All around us, it was as if the universe were holding its breath, waiting. All of life can be broken down into moments of transition or moments of revelation. This had the feeling of both.
I don’t want to count how many years it’s been since Babylon 5 went off the air, but quotes from it keep coming back to me. (Such a well-written piece of science fiction that was.) This has been a year of transition, and I’ve been so busy living it that I haven’t had the presence of mind to write about it.
Mom once told me a story of when she was a little girl, and the kid down the street had a new battery-operated light on his bike. “I’m not supposed to use up the battery,” he said, but he proudly switched the light on and then quickly off again.
“Maybe that was the last time it will work,” Mom said, “maybe you used up the battery.”
“Nuh-uh!” the boy said, and switched the light on and off again.
“Maybe that was the last time,” Mom teased.
Jill has a ’97 Ford Mustang convertible. Beautiful car, powerful, if a bit thirsty for fuel.
That last part became a problem a few years ago when she took a job in Lake Mary, which is an hour-and-a-half’s drive each direction. It became quickly apparent that the fuel costs alone would drive us to the poorhouse; so that’s when she bought the Honda Element, which is gentler on the budget and more comfortable to drive that distance.
Fortunately she decided to leave that job, but we both still drive the Element, and her Mustang has been sitting unused in the garage for long stretches of time. Jill has been wanting to teach me how to drive a manual transmission, but something always comes up and scuttles those plans. So while the car has been sitting unused, the battery died; Nick (our mechanic) put a new one in and we let it sit too long again and THAT battery also died. So as of two weeks ago we have a NEW new battery.
Yesterday morning was cool, breezy, overcast. I told Jill, “It’s time. Let’s go give me a driving lesson.”
I love fixing up old computers. Who needs the latest-and-greatest if all you’re going to do is web surfing, email, and some light word processing? I’ve accepted donations of dozens of unloved computers around town, I’ve wiped them clean and put Ubuntu Linux on them, and I’ve given them new homes with families who need them. The new owners don’t mind much that Ubuntu can’t run Windows games or Windows viruses.
I’ve got a collection, in fact, of very old Mac computers. One of my favorite is a Mac IIfx, which was totally the boss of its day. 40MHz! “It can finish an infinite loop in twelve seconds!” people would say. “It takes seven HALT instructions to stop it!” I hear the Linux m68k project has come to life again; maybe someday I can put Debian on it.
I wish I knew as much about fixing cars as I know about fixing computers.