Saturday, July 04, 2009

Foreword : Forward

Click to see this photo's flickr page

We’ve wrapped up our road trip to Glacier National Park, all except for documenting the photos and putting together a scrapbook (which I’m hoping this will kick off). The last few days were busy with scurrying back and forth to pick up last-minute travel-sized items for a two-week road trip. The day that I’d planned to start rolling up my clothes and cramming packing them into my duffle, I also checked on my laptop. The thin plastic skin that covered my battery for my current USB modem was bulging out and looked ready to explode, so although it still worked well, I ordered a new model. When it arrived, I figured I’d make the swap and be good to go.

My laptop would have nothing of it.
I encouraged it, nudged it, begged, smacked it and cursed.


I spent the last two days before our trip not exactly packing as intently as I’d wanted, frantically going to two laptop repair shops only to confirm the nasty horrible prognosis:

I needed to reinstall my operating system.

Ugh! I methodically backed up my data and, biting the bullet, reinstalled my operating system. I glumly stared at my laptop, then glanced at my disheveled duffle bag and backpack and thought, “Ugh!”

The Windows CD stopped spinning as it completed installation of the operating system just minutes before we needed to leave for my last meeting, from which we’d head out onto the road. I spent the first few nights on the road reinstalling software and making sure I could reconnect to the internet, a barebones, but working, stopgap for the full productive connectivity I’d hoped for.

A few more days in, lazily staring out at crops that we were passing by, I realized, of course, that had I waited until we were already on the road to switch over to the new modem, I would have been completely sunk. I wouldn’t have had the Windows disks and software. We’d be hauling around a hefty black Dell brick, totally unusable. So for all the inconvenience and stress, it’s just as well things happened the way they did. And, amazingly enough, I did still have all the system and driver disks to take along, as well as all the software disks, too. I’ve finally, almost 4 weeks later, installed the drivers, and my laptop is about where it should be. Things all work out, in the end.

There was also something remarkably liberating about the idea that my laptop is new, a chance to organize my files better, install just what I need and use, and to move old files directly into archives.
Sometimes when it’s really least convenient, you find that what’s best is to start all over; nothing’s quite working as efficiently as it should anyway. New things aren’t fitting in and you can’t even get to the old stuff to reference or enjoy it. It’s a great leap of faith to know when you’ve really backed up all that you need to, to place your hands on the guiding programs that you’ll need and then go, “Okay, let’s start from scratch!”

And life, I thought, not just our computers, is like that.

Having to grit my teeth and clean my slate was a good challenge to go through, and a fitting foreword to the trip, to Glacier and hopefully, to the rest of the summer.