My laptop is my life here. It holds all my pictures, all my music, all my word documents, and my media. Plus it’s my link to the outside world via the internet. To lose my computer would mean losing the photos I hadn’t burned to discs yet. It would mean paying 3 manat for half an hour of internet at the internet café during café hours, as opposed to being able to go online earlier in the morning or later at night plus accessing blocked sites via a proxy and not having someone constantly looking over my shoulder. Paying for internet with my modem is less expensive than going to the café too.
Most of my entertainment comes from my computer whether it’s playing Text Twist or watching a TV show or recharging the battery of my mp3 player. On Saturday I played solitaire with real playing cards for the first time in over a decade. Then I got more bored with it than I do with computer solitaire and switched to euchre. Yes, euchre, the Midwestern card game for four players. I just played each player’s hand and I feel a little pathetic confessing to this. Don’t get me wrong, I still read the book I’m working on and I went running and I tidied up my room. But there are an awful lot of hours in the day to fill sometimes in Peace Corps and, as I’ve said before, there’s another element to media here that attracts us: the exposure to English.
The biggest problem I worried about was that if I lost my computer, I lost my ability to write. At least in a timely fashion. I’ve resurrected the paper I used to co-edit here, Murphy’s Law Review, and have diligently sent out three consecutive monthly issues. To lose that ability, plus the ability to type up blog entries and work on two resource projects I want to do, and start work on a piece to submit for grad school applications. I really started to stress.
It’s ironic that I’m more dependent on technology here than I was in the States. I didn’t have a cell phone there and if my computer had broken down, I would have been able to watch TV and movies on my TV and access the internet for free at the local public library or at work. I could listen to my CDs on my CD player and records on my record players. Yes, I was so old-school I had a record player that I regularly used. I also wouldn’t have to travel five hours to get to a computer guy.
But that’s what I did. I took my personal days to go into Ashgabat and see if the Peace Corps IT guy could fix it. I had to wait until Monday, which led to a weekend of solitary euchre tournaments and more playing time than my Ninetendo DS has seen in one sitting since I was a track coach taking kids on an eight hour bus trip to Las Vegas.
When I got to the office on Monday, he had gone home sick. On Tuesday I gave him my computer and left to go to the bank to get some cash off my Visa (to pay for an upcoming vacation plane ticket, something I had been needing to do but couldn’t bring myself to take personal days to do). When I returned he had my computer up to the start page that asks for my password. Apparently he didn’t have any problem with it when he clicked ‘restart,’ which made feel like an idiot. No, really, it was broken, I swear. But he told me about a different anti-virus protection he recommended. I had let my subscription lapse and hadn’t had any problems until someone infected a PCO computer with their flash stick and the rest of us got it on ours. I have four flash sticks that have it now, plus my SD cards, my mp3 player and my computer. I don’t think it was actually the cause of the crash because I’ve had the virus for a while and I think if it was going to do something it would have sooner. But it would be nice to get rid of it.
I’m in the process of downloading this anti-virus as I type this. My biggest fear is that downloading it will eat up all the money on my phone because it’s taking a long time. In the end I think this whole incident will end up having been a blessing in disguise. In addition to taking care of my money business, I also saw the doctor and had a test done and got to hang out with a volunteer that I don’t see often, plus schmooze with some staff and discovered a Bill Bryson book I haven’t yet read in the PCO library. And honed my euchre strategy…