Travels with Myself

A Journal of Discovery and Transition
Doug Jordan, Author

20. Life is What Happens

Today’s post, already three days late and a dollar short, is not on the topic originally planned, but to quote John Lennon, life is what happens to you while you are making other plans[1].

My plan had been to continue my series of posts about the writing and publishing process. Being a deliberately planful person, and optimistic (unrealistic?) in regards to completion schedules, I had intended to write about the art of receiving feedback, with particular reference to dealing constructively with reviews on my writing, receiving comments from my editors on my manuscript, fourth draft, of The Treasure of Stella Bay. My project schedule had me finishing the Fourth Draft by the end of March (check) and in the hands of volunteer editors (check), with feedback from them by mid-/third week in April, and racing to the publish line as planned by the end of April.

That may yet happen but my blog schedule was ahead of itself. How could I write about getting feedback at the end of March when I wouldn’t have it until the late April? Obviously that post would have to wait another month. But what shall I write about to keep my semi-monthly regimen? March 31 was fast approaching with nothing yet committed to my hard drive. The pressure was on. I hold myself to a high standard of obligation; I have a sacred duty to my fans and readers (even though many of them are phelgmatic and few wait with bated breath for my next missive); I nevertheless feel a moral imperative to them and the stress increases daily as my deadline approaches. It’s a doubly demanding duty if the quality of the post is not to suffer from haste. 

Not only do I feel the pressure of getting my blog out, semi-monthly, on the 15th and 30th of each month (excepting February!) I had two other major deadlines bearing down on me for the end of March: the R3 of my draft manuscript, and compiling the compendium of survey responses for the strategic planning exercise I am facilitating for the Canadian Authors Association. But I wasn’t concerned. I got my March 15 post out on time and I was confident that the muse will visit me in a timely fashion, that I will find the necessary hours to pull the idea into a commendable draft, polish it, post it, and promote it to my readers.

But then Fate, to paraphrase John Lennon, or maybe Publilius Syrus, c 43BC (‘Homo semper aliud, Fortuna aliud cogitat.’) stuck her foot in my plans. 

And Fate is a cruel mistress. Not only is she an uncontrollable force, and a random actor, she comes in threes! It doesn’t rain, it pours.

On March 13/14 my eldest daughter Shannon suffered a sudden cardiac[2] incident. She had emergency angioplasty and was released for home care two days later. I knew immediately I had to go to Markham to attend to her and her family. But I had to attend to other things in Ottawa first, and not just to get the March 15 blog post out. I had to take my dear dog Bonnie to the vet on March 17 to address a problem with her foot. We, Bonnie and I, were on the road to Markham on Thursday March 18.

Bonnie limped and hobbled and slid around Shannon’s polished ceramic tile and hardwood floors, hotly pursued by the Christner family herder, Darcy, the Shetland Sheepdog. He’s actually quite lucky Bonnie was ailing, yet still agile enough to jump up on couches and thus evade her relentless admirer, else he might have had his face bitten off.

Despite these family calamities, I was still confident that I would be able to meet my production deadlines. I had brought my computer and files with me and would be able to continue work on my manuscript, recruit reviewers, finish the CAA survey, and get out my blog.

I set up office on Shannon’s dining table, found an extension cord, plugged in my aging MacBookPro. I pressed the on switch. It didn’t come on. I pressed that start button several times, each time with increasing panic. I’ve learned long ago that panic is no remedy for problems, despite Greta Thunberg’s advice. I took deep breaths. I called my granddaughters, Madelyn and Erin, and asked them if they would like to accompany me to the Apple Store at the sleek and modern Markville Mall. They did, and thirty-five minutes, and $3100 later I was the proud owner of a new 2019/20 MacBookPro (Intel processor) 16-inch portable computer. (It was a lucky thing I had First-year Queen’s student Madelyn with me as the Apple Sales Agent was more than eager to offer me the 10% student discount.) A brand new computer is useless without the files to work on and in my haste to leave Kanata I did not bring backup files with me. I had brought a flash drive but failed to remember to transfer the files to it. So I needed to get the files off my dead MacBookPro’s hard drive onto my new MacBookPro.

The Apple Store doesn’t do this. They won’t touch such an old dead computer, but referred me to a service company who is licenced by Apple to do these sorts of data recovery. I phoned the agency, got an answering service who took my information; a while later I got a long e-mail with a quote: $1114, shipping included! I was to ship my computers to the agency, and get them back in 10 days. Talaga!

Lucky for me, my ever-resourceful son-in-law, Michael, referred me to a wizard repair guy his company uses for their computer needs, located in Markham west, Peter Wong of Computer Square Inc. Off I went Saturday morning down the 407ETR to find Peter’s shop, trying hard not to show my desperation to granddaughter Madelyn. We arrived at his shop at the designated opening hour of 12:00 noon, to find him not there. Nor was he there at 1:00. Evermore despairing we went back home to wait, and worry. Peter did answer his phone at 2:00 and I drove again down the 407 to Woodbine Ave. to meet Peter amongst his benches and rows and rows of shelves with bins of every known and unknown electronic parts. 

