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Sunday, March 6, 2016

In many ways, it needed to happen. Something not so good needed to happen on my recent Costa Rica trip. It was all going too well. Here, if I could, I would insert a killer photo of, oh, say, a quetzal. But I can't. Read on...

So there was this moment in a steamy hot eco-lodge called Las Esquinas on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica when I opened my little optics suitcase, and lifted up the 4" pad of soft clothing atop my laptop, and noticed that its protective high-impact plastic case had cracked and sprung off of it. Hmm. How did that happen, inside all that padding? Musta been dropped, or had the corner of another suitcase applied fast and hard.

And then when I went to use it, the mouse didn't click right. Over the next few days, it got funkier and funkier, until things ground to a halt on the plane home, coming into Columbus, and the mouse quit working altogether.

Years of work as a wildlife rehabber has made me pretty fast on my feet. Nothing like a phone call saying there are, oh, say, four orphaned baby hummingbirds coming in within the hour to make a person quick at reshuffling her life.  So as the plane was taxiing to the gate at CMH, I hatched a plan to get that sucker fixed.

You see, where I live, two hours from my nearest airport or metropolitan center, there is no repair facility that will touch a Mac computer. Not even with a ten-foot pole. The nearest place used to be in Newark, 1 3/4 hr. away. But then we broke up. So now I take my busted laptops to Elan Technologies in Columbus. I love the guys at Elan. They'll take your hacking, coughing Mac out of your trembling hands, ask for your top secret spy password, and open 'er right up in front of you. They'll even pull out some loops of intestine. And they'll say, "Yep, just what I thought, fried logic board, needs a media card too, gonna be a couple days, but we'll get it back to you good as new!" Then they'll stick the guts back in, transfer all your schtuff to an external hard drive and save it just in case something blows up, and fix that sucker.

In this case, whatever bump the laptop took on the bus apparently made the battery swell. And that's a problem, because the battery lies right beneath the mousepad on a MacBook Pro. So when the battery pushes up against the mouse, the mouse stops clicking. And when the mouse stops clicking,





You can look at things, but you can't open them or touch them. Or write. Or edit. Or access your calendar. Or your photos. Here, pause to rend clothes and beat breast. Here, do not insert photo of howler monkey going ape. Because you can't.

Because all your photos are in Columbus, and you're here working on your old laptop, off which you purged all your stuff so your son could play Minecraft on it by the hour.  Ha. ha. ha. ha. Ha. Joke's on you. But hey. You can get your email, and play The Facebook. And that's something.

So here I am at a Columbus hotel, where I've gone to retrieve my parked car. I'm dog tired, having gotten up at 3:50 AM in San Jose to start my 18 hour-trip home. It's 6:30 pm, getting dark. I do NOT want to spend the night in Columbus just so I can take the durn computer in to Elan at 9 the next morning. So I start texting friends. No answer from Option 1. I text another friend. No can do--in a crunch at work, can't get away. I'm sitting in the lobby of the hotel where I've parked my car for the ten-day duration, scratching my head, thinking about Option 3, which has yet to occur to me, when I hear a friendly halloo! And there are Jim and Nancy, with whom I've just spent a perfectly lovely trip to Costa Rica. And miracle of miracles, they're still happy to see me! Smiling at me! Not running away! Musta done something right!

They're going to spend a leisurely night in that very hotel before starting home to south-central Ohio. Much as I would love to do that, I can't afford it. And there is a little family in Whipple, very anxious to see me, even saving dinner for me. So I ask Nancy and Jim if they would mind my laptop joining them for a pajama party and breakfast at Elan. On the descent to CMH, I've already written a most detailed note to my friends at the repair shop, outlining various things needing fixage, on the only paper available to me, which turned out to be a plastic-lined air sickness bag from the plane.  I've included my contact info and top secret Apple password, too. Told you I was fast on my feet. All my sweet friends will have to do is drop it and run.

That was Wednesday, March 2. I hope to pick it up March 7 or 8. I'll spend a total of four hours in the car to go get it. And enjoy every minute. Because on that laptop are all my photos. And all my schtuff. I need my schtuff. And if I've learned anything with this little adventure, it's

1. Don't put your laptop in a suitcase when traveling. Carry it in your backpack, where, if it's going to     get thumped, you're going to be the one who thumps it. I do that on the plane, of course, but let           down my guard on the bus once in Costa Rica. Don't let down your guard.

2. Get AppleCare. Because if you live large and take your laptop along like I do, somebody's fer             shure going to thump it good. Or, as happened to me several laptops ago in Guyana, the Hottest,        Wettest Place on Earth,  it will simply stop working because it's waterlogged. And you will set it        out in the sun to dry out, and tiny pharoah ants will POUR out of the keyboard, where they've been    working overtime to eat all the cookie crumbs you've dropped into it over the years. And isn't it          nice to have Apple cover that repair? Yes. It is. There is nothing like seeing hundreds of  tiny              pharoah ants pour out of your keyboard.

3. When deprived of your laptop and all your stuff for a week, a good distraction is to clean                     your hellhole house. You may even get it done in less time, because you aren't twiddling away on       your, um, laptop. There. It's all done. And it only took 1 1/2 days. Well, the boys helped some.

4. When deprived of your photos, it's a good time to reflect on how utterly, pathetically dependent           you've become on photos to fuel your blogging. This is neither good nor bad; it just is. You should     be able to give a talk off the cuff if the projector breaks. And you should be able to write an                 engaging blogpost without pictures of quetzals and howler monkeys. Yes, you should. Not to say       you will want to. Waaaah. Here, pause to whine. moooonkkkeeeeyyssss noooooooo

So that's the deal, and this is my blogpost about it. See you maybe Tuesday, maybe Thursday.


You have my deepest sympathies. This must be SO frustrating! But it does appear that you can indeed write an excellent and engaging blog post despite the lack of photos. I don't suppose there is video of the Pharaoh ants and your keyboard is there? Hope all goes smoothly and your laptop is soon home.


Well, you're an artist--with paintbrush AND with camera. But, big but...(note: not big butT) are also a writer. And I think the muses must have decided you needed a bit more time on that. Well, done, by the way. This one time English teacher gives you an A, even while grimacing at the intentional misspellings. On purpose, l know, but I can be a purist

What a story, I hope your laptop is all fixed up and in tip top condition very soon.

Read clear to the end ... pictures are lovely but your words capture me totally!

Technology: wonderful while working, woebegone when wonked. I think, though, that we, your readers, ARE readers. Painting with words as you do, our imaginations translating into technicolor scenes.

Looking forward to seeing the howler who has been yowling and swaggering in my imagination for a few days now.

Posted by Gail Spratley March 6, 2016 at 1:38 PM

May the Elan Shaman (Shamen?) outdo themselves. But the folks are right, it is the words...

Of course I had to look up Pharaoh ants. Never heard of them before. And you're not the only one addicted to your pictures. They are a wonderful addition to your words.

What Gail said. For me, the writing comes first; photos are the bonus. And thank for you for every bit you share. Kim in PA

A thought to ponder- photos and blogs are wonderful but don't compare to good friends! DD

Posted by Anonymous March 8, 2016 at 11:45 AM

"Becalmed"; great word. So take the time to check your rigging, seal and caulk the craft as needed, and when the winds of technology quicken, be prepared to throw up all sails and get back on course.
We all love your words, Julie!

Apparently Mac batteries do this when they wear out. I am told that they can even explode. Apple really should provide safer batteries or have warning lights as batteries near the end of their lives.

Man, I like those wrens.

And of course that pero amarillo.

and this post.

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