Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moving. Ugh.

Packing. It consumes every waking non-hospital minute of my life. I’ve been in full-on combat mode for over two weeks. If I had to make a list of things I most detest in life, very near the top would be moving, or moving house, as the British say. It is just such a huge amount of work.

Dutch and I have lived in this house for four years—one of my longest stints, five years is my record for one house. I’ve moved a lot. We’ve had four great years here; it’s a wonderful house, with a beautiful west-facing view of the tundra and a large deck that catches the afternoon sun.

Over the last two weeks I’ve watched the house slowly come apart, as pictures came down off the walls, bookcases were emptied into boxes for shipping (my precious few) or for donation to the library, shelves were emptied of their Yupik artwork. I’m about down to bare furniture, and the house is feeling empty.

Despite a good amount of heartless tossing of old things, there are still stacks and stacks of boxes to be picked up by Bob the mover guy on Monday for delivery to the city dock and loading on a barge to Seward. Leaving Bethel is not as simple as renting a U-Haul.

When I’m not actually packing boxes, I’m thinking about what needs to be packed, and when, and how to organize the great help I’ve been receiving. Breezy and Summer have been lifesavers of infusing energy and get-er-done attitude. And they’ve moved lots of heavy stuff, too. They brought their friend Liza along, and she’s been a big help. Joan and the boys came over last night for pizza, and they made short work of some big boxes full of camping gear. One shed now completely empty {dusting her hands and feeling satisfied}. Second shed nearly so. Third shed holds all the boxes packed so far. By the end of Labor Day weekend, the house should be nearly empty.

Three days later I leave for a spirituality festival in California, at which I have been invited to speak. So along with all the packing, I’ve also been putting together slide shows, scanning lots of old photographs I have going back more than thirty years. I will see old friends there that I haven’t seen for a very long time, including two young women that I love dearly, and had a hand in raising for about five years when they were children. I think of them as my nieces, but I love them more as my daughters. I haven’t seen them since 1991.

On the way back from California I gave myself a short visit with Dutch in Kenai before flying to Bethel. Then it is a two-day turnaround (during which I have to go to the dentist and take both dogs to the vet for their health certificates) to fly out to Seattle to see Dad and Stepmom before driving with a friend to the Women’s Harvest Celebration in Montana. Whew. Then back to Bethel with my friend Jody (mentioned previously on the Arctic Adventure and the post Jody’s Trials) for five days to clean the house up completely, distribute the last of the wine collection to friends, and ship the dogs to Kenai. And have any more dental visits that are needed (there’s this one tooth…).

By October 1st Jody and I will be in Anchorage, hopefully picking up my new (to me) car, and then going to see the orthopedic surgeon about hopefully replacing my hip. Like the next day. The injury I wrote about in April of 2007 caused a rapid progression of arthritis, to the point that my hip is now bone-on-bone with no joint space left. For the last three months, it has been constantly painful, at times awful. So I’m thinking hot lights and cold steel. To cut is to cure. Everyone I’ve talked to who has had a hip replacement, and is more than a year out, says they are only sorry they waited so long to get it. Besides, I’m behind schedule. Both parents and my younger sister have had six hips replaced between them. It definitely runs in the family.

Stating the obvious here, but posts will be pretty sporadic for a while.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Online Again

After two full weeks without a computer in my house, I have a new appreciation for the roll of my laptop in my life. Every time I turned around, I was missing it for something.

The internet, of course. Couldn’t check my email accounts. Couldn’t make my airline reservations, hotel reservations, car reservations for two upcoming trips next month. Couldn’t shop for a new laptop backpack when my old one permanently popped its zipper. Couldn’t take a Google Earth tour of my niece’s new address to see what kind of neighborhood she’s moved herself into. Couldn’t do my online banking/bill paying. Couldn’t keep up with my favorite bloggers, Dr. Dinosaur, the Cranky Professor, MDOD, Ambulance Driver, and a few others. A dozen times a day I was reaching for my laptop to check something out, and coming up empty handed.

Of course I have a computer at my desk at the hospital, and was able to at least keep up minimally with my email. But doing anything more requires going in early or staying late, and neither of those am I inclined towards. As my friend Dr. H says, “the longer you are here, the longer you are here.” I certainly did not want to spend the kind of time there that I usually put into the writing of posts for this blog. And I can’t post photos from there.

