Goodbye to an Old Pal

This poor blog has been sorely neglected over the last handful of weeks. As I look back, I don’t have a great excuse, other than a bit of laziness, but I think I am going to blame it on my recent laptop conversion. Late last year, my trusty pink Vaio laptop began to fail. I would be working away on a project and suddenly I would hear a small popping sound and then everything would go black. Nothing. No power. No charge. Everything not saved, gone. (This was right as I was working on my graduate thesis, so I quickly became an obsessive saver, as little is more painful than having pages upon pages of ideas disappear. Yes, they were still rattling around in my head, but sometimes it is nearly impossible to recreate that perfect sentence that you cobble together, reconstruct and then rework one more time.)

With my faithful laptop looking at an imminent demise, back in late February I finally broke down and bought a new one. I was really hoping to make the current machine last until summer when I would be home in the US to do some in-person shopping, but once it started to blink out three or four times a day, I knew the end was near. A DNR had been issued.

Not wanting to buy local, but also not wanting to buy online without seeing the product, it was time to do a little KL recon. (I am a stickler for a good keyboard. I want something with a bit of a click to it. I adore the sound of typing and want just the right background noise as I write away for this blog and other projects.) Looking at computers in Kuala Lumpur means a trip to Low Yat, possibly my least favorite shopping area in town. It very much reminds me of the computer city buildings in Chengdu- large edifices crammed full of legitimate brand name stores, flanked by less than reputable kiosks and shops selling anything with a battery or electrical connection. The whole place makes me both claustrophobic (something I am not) and uneasy. Am I going to get ripped off? Pickpocketed? Shived? All seem like possibilities.

One quiet Sunday afternoon, Thad and I made the trip to Low Yat where the main test of the day was keyboard clickiness. Once I determined that Hewlett-Packard machines, as whole, had the best sound, it was time to go home and narrow down my options. In the stores (“stores”?) I did see a few other brands of a 360-degree style that I really liked and the internet quickly told me that HP not only has this style, but it was highly ranked among its peers. I love the laptop/tablet combo idea.

Horrified by the price of laptops in general (I really thought they had gone down more than they had over the last five years), I finally settled on the HP Spectre, realized it was pretty much a set price at all stores, so made my purchase. Knowing that it had to be shipped to Kuala Lumpur through the diplomatic pouch, the fact that the Spectre had a built in battery was a huge selling point, as that fits within the regulations of pouch mail. Before buying, I even checked with the embassy mail room staff, who assured me that shipping with an installed lithium battery should be no problem.

Apparently, it was a problem.

As I excitedly watched the shipping progress from Best Buy to the pouch facility, I was horrified one morning to see that the box had been rejected by the pouch and returned to the warehouse. Best Buy refunded my credit card, but what I really wanted was my new computer. Ol’ Trusty was on life support and the prognosis wasn’t good.

Back to the internet I went, reordering the exact same item, but this time shipping it to my brother in Idaho, who then had to rebox it and ship it again (there’s an extra $30) with a customs label indicating that the battery had been removed. Ugh. (The second round of shipping did mean that when it finally came, treats from home and drawings from the niece and nephew were bonus gifts.) Two weeks estimated shipping time on the original purchase ended up being over six weeks, with the new laptop arriving just days after I left KL for a three-week stint at Consulate Ho Chi Minh City.

Now, I’m in the painful process of converting from the dying, cracked, pink laptop to the shiny, new, black and bronze beauty. But, the changeover is fraught. All of my life is on that other machine. It knows my links. It knows my passwords. It has Word. It has everything.

Plus, I feel a strange loyalty to it. (I tend to be loyal to a fault. I remember as a kid feeling guilty when I switched from regularly listening to my parents’ favorite oldies radio station to the current pop station. Strange loyalties, I tell you.)

Last night, I finally downloaded Word onto this new machine, so the replacement process is nearly complete. I am not sure what will become of the old machine as we face packing out in just a few short weeks, but I’m hoping by July to be fully dependent on this fancy new table/laptop, as it is much small and much lighter, a huge benefit as a summer of travel is headed our way. It is time to say goodbye to my old pal, my trusty buddy who has traveled all over Asia and back to American multiple times. It served me well, adding years of postings to my blog, sticking out a graduate degree in literature and giving me hours of wasted time on internet pic-dump sites.

The transition means it is time to get back to regular blogging; no more excuses. Blogs and Wordless Wednesdays are headed your way. Be prepared.

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