I’d been enjoying some extra bed time while getting over a bug, when I had this annoying nightmare. In it my MacBook was catching viruses off the internet. Could have been guilty download conscious, but I balance out such thievery with the reality that I wouldn’t buy any music even if I didn’t get it free. Suppose I was too spoiled receiving a never-ending supply of LPs and CDs for review during my music critic days. But as for movies, I have no excuse but boredom. Though I like animation, it’s highly unlikely I would have paid to see Happy Feet in the theater – unless I had some friend’s kids to take. And the lowly street or swap meet vendor is not losing out on my money either, ’cause doubtful I would ever purchase the Seinfeld-style “filmed in the audience” version from them. But there it was, the only full-length feature flick that didn’t stop half way whining “need more sources”; a low res Happy Feet inserting its avi self into the “shared” folder on my laptop. Shot by someone less artistic than Kramer, who didn’t even bother sitting front and center, or worry if his jacket might be covering the lens for a few minutes, and hand-held the thing – shaky-cam late ’90s style – for the full 98 minutes.
I know my dilemma – this fear of infliction – has less to do with guilt than it has to do with solidity. Living away from family, without a real permanent home, flowing through life, “riding the waves” so to speak, you have a tendency to utilize whatever is around you, to create structure; a sense of grounding. And I know it sounds silly perhaps, but my Mac has somehow become a symbol of such. Sure it’s not without its foibles, like any close friend, boyfriend, (in)animate object, but point is that I need to feel as though I can count on it; that it’s dependable, reliable. Yes, even though I know it can go at any time…it’s like one’s life, solid yet still vulnerable. Maybe that’s why when anything happens to my computer I get emotionally stirred. I count on it too much, to hold my thoughts, my dreams, facilitate my ability to work and create; a conceptually steady entity in an all-too fluctuating world.
Part of this sentiment is that when it’s healthy and working at its best, I work at mine. The flipside, the one I dread, like when the body breaks down and you end up lazy with sniffle-itis, is a fear of my Mac crashing, bringing up unhappy memories of lost files, documents, recalling the hours and weeks of work -poof- disappearing….
Emphasizing these moments, of a pondered stability, I’ve had equally traumatizing dreams of grabbing my surfboard and at first it seems solid, and then it kinda flops and folds and doesn’t keep its shape. My last nightmare of that sort was disturbing, as I tried hopelessly to mold the board, as if it was Play-doh, into something ridable so I could paddle back out. Those who surf (more than they work😉 ) understand the trauma of anything bad happening to their board, particularly if they can’t afford to just go out a buy a new one. Yes, almost like an addict not able to get their fix, or someone living in the outskirts having their car break down, or an earth sign unknowingly being dosed with acid – you lose the thing you depend upon so much. Things that offer continuity, solid ground; the anchor that keep one from blowing in the wind, or getting lost out at sea.
Surfers can be such a scattered breed, as we indulge to no end in the water element, it’s important to keep such cogent things about us. In the water, our foundation comes in collective and varying forms: our health and fitness; the strength we feel as we killed that last wave; of the fact that there is land that we can see; G-d we can feel; spiritual renewal that we experience; that we have our families, loved ones, pets waiting for us; a nice home…to go home to. Even a job or an appointment or somewhere to be after our session offers up some structure to our daily lives. But otherwise, it is the surfer’s gear that is the actual physical components that enable our adrenaline-based liquid reality: surf shorts, bikini, wet suit, surf wax, sunscreen, leash…and most importantly our surfboard. And that board, it really needs to be solid. It’s gotta float! So, to end up with a board that’s acting more like water…doesn’t work! Water won’t float on water…it disperses into itself.
The whole fear of the mutability of the surfboard, and I believe initial cause for such nightmares, first began while trying to support a local, East-side, Big Island shaper we’ll just call “escobar”. I purchased a couple of his boards. He seemed to be getting them out on time (a big deal in Hawai’i!) and I liked the shapes. Unfortunately what I didn’t pay enough attention to was the reason why all the kids who had his boards had them duck-taped around the edges and why they were flooding the used surf board racks in town; guess he hadn’t mastered a little thing called the glass job (for those unknowing souls that’s the coating -fiberglass cloth plus resin- that seals in and protects the foam and gives the board its “glassy” finish). Problem is, what’s the use of a good shape and getting the board in the specified time frame when the glass job sucks!
It had barely been a month since I’d had the board and the rails were already crumbling like old feta and on top of that there were tiny pookas covering the bottom from not saturating the cloth enough. But the one moment that still shakes my core to this very day was when I was putting my board into the back of my car and as I was sliding it over the seat, pushing it in, my thumb actually went into it! It was as if the molecular structure altered. My reliance on the congruity of the object shocked my system. Buuuut… if my surfboard is not a solid, what is? Ah, okay, I’m being dramatic you think, but honestly, for a broke-ass surfer, the incident was a true rug-pulled-out-from-under-you moment. When all is not what it seems and you have no control. Besides being physically injured and unable to surf, it’s those times when there are waves but you don’t have a board when a surfer comprehends his or her true dependence and vulnerability.
