Saturday, October 22, 2011

Waiting for the Flood, or Misadventures in Electronics

My life has been pretty uneventful since my near-sexual assault at the massage parlor on Thursday. I've been keeping one bespectacled eye on the news, looking for updates on the flood that may or may not engulf inner Bangkok this weekend and keeping the other one on the window for any sign of water rushing in.

So far so good -- though, unfortunately, not for the hundreds who have lost their lives and the thousands more their homes and livelihoods to what last night I heard called the worst flooding to hit Thailand in a century. Previously, they had been using 50 years as the time frame, but hyperbole sells newspapers/guarantees online hits/keeps viewers riveted and interested.

The big news for me (actually, small, in the general scheme of things, but these times that try men's souls require some levity) has been my purchase of a new Hewlett Packard Mini notebook yesterday. For the next couple of months, it will be a stand in for my beloved companion of three and a half years, one that had stuck by me across five continents and through countless airport security checkpoints: an HP laptop that decided to croak on Thursday, the night before I needed it to once again come through for me during a second Skype job interview.

The funny thing is that just a few days earlier, I had been browsing the HP Minis at Central World mall and daydreaming of spending the 7,550 baht (or about $250) that I'd have to shell out to take one home. I thought about my laptop, which had not been particularly well-behaved in recent weeks. I suspected that it might not outlive my time in Bangkok. Thank God, I'd just copied its file contents onto my external hardrive!

I did, however, expect it to survive at least until after my interview. But one minute it was working -- shortly after I published my previous post -- the next it went blank. (Not to worry, though: I'm convinced that my computer-genius friend Marcus will be able to revive it once I'm back in Melbourne.) I'll admit that I panicked, and I lost a bit of sleep, but where there's a will, there's a way, and there was certainly a will, and by extension, a way -- but I'm starting to repeat\confuse myself.

Though I missed my appointed interview time -- 10am (2pm in Sydney, which is where the job would be) -- I found an Internet cafe where I was able to do it an hour and a half later while waiting for the guy who'd sold me the new HP Mini to set it up. In the end, I'm kind of glad that things worked out this way. I was able to show my dedication to a potential employer -- who knew that I had gone above and beyond in order to make the Skype interview happen -- and I have a brand new toy. (I really wanted blue, but they were out of stock, and beggars/bargain hunters can't be too choosy.)

I don't think I'll ever completely figure out the Thai keyboard, but I've been down this road before. I'd barely fully learned to maneuver the Argentine one on my HP laptop. Umlauts were the biggest challenge -- and I don't think I can even make them now. (As you can see from the photos in this post, I'm no pro with a digital camera either.) I also might need my glasses to actually see the Mini, but I'm sure that my eyes will eventually adjust, and I'll be able to go back to being the blind vain fool that I've been for years.

The laptop/notebook incident reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend Dave a week after I was attacked and robbed in my Buenos Aires apartment in 2007. As I was going down the list of things the burglars had taken -- my flat-screen TV, my DVD player, my laptop... -- Dave stopped me.

"Your laptop? That old thing? You should have just given it to them willingly. 'Here, take it. I really need to get a new one anyway.' They kind of did you a favor!" Only Dave could have gotten away with being so irreverent.

It hurt my bruised ribs to laugh as hysterically as I did, but it felt kind of good, too. I was still scared and scarred by what had happened, but that I could see anything positive -- and funny -- about what had been such an emotionally and physically brutal experience told me that I would get through it, sanity and sense of humor intact.

That's how survivors roll.
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