Eulogy for an Inanimate Object

Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes13

“Well, friend, you’re going back where you came from, the curb in front of Flanders’ house.” – Homer Simpson

I am typing this on an unfamiliar keyboard.  My preferred instrument, the one I have been using for the last nine years and which produced probably close to 90% of all the words that have ever appeared on this site, is part of a laptop that, despite my sincerest efforts to repair it, has processed its last.  My beloved, blue Inspiron 5100 is now awaiting shipment back to Dell, where it will be disassembled and have its constituent parts and materials either sent to a landfill or recycled into new things.  It is a process I couldn’t bear to watch, and I’m glad it will take place far away from me at a time I will never know.

Going all the way back to the Apple II we had in the basement when I was a small child, the 5100 (naturally named “Charlene”) was the best computer I have ever owned, and one of the most durable and reliable pieces of electronics of any kind that I have ever seen.  It had its quirks and problems, but they were always minor and I had recently managed to install a solid state drive.  Just a week ago it was running better than it ever had, booting to Windows in just fifteen seconds and flying through everything from photoshop and mundane office tasks to writing this blog and letting me watch my favorite Simpsons episodes wherever and whenever.

It seemed set to continue working indefinitely.  My goal was to get it to and past its tenth birthday, but it fell thirteen months shy when, last Thursday, somewhere in that cracked and worn but still very sturdy case, some small component of the RAM sockets, almost certainly invisible to the naked eye, failed after years of uninterrupted success.  It’d had several near death experiences in the past, and was held together these last years by luck, love, about two thirds of the original screws, and a Lego piece that was hot glued to the inside to keep the headphone jack working.  So over the last few days I tried mightily to revive it: testing different configurations, rebooting over and over, even paying for the rush shipping on the new chips I hoped would bring it back from the dead one more time.  But the inescapable conclusion now is that there is nothing to be done.

On some level it is obscene to mourn over an inanimate object, something that for all the smiles and frowns it could cause was nothing more than a tool for reading lines of code, sorting ones from zeros.  But while it was just a tool, it was an exceptional one, a tool that never once held back its user.  So while it may not make sense or be in good taste to mourn it, the greater obscenity would be to let such a fine thing roll away unremembered.  Among many other deeds great and small, it was instrumental in building this site, and it deserves commemoration here.

Like any tool, it can and will be replaced; but unlike all but the very best, it will always be missed.  So long, old friend.

Laptop Epitaph

7 Responses to “Eulogy for an Inanimate Object”

  1. 1 safetydancer
    7 February 2013 at 6:25 pm

    It’s not your fault, but this post feels weird today. I don’t know if you’ve visited nohomers in the past 24 hours, but Zombies Rise From the Sea, who contributed to your blog in the past, left a suicide note there last night and hasn’t logged on ever since. We don’t know yet if he’s allright.

    • 2 Charlie Sweatpants
      7 February 2013 at 10:39 pm

      Shit, I didn’t know that. Hope he’s okay. We had him on with us a few times, seemed like a nice guy who knew his stuff.

  2. 3 Stan
    7 February 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I’m fairly surprised you cite a computer that managed to last this long. I’ve never even seen any of them last more than 7 years, much less owned one. Mine usually broke down after 3 to 4 years of sturdy use. In most of the cases too, it started with either RAM problems or the hard drive refusing to boot up. The last one I owned didn’t even make it past its second birthday as the lid simply detached in one place and the whole screen went green. And I don’t remember anything like hitting people with it, so it’s more than just disappointing. Luckily I had the warranty to replace it (couple of months short of expiry) for the same one, yet now I’m not sure I want it anymore.

    P.S. You should’ve buried her in the backyard.

  3. 4 Monty Python Forever
    7 February 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I lost some things, too: My grandmothers died last year, and I had to go to the hellhole that is Las Vegas to bury one of them. Less importantly but more relevantly, my Wii stopped playing dual-sided discs and I had to replace–but it was worth it for Xenoblade Chronicles. I hope to get the Wii U soon, because the Wii had so many classics like No More Heroes, Mario Galaxy, Mega Man 9 and 10, Metroid Prime 3, Little King’s Story, Muramasa, Rage of the Gladiators, Bit.Trip, Rayman Origins and Donkey kong Country Returns.

  4. 6 Monty Python Forever
    7 February 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Happier news: The streak of classic Simpsons reruns continues, as Homer the Vigilante and Homer and Apu are about to play. I barely remember Homer the Vigilante, but I can probably recite half of Homer and Apu from memory. “That dog can sell anything.” “No way, man: No way am I wearing a wire. Would you be willing to wear an oversized hat?” “Act naturally, Apu and pay no attention to the hat.” “We need a scapegoat, a sacrificial lamb. Uh huh, and if I can get you these animals?” “No, you don’t understand: In my country, this is how we ask for forgiveness. Now, I see the problem–many lives have been lost.” “O Lisa, is that curry too spicy? I can see through time!” “Why is he cleaning the leaves? It’s Bart’s job–if he starts cleaning Marge’s laundry–” “Who needs the Quick-E-Mart? Now, here’s the tricky part: O, won’t you rhyme with me? Their floors are stickymart! Let’s hurl a brickymart! Quick-E-Mart is real–d’oh! Who needs the Quick-E-Mart? Not me! Well, that all worked out–and with a little time left. Who needs the Quick-E-Mart? I do! Hey, he lied to us through song!” “Dad, India is 16,000 kilometers away! That’s 10,000 miles! D’oh!” “Are you really the head of the Quick-E-mart? Yes. Really. Yes. Really. Yes, thank you, come again. No Apu, it’s O.K: You don’t have to thank me.” “I wanted to thank you for saving my life, so I got you your old job.

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