Of the Icebox

Words about stuff and sometimes things

The Legend of (Mac)Ribbons and (H)i(P)Hoppins: A PC/Mac Debate — September 4, 2019

The Legend of (Mac)Ribbons and (H)i(P)Hoppins: A PC/Mac Debate

About 6 years ago, in the early days of our relationship, my husband tried to convince me that Macs were superior to PCs. At that stage in life, I’d been using an old HP laptop, lets call her HiPHoppins, that worked about as well as a refurbished vending machine.

I was in desperate need of an upgrade but had no money. So, despite being a lifelong PC’er, when my husband offered to hook me up with PC’s much hotter cousin, I didn’t need much convincing. I laid HiPHoppins to rest and even gave my hot, new cousin a name, MacRibbons.

At that point in my life, Macs fell into the ‘too expensive for my broke ass’ category. I didn’t really need a Mac. It’s only advantages, as far as I was concerned, were its cool-kid looks, its price tag (free when you sleep with the guy who has a spare), and Scrivener. Prior to inheriting MacRibbons, I’d dreamt about the organizational marvels Scrivener could do for my writing. While there was a Windows version, I was told that the Windows version of Scrivener ‘sucked eggs’. (I will not reveal my source.)

Prior to inheriting MacRibbons, I didn’t think of myself as a computer pro, per say, but I knew my way around a PC. Every IT person I’d ever worked with had complimented my PC skills and not even in a sexual harassment kind of way. So I had that PC confidence going for me and I was sure it’d translate into Mac Prowess.

I wanted to love MacRibbons. I wanted to understand him the way I understood HiPHoppins but every time anything went wrong, I didn’t know how to perform the most basic CPR.

Where’s my ctrl+alt+delete? Where’s my task manager? Why can’t I change the default download location? Where’s my developer toolbar in Microsoft Office? Bloody effing hell!

Me, once monthly for the last 6 years.

I should note, my husband learned on a Mac. He’d been indoctrinated in the religion of Mac. He believed they were superior in all ways to Windows. He also knew a command to fix everything I ever broke, corrupted or otherwise ‘magically disappeared’ over the years. This is how he became my exclusive doctor to MacRibbons and this is how gender inequity crept into our otherwise pro-feminist household.

I know, Bey. I’m trying!

Even though I knew that he’d be asking me all sorts of silly PC questions if the tables were turned, it was a real blow to my ego to have to turn to Dr. Mac for IT assistance over and over again. In our Mac dominated house, I became the equivalent of my tech-illiterate grandmother. She used to call my Uncle every time the TiVo prompted her to update because she was worried the request to reboot would erase all her daytime soaps.

I mean, there was that one time when I thought something was very wrong with MacRibbons and Dr. Mac discovered I hadn’t installed any updates for a year and a half. But how was I supposed to know that Apple automatically gave away new versions of its OS? I thought it was just some random guitar app doing weird, independent, glitchy shit again. And I couldn’t uninstall it because I couldn’t remember my password. Oy vey. Now I really sound like my grandmother. (May she rest in TiVo peace.)

All of this is to say, I grew more bitter and angry at MacRibbons as the years progressed. MacRibbons took away my ability to delude myself into thinking that I was a computer-savvy tech goddess. My only consolation was Scrivener.

As far as consolation prizes go, Scrivener was awesome. I use/d it all the time. I’ve written and abandoned entire books on it. If my house was burning down and I could only grab the dog or MacRibbons, there would ensue a 10-second internal dialogue wherein I’d argue that my Scrivener babies don’t have legs and so need me more than the dog. I offer this confession so that you’ll know that even if I’m morally troubled, I’m still honest. And I can honestly say that I didn’t murder MacRibbons.

The Murder Of MacRibbons

So this is where I have to tell you MacRibbons died a dramatic and painful death over the weekend. While I confess that I struck the first blow, I’m not MacRibbons murderer. You remember, I loved Scrivener more than I hated MacRibbons.

