The cable company raised Mom’s rates, so she called to negotiate. In order to get the rate back down to what it was before, she had to accept a bundle deal which included a cable upgrade and the addition of internet service.
The only computer they have is my old one, which I called Mother, which I purchased in 2001. It runs Windows XP, and has a 40G hard drive, and something like 256M of RAM, or maybe 512, I forget. I quit using it because by the time it had a firewall and anti-virus, needed to go online, it no longer had enough oomph to run anything else much. My brother, who lives with my parents, adopted it because he didn’t have a computer at all, never mind internet. It was perfectly ok for running the older games he liked–think Dungeon Keeper.
When he took Mother, I got my first new laptop, which I think I called Ripley. I used it for two years, then the hard disc died so we replaced it with a larger one. By then I was in Graphic Design classes, and Ripley couldn’t run the advanced Photoshop features I needed, such as 3D, so sadly I replaced her with my current laptop, Big Mama. I love Big Mama, who has an actual number pad and a backlit keyboard, and cool chicklet keys, but I still have an affection for Ripley. At first I downgraded her to a “beater” and carried her around in my bookbag. Then Zor moved out and when she moved back in, she had no laptop, so I let her use Ripley.
Last winter, Zor finally saved up enough to buy a better laptop of her own, and Ripley came home. But meanwhile I’d been having trouble running After Effects on Big Mama, so Mr Moth gave me one of his old laptops to try it out on. Unfortunately my health/cognitive issues derailed me, and I never did use that laptop, and suddenly I have three. I waffled a lot about which to keep, and what to do with the other, since I know more than one person who could use a computer but can’t afford one. However, I wasn’t sure my brother would even want a more advanced computer, since he said he likes playing those old games. But if I gave it to anyone else, I would feel the need to do a complete restore to reduce the chance of any old banking info being potentially recoverable from the hard drive, in the event Ripley changed hands again after leaving home. That would mean a lot more work.
At one point, I even posted on Facebook, a theoretical question about how to decide what to do with an extra twenty dollars. Unsurprisingly, the answers were not helpful.
Eventually, through the apneic fog, came a possible solution. I would ask my brother if he wanted Ripley. If he did, I would give her to him. If he didn’t, I would give her to a friend. However, I didn’t ask right away. I knew I would still have to do some cleanup, if not a full wipe, and I haven’t felt up to even that much in months upon months.
But then the cable/internet issue came up, and I have been feeling a little perkier, so I cleaned up Ripley. I thought I had time; he hadn’t had internet before, so wouldn’t be in a rush, but then I got a phone call. When the cable company unplugged their old TV to hook it to the new cable box, it stopped working. It had, evidently, been on its last legs for a long while, so this was not the cable company’s fault, but rather just bad timing. They had another ancient TV, but it was a tiny portable, and Pa couldn’t see it. My brother wanted to know if I could take Ma to Wal-Mart to purchase a television.
However, two Christmases ago when Mr Moth and I bought ourselves a new flat screen TV for the living room, we put our old 25-inch black box TV in the basement. I had intended to use it in the spare room someday, but I don’t actually need a TV down there, so we–well, he–loaded it up. By great fortune I even remembered where I had stashed the zapper. We added the laptop, some books I’d been meaning to take up there, and the boombox CD player I bought but rarely used. Sadly I forgot to put in the CDs, or the headphones, but that will give me an excuse to make another trip soon.
The TV we gave them is the same size screen as their old console, but only half the size overall, and fits perfectly on top of the old one for now. The picture is still beautiful, and Pa can see to watch his weather channel and his outdoorsman show, and Ma and my brother can watch Jeopardy. He can also now google things for her. Not that I mind googling things for my mother! But it’ll be more convenient for her to have a googler close to hand.
At first I felt kind of anxious, like offering my family my hand-me-downs might be insulting somehow, but they are not like that. They think these things are wonderful. They work, and they’re free. Which makes me realize we probably didn’t *need* to replace these things, but I’m kind of glad we did, because in the end everybody’s happy, and how often does that happen?