Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Catching up

I've been having problems with my laptop, a VAIO, all semester. It's been blue-screen-of-deathing me a lot. I was hoping it would hold out until the end of the semester. Then, I was planning to work my backside off over the summer to get if fixed. Until the end of the semester, though, I couldn't afford to be weeks (or even just a couple of days) without it. I had GIS labs I needed to do, papers to write, researchers to correspond with.

Of course, Murphy's Law states that, if you just can't do without your dear laptop, it will decide to die on you. Right after staying up all night working on a paper, in fact. It made a strange popping noise, the screen turned black, and I couldn't get it to turn on again, even the next day.

This threw me into a positive panic. I had to work on a group paper. Already, another member of my group (unhappy with me because I was 1 day late handing in my section the last time) had told my advisor (who also happens to be director of our programme) that I was working outside of school. Since I'm a graduate student on an assistantship, this was a serious accusation, and I was called in to my advisor's office. Anyway, it meant that I just could not be without a computer. So, I went out to BestB** and bought a desktop. What was my reasoning? I was still determined to get my laptop fixed, after I had some money, and time, and had someone recover some data off of the hard drive for me. A lot of people don't know this, but there are an awful lot of hazardous metals and other materials used in the manufacture of computer parts. Dismantling and recycling computers is a toxic business which, unfortunately, the U.S. tends to foist off onto developing countries. There, children work in factories without any safety precautions, dismantling and handling these products. My laptop still has all the functions I need when I'm on the go. I don't need fancy sound or video cards or anything like that. If it can get fixed, I'll keep on using it.

On the other hand, my brother always tells me that my laptop isn't suited to constant, prolonged use. That's what a desktop is for. I didn't get one in college because I was moving around so much, but I figured that I could get one now. I used up my emergency savings to buy a Gateway. I don't know if you've ever been in the position where you've used up your emergency savings, but let me tell you something; it's not a nice feeling. With the way things have been going for me lately, I'm waiting for the next blow to fall.

All that aside, though, I am very pleased with my new computer. I got a nice, flat, widescreen monitor; a desktop with lots more hard-drive space and a 13-in-one memory card reader (so I can still just plug in my memory sticks to get pictures off of my digital camera); Windows Vista (still withholding judgment on that one); and an all-in-one Lexmark printer that will scan, copy and print. I didn't need a new printer, but it came free with the computer and, now that I have it, I think I'll enjoy having a scanner to play with.

Of course, the next part in the computer saga was the wireless internet card. At first, I bought the USB wireless card that the salesperson recommended. I brought it home and installed the software before I realised how poorly-conceived its design was. It's so wide that, if you try and insert it into one of the USB ports on the back of your CPU, it won't fit in if there's another USB device plugged in next to it. Since most mice, printers and other peripherals these days are USB, chances are that you will have another device plugged in the back. If you try and put the USB wireless card in one of the USB ports on the front of the CPU, it's so long that you're very likely to catch it and rip it out soon.

I returned it, and bought a PCI wireless adaptor instead. They wanted $40 dollars for installation, so I figured, "What the heck, I'll install it myself. It didn't look that hard when my brother did it." Famous last words!! Well, after about 2 hours, I finally had it working properly.
That's caught you up on my computer woes. I do sincerely hope that they're over!! Today, I also caught up on some cooking. I haven't done any real cooking, and have been living off of leftovers and sandwiches, for over a week. Today, in between my housecleaning, I made tortilla soup (with a recipe from Cook's Illustrated) and jam-filled muffins (from Beth Hensperger's book, Muffins). It's the first time I've used jalapenos and chipotles in my own cooking, but it made the kitchen smell wonderful!! I even toasted my own tortilla chips, instead of buying a bag of them.
The muffins were simple, too. You fill the bottom third of the tin with batter, put in a heaping teaspoonful of jam or jelly (I used apple jelly), and then fill the cup up to the rim.
Apparently, there's some technique involved. The jelly leaked out the sides in some of my muffins. Next time, when I'm filling the muffin tin, I'll have to make not to leave any spaces right around the jelly. They taste great, though!


MooCow said...

hrm...and how were you planning to eat all those muffins, eh?? are you going to try to freeze or refrigerate them?

greeeenwithenv said...

What a nightmare! The computer problems, I mean, not the food. Those look heavenly.

Oh yes, I know what it's like to spend all my savings in an "emergency", but it was for a joyous occassion, not something to horrifying as having to replace a dead computer! Still, it felt like walking on a tightrope afterwards.

Lana said...

I gave some to Gary and Pam, brought some to the meeting I had with my group when we were working on the paper. We're starving graduate students! Food never goes to waste.