sure what email we were expecting to receive. We were just psyched to have it.

We excitedly plugged in the machine and opened up the internet program, which was adorable–it was built like a little town, and you clicked on different buildings for different topics. If you had email, a little truck would appear in front of the Post Office.

We were both still teaching at the time, and we used the hell out of that Mac, making worksheets and games and such. And it was a good computer, though it did have its drawbacks: Mac peripherals were not available everywhere, and were generally twice as expensive as PC printers and external disk drives. And when it got to the point where we, and the world of computing, had grown beyond what that Performa could process, we switched back to a Windows machine after finding out the world had moved on to USB connections, and none of our existing Mac peripherals would work with a new Mac. We’d have to buy all new everything, at top dollar, and as I mentioned, we were teachers, and didn’t have that kind of money lying around.

But we didn’t say goodbye to that computer, because it had the TV tuner and once we moved it into a spare bedroom, we had an extra TV. Time passed, and we moved to Arizona, first to an apartment and then a house and then a second house. Along the way, we got a second TV, and had been through several more computers between us (sharing a computer just became impossible around 2004 because we both wanted to be on it), and though it no longer had any use, somehow we still had the Performa.

Not that I hadn’t tried to get rid of it on multiple occasions, but the lovely man to whom I’m married insisted that we keep it for REASONS. There were vague suggestions that he’d plug cable into it out in the studio and use it for a TV tuner again. Or that he had files on it that he wanted to save. But as far as I could see, it existed solely for collecting dust and taking up space in his office, as well as being a collection point for various other junk that got dropped on top of it. Because none of those other things ever happened.

Every once in awhile, in a fit of cleaning, Scott would complain that he didn’t have enough room in his office, and I would suggest that perhaps it was finally time to send the Performa to its eternal rest. My suggestions were ignored. It was not, despite my obvious delusions, time. Not then. Not ever.

My argument that even if there WERE files on it, if we had not seen fit to even TRY to access them in over a decade, we probably didn’t need them, also held no sway. Clearly, I do not understand the deep bond between a man and his Macintosh. Because this little scene has repeated itself on various occasions over the years, all with the same non-result: We still have that fucking Performa.

So recently we’ve been rearranging things, making our house work a little better. We moved the dining room into the front room. The old dining room, always too small, became my new sewing room after Scott moved his giant corner desk out of his office into it. He rearranged his office, adding a comfy chair and put his year-old iMac on the low lateral file cabinet. Which is where the Performa used to live. So now he was without a home for the Performa, and I tried once more to convince him to get rid of it.

This time, however, he swore that he was going to get the files off of it and THEN we’d bring it to the special monthly hazmat collection site, and I would finally be rid of it after 19 years. 19 years! 19 years is eons in computer time. Hell, 19 months is eons in computer time!

And being the sweet, hopeful, trusting soul that I am, I believed him this time, too, and said, “Great!” as he moved the Performa out to the studio so as to have more space to putz with it.

And there it has sat for a month now, no closer to leaving my house than it has been in any of the previous 228 months. And I said nothing, because what was there to say that I hadn’t already said?

At least I didn’t say anything until this weekend, when I informed him that my sewing teacher was coming over to take a jewelry-making lesson from me, and we needed to clean up the studio some. I didn’t single out the Performa, but Sunday afternoon, the man I loved surprised me by starting to fart around with cables and Zip drives and such for the Performa. Was it really going to happen this time?

There was teensy wrinkle in the plan, though, demonstrated when my dear husband came in and said to me, “Do you remember how to turn it on? Do we have to turn it on in the back and with the button?”

At which point I just looked at him.  Pointedly.  Very pointedly.  So pointedly that you could’ve done cross-stitch with my look.  So pointedly that you could’ve killed a buffalo with my look.  And then I said, “You know, if you don’t remember how to turn the damn thing on, you probably don’t need to keep it, right?” And then I laughed my way right out of the room. Somehow, though (Curses!) he got the damn thing on. However, it will no longer read the Zip drive that was bought especially for it. Like many ancient people, it has evidently just gotten cantankerous in its old age, and it doesn’t feel the least bit obligated to cooperate.

