Tech Lessons

Last year I found I needed a new-to-me Macbook Pro when I poured coffee on the spacebar of my current one.  In a year of cash that trickled rather than flowed, this took some doing, but I did it, and voila – its Faster Better, Quiet, sleek and wonderful.  In January 2015 the crashing began and was misdiagnosed three times before last month the truth was finally revealed to me:  my Faster-Better-Quiet had terminal graphics card failure.  Basically the thing is on life support while I farm it’s guts for the treasures I’d buried there, but it’s definitely palliative.  Bye Bye.

I do not grieve.  We had so little time together after all, in the context of Macbook lifespans.

Nope no grief.  I rage.

My vacated chair as I follow the sage advice to those beset with tech horror:  walk away from the computer...
My vacated chair as I follow the sage advice to those overcome by tech horror: walk away from the computer

There are three books in progress on that thing.  Four short films about making art – none of which I can open on my OldTrustyNoSpacebar.  Many many GB of exploration of the #Water project and the #Paper Works project.  Songs, sheet music, arrangements, new contacts, doodles, rituals, photographs…

In one year, all of that, gathered, pondered, collected.  I thought I had four more years at least.  Rage.

The floor in front of me as I contain my rage, so that I can calmly get back to work...
The floor in front of me as I contain my rage, so that I can calmly get back to work…

All of this can be dealt with, of course.  During one of the misdiagnoses I prudently bought a backup drive – everything is there when and if I need it.  I just need to … dig.  Also, many of the projects require software that OldTrustyNoSpaceBar doesn’t have.  Not a problem, I can sort this out too by downloading updates and freeware from the internet.  I just need to … find the updates, the freeware….


OldTrusty, this morning, looking game.  Bluetooth keyboard solved the garbled writing issue...
OldTrusty, this morning, looking game. Bluetooth keyboard solved the garbled writing issue…

The thing is, I’m writing and recording music for Liz Zetlin’s film, Herons and Monks.  I’m so very honoured to be asked, so excited to mix voice and cello to her images and her poem – as tastefully as she has built the latter.  It’s a lovely film.  Liz has been waiting and waiting to hear what I’ve been doing, and I’ve been busy with concerts, rehearsals, teaching, helping my folks leave the family home, but mostly in denial about Faster Better Quiet, who was getting worse and worse each time I worked – Oh! files lost just before saving, posts gone forever, poems fractured into digital soup… I took It in again to the repair guy.  And again, grim but still hopeful, thinking – when I pick It up next week I can clear the boards of all else and finish…

By then Faster Better had lost my respect and my love.  Well no wonder It died.

Meanwhile, no internet at home.  OldTrusty lives at the studio and can’t connect through the internet provider we have at home (something to do with a Snow Leopard glitch….eih?).

A clever #Selfie, learned after last year's project.  This was the little Rothfuss
A clever #Selfie, learned after last year’s project. This was the little Rothfuss

So, shrug, I read a little perfect book by Patrick Rothfuss.  And then another big one by Donna Tartt, and another by Alice Hoffman.  My insomnia disappeared for ten days.


I took a holiday – the first real, healing one I’ve had in about twenty years.  Just two fantastic sleeps, with books.  I did take OldTrusty, but just wrote journal.

It’s a week since that little holiday, and I sit in the end of the cleared time, writing this on OldTrusty, since Better Faster is written off.  I have laid down at least forty vocal and cello tracks in my begin-from-scratch music for Liz’  Herons and Monks.  Dear OldTrusty has caught and saved twelve of those, but lost the rest because (as my recording software tells me fairly regularly),  cannot record.  disc is too slow.  That’s alright.  It’s making the work better.

It’s making me better, actually.  The film is about many things – stillness, patience, gathering, scattering, dancing and releasing.  All of these things have happened with me and my technology these past three days and two sleeps, while I make music fit for herons, cranes, a monk who, close to ninety, sits for eight hours a day, over nine days, to build a mandala out of sand.  Music also for Liz, so dear to me, who has waited.

Thanks Liz.  See you tomorrow morning.


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    • That’s what I did, Ralph! Except that the new keyboard’s wireless. I really love it too – can now put the heavy, hot laptop anywhere and type on this tiny black thing in front of me. Silver lining, indeed!

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