Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Once and Future Weekend Assignments

Weekend Assignment #160: Suggest a Weekend Assignment for one of the next few upcoming weeks. Why? Well, because very shortly now, I'll be doing a three week book tour, in which I'll be traveling all over the country like a madman in support of my latest novel, The Last Colony. While I'm doing that I'll still be checking here and doing things like the photo shoot and the Weekend Assignment, but it would be helpful for me if I had the Weekend Assignment topics all lined up and ready to go. Not only that, but we do this "suggest a topic" thing about once a year, and it generally ends up with some really interesting topics that I myself wouldn't have thought up. So in all, this seems like a great time to pick your brains for great topics.

Given our Blogfather's reason for wanting these suggestions, here's mine:

Weekend Assignment #161ish: You're going out of town for three weeks! You've packed your clothes, your toiletries and your toothbrush. What else do you bring along, that other people might not take on a trip like this?

Extra Credit: What have you forgotten to pack on past trips?

Just last night I was telling you guys how well traveled my laptops are, particularly the newer one. Aside from the fact that I don't like to miss a night in my blogging, a laptop is very handy for viewing and storing the digital photos we've taken that day.

But laptops are starting to be common travel items. Certainly John Scalzi travels with one. What's in our luggage that is actually unusual? How about this: Douglas Adams books on tape. You see, when John (Blocher, not Scalzi) and I go out of town, it's almost always by car. John doesn't like to fly, and I don't have the money for a lot of long-distance trips by plane, except occasionally to visit my dad. So we drive to Los Angeles or Las Vegas, someplace in Arizona or someplace in New Mexico, and along the way we like to listen to something that will help us stay awake on those long overnight drives. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and related works are great for this. They're fun and they're funny, they've got a travel theme and great characters, and they engage the intellect. And because there are so many iterations of H2G2 - the books, the radio shows, the tv series, the LPs, the books on tape read by Stephen Moore, and the books on tape read by the author - and, oh yeah, that sort of film thingy - any version of it will be both familiar and surprising. Is this the one with the bit about the shoe shops? Let's pop it in and see!

The only problem with these is that my Eagle Vision doesn't have a tape player. I've been known to pack books on tape, while forgetting to bring either a tape player or audio books on CD instead. Useless! And that's my answer to the Extra Credit, at least for now.

And speaking of Weekend Assignments, my laptops and my Eagle Vision...

Do you remember back a month or so ago, when the Weekend Assignment was about choosing cars over computers or vice versa? Well, I was painfully reminded of that quandary today. Here's what happened. My car started making a new noise en route to work this morning, a sound that could be the wind, or could be something dragging on the ground. I looked but saw nothing amiss, and, well, it really was windy. Then at lunchtime today I ran a data CD over to a tax accountant's office, intending to swing home afterward, pick up my laptop and take it in for repair. But on the way to the tax accountant's office, my car stalled out at a light. It stalled out again as I read a map to the office park across from the one I wanted. It stalled a third time on Swan north of Grant, and the battery by this time wasn't up to starting the car again. I directed traffic around myself, tried to call John, and five minutes later, once the battery had had a little rest, managed to get the car started.

By this time I was just trying to get to the nearby Saturn dealership, on the grounds that they were much closer to me than our other mechanic, and I bought the car from them two years ago. So I put the car in neutral at the next light, and the next. But when the light went green and I had to crawl along in traffic, it stalled out again, and this time the battery wasn't willing to do much of anything, even after a little rest.

A couple of Good Samaritans pushed the car into a Shell station at Grant and Craycroft. A banner there said MECHANIC ON DUTY and NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY. But the mechanic wasn't there. I called the Saturn dealership, asked for the service department, and was asked whether I was making a service appointment. I explained my emergency and they put me through - to the service manager's voicemail. Good grief! So I called One Stop Automotive. They arranged for a tow truck to come right over. 45 minutes later I was at the garage, explaining what had happened. An hour and a half after that, I had gotten lunch at Yokohama Rice Bowl and walked the mile and a half home.

The car is still in the shop, and all I know about it so far is that the battery terminals were badly corroded and there was some kind of fluid on the tarmac at the Shell station. Maybe it will be something cheap and easy, but I'm not counting on it.

So here I am, stuck at home with no car, a laptop that needs repair, and another laptop for which I've spent five hours downloading a newer AOL, Firefox and other updates. It doesn't have my current AOL file cabinet, or iTunes, or an unexpired version of Norton, or PhotoStudio 5.5, or recent versions of my Mavarin novels files. But it works, and I could add a few more things and make do using it while the other one is in the shop. Only I can't take the newer laptop in for repair now, not until I get my car back, and find out how much the Eagle's repair is going to cost me.

Could I give up the car if I had to? Well, I certainly did without it for much of today, involuntarily. But it's a darn good thing John arranged to take tomorrow off from work. Walking one way home from Craycroft and 22nd is one thing; walking three miles each way just to get to work is quite another! Yes, it would be good exercise, but it would take me hours to get there, more hours back, and I'd undoubtedly have blisters by the close of day.

Could I give up the computer if had to? Well, it occurred to me today that if I didn't have Internet access at home, I could post from the office at the end of the day, assuming I could get to the office. But do without computers entirely? Nope, I just can't see it.

But putting up with a computer with missing lettering, a screw sticking up in the CD drive and other "minor" issues? Yeah, that I can do.



deslily said...

why do things always seem to happen in groups? One bad thing at a time just doesn't seem to happen!
I hope it all works out ...less money then you expect!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that you had problems with the car. I hope it doesn't cost to much to fix it and that you will be able to get your computer fixed soon. I don't know what I would do without a computer or a car but I would be more willing to give up the car. I just hope I don't have to make a choice.
Best wishes on both items being fixed soon.