There I was, sent adrift, having spent my surfboard fund on something that was carelessly created and disintegrating before my eyes. My season of winter surfing – my exercise, my challenge, my release, my daily opportunity to clear the mind, focus, renew – potentially ended just as it was beginning. Aren’t there any guarantees in life? At least those things for which I pay my hard-earned bucks should supply to me the illusions of solidity that they are intended on providing; from surfboards to Apple computers.
Macs never really had viruses. Well, Apple may have had the first official wild viruses on their floppy bootable antique Lisa machines, and that one the Mac publisher released as a prank on its own readership to prove viruses could happen, but most of the Mac viruses were really just weirdnesses. Like the altered date setting that was actually some Apple programmer embedded issue, which surely made sense to them somehow but I still don’t understand why I needed to be bothered with wasting time struggling to find the most current version of a document because they were all mixed up with 1904 dates; fooooey! The Finder might get corrupt, or the system would need to be reinstalled, or SuperClock would go koo-koo. I recall many font conflicts, renumbering fonts, and having one Helvetica that would print and another that wouldn’t. But they weren’t really viruses, more like corruptions. Besides minor inconveniences, usually at the output place, it’d be fine.
Today most of these Mac “viruses” are mainly vulnerability issues (often for Microsoft software – and for which we get regular automatic updates). Still, from alarmist articles (written by PC users) to conversations (with PC users) they always like to inform you, “Well, they’re coming.” The viruses for the Mac are coming. Ergo, why use a Mac because you only think they are safe. Ergo, I will stay sick and infected and fighting off viruses with my Windows machine ’cause at least I know what I’m dealing with (it’s kinda like an unhealthy person using the “Well, we’re all gonna die anyway” as an excuse for bad lifestyle choices). Yet, they have been saying the same thing for years. It’s not that I don’t understand the potentiality of infliction some day, that I should use protection, especially as Mac market size increases and as Apple keeps egging hackers on with their superior “we’re impenetrable” verbiage, but do I really need to live with that problem now? Do I need to add any instability to my day-to-day life? As the headline of one article stated: “Windows vs. Linux vs. Mac OSX – Ignorance is Bliss” … it is bliss. It’s also nice that I never have to reinstall my system, wonder why I can no longer print or connect to the internet, or have to bring my machine in for regular antibiotic treatments like most of my PC-using friends.
On Apple’s web site they boldly state:
By the end of 2005, there were 114,000 known viruses for PCs. In March 2006 alone, 850 new threats were detected against Windows. Zero for Mac. While no computer connected to the Internet will ever be 100% immune from attack, Mac OS X has helped the Mac keep its clean bill of health with a superior UNIX foundation and security features that go above and beyond the norm for PCs. When you get a Mac, only your enthusiasm is contagious.
MacObserver explained away much of the “Big Mac Attack” articles and these so-called Mac viruses in a piece, dated in computer world terms, but still holding true: Mac Viruses By the Numbers – Word Macro: 553, Classic Mac: 26, OS X: Zero. And of course, there are the commercials that explain Mac vs. PC in a more simplistic symbolism: of the kinda geeky but casually hip creative guy (played by actor Justin Long – Drew Barrymore’s new boyfriend) vs. the repressed conservative nerd business man. (What, you didn’t really think Drew was going to date the loser using a cheap clunky bug-ridden Dell?!?). Sure, in this “PC” world, I also am more apt to naively trust in the Mac guy….
Hey, it’s not that I don’t have my problems with Mac (see article “Apple Computers: My Long-term Love/Hate Relationship” – and I’ve had a few more since then, that keep me on the edge of nervous [still confident a few pow-wows with Steven J. we could clear this all up! Honestly, I don’t know why he still won’t take my calls!]). And I can only imagine most surfers – with their sun, sand, wet lifestyle – would only feel completely secure the day they invent the 100% waterproof, sand-resistant, ding-proof version of their laptop (maybe a fully loaded “sports” model? Perhaps once they start some healthy competition with XO in the “One Laptop Per Child” campaign they’ll put more cash back into “rugged, durable, child-friendly” adventurer model).
I want my MacBook to thrive amongst a little sand and sea, as it does while rummaging through Limewire. Ultimately, I feel more safe on a Mac – not having to worry that my new ridiculous version of Happy Feet is the idiocy that might render my computer and I terminally ill. And though I’m all about supporting the local shaper, I need to find the ones that also support me. My surfboard must keep me afloat and enable many many awesome surf sessions, as well as handle simple events such as being slid into the back of my car. And just as I don’t want to deal with virus protection software that requires me to approve every move I make on the internet, I don’t want to have to ride a too thick ‘n’ floaty epoxy in order to avoid dings. I want that feeling of security while not being confined by it… or compensating performance. Enjoy the water without overindulging and becoming waterlogged. Appreciate the comfort in structure as much as I relish absolute freedom. I know I have vulnerability issues – we all do – but I don’t want to let my need for feeling safe and secure keep me from expanding into the unknown or leave me fearful of jumping into the abyss.