Monday, May 03, 2004

Don't Touch Me... Something will Break

You know, I really hope that this next week goes a lot better than the last. I don't really know what the deal was this last week, but it seems that everything around me seemed to either break, not work, or die. It was pretty sad, actually. This is a new week, though, and I can only hope that it gets better than the last. If it doesn't... well, this is going to be one long and unfun week.

My troubles started last week with the breaking of my company laptop on Wednesday. I took it down to Clear Lake to try to have some problems it was having displaying to an outside monitor resolved. After looking it over with the control center guys down there, we concluded that it just wasn't going to output to a monitor right. Ok, I suppose that wasn't so bad. I'd just have to use the laptop screen instead of a monitor. I was prepared to deal with that until an hour later when the bottom 1/4 of my laptop screen decided that it was going to display nothing but psychedelic colors in random patterns. No matter what I did, the thing wasn't going to work. Yippee. Since that was the best of the leftover laptops, I was downgraded to an old IBM Thinkpad that's running a Celeron at 550 mhz and an ATI mobility graphics card that has a max resolution output of 1028 x 768. Ugghh.

After that whole debacle, I am now working jointly using my laptop and my desktop at work. One is my display for interfacing with the program I'm writing the manual for and the other is my composing computer. I had finished the most recent user's guide, so I wanted to convert it to a pdf for distribution, but no matter what I did, acrobat always crashed when trying to convert the document. I tried version 4, 5, 6, and 6 with a patch but it always crashed. It turns out that Microsoft screwed up how it does intra-document cross-references since its previous versions so that now acrobat won't output a pdf if you use them. Crap. I couldn't get anything to work, but I think I finally found a conversion tool that might know how to handle Word's funky coding and output a proper pdf. I have yet to try the retail version, but the demo of Click to Convert seems to work. I've decided that the next product I write a manual for, I will use OpenOffice instead of Word to compose it. I'm done goofing around with Word's horrible problems that crop up when making complicated and long documents.

Later on in the week, I wanted to go for a run outside since it was a relatively warm day out (I hate running when it's cold), so I changed into my running gear and grabbed my mp3 player and headed out the door. As I turned on my mp3 player, it simply stuck at the boot screen and wouldn't do anything else. I turned it on and off multiple times, gently "tapped" it a few times, and even switched the batteries around. As I listened closely to the player while it was starting I could hear the read/write head of the hard drive clicking. No doubt it must have been stuck. To check, I left the player on and after a while the boot screen changed to a HD Error message. Sure enough, it was dead.

Thank goodness for service plans. This was the fourth mp3 player that has broken on me in the last five years, and each time I've had a service plan on it so I could get it replaced. When I traded this one in, I managed to go from a 5 GB Archos to a 40 GB RCA Lyra. I'm amazed at how much I can now store and take with me running or wherever. Aesthetically, the Lyra looks pretty much like an iPod clone, and it actually functions somewhat similar. I like it and hope that this one can last me a little longer than a year.

I was hoping that my midas touch of breakage would be over by the weekend, but I was wrong, although I don't think that this last event can be chalked up to my bad luck... I hope. Anyhow, on Saturday while I was mowing lawn, my mom motioned for me to come up towards the house. I could see she was holding something, most likely an animal. As I got to her, I saw it was a little bunny. I thought she might have found it in our woods or something, but she told me that she had gotten it from Gizmo's mouth. He had caught it but didn't outright kill it and eat it. He just held it in his mouth for a bit and my mom heard it crying.

The little bunny (he could fit in the palm of my hand) seemed to be ok, but simply phased. My mom and I took turns holding him and cuddling him. He fell asleep for my mom so we set him in our dog carry cage. I finished up the piece of lawn I was mowing and then came in. I watched the little guy sleep, but my mom noticed there was a little blood all of the sudden in his cage. We took him out and found that underneath the blanket he had bled a lot more. Since he wasn't bleeding at all when we found him, we figured one of the dog's teeth must have punctured him and it was plugged with fur or something and as he moved it unplugged it. We washed off the wound and bandaged it up, then tried to give him some water with an eye dropper hoping that we had fixed him, but it seemed like we were too late.

He started to twitch a little while I was holding him and became somewhat unresponsive to my touch. I held him close and hoped and hoped and hoped, but he eventually went limp in my hands. My mom then took him, not sure if he had passed away, but after a little bit we could tell he was. We tried to save him, but only a few hours after we saved him from Gizmo, he died anyhow.......

It was an oddly traumatic event for me. Having an animal die in your hands is quite disconcerting. I was sickened and sad at the same time. I've never been one to take death, in any form, very well so to have an animal die in your hands, one that you tried so hard to save, really pulled at my heart-strings. Digging his little grave and burying him didn't help matters either. I had hoped that this experience would help me to cope with my anxiety over death in its many forms, but instead it simply reinforced how much I hate the concept, even though it is inevitable.

Being so moved by having a small bunny that I only knew existed for a few hours when it died makes me wonder how I will ever be able to handle the death of a loved one, a friend, or even one of our pets. Let's just say that I'm not looking forward to the day that any of those things happens. Life, in all of its forms, is such a precious gift, and it's a terrible event any time that life is lost.

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