Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grabbida Frabidda

Yesterday I thought the weather had turned for the better. "Isn't it cooler?" I asked my American Literature Survey.

They furrowed their brows, pursed their lips and lifted their shoulders. "No, ma'am," they said.

"Hm." I sighed. "Well, it kind of feels like fall in the air. A little cooler underneath. On the breeze. Do you have fall here?"

"No," someone said. "Only sunny and not sunny."

"It's less humid, ma'am," Kim said, from the back.

Ah! That's it, I thought. And indeed, when I got home, the laundry I'd hung on the line in the morning was already completely dry--a near miracle, I thought, given the fact that the jeans I hung up on Thursday night, before we left for Singapore, were still damp at the waist on Monday morning, after we got back.

This morning dawned just as sunny as yesterday. Aside from the fact that I had a grinding headache, one of those that turns my right eyeball into a burning pool of snot jelly, I approached the day with hope. I'd wash Lizzie's dark jeans and they'd be dry by tomorrow, when she has to wear them again in order to practice her black-lights hands routine with the rest of the class. And since it's Wednesday, I'd sail out into the sunny, dry day with confidence, hopped up on the sinus-headache pills I dug out from the cracks in my briefcase, maybe jump onto a Jeepney headed down Katipunan and have a mocha frap at Starbucks, a Thai foot massage at the Natural Spa, read the story's for tomorrow's fiction workshop under an umbrella on the Rustan's patio.

The best laid plans... As soon as I got the clothing up on the line, clouds gathered from the mountains and menaced the yard. My eyeball headache peaked, throbbed, settled into my right ear--a dull, pushing ache. I went downstairs to check emails and Facebook; just as I added Beng as a friend and wrote on her wall, my laptop froze. I closed it and walked with Lizzie up to the main building to wait for her bus. I opened it again to the purple screen of death.

There are days when I want to throw my laptop into a big metal drum and set it on fire. It's wonderful to be halfway across the world from home and still be able to "connect" with all of my loved ones and acquaintances, not to mention the ability to keep in contact with my new friends and acquaintances here. It was odd, while we walked the streets of Singapore or hopped onto the MRT, to know that I couldn't text anyone or reconnect on Facebook--a feeling both liberating and slightly scary.

What makes me crazy about the communications world is how much rigamarole I have to navigate just to keep all these lines open. I have to have anti-virus software or else someone will find a wormhole in my computer and suck out my guts, starting with my bank account or my credit card. I have to worry about malware and spyware and whateverware, like the little fish we saw nibbling at peoples' feet in the Singapore zoo.

I don't like the fact that programs automatically update, sending out little queries into the webverse and pulling things back in, things that, as far as I'm concerned, have no discernable use in my life. The delicate balance can so easily be disturbed...

48 hours ago

I log in and get an error message, like "Windows Explorer just encountered an unexpected problem and will have to close," which bollixes up everything I'm trying to do at the moment (usually boot up), "send error message now?" and NO, I DON'T WANT TO SEND AN ERROR MESSAGE BECAUSE I'M NOT CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET YET, SINCE YOUR ERROR JUST BUMPED ME OFF.

I am getting ready to send another annoyed message off to McAfee, the anti-virus company that automatically renewed my subscriptions to the two programs (one of them unnecessary) that keep me "safe," to the tune of 149.00 charged to my credit card, and yet I continue to get warning and error messages every time I log in telling me that I'm NOT PROTECTED!

So, after Windows Explorer crashes a few times, I log in with the help chat person at McAfee, who 'chats' me through the de-installation of one program, and who links into my computer with something like a worm from her end of the world (her name is Pradjee, but she can be a man, for all I know of that sort of name; I picture her as a frowning woman with long dark hair, however). Pradjee tells me that I have old versions of the program on my computer. Pradjee keeps sending me links that hook me into Explorer, and Explorer doesn't work on my computer unless I'm in the office on campus, because it's set up with a proxy, so that keeps hanging me up, and in the meantime my battery begins to die, and I start to panic, and Pradjee assures me that we'll get done with this thing fast, and in the middle of the end of the deinstallation wipe delete thingee my computer redlights me, hibernates and dies.

I come upstairs, plug in, and finish the delete program. Then I try to log in with the Tattoo stick to reinstall the correct McAfee program. But something that Pradjee did must've destroyed something that the Globe Broadband needs to work, because as soon as I connect and try to open Firefox, the connection cuts off. This happens at least 5 times before I figure out that I'm an ass for trying the same thing over and over again.

I pull out the stick and decide to make dinner.

Later on, I go downstairs and try to download the program over the wireless. I get an error message, again and again, from McAfee: Check your internet connection. You are not connected.

But of course I'm connected, and that's what allows me to send a very bitchy email to McAfee about the problem. I tell them that I will do a little research, find an antivirus program that DOES work, and ask for a full refund.

I could go on and on about the frustration, the rank anger, that this kind of time-wasting produces in me. As I type this, in fact, my fingers come down harder and harder on the keys. Gad fraggle grommet! Piece of doobleheiger! Poodle hanger!

24 hours ago

I try again, downstairs, to download the program that I have already paid for, a month ago. Again, I get the error message telling me that I'm not connected to the internet. There is no email back from the McAfee people.

I log onto the SNC website, find their computing page, and download the McAfee antivirus software we're allowed to use. It takes a whole hour at aching speeds to download the program. But it downloads. And I manage to install it--after it freezes for a few minutes at "40 seconds remaining" and makes me want to smash something.

Fast forward... this morning, when in the middle of writing something on Beng's Facebook wall, my computer freezes up.

AHHHHHH! I keep getting the purple screen of death, a freezing whhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaa while the laptop ponders its navel and dithers off into some binary void.

So I decide to get serious. I shut down the computer and put it away.

Later, I open it up again and think, hey, maybe I'll write something on Facebook now. But I don't want to go downstairs. So I'll just use the stick.

But the stick doesn't work. It keeps hanging up on me, disconnecting as soon as I open Firefox.

Pradjee! If I could find you right now, I'd wring your neck! Grrr.

Time to get really REALLY serious. I open up "connections" and find a z-connection that I don't remember. It's probably Pradjee's worm. I delete it and try the stick again. NO JOY.

Time to get deadly serious: RESTORE.

I pick a date before we went to Singapore and click on it. The machine whirs, shuts down, reboots, and then --

and then --

and then --

purple screen of death for 5 whole minutes.

Flipping vortal chew! Green chunks on moldy toast!

The most irritating part of this process? My inability to do anything, and the speeds that the hamster in my brain cranks itself to on its wee wheel, paws smoking. What if my computer has died? What if Pradjee was some maniacal computer geek mining my computer for information and then frying it when she finishes? Will I find out that 10,000 dollars worth of gold bullion have been charged to my Mastercard tomorrow, after I log onto someone else's computer to check?

Finally, I do the unimaginable: CONTROL-ALT-DELETE. Which, for once, actually works and allows me to shut down.

And now I'm back, the computer's working, the stick works--though the massive thunderstorm DID kick me off, and the bolt of lightening that sizzled down just outside the window made me wet my knickers a bit. The rain has come and gone, the jeans are still sopping wet on the line where they've been hanging for the last 6 hours, and I haven't managed to make it out of the apartment for a massage, mocha, or walk.

But I may be able to go downstairs and connect now, paste this into a blog entry, and resume my life, such as it is.


Oh. And I woke up at 2 AM this morning to what I thought were gunshots. And then men shouting.

The guards tell me that, yes, there was something like gunshots last night. The police were called. But they found nothing. And, yes, the sound did come from the neighborhood just next to my bedroom window.


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