I am trying to embrace change.
For example, the words above were the very first ones typed on my new non-Tribune laptop. For about an hour before that, I navigated the Internet for the first time on this foreign being, tried to locate all the cool new functions and yelled at my husband.
It then took me five minutes to craft this sentence because every time I typed a word, I inadvertently breathed on something that kept defining everything and then making it disappear. So I yelled at my husband some more.
Now I am exhausted.
This is not my first new laptop. In my 26 years of sportswriting, I have had many different models beginning with a “portable” computer roughly the size of a Datsun. To send my stories to the newsroom, I would first crouch in front of the headlights of my car (I was covering high school football in Central Florida in the early 1980s, and this is what we did), frantically punching in codes and secret formulas that I usually forgot.
Then I would take the giant black, rubber couplers that came with the “Port O’ Bubble” (this is seriously what the computer was called even though it was about as portable as a console television) and try to stretch them to the nearest phone booth (we also had phone booths then).
The couplers were supposed to fit over the handset of the phone. And they did – the first time anyone used them. Every time after that, they were stretched out sufficiently as to lose the connection of the phone signal the first 47 times you tried it.
Over the next decade or so in the world of newspapers, we had a succession of Radio Shack laptops that were much more modern and much more compact – so much so that it displayed no more than three lines of type. Oh yes, and the screen was flush against the keyboard so you had to climb up above the computer, or perhaps sit on several pillows, if you hoped to actually see what you wrote. Mostly you just hoped for the best.
No matter which newspaper I was working for at the time – Florida Today, the Orlando Sentinel, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune – every other paper seemed to have better laptops than we did. They were always faster, sleeker, cooler. And just when we’d get an upgrade, everyone else did too.
There was, however, always one equalizer. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, the laptop keyboard – or any keyboard for that matter – is not built to absorb liquid. At all. Not a drip from a cup of Coke jostled by another sportswriter’s belly. Not the spray from that same cup generated by an out-of-control Shaquille O’Neal barrelling toward the press table.
And strangely, not an entire cup of beer spilled directly onto your computer from an over-zealous fan leaning over the press box at the old Chicago Stadium. This happened to me once and trust me, all the cursing in the world will not bring it – or your story – back to life. I think I heard my laptop actually moan as it died. Or maybe that was me. No, I was swearing like a sailor, so it had to be the computer.
The tech support guys said they never actually saw a mother board completely submerged in Budweiser. Amstel Light, yes, but never Bud. But this was actually a fairly frequent happening in the Stadium press box in the early days of laptops. The roar of the crowd, followed by the swearing of a sportswriter who had beer dumped on their computer. After a while, there was almost a certain charm to it.
So I tried to never get emotionally attached to my computer. If it died, I would move on, usually upgrade, adjust. Or at least I thought I was adjusting. What I didn’t realize is that for the last 10 years or so, I have had computers extremely similar. They looked pretty much the same, felt the same and all had a little button thing in the middle of the keyboard that served as the mouse.
I have recently discovered that laptops are not made with the little button things anymore. That touch pads have been in vogue for some time now. I do not like the touch pad. No, I hate the touch pad. These last 14 paragraphs have taken me about four hours to compose, mostly because of the touch pad, along with the periodic yelling at my husband.
I FEEL LIKE MY WRITING HAS BEEN ADVERSELY AFFECTED. See? I meant to write, I feel like my writing has been adversely affected, but I was so distracted by the whole touch pad thing that the caps lock key got bad vibes.
I am trying to embrace change, I really am. And as soon as I yell at my husband again, I’ll let you know how it’s going.