No. It was not me. I swear it. The true MacMurderer was this villain: Panda Joe Funny-shorts (real name).

Maybe he heard my internal dialogue about house fires and got concerned. Maybe he was jealous because I spent more time looking at the screen than at his beautiful face. Or maybe, he hated MacRibbons as much as I did. We’ll never know, really, but we’ll keep hypothesizing for years to come.

Back to the murder. It started like this. I had to take a tinkle (it happens), so I placed MacRibbons on the ottoman as I always do but, in my urgency, I did not carefully check the placement of MacRibbons rump to ensure he couldn’t fall off the edge. I kind of tossed him, to be honest. He’d been with me for years. I’d become complacent, reckless even, but not a murderer.

As I exited the room, I heard a slide and crash of the screen against the tile floor. Panda Joe Funny-shorts, sitting 2 feet away, witnessed the entire spectacle. But even though Panda Joe was an eye-witness to this dramatic event that might have inspired his own hateful deed, I was the only one responsible for that initial blow.

I screamed, “No!” and other profanities so loud that Dr. Mac immediately ran to the scene of the crime where we both witnessed MacRibbons, slowly drowning in its own plasma.

At this moment, I had one thought on my mind and it wasn’t that my bladder was now at 120% capacity. It was that I needed to save my Scrivener babies from their untimely and eternal deaths.

Dr. Mac was stunned to discover I hadn’t been cross-saving my files on the Cloud as though I could remember my iCloud password. He also made an equally unhelpful comment about how I should’ve be more careful.

I didn’t have time for his nonsense. My babies were drowning. I scrambled around the house, hunting down a USB with enough space to save my files. I found one, thank the Mac gods, and returned to MacRibbons side, blindly diving beneath the spillage of MacRibbons perforated artery to locate Finder and raise my folders above the line of LCD devastation which grew a bar every 10 seconds.

I might have started verbalizing my prayers to the Mac gods at this point, begging that the files were properly transferring. I believe I did verbalize this because Dr. Mac started lecturing me about how there were no Mac gods. This, despite the fanatical Mac religion he’s a member of. But if that’s true, how do you explain this guys asexual reproduction?

Anyway, while I file transferred and tweeted Ashton Kutcher asking him if his transformation into Steve Jobs was his final contribution to Punk’d, Dr. Mac started searching for Mac repair stores in our area and getting quotes to replace MacRibbons screen. He’s practical, I’ll give him that.

It turns out that because Macs are the BMW’s of computers, the parts are way more expensive to replace than they would be if they were PCs. It was going to cost about USD$400 to replace the screen including service fees.

But while that knowledge hurt my wallet, it didn’t really matter to me because I had swum through the plasma of Mac screen death and I feared no evil capitalistic defeat. I had saved all my files. I placed MacRibbons on the coffee table in victory and turned him off to prevent the progress of visual devastation. This is when, quite unexpectedly, Panda Joe Funny-shorts murdered MacRibbons.

Having sensed my anxiety levels receding, Dr. Mac decided it was safe to return to the living room to offer consolation rather than his earlier attempts at advice. Smart men learn fast.

But it turned out his reappearance was too exciting for someone in our house. As soon as Dr. Mac sat down, Panda Joe Funny-shorts got excited. So excited to see his adopted father, in fact, that he quickly hopped off the sofa, wagging his tale with full vigor, and slung a glass of water across the coffee table. The water flew out like projectile vomit exploding all over MacRibbons.

So, you see, while I’d given MacRibbons the first knock, it was Panda Joe that delivered the death blow. Maybe he couldn’t stand to watch the poor fella’ suffer.

At that moment of shock, all I could think of was that my own bladder was now at 150% capacity. Panda Joe’s tornado tail was the final blow. There was no saving MacRibbons. There was no reason to even try. The dollar signs for repair were rolling ever higher. Rather than try to rescue MacRibbons, who was so obviously dead, I stood up and said “Wow, Panda Joe really hates Macs.”