I gave him my computers, my new 2019 MacBookPro and my old 2009 MacBookPro.

“Can you transfer the files from my old computer hard-drive to my new computer?”

“Ah yes, but why you not just transfer with cable?”

“Because my old computer not turn on,” I said, noticing I was already slipping into pigeon-English with a Chinese accent.

“Oh, lets see. Much better if it can turn on.”
After a few minutes of fruitless touching of power button, and plugging plugs he pronounced,

“Motherboard dead.”

“As I thought. It already had some issues. You can fix?” I inquired, not quite frantic with an admixture of hopefulness and doubt. “You can install new mother board?”

“No,” he said “not new. Used. This is old computer, not make new boards.”

“Yes, but can you fix?”

“Yes, sure,” Peter said, “but first we must transfer files from dead computer hard drive to new computer. To be sure.”

“Okay. Let’s do it. 

“When can you do this?”

“Maybe Monday. Maybe Tuesday.”

“How much will this cost.”

“I think $135,” said Peter. First good news of the week!

Peter called Monday afternoon, “computer ready.”

“I’ll be right over.” Another trip down e-toll 407, and making a mental note about how many tolls this was going to be, I arrived at Peter’s to claim my computers.

“You want old computer fixed?”

“Yes sir if you can. I have systems on my old computer that won’t operate on the new one because of old OS.

“How much for new motherboard?”

“Not new. Used. I have to order from supplier.”

“How much?”

“Maybe $300.”

“Okay, when do you think you will have it?”

“Maybe next Monday.”

I left my dead MacBookPro with Peter and took my new MacBookPro home to Shannon’s; Tuesday I set up the new computer on the dining room table, stumbled around my new MacOS environment looking for files and apps so I could get to work. Took all day.

Friday he phoned, “computer is ready.

“But there is problem. Battery not charging.”

“I was afraid of that, it has been unreliable for a few years now.
“Can you get new battery?”

“Oh sure, but not till Monday.”

“How much for new battery?”

“Not new, refurbished. Maybe $100.”

“By the way,’ Peter continued, “I showed you, your old power adapter not safe, you need new one.”

“How much for new adapter plug”

“Not new, used. Maybe $50
“Go ahead.

He called Monday, “your computer is ready.”

I raced down 407 one more time.

I paid Peter $559.35 including HST. Might have been less if I had thought to bring cash.

But now I have two almost new MacBookPros and can finally get to work.

I’ll have to wait another few weeks to find out how much the ETR tolls cost me.

On Sunday March 28 I sent my manuscript off to two trusted reviewers. I’ve promised them outrageous fortunes if they provide me with encouraging reviews for the cover of my book. I’ve reached out to another luminary of my acquaintance who is equivocating on doing a review for me, and I am seeking contact with radio personalities at Radio Station CFAI FM.

Meantime Shannon has been thriving, well as much as fear and her latest handfuls of drugs permit – she is to be quiet, no excitement, no exertion. This can be difficult for my highly extroverted daughter, especially when I’m around, despite my best efforts. Still I took her off to two appointments and picked her up after her telephone consultations with her other attending physicians. On Wednesday March 31 I said goodbye to Shannon and the girls, promised I would be back May 1 to see all the tulips we had planted last Thanksgiving. There were no tears, except maybe from Mr. Darcy. I drove home to Kanata with no hope of getting my semi-monthly blog post out on time. But I had an appointment for Bonnie with Lynwood Animal Hospital for Thursday April 1. It was no joke. Another $595 for consultation and meds and another two week watch. And the prognosis is not particularly good – elder poodles are prone for cancer in their toes, and I won’t have her foot amputated if that turns out to be what is the matter. Bonnie is a lot happier now – must be the codeine – she thinks she’s a young dog again though she still avoids putting weight on her socked foot.

Friday I finished my CAA survey report and sent it off to the Strat Planning Task Force in advance of the facilitation session scheduled for April 9/10 (volunteers can only work weekends it seems).

That’s a lot of life packed into two compacted weeks, when I was planning other things.

And here it is Saturday April 3 and I am issuing my semi-monthly blog post, three days late and a dollar short.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 


[1] But where did John Lennon get the idea, or the quote? https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/05/06/other-plans/

[2] For the truly curious of you, she had a SCAD (https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/conditions/spontaneous-coronary-artery-dissection) which is a rare and dangerous condition of uncertain cause found mostly in premenopausal women and highly corelated in RA sufferers.

2 thoughts on “20. Life is What Happens”

  1. Shannon Christner

    Thank you for all your help. Alleviating fears, editing first year university papers for Grand-daughters, tidying, errands and reading me gems of some of your favourite paragraphs from your upcoming novel. It’s a hit! But most of all, teaching me a lot about myself in a considered way that made sense. See you in May! 🙂

  2. Doug, you have a knack for writing about your day-to-day adventures; and I enjoy reading about them! Keep it up!

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