The Twilight Zone…

I’m pretty sure I spent yesterday in another dimension – one where nothing happens as it should or as expected.


My PC has been giving me problems for a couple of months. It’s normally ultra-reliable, but lately it’s been crashing quite randomly. It started out as once a month, moving to once a week, and eventually all too frequently. The three beeps at boot time told me there was a problem with the RAM chips, so I ordered some from AliExpress in China. Not only are they cheap, but they deliver FoC to Thailand.

I can’t say I blame companies like Amazon who won’t deliver to Thailand. The mail service here is somewhat third-world-ish in that things arrive after a few months, or not at all. However, the Post Offices’ courier service, EMS, usually works – albeit slowly. Which is why my chips haven’t arrived yet. A recent envelope from about 800kms south in Malaysia took eight days. Maybe the pigeon didn’t have headlamps and so had to stop at night.

But back to yesterday…

From early in the morning the PC started crashing every ten minutes. Something had to be done. So I tried cleaning contacts for about the tenth time, and swapping chips around to see if I could isolate the bad one.

By lunchtime, I’d killed it.

It would boot, but only run for about a minute or so. I figured I’d have to survive with the Mac until another pigeon managed to reach here from China.

Then things started to get sillier. I should explain – I hate my Mac. It’s quirky. It’s slow on a good day, and emulates molasses on a bad day. Yesterday was a bad day. As a developer of apps for iOS devices, I have no choice but to run a Mac, even though it makes me want to run amok. Apple insists. As if paying an annual fee wasn’t enough, you also have to buy a computer that costs three times what it’s worth.

So the Mac was having a bad day. Ultra slow. The infuriating little twirling umbrella icon was visible more often than not. I tried reboots. One reboot wastes about ten minutes. Eventually it was usable, sort of. But the internet connection was snail-like, so I figured this was a new problem.

I have to use 3G SIM cards to get a connection, so I tried switching hot spot devices. You shouldn’t do that while in the Twilight Zone. The SIM cards inexplicably get jammed. After another wasted hour or so, I had a working Mac with an internet connection.

But since I only use the Mac for app development, it didn’t have much everyday software, like image processing, etc. So, some downloads were needed. Now, my experience with any Linux-based operating system is that any one download needs at least another three. You download. You click “install.” And it says “You can’t do that Hal.” You must also download this, which in turn needs that. And so on.

By 5pm I had a working Mac, with internet connection and usable software. But by that point I was too skeptical to think I could do anything useful, so I didn’t try. By the way, I haven’t mentioned at least twenty more daft things that had happened by this point.

I should mention though that – rather surprisingly – the sun shone for a while. But I didn’t dare go out, as I was sure Bert would die on me, or worse.

So after a break I decided it was time for some supper. “Keep it simple” I thought. Left over pasta, piece of fish, frozen peas. Nothing can go wrong with that. Until I took the peas out of the freezer and the bag exploded. Well, in the Twilight Zone they do, don’t they. Something to do with the ears of Spock’s ghost piercing the bag. I haven’t yet found all the peas. I guess eventually the smell will lead me to their sneaky little hiding places.

And for an hour or so everything was normal. Food eaten. No food poising. Beer drunk. Cans didn’t explode. Time for some TV. Five minutes into an hour long episode of something I’d downloaded, the power went down. No, not off, down.

Every living room should have one
Every living room should have one

It goes off more times per month that I can count. Sometimes several times per day. My UPS is one of my most prized possessions. But occasionally the voltage is drastically reduced. The ugly panel in the living room has a volt meter, and last night it had dropped from 250v to 50v. Strangely the TV still worked but the sound didn’t. The aircon fan was happy to blow air but wouldn’t make it cold. Some incandescent lamps glowed dimly. Appropriately TwilightZone-ish.

Thank goodness for iPads. They work happily, and the UPS kept the internet working.

An hour later the power came back to normal. I got myself back to normal by fast forwarding my TV program to where it had been when the power dropped, and poured myself a scotch. Thinking that must be the end problems and that I could finally enjoy the rest of the evening, the power went off. No, not down, off.

An hour later, I was back to fast forwarding, drinking more scotch, and hoping I might actually be able to finish the one hour program, that up to this point had taken three. I was right. The power stayed on. Note to self: We now have conclusive evidence that power failures can be prevented by drinking scotch.

Today, I’m out of the Twilight Zone. For some inexplicable reason I turned-on my PC at 9am. “Well, I should at least try it” I thought. It’s now lunchtime and it hasn’t given me a moment of trouble. Life can be strange.

But the strangest part of the day was my reaction to it all. Thailand must be changing me. I smiled through the whole day, and calmly tackled one problem after another. There’s a saying here that if your house burns down you should head to the pub for a few beers, because you wouldn’t want a trivial little thing like that to spoil your evening.

Normally voices would be raised. Language would be “colorful.” The neighbor’s chickens would go into hiding. The neighbors might join them. On truly bad days like yesterday something would have to be thumped. A wall, a door, usually my desk. Unfortunately very often keyboard comes between fist and desk. If you think an exploding bag of frozen peas is a sight to be seen, you’ve witnessed nothing until you’ve watched a keyboard explode.

Yes, they really do. The little footies are the first to suffer. But as they collapse, they do absorb some of the shock. Nothing serious. They can be refixed and strengthened with crazy glue, usually by the same crazy person who broke them. Then the keycaps fly upwards and outwards in all directions. At least they’re a little easier to locate than peas. They can be refitted, but putting them in the right place can be a challenge. “What comes after QWERTY?”

But yesterday everything remained calm, and today is another day. I see the sun is shining again. I’d better go out. I’m sure Bert will be happy about that.

Paul

...has been travelling the world for more than fifty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more. He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way. More info than you could possibly need is available by clicking the ABOUT tab in the top menu line.

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