Friday, May 25, 2012

No. 741 – Getting in Tune

Performer: The Who
Songwriter: Pete Townshend
Original Release: Who’s Next
Year: 1971
Definitive Version: None

After I started, it became eminently clear that I needed a new computer. When we flipped the switch on the website In June 2000, my Apple beige box was 4 years old, which, of course is like 200 in human years. I might as well be trying to publish my entries via semaphore.

Besides, Scott was getting tired of me constantly asking him to download certain songs and make CDs for me, such as, say, a complete facsimile of the lost Lifehouse album, which, of course, contains this song.

Then there was the problem that it was a beige box that had the portability of a cinder block. It would be helpful if I could have my computer with me at the library if I was doing any research—or for that matter, take it with me down to the deck if the weather were nice.

As usual, I hemmed and hawed on my purchase for months before I pulled the trigger in March 2001. Debbie was off in France, and I was feeling lonely, so to cheer myself up, I went out one day before work to Circuit City and bought a blue clamshell Apple iBook laptop. I added a new printer, a scanner, which I thought I’d need for something, and a Zip drive. (Who didn’t need the capability of being able to back up 50MB of files onto a single storage disc?) I threw in a mouse, because I wasn’t yet ready to commit to using the trackpad full time. The total price was about what I had spent on my first Apple.

In retrospect, I can’t stress enough how important that purchase ended up being. I took it everywhere (the computer, not the entire setup), because I could. It was with me when I went to the library in Columbus and later Cleveland doing research. It was with me when I spent a fall at Torch Lake compiling my research. It was with me when I went to Cooperstown to work in the Hall of Fame Archives for a month. It was with me when I moved to Chicago and began my job search.

It got so that anywhere I went, I looked for one thing—the nearest outlet where I could plug in Ol’ Blue. And if I could find an available phone jack or later an Ethernet connection, so much the better. At the time, I was on Earthlink and had essentially nationwide dialup service, because everywhere I went I made sure there was a local phone number to connect to that didn’t result in long-distance charges, which would have made such computing impossible.

It also got so I got overprotective of my computer to the point where much of the time, if someone ever had tried to rob me of it, I would, without hesitation, either not turn it over or fight him for it. Everything I had was on that computer, and if someone took it, well, you might as well kill me in doing it. Thanks to the miracle of thumb drives, I no longer feel that way about my current MacBook.

As it would turn out, I chose to make what turned out to be perhaps the single most important purchase of my life at what was a real crossroads in my life. It was that France trip where after less than a week after she had returned, Debbie announced that she wanted us to break up. She wasn’t happy that I hadn’t gone on the trip (I’ll get to that later), and the fact that I went out and bought myself a new toy while she was gone did nothing to alleviate her angst.

I don’t mean to sugarcoat the situation: Debbie and I didn’t break up because I bought a computer. The timing of the purchase could have been better, but it wasn’t going to change anything if I had bought a month sooner or later.

It did soften the blow later, however, when it allowed me to do things that made the computer worth dying for. Eventually, Ol’ Blue had to be retired for a computer that had Wi-Fi capability, but just in case there were any doubt, I still have it in a computer case under my desk. Me and Ol’ Blue went through a lot together; I can’t just cast that aside.

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