I then ran to the bathroom to piss, leaving Dr. Mac to clean up the mess.

The Resurrection of HiPHoppins

When I returned, I saw Dr. Mac had snapped into action, flipping MacRibbons upside down as though in some sort of Mac Heimlich. He attempted to sop up the carnage dripping out of MacRibbons using a super absorbent cloth. But Panda Joe and I were certain, the motherboard had been compromised (or whatever you Apple-ites call hard drives) because when Panda Joe takes life into his hands, he doesn’t go half-tailed.

As far as I’m concerned, MacRibbons had a death wish and Panda Joe and I were determined to help him see it through. Dr. Mac was the only one committed to resurrection.

I googled new laptops on my Samsung phone as Dr. Mac sought out a dry and arid spot in the house, free from wives and dogs, to let MacRibbons fight the good fight in peace. But while MacRibbons fought for his life, I discovered that new, non-Mac laptops are dirt cheap compared to the old days.

So, I said, fuck this 6-year, failed domestic experiment. And my husband said, “What?! Don’t be rash, honey.” And I said, “I’m not talking about our marriage. I’m talking about the MacRibbons situation.” And because the defeat of MacRibbons was significantly less terrible than the defeat of our marriage, Dr. Mac encouraged me to spread my PC wings and take a trip to Best Buy, thus putting to rest Dr. Mac’s 6-year reign of IT-knowledge superiority and my fears of being a bad feminist.

It turns out, if someone was going to pick the best date to murder a computer, it’d be over Labor Day Weekend when stores offer significant sales. I’m not saying I whispered this fact into Panda Joe’s ears every night for the last 3 months. I would never encourage murder, no matter how much I support feminism. I’m just saying I got a very sweet deal and I have divided my household by introducing a new lady: Rosa HiPHopster.

Should fiction writers ‘write what they know’? — August 7, 2019

Should fiction writers ‘write what they know’?

There’s a common saying that writers like to tell one another, ‘write what you know.’ While this once meant something like, ‘don’t write a mystery novel if you’re the world’s leading expert on the history of chocolate unless your mystery novel includes a plotline about chocolate,’ it seems like it’s been taken a complicated (and literal) turn as of late with writers asking themselves, and each other, if it’s acceptable to write about experiences that they have never had.

If you’re not sure the context around this and you’re interested in reading more, these are some of the articles that have shaped my thinking on this topic:

On one level, we all acknowledge that fiction writers write fiction, right (tongue twister)? No one is saying that all fiction needs to become memoir. I also don’t think anyone believes you have to be a man to write believable male characters in your novel or, vice versa, you must be a woman to write female characters (except the die hards following @men_write_women). And I’m almost certain that even fewer people think you have to be, say, an immortal human to write about vampires.

Even though representations of women in male-authored novels have been, at times, appalling and showed a lack of understanding and possibly contributed to some degree of misogyny, I still don’t think we should ban men from giving it a try. For one, it’s the closest a man has ever gotten to wanting to know what it’s like to be a woman. And, more importantly, in the parallel universe where we take fiction to this n’th degree of separation, fiction doesn’t just become repressive and weird–fiction dies.

So we agree that men and women can write stories about each other, right? And that mere mortals can write books about immortals, right? I hope so. Otherwise, we need to start crowdsourcing letters to Nicolas Cage to encourage him to save Science Fiction. I predict he’ll do the job in 500 years when he has the self-satisfaction of knowing that none of us are alive to acknowledge he’s fulfilled our collective request.

But what about race? Can white authors write about non-white characters?

And what about sexual orientation? Can straight authors write LBGTQ+ characters? Can gender-binary authors write about non-binary characters?

And if they are allowed, must those characters be relegated to secondary roles? That is, could a straight, white author write about a black, gay protagonist? To me, this is when the conversation becomes much more complicated.

