Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Waterbeds Of Doom


It's finished. Empires rose and fell in the meantime, dreams were hatched and dashed, and new paradigms were shifted, but finally my new operating system was successfully downloaded. All that was left was the installation. I let my cursor hover over the "install" button for a few moments and then clicked it with all the resignation of a condemned sailor putting his first foot on the plank.

After a bit of navigation, everything went blank except for the progress bar on the installation, which indicated that there were 22 minutes left. I walked away. A half hour later, there was a dab of progress showing on the bar and the suggestion that there were now 23 minutes left. All right. That is progress, of a sort, and I'm accustomed to the tendency of my computer to be creative about time passage. In fact, after observing things take longer and longer the more progress is made, I've fantasized about a way of living forever if only I could get my lifeline depicted on my screen.

Clearly the machine had a bolus of something, like a big wad of meat that gets stuck halfway down and must resolve itself with difficulty. I walked away again. If the sucker was going to figure out a way to Heimlich itself, I didn't want to be around when my documents started spewing across the room.

But my trepidation only increased. Was this the very worst thing I could do? Was I going to regret installing this thing as soon as it launched? Every item on my screen had already disappeared except the installation window and there didn't appear to be an ABORT button. I didn't know how long the plank was. I left the house.

This is what I do. My capacity for pretending something is not happening is world-class. Forty-some years ago, my roommates and I all bought waterbeds at once. It was socially mandatory. Someone on campus who looked like a hippie but had a prematurely entrepreneurial soul had gotten himself a waterbed distribution franchise, and put out the word that waterbeds were sexy and far-out. Anyway, we all got them, nailed boards together as frames, and hauled in a set of hoses to fill them. We were living in a charming but rickety Victorian house held together by cobwebs and cat shit and fossilized dust, and once we had our hoses in place and turned the water on, we watched in growing silence as the waterbeds remained flat for an alarmingly long time. Someone did a rough calculation of the volume of water required and we tried to remember what a cubic foot of water weighed and gave the whole conundrum the good old college try, but too many of us were liberal arts majors to feel confident about the conclusion, so instead we went out for pizza. If the house was going to come down, it made sense to not be in it at the time.
Renters

We did a back-of-the-napkin calculation that the beds would be filled by the time we polished off a large pizza, and then we went back. The beds were duly filled, the house remained upright, and all that was left was to have fun with them until the novelty wore off, which took about a week. By that time, we'd observed that rocking and rolling is more fun if it isn't happening all the time. If one person turned over, the other one got beached into the wall on a high tide. And it was really hard to get out of the damn things, especially since they weren't raised off the floor. Unfortunately, it was now a matter of campus dogma that waterbeds were far-out and sexy, so it was no longer possible to express a dissenting opinion. And we all kept them until we had to move, and gradually, as a population, we motivated back to standard mattresses.

What does this say about us?

Obviously, that we were renting.

But my Yosemite installation was happening in my own house, and eventually I had to trudge back inside and check on things. The new operating system, miraculously, was up and running. Now it was just a matter of getting used to it. There was going to be a lot of rocking and rolling and I wouldn't be able to count on anything staying put.

But there's no getting out of it now. Not at my age.

32 comments:

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    1. Except for the "closer to death" part, yah.

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  2. Waterbeds are completely out of the question for me, as I am one to get queasy standing in the corner watching traffic go by. Good luck!

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    1. That's a little TOO sensitive. Oh dear.

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  3. Those waterbeds were cold, too.

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    1. Oh that's right! What did we do? A sheet of foam rubber, I think. All rumply.

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  4. What an awesome house. Actually I think older homes used to have bigger (and stronger) beams than current codes call for. (Maybe someone with actual training in construction could say whether that's true or not.)

    My brother has had a waterbed for a long time, and it's always been located in the basement, as it's hard to fall through the ground. It's the guest bed, and the only time we slept in it, I was pregnant. Hard to get out? Yep.