But despite all overwhelming evidence highlighting the inescapable conclusion that any resuscitation of the Performa is an utterly lost cause, my old friend, my eternal housemate, is, as I type this, still sitting on Scott’s desk 3 feet away. And it’s looking pretty fucking smug, if you ask me.

performa

 

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Published October 18, 2014 by Kristie

ebola

I am not afraid of ebola. I just want to say that, right now, as a big “fuck you” to the media that has been doing its damnedest to foment national panic (and evidently failing because the fact that they keep hammering at it, becoming ever more shrill, indicates to me that they feel that the popular hysteria level is not where they’d like it). According to the Huffington Post, 40% of Americans have some fear that they or one of their family members will contract ebola. Which seems like a lot to me; but then again, it probably isn’t a stretch to suspect that 40% of Americans are probably also afraid of asteroid collision, zombie apocalypse, and spiders crawling into their ears at night as they sleep.

You contract ebola like you contract HIV. It’s not the common cold. Casual skin-to-skin contact where there are no open sores isn’t going to do it. I get that; therefore I am not worried.  And the good news is that 60% of Americans, a solid majority in sensibility, isn’t either.

There were 4 cases of pneumonic plague–yes, The Plague™!–in Colorado in July. This is the kind that DOES have airborne transmission, but did you hear of it this summer? I didn’t until I looked up USA plague statistics for this post.  Granted, it’s curable, and ebola is not (although neither is it necessarily fatal), but still–double the number cases, and it was a non-issue, this disease that killed 75-200 million people in the 14th century. There are thousands of flu-associated deaths every year; the flu killed 30-50 million people in 1918-1919, and yet we debate each year whether or not we’ll get a flu shot. But 2 ebola cases in a country with excellent sanitation and health facilities, and people are losing their shit. Which probably only confirms to them that they’ve got The Ebola.

I am firmly convinced that there is a not inconsiderable segment of the population that, deep in their quivering brainstems, has not evolved a fear response beyond that of the tiny mammals that tried their best not to get stomped on and/or eaten by dinosaurs. They are afraid of everything, all the time, and find living on this planet day-to-day harrowing at best, because at any moment they can be killed multiple ways, by tsunami, or a carjacker, or an illegal alien, or their drinking water, or whatever the local news has been hinting at all day but will not tell you what’s threatening your life until you tune in at 10 o’clock. (If I can wait several hours to find out what might be killing me today, I figure it’s not imminent.)

But I think it is worth remembering the truth that scared people are controllable people (how else do you pass the USA PATRIOT Act?), and before succumbing to the fear-mongering du jour, you have to ask yourself who benefits from your fearfulness? It’s a significant act of revolution to refuse to be overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear, especially fear in the abstract. Reasonable people take reasonable precautions in life, and let that be enough, realizing that there are no guarantees and never were. For those people who would like to lock themselves away from all risk in life, I’ve got news for them:  Life is inevitably fatal.  People who accept that tend to do better in their lives, and make more of them.  If your fear of death makes it impossible for you to actually live, then you’re pretty much DOA at this moment.

For the record, I am also not afraid of the following:

-ISIS invading the United States:  They’ll need a navy for that, and it’s a long trip they’ll probably not survive if they set out by boat to get here.  If they attack us, it’ll be by a handful of people, a la 9/11.

-Asteroids:  If we are headed the way of the dinosaurs, there’s not much we can do about it. This solar system has been evolving since long before we were on the scene, and will continue to, regardless of our adorable little plans.

-Becoming part of the eventual white minority in this country:  People’s concern about this baffles me. There are no non-racist, non-privilege-protective reasons to be concerned about remaining the majority race. My concern level about this is non-existent.

-Flouridated water

-Pit bulls

-Undocumented immigrants

-People who don’t speak English

-Microwaved plastic wrap

What I might be afraid of is the behaviors of scared folks, and the people who would exploit that fear to make them do stuff that’s not very nice.  Frightened people lash out, usually all out of proportion to the actual problem.  They are dangerous, because they suffer from two diseases out there already that I fear more than any other:  the loss of reason and the loss of compassion; they are epidemic, and kill more people than ebola ever will.

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