Consider the repercussions of a world in which we start stripping our fiction novels of everyone whose experience we haven’t lived or can’t perfectly depict. I don’t think we benefit from having sterilized, segregated literature: novels with all white characters, novels with all male characters, and novels with all straight characters. I’d like to see literature become more integrated, not less.

I, for one, don’t want to be afraid to write something that’s outside of my comfort zone. I don’t want to be driven into silence by fear of a bad response or missing the mark. I want to take risks and take solace in knowing that no reader in the history of reading ever died from being offended.

Maybe you’re thinking that, as a writer, sometimes we’re going to get it right and sometimes we’re going to get it wrong and we just have to accept that and apologize when we get it wrong. But writing, in my estimation, shouldn’t be about getting it right or getting it wrong. We’re not creating manifestos. (I certainly hope we aren’t, at least.) And writers shouldn’t have to apologize for depicting a character differently than the reader wanted it to be depicted.

Now, more than ever, given how connected writers are to their readers, writing presents an opportunity to exchange ideas. I’d like to propose that it’s possible, now, for writing to be an exercise in mutual learning instead of 1-sided preaching or teaching. I’d like to propose that YA readers don’t need a moral in their stories. That they can draw conclusions divergent from the protagonists without demanding that books be removed from shelves. To choose to write in this day and age is to choose to engage in a lifelong conversation with the reader and to hope that, at the end, we’ll all have achieved that magical place of symbiotic union I like to call a conversation.

Living in a world where sensitivity readers and trigger-warning happy college students demand changes to content is not conducive to a conversation. It’s a moral reprimand that shuts down all conversation. I sincerely believe the sensitivity readers of today want to build a better world (unless they’re actually secret Russian bots) but my Fahrenheit 451 senses are tingling at their methods.

If readers want to reshape the story, I encourage them to do what writers of all generations have done before them that wanted to reshape the conversation–pick up the pen, don’t burn the book.

The problem with being directionless — July 12, 2019

The problem with being directionless

If you look at the date of my last post you might have thought this blog (or this blogger) had died. It’s been a long time, friends. I’ve spent much of the last few months consulting my Magic 8 Ball (Google), on important topics such as, ‘Is blogging dead?’ and ‘Does anyone read blogs anymore?’ and ‘Has Instagram replaced WordPress and Blogger?’

The answer to all of these questions, if you’re wondering, is as follows:

I’ve decided I might as well put aside my many doubts regarding if I’m wasting my time and what lies beyond the right swipe and start blogging again. I mean, really, so my cousin took me to prom. It doesn’t mean anything deeper.

In short, I’ve spent the last few months making much ado about nothing. If people are still reading blogs, some of them might eventually see this and if not, time will put my Google questions (and these words) to rest.

Another problem, for me at least, was that I had never clearly defined what this blog was intended to be and I thought that I had to. The first lesson in telling stories always includes limiting complexity. Complications are plot but complexity is confusing and disorienting.

Am I a lifestyle blog, a humor blog, a poetry blog, a rambling and wacky anecdote blog, a blog about dogs, a blog about food, a blog about binge-watching Japanese reality TV shows until both of our hearts are fluttering like teenage girls? The answer to this?

There’s another problem to take care of.

By being someone that is sometimes melancholic, sometimes funny, sometimes nonsensical (aka: human), I didn’t have a ‘brand’. I couldn’t market myself. And this, we are raised to believe in the blogosphere and social media-laden world, is what we must do if we ever want our words to be read. I couldn’t sell myself and mother always said ‘you have to sell yourself to make money, dear.’ Sorry, mom. You should have given me a bigger a$$.

Not to droll on indefinitely but I’ve decided to post what I want to post from now on and not worry if it doesn’t make sense or if it complicates my ‘brand’. Because let’s be real, I never had one to begin with. I had barely even begun when I had an identity crisis. I’ve decided to be more open about who I am and what I’m trying to do with my writing.

So here’s a start. A lot has changed in the last few months. I’ve moved back to the US from Australia and am now residing in Florida because I’ve gotta swing that vote, b!tches.

