A Boy and his Mac

I’ve been a very busy beaver the last few weeks, though it has had nothing to do with editing Automaton. For your reading pleasure, an Old Yeller style tale of the events that lead me to finally getting that Macbook Air I’ve been eyeing for over a year…

It happened the day before I was to go out of town for a cousin-in-law’s wedding, and a smidge more than a month before NaNoWriMo. I was on my lunch break adding items to my list-of-things-not-to-forget-to-pack-this-time on my trusty old 2006 model Macbook Pro. Just a few minutes before, I had marveled at its longevity and its ability to deliver LOLCATS to me at near the speed of light; lovingly, I had admired the dents and scratches that marked near-catastrophes; we’d been through so much together, Mac and I.

I glanced at the battery icon. “Sixty-one percent? Odd, I charged the damned computer all night… I mean amazing marvel of modern technology,” I corrected myself and stroked the edge of the screen. It was then that I recalled the amber light on the end of the charging cord, a baleful point of light telling me that despite almost eight hours of charging, the battery still wasn’t full. Something must be wrong. But what? I had been in too much of a rush to investigate that morning, but now…

A minute later, I glanced back up, and the battery icon said, “fifty-nine percent… jerk.”

“I’m sorry, Mac. I didn’t mean it. You’ve been my faithful companion, through 2 marriages, 3 hard drives, 4 OS upgrades, and 2 used-up batteries. You know I think you’re the best.”

It just stat there sullenly, while another percentage of battery power ticked off. Thirty seconds later, the “jerk” bit was removed, along with yet another percent of charge. At that rate, the battery would be dead in half an hour. It was time to take more drastic measures.

I looked up how to reset some arcane power management hardware settings, contorted my fingers in the appropriate magical gesture, and rebooted.

“Apology accepted! Just don’t shut me off. I’m the only one who will ever compute you…”

I maintained the key presses for 10 seconds as instructed, and then released it. Once my hand stopped cramping, I hit the power button.

A jet engine made a low pass over my head and then hovered there. Actually it was just that the computer cooling fan had ramped up to a ba-jillion RPM for no good reason. I hit the power button, and the jet engine went quiet, then powered it back on… Jet. Off… quiet. On… Jet.

My lunch break over, I decided to deal with my ailing computer when we had more time to be alone together. Once home, I plugged the power adapter in and waited for the little light to glow orange. And waited. I checked that the outlet was working, I jiggled the adapter’s various connection points. Nothing.

Desperate to find any signs of life in the silent machine, I powered it on. A choir of Jet engines screamed to me that my trusty Mac had electrons flowing through it’s circuits, and the familiar gong sounded, barely heard above the din. The screen came on, I logged in and everything was as normal. Except for the jet engines, and the lack of the amber light. Also an unfamiliar, arcane symbol had appeared in the menu bar: an ‘X’ was drawn over the otherwise familiar battery icon. Hovering the mouse cursor over it told me that there was no battery. Just like the spoon in The Matrix.

Whoa.

I lifted it up and checked; the battery was indeed still there.

Despair overtook me, and then a single thought floated to the surface of my mind: When was the last time I ran a backup? I scrambled for the right cables, hooked the drive up, and plugged it in. I was
sure it was a race between the invisible opponents of an unknown battery level and the backup software. Would the electricity run out first, destroying the half-finished backup and possibly corrupting the
entire backup drive? Was the power adapter even doing anything? I checked it for heat, but it was barely above room temperature.

A weak voice, barely heard over the din of the fans croaked, “I’m done for, Dale. I may not last through the hour, but these 6 years have been the best years any Mac could ask for. Just promise me this: you’ll move on when I’m, gone.”

I looked up from my phone, where I had loaded apple.com/store. “Oh. I don’t know if I can, Mac,” I said, slipping the phone into my pocket.

“You’ll finally be free to take up with that Air-hussy…”

I wanted to defend her, but my I hadn’t exactly been discreet about the newer, sleeker machine. Mac had earned better treatment by me, so I stayed silent.

“Don’t worry. With my last megahertz, I will copy your latest bookmarks, the last few words you tapped out for your novel that you won’t let anyone read, and the most recent spankeme.com videos your
downloa…”

“WELL! Mac,” I said, “that’s very generous of you. I’ve… um… always been able to trust you with so much of my life. We’ve had a good run, but I’ll miss you none-the-less.

Just then, the external drive spun down; the backup was complete. I sat there staring at the familiar screen, the little dents and the speaker grill with some of it’s holes clogged with schmutz, and I said my silent goodbye. Silent except for the scream of Mac’s fans.

“Dale?” Mac said as I reached for the off button.

“Yeah?”

“Don’t forget… your dentist appointment next Tuesday at 8:30 am.”

I pressed the power button, and it’s screen when dark. I patted the now silent lump of metal, plastic, and memories.

“I won’t Mac… I won’t.”

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