Thursday, May 03, 2007


Last night I knew I should try to write, but I knew that if I stayed home, I would just play video games. So I took the laptop and headed off to a coffee shop downtown. I decided to go to a place I'd seen, but never actually been to before.

I had to circle and crisscross the four-block area several times before finding a parking space. Of course, it was on the furthest corner of the Old Market from the coffee shop I planned to go to, but that was fine. The weather was nice, so the walk was pleasant.

The coffee shop, called The Meeting Place, has a lovely atmosphere. Very cozy and homey. (Actually, it's more of a bistro. The food looks very good, although I didn't have any.) I committed sacrilege and ordered a decaf mocha latte. (Too late in the evening for me to handle caffeine. Plus I'd already had a fully-loaded latte that morning.) The total came to $3-something. At first, I only saw three one dollar bills in my wallet, so I reached for the five. Then I noticed that there was another one crumpled to the side. So I gave him four ones, but my short-term memory got stuck on the five I had planned to get him. So when I got my change back--coins only--I thought I was missing a one. He corrected me, and when I looked in my wallet and saw that the five was still there, I knew he was right. He probably thought I was trying to rip him off, but he was very polite. I felt so embarrassed.

So . . . writing. I picked a nice spot by the window, not near any outlets but I figured I should have a decent charge on my battery. I hit the power button and nothing happened. So I moved to the next table, beside an outlet, and plugged in. Nothing happened, and I noticed the green lights on my compact surge suppressor were not lit. I wandered around the room for a while. Because of the shape of my surge suppressor, I could not plug in to the top outlet if someone else is plugged into the bottom. So it took me a while to find a spot with an open outlet, at about the worst spot in the place, right by the service door.

There, the green lights on the surge suppressor lit up, so I knew the power was good. But the laptop still did not start. I physically removed the battery and reinserted it. Then, still plugged into the wall, the laptop finally started. I nearly wept with relief. But then it got about halfway through the OSX startup sequence, and the screen went blank. The startup chime sounded again, the machine came up with OS 9.2. Keep in mind that either startup sequence on my laptop takes somewhere in the three-to-five minute range.

OS 9.2 finally came up, and I went to the startup disk control panel to change to OSX. Word only works in OSX, so if I wanted to work with my existing writing files, I couldn't stay in 9.2. Except the startup disk panel only showed 9.2. I closed and relaunched it, twice. It still didn't recognize the OSX system. I rebooted the computer, then went to the startup disk panel again and had the same problem, three times in a row. I launched the startup disk panel a fourth time (seventh, if you count the times before the reboot), thinking that I would just have to give up and accept the fact that OSX had somehow become damaged and was unusable. I was nearly in tears.

Finally, the OSX folder appeared, so I selected it and restarted. At last, the laptop was functional and in the proper operating system! All told, this took about a half hour, and by now I had finished my coffee.

Well, since the battery indicator showed an 80% charge, I unplugged the machine and moved to a more desirable table by the window, with no outlet. This was the fifth table I'd sat at. Of course, I kept my empty coffee cup close at hand to make it look like I still had something.

But now that the computer was finally working, my brain was not. I stared at the screen for close to a half hour before finally writing anything. I barely produced more than two pages, and--quite frankly--they suck. So I gave up and came home to play video games. I dropped a two dollar bill in the tip jar, because the guy had to put up with a lot, what with my confusion over the change and my game of musical tables.

Only two good things came out of the evening. One, the mocha at The Meeting Place was fabulous. Two, later in the evening, just before bed, a good friend who I haven't heard from in close to a year called me from Japan, and we had a wonderful chat. That cheered me up immensely.

Tonight after work, I will try again to write. I hope I manage to be significantly more productive. (It would be hard to be less.)

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