Monday, January 11, 2016

My Computer Monitors and Me

Back in 1998, when I started freelancing, my mother bought my first computer, a Gateway, from Circuit City.

Don't laugh.

Because I suck at math, I don't know the size of the monitor screen, but it was definitely way smaller than the salesman recommended for someone that would be spending a large part of her day composing in front of it. For reasons unrelated to this post, the computer was never actually installed until April 1999.

In the spring of 2009, still using the same monitor (Hey, it was a perfectly good monitor), a strange thing happened. It started...blinking. I shrugged it off as, "Well, it's probably starting to go," and suffered through it. Between pay cuts and rising prices, we were starting to feel the money pinch, and I didn't feel a new monitor was worth the money.

I am also the woman that wore Sarah's old snowpants on the route from 1998 until someone stole them out of our church coatroom at least a decade later (I had duct taped the holes), but that's a different story.

So in that summer of 2009, while working on deadline of course, that monitor began flashing colors and then literally started smoking. Because I have no idea what cord connects to what, I did what any reasonable technology stupid person would do: yell for a kid.

Timothy ran in and disconnected it in seconds and reconnected a really ancient monitor someone donated to our youth group. I was back in business.

In a few days, Christopher bought me a new monitor, something called a flat screen. He also bought this amazing pair of speakers (no, I don't kow the brand, only that the sound quality is phenomenal). And when that screen crapped out two years later, he replaced it with his, since he and his family were now living at my house, and his giant screen for the TV was doubling as his monitor.

I ignored the squiggly lines made by my two-year-old grandson who shouldn't have had access to a Sharpie in front of a monitor and forged on.

When that one crapped out, Christopher replaced it with a used one someone had donated to his computer repair business. And no, I don't have any idea what year that was or its size.

This past summer, that monitor and I began a morning battle that would continue for six months. It went like this:

I turn on monitor. Monitor blinks and goes back to sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat, anywhere from five to fifteen minutes with blearily sipping coffee.

Any thinking person would buy a new monitor. But that's not why I started an emergency fund. That was for EMERGENCIES, not a monitor that played games with me every morning when most people are still sleeping.

And so it continued.

Finally, the monitor was taking so long to turn on, that Rebekah (I don't know how to do such things) adjusted the controls so it never went to sleep. The ensuing light distrubed our sleep, so she covered it with a  pillow case, a bad idea, because monitors emit A LOT of heat. So we scrapped the warm pillow case, and she rested a book binder against it, partially obscuring the light.

At this point, we decided the monitor was a fire hazard. A new onbe seemed like a reasonable thing to consider.

But then we rolled into college finals and holiday deadlines at The Herald-News and Timothy's medical emergency, and there was either no time, no money, or no transportation for a monitor. And we worried that it might not be the monitor, but a problem with the computer itself.

To determine that, Rebekah and Daniel disconnected my monitor and replaced it with an old one of Daniel's. That, too, was a flat screen, but very tiny. Not sure the size, but it was small, as in manybe twelve inches small, according to one of the kids said, so small, that working was darn near impossible.

It continued this way for a couple weeks, with some minor grumbling from me.

On Old Calendar Christmas on Thursday, Timothy announced that he, Rebekah and Daniel had collaborated on a present for me, but it hadn't arrived yet. On Friday when I came home from work, Timothy said the present had arrived and was now on my desk.

Intrigued, I headed for my room and desk. No present.

I moved aside my scattered papers of notes and looked. No present. I returned to Timothy's room with one question, "Where?"

It was truly a face palm moment.

I had totally missed the HUGE monitor and new keyboard and mouse. Now I was a little surprised at the last two, since there was nothing wrong with those.

"The keyboard had missing keys," Timothy said.

"But the keyboard always had missing keys," I countered."It was a used one from Christopher. And they were keys I never used."

BTW, the keyboard is amazing, much easier on the fingers than the old clackety-clack model I had used for, well, I don't know how many years. I'm already accustomed to the mouse, and I love the keyboard.

I told everyone so on Sunday evening.

"Well, that was a delayed reaction," Daniel said as I bid him good night.

Doesn't he understand I couldn't tell how great it was until I spent a weekend writing fiction (Before the Blood) on it? Sheesh! Kids!

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