Blue Screen Of Death

The Yellow Object Of My Affection

We become connected to objects based on the level of emotional attachment we may have with the tangible item. Your grandmother’s candy dish is more than crystal, it reminds you of every time you went to visit and she let you have sweets – something your parents strictly limited.  We save artwork on the refrigerator that our children drew because it reminds us that those handprints will never be that size again. We hold off opening the bottle of wine we bought on the trip to Napa Valley with the intent of uncorking the vintage on a future date of significance, which is still TBD (see Drink The Wine from April 2013). Whatever the reason, objects provide a tangible representation of our memories and our emotions, so while a photograph will do, seeing the candy dish or the artwork – or one day tasting the wine – brings back all those details in full, recurring enjoyment.

I have a deep attachment to my laptop, but I often have trouble determining if my affection sprouts from the collection of stickers sprawled across the surface, the adventures upon which we have embarked together, or the utilitarian necessity it lends to my life. I’m a writer, and whether a college term paper or a blog post, my laptop provides the necessary tools to transform ideas into Internet content. Still equipped with a DVD player, my computer served as an alternative form of entertainment when I lacked Internet, television, or company. Stickers slather the exterior reminding me travels to Hawaii and Wyoming, plus humorous quips, logos, and achievements. Perhaps the combination of its practicality, reliability, and posterity all unify into a single beautiful object of my affection.

A Rising Tide

Beach vacations sound tranquil and relaxing. Listening to the gentle ebb and flow of the waves, maybe splashing in the water as you stroll along the tide line – one moment cool, smooth sand and next ankles beneath the salt water stretching into a vastness over the horizon – and provides a sense of calm in its repetition. Now imagine the tide increases, and you find yourself deeper and deeper in the water until a wave rises over your head and you wait for the moment you can rise back above the surface and inhale.  In computer terms, this may be the sensation when you see that first blue screen of death. Your computer is fallible and you may not have even noticed the increase time the device was taking to boot or restart or load. You may have lost what you were composing or editing or crafting. If you weren’t saving as you worked, you may be in over your head.

Eventually, like a rising tide, another blue screen appears, and I watch the device for every flag waving its sequential warning that my yellow playmate may be closing in on its demise – drowning in a sea of error screens and failed uploads. My beautiful, beloved storyteller, arrayed with the icons of our escapades and storing my words and images and music and podcasts, bobs and gasps until I must relinquish and replace it. Many may view this as simply a technical upgrade, but inevitably I will find myself trying to accept the terms of use of a Microsoft software package that I know in twelve months will fail to renew correctly, hampered by a cloud-based storage system that will prove useless when I am in a cabin in the mountains without Wi-Fi, and modify the style and display preferences that will once again need to be set and styled to my tastes. I, too, am drowning in grasping and absorbing the impending chore of starting over with a less reliable and responsive computer knowing what it will take to break from this riptide. I cannot imagine ever finding a replacement as appealing as my current life and memory preserver.

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