I’ve made the decision to focus on writing full-time. A decision, by the way, which I waffle on every other day like I’m Chick-fil-a trying to figure out my stance on being a corporate member of the 21st century.

Anyways, I’ve decided to try writing instead of pursuing yet another admin job that takes away from me being able to finish that next, mediocre American novel I’ve been working on for years. I’ve saved up a bit of money from my last over-committed job to be able to try this whole ‘living-the-dream like a Millennial’ thing (for a few months, at least). After that, I suppose I’ll have to revert to eating $0.50 ramen instead of $14 hipster ramen from the local chef who studied how to boil the perfect noodle in Tokyo for 3 years before being allowed to touch an egg.

In short, I guess you could say I’ve fought a lot of self-doubts and fear to get to the place where I could publish this post and consider eating $0.50 ramen again. I’m still fighting them.

I’m not sure what you will get when you follow this blog but I’m committed to posting regularly and will tell you when I’m spiraling into my next identity crisis so that you can take the necessary precautions and abandon ship before it’s too late.

I’m also not sure what I’m trying to sell to you but you can be sure that I’m trying to sell you something. Hopefully it’s the truth. Hopefully it’s my life, my reflections, my struggles and musings. And hopefully that’s enough to distract you, even if just for a few minutes, from the self-doubts and fears that are weighing you down. Because there’s only enough server space on this blog for one of our self-doubts and, goddammit, they’re going to be mine! And, also, hopefully all of this will be enough to pay my bills cause a gal in Florida needs A/C.

I want to be fearless, friends. I want to finish that novel I’ve been working on, then burying in the Cloud because I decided it wasn’t good enough to release to the world. I want to finish those spec scripts and submit applications for writing fellowships. I want to submit short stories for publication and make a real effort towards making this writing thing work because it’s the only thing I’ve ever truly loved (sorry husband and dog, hyperbole demands harsh truths be established). Maybe I’ll even apply for MFA programs despite the many warnings against following this course.

Honestly, I don’t know anything about the writing world that I want to be a part of and that scares me because I’ve already jumped off this bridge expecting to soar on the wings of my millennial optimism. Flotation device was not included. I guess it’s time to learn how to swim.

Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to meet a few people along the river that will be kind enough to teach me how to backstroke instead of doggy paddle. Maybe that person will be you. If it is, I humbly thank you in advance for your guidance and assure you there were no sexual connotations intended in that metaphor.

Onward and upwards, friends. As my hero says, Together We Can. That was either spoken by Michelle Obama or the Disney machine.

Maya MacIsaac-Jones

Canadian Cross-Country Skier

The Biking Gardener

An English experience of gardening in Ireland - and back in the UK

Wanderings of an Elusive Mind

Where it goes, no one knows

Almost Iowa

Where irrationality trumps reason

Perpetually Past Due

I'm Technically a Writer

M T McGuire Authorholic

Humorous fantasy fiction author... the books are quite funny too... seeking an agent, a publisher and my fortune.

TaSTy WordGasms

a blog for lovers of the written word

Sassy Redhead Book Reviews

Book Reviews by A Sassy Redhead

ginreads

Books 4 U - Reviews, Recommendations, What’s New, Good Oldies & more

Love Unchained Book Reviews

Book Reviews/Promos/Blog Tours

Crook's Eye View

Because Everyone's a Potential Bad Guy . . .

The Grief Reality

~ As lived by Katie & Evee ~

Chasing Unicorns

The not great, but adequate, scrivenings of a unicorn chaser.

Self-Inflicted Drama

Stories of wanderlust, adventure and occasional disaster.

A Visit With Sandra

The Happy Wordcrafter

Black Roses

Arts & Culture. Travel Tales. Reviews. Long Features. Relationships. Prosetry.

TREY STONE

Author, Blogger, Reviewer

Milk Candy Review

We're here for your beautifully weird flash fiction.