Out (sort of) with the old, in with the newer

my old computer

All my computers have been hand-me-downs. This was my third — a 1997 or 98 Proteva. It used Windows 98. It was slow but serviceable — literally. At one point a couple years ago, the fan broke and my cousin-in-law Jeff (see Credits) kindly installed a new one.

my new computer

Two days after Christmas, Jeff arrived with a newer computer, a two-year-old Dell with 1.5 GB of RAM and 214 GB of free space on its hard drive. Now I’m learning how to use Windows XP — after changing everything to look and act as much like Windows 98 as possible.

To the left of the sleek new black box you can see the gray case that contains my manual backup system in case of apocalypse or an extended power outage. It’s an old Olympia typewriter — the one I wrote my college papers on, and all my poems up through the late 80s. My dad got it when he was a kid.

We kept the hard drive from the old computer, too, mounting it inside the new box alongside its faster, emptier counterpart. It has a mere 917 MB of free space, but so far — knock on veneered particle board — its little motor still works. Now that I have a CD burner and working USB ports, I can think about backing up my files.

It’s hard to believe that years of work can fit so snugly in the palm of a hand.

hard drive

The old doesn’t go out, exactly, but more deeply inside. And what comes in — well, it’s new to us, perhaps. But on the other side of the world, they’ve seen it already. We’re all living on borrowed time.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

9 Comments


  1. All our old computers have found new service with friends.

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  2. Congrats! It has no idea what a good home it’s coming to, or what is about to live inside it…

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  3. It’s good to see computers passed around between friends and family, and upgraded or reconfigured so that they can remain useful to someone. Your “newer” system looks like it should provide plenty of space to grow into.

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  4. Happy New Year, Dave! I meant to write this here yesterday, before the New Year arrived here, but just didn’t have the time. I wanted to say, from here in the future, that your friendship and constant encouraging words have meant a lot to me over this past year. I hope to make a sea change this year and I hope your friendship will be mixed up within it all. Here’s to the planet sailing again around the sun, to old trees and bear claw marks on their bark, to considered words and rusty engines, to friendships with those never met, and the continuance of voices over the ether. Thanks Dave.

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  5. Nice new computer for this new year. First day of 2007 and it looks so much like yesterday, and maybe even tomorrow. Unlike computers, which change much more quickly.

    Happy New Year.

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  6. Thanks to all for the comments and New Year’s wishes — I’m glad I’m not the only one blog-reading in lieu of party-going on New Year’s Eve! And thanks to rr, I even got a New Year’s kiss. May we all share in growing fellowship, peace and creative effort in the New Year.

    Butuki, I just noticed your mention of bear claw marks after posting my New Year’s post with a photo of the same! There’s synchronicity for you.

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