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    1. That house wasn't so strong that they didn't pull it all down a few years later to put up an administration building, though.

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  5. Did all your files stay put when Yosemite finally was running? How about your pictures? I've heard some people say that it takes longer to navigate various websites. But then, my experience has been that it takes longer for websites to come up on my old OS, and also on my husband's somewhat newer OS than it used to. Maybe it's an Apple-wide problem? I await your answers, as I cringe at the thought that someday I may be forced to make the same leap for whatever reason. Apple would have to hold a dull knife to my stomach and simultaneously threaten those that I love, but... hey, it could happen.

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    1. Yup, I've got everything I had before. The photos are in a whole new program and they're all there too, but I can't remember what buttons I pushed to get them to show up. At first I thought I needed to install an upgrade to iPhoto but it wouldn't download, and then I farted around in the old photo thing and suddenly the new one popped up. The problem now is that things are often super sludgy and pages won't load. I restart the thing several times a day. I'm overdue for a chat with the folks at the Mac store.

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  6. Back then, if alien races were monitoring our tv transmissions, the would've thought that waterbeds were something we needed to buy on a daily basis.

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  7. My old boyfriend used to spring for the special "waterbed room" whenever we went on a trip together. He thought he was being romantic. I never had the heart to tell him that I hated it. This was in the pre-baffle days, so it was like trying to sleep on a water balloon. You'd lay down and sink six inches in, and the gods help you if you wanted to shift position because it was nearly impossible.

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    1. Definitely pre-baffle days. I don't think I've even tried one with the baffle.

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  8. I believe it's actually possible to make a comfortable water bed, these days; but not on a student budget.

    I'm so glad you're all installed! I'm baffled by people who talk about cyborgs being in the future. I know my nervous system is wired right into my computer, right now, and when it's running slow I feel unnaturally heavy and dull.

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    1. I feel unnaturally heavy and dull A LOT. But then I go out and look at birds and stuff and things feel a lot better. Any time you want to come over here and ream out my computer, we'll keep you fed and watered. Okay, Dave will, but that's kinda the same.

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  9. I am trying to figure out how you went from downloading an operating system to installing and living with a waterbed and am still confused, but I must say, I enjoyed the ride!

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    1. You know what, Joe? I do that. I meander. This reminds me of that, and if you don't try too hard to make it coherent, you can have a good time. I'm glad you did.

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    2. There was a very strong link of running away when things weren't happening as they ought to. There was also a grand metaphoric link between filling a waterbed and loading an operating system, including how to get out of the darn thing, not to mention blorping up and down on it even though you'd rather not. I was with you all the way, Murr!

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  10. Bunk waterbeds never caught on, did they?

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    Replies
    1. I GET TOPS! They WOULD be harder to kick from the bottom bunk.

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  11. I can explain the different times on the installation screen. An entire operating system has many components which are installed one at a time. So your first component took 22 minutes, then the next one was 23 minutes and so on.
    These days waterbeds have heaters and thermostats I've heard. Probably doesn't stop them getting punctures though.

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    1. Nobody I knew had anything quite hard enough to puncture one with.

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    2. (Diaper) nappy pins. Young mums would change the baby on the bed, unpin the nappy, stick the pin in to the bedding so baby couldn't grab it, get the fresh nappy, then pull out the pin to pin it on. Safe enough in regular beds, no good at all for a waterbed. sometimes older beds would just spring a leak for no damn good reason, my son's secondhand bed had a few patches on it and when it sprung yet another leak he tossed it in favour of a regular bed.

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  12. River beat me to the explanation of the time shifts you experienced, so I'll turn my attention to my personal history with water beds. In the late '70s, we moved up from the regular sloshy, cold one to one with a heater and, to prevent all that motion, a "baffled bladder." I'll leave it to you to work "baffled bladder" into a sentence that doesn't include urinary incontinence.

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  13. Oh yes - but sex on a water bed: you could get the tidal waves timed and what a ride...
    the Ol'Buzzard

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