Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thin Ice On Shit Creek

DHS 150

I know it's not all that rational, but i've decided to go out on a limb and go skating up shit creek, even though i know full well that the ice covering is very, very thin, and i have no clue where i've stashed my paddle since the last time i saw it.

That translates to ... i'm going to spend some money that is nowhere to be found in my budget, in fact it's not even in the same house as the computer on which i keep my budget. I got an email from The Teaching Company today telling me that for one day they were discounting all of the courses in their catalog. Up to 75%. One day only.

I checked, and the set of both How to Listen To and Understand Great Music & Understanding the Fundamentals of Music, both of which i've already said i want, and which normally sells for $955, is on sale for $220. Even with $30 shipping, that's close enough for me to convince myself that i can rationalize it and say it's affordable.

This comes with an additional cost, though. Buying both of them means that i am now going to be forced to keep my current laptop until sometime in 2011, instead of replacing it later this year as i had planned. Adding another one year to a computer normally wouldn't be such a big deal, but my laptop is not just on it's last legs, it's already lost one of them so is down to one last leg with half the toes missing.

  • The battery is held in with duct tape.
  • The case is broken (with a small piece completely broken off) near the PCMCIA slot and that is all covered and held together with a layer of duct tape and a layer of electrical tape over that.
  • There is another 1" crack on the other side of the PCMCIA slot that i'm just ignoring and hoping that it heals itself. If it spreads more i'll have to cover that with tape as well.
  • The side of the case to the left of the monitor is cracked from the monitor all the way to the edge. I'm ignoring that as well.
  • One of the keys came off (actually i broke it off while trying to get the keyboard off because a couple keys wouldn't work once) and i can only get it back on halfway. That means, of the two pieces that should hold it on i figured out how one of them works and attached that. I can't yet figure out the second one so the key flops up and down sometimes. Figuring this out is one of my projects for the summer.
  • The guts of the jack where you plug in the electrical cord all fell out a couple months ago. I used pliers to get the plug in and now have it taped in place with duct tape so that it can never come unplugged. I'm afraid something will blow up if it does because when you look inside the hole all you see are two small wires with no insulation anywhere around them.
  • When you turn on the computer, or sometimes even just pick it up wrong, the power management software gets confused and starts cycling back and forth between "AC Plugged In" (which means a bright screen) and "Running On Batteries" (which means a dim screen). Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,... it's sort of annoying. I found out, by accident, though that if you ignore it and just start an application, like Thunderbird, Firefox, or Open Office, that shocks the system back to reality and it settles down. Until you pick it up wrong. But, once you get it settled down it's usually OK for the rest of the day.
  • The CD/DVD drive no longer pops open when you push the eject button, you have to pry it open.
  • While i can listen to CDs with no problem, when i rip a CD to my hard drive, it won't rip the last bit of the CD for some reason. It just stalls and hangs up like the thing-a-ma-jobber with the laser on it in the CD drive stops moving. Even though if all i want to do is listen to it, it works fine. I think.
  • You can no longer open local copies of html files just by double clicking on them, you have to open the browser first and then go to File/Open File. This one confuses me. I think Windows is broken somehow.

So you can see, accepting to keep this computer for another year is not an easy sacrifice. I now back up my computer almost every day because i expect it to blow up at any time. But, i really want those two courses. And i'll be gone for three months so by the time i get back in late July, i'll have forgotten that this was a questionable decision. When i get back, they'll just be there on the book shelf crying to be opened and all will be well.

Besides, i canceled my TV Japan subscription and that saves me about $40/month, i canceled caller ID on my phone and that saves me about $10/month, and now that summer is coming i will almost never drive my car so that could save another $20/month. I think this is doable. Easily. With these cuts in the budget, the DVDs are almost a freebie; i'll never notice the expenditure.

And i'll learn something new, something enjoyable, and something incredibly important to life — the basics of classical music theory.

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