Happiness is a warm … Mac

As a long-term Apple aficionado, I was saddened to read of Steve Jobs’ retirement and evidently worsening health problems. I’ve witnessed death by liver (my father and brother-in-law) and pancreas (our dear friend Tom), and they were horrible to behold. I know Jobs is in better medical hands  and certainly hope for the best for him. Poor (rich) guy.

But we’ve known this day was coming, and Apple, being the Little Engine That Could, will survive. And thank goodness for Macs, because there was a time when I thought I hated computers.

No, I did hate them.

First HAL 9000 thoroughly traumatized me in 2001: A Space Odyssey. That flat, atonal voice gave me the willies even before he took over the ship. Only HAL could make “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do” scary – it was a “follow the bouncing ball” singalong song before he corrupted it.

Then came the horror that was DOS and the word-processor-like clunkers we had to type on in the old newsroom at the old Arkansas Democrat. Yuck. The giant mainframe was in the back, scary big, and we had to angle for time to type or edit our stories, hoping we’d remember the hideous numerical commands and to type \p to create a period.

Give me an electric Olivetti any day. (Actually, maybe I had an IBM Selectric. Whatever.)

But in 1990, when teaching at NLRHS, I learned about Macs when we worked with the NLR Times to produce the school paper. They were cool. But in 1991, when I was given the cutest little Mac Classic II to use with newspaper staff, it was love at first sight of that little smiling Mac icon. 

I loved how the default alert was the musical Sosumi, supposedly a nose-thumb at my beloved Beatles’ Apple Corps, who stated in the agreement they reached on the name that Apple Computer couldn’t deal with anything musical.

And the kids loved it – they’d clamor to work on the Mac. Petted it, called it sweet names. We were smitten and decided to build a Mac computer lab. We had to fund it ourselves, but we didn’t care.

This was just around the time the newspaper business as a whole was going to Macs – all creative publishing businesses were. But the school district was big on Dells, so I had to call about 100 major newspapers across the country (this was the old days, and, yes, there were that many major newspapers, and more) to ask what they worked on. Every paper but one used Macs, and that one was changing over any day.

So we got approval, but no funds. Let the car washes begin! The privilege of working on Macs has been one of the biggest recruitment tools for high school journalism that I’ve seen.

A couple of years later, I bought my first (insanely expensive) personal Mac, a big, clunky beigey-white Power Mac. I loved it. Then Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, and, low and behold, the iconic egg-like iMac in multiple colors was born. In 1998, I ordered what daughter Liz and I called “Barbie’s Dream Computer,” a hot pink one. The screen was in glorious living color. (I donated the Power Mac to a high school newspaper staff taught by a friend.)

John and I met online on the dream computer.

In 2003, I jumped the gun and got a 20-inch flatscreen crook-neck iMac and gave the dream computer to Liz.  It was glorious until about 2004 when, just after the warranty ran out, I spilled coffee near it, and some got in the air holes for the fan. Shortly after that, the beautiful flat screen went black. Between the residual coffee and all the dog hair that my brother-in-law pulled out when he took it apart, we decided it wasn’t worth trying to fix, so I just bought another  flat screen and hooked it up. It still worked fine despite looking strange.

I donated that one to Central when I started teaching there, since I got a new, smaller all-in-one iMac. We still have it – one of the old white ones, not the cool silver ones that came out right after we bought it. Long-term commitment on this one.

I’m typing this, however, on my 15-inch Macbook Pro. John even made the leap this year, from PC to a 13-inch Macbook Pro. (We’re no longer a mixed marriage.)

He likes to tease, but he’s encouraged me in Macdom, actually – he surprised me with a hot pink Nano  when they were new, and after I filled it with songs, he surprised me with a second-generation, 32GB iPod Touch engraved on the back with our a line from our wedding song.

And this year, once Verizon got them, I finally got an iPhone. And, for back to school purposes, of course, an iPad 2. As the hubster likes to say, I have the “complete Mac collection.”

What can I say? Gotta love them apples.

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