Separation from my laptop also allowed me a new appreciation of my non-internet dependence on technology. I will be a guest speaker at a festival next month and am currently going through hundreds of old photographs to put together three different Powerpoint presentations; without the computer I couldn’t start scanning and organizing the photos I want to use. Visitors in town from the lower 48 were over for dinner and wanted to see some old photos of Bethel I had scanned and saved before returning the originals to their owner. Nope, sorry.

But mostly the dependence is connected to writing. Without my laptop I have not written anything for the last two weeks. Zip. Zilch. It feels so…weird. Empty. I’ve had several pieces planned in my head and wanted to capture them before they drifted away. The right brain said “OK, so take a pad of paper and a pen and start writing. You remember how to do that, right?” And the left brain answered, “What?? Actually press pen to paper and leave a trail of ink? Do you know how SLOW that is? Whole sentences evaporate before I can capture them!”

The truth is that I can type about as fast as I can think, while gazing pensively at the tundra, which helps to transport me to that alternate mindspace in which my best writing happens. I don’t have to think about the process which transforms thoughts in my head to retrievable files which can be stored or printed. Handwriting with pen on paper requires far more focus on the process, and far more energy. Maybe I am just lazy, but I allow it to keep me from writing. I think back to those authors of the pre-technology era, like Jane Austin and Charles Dickens, and I wonder how they did it. As much as I would love to visit them during their times, it would have to be with my laptop and digital camera.

So it was with great joy and anticipation that I finally welcomed my laptop home last night. The wonderboy computer geek at Bethel Alaska PC managed to figure out the bizarre problem with my laptop, after disassembling the entire thing down to its component coils and wires.

As he explained it to me, the power button, in the top center of the keyboard face, is connected to a plug-in on the inside under the keys at the top right by a small wire. This plug-in is adjacent to the right hinge for the screen face. The wire is held in place by a piece of tape. Yeah. A piece of tape. Over time, the heat generated by the laptop in use made the piece of tape sticky on both sides instead of just one. When closed, the top of the tape was sticking to something above it; opening the laptop was pulling the wire out of its connection. So I couldn’t turn it on.

While Rich had the computer broken down he cleaned it all up, used some kind of silver compound to dissipate heat from heat sensitive parts, and secured that troublesome wire in a more reliable fashion. Final result: computer is working beautifully again. And I am so glad to have it back. What’s more, it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Rich doesn’t charge for diagnostic time, even though he spent nearly two weeks trying to track down the problem. Final bill: $116. Way better than the two grand I was anticipating having to spend to buy a new computer.

I am ready for a lighter and more streamlined model than this seven-pound clunker (Dell Latitude D800), primarily so it is easier to carry in a backpack when I am traveling. But when I am sitting at home, this one works fine and has given good service for the last two years. Dutch just had Rich put a brand new hard drive in it a few months ago with a basket load of gigabytes, so baring other bizarre hardware problems, it should last me a few years yet. Maybe I just need more upper body strength.

Stay tuned for actual TMD blog posts with pictures coming your way soon, as I am able to squeeze them out between packing boxes. Forty-five days until my one-way trip from Bethel to Kenai. Of that, I’ll be traveling for 23 days. Not much time left for packing. I’d better get cracking…


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Computer Blues

Last week my computer went belly up. One minute it was working fine; I put it in "sleep" mode, and when I came back it was frozen with the desktop being displayed. The cursor would move, but I could not click on any icons, and if I positioned the cursor on the bottom tool bar, the hour-glass appeared. The start icon did not work. Control-alt-delete did nothing. Holding down the on-off button did nothing. I literally could not turn it off. Dutch suggested unplugging it over night so the battery would run down and it would shut itself off automatically; then, hopefully, I could simply turn it back on. So that's what I did. By the next morning the battery had run down and it had turned itself off. So I plugged it back in and came back four hours later. Unfortunately the second half of the solution did not work. It would not turn on.

So I carried it (laptop, thank goodness) in to Bethel's computer geek and he is trying to resurrect it. At this point he is in the process of taking the entire thing apart. I should know by Friday whether there is any hope of continued life. If not I'll have to shop for a new computer, which wasn't really in the budget right now. My fingers are crossed.

Any insights out there as to why and/or how this happened? My computer guru is baffled by it.

And thanks to Joan for the loan of her computer so I could post this. I figured a few of you might be wondering what had happened to me.