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Blizzard (2004-12-26)

by Richard Stallman Contributions Published on Jul 12, 2010 03:45 PM
On Dec 26 I went home to Boston from Spain. About 40 minutes before arrival time, my laptop display died completely. It had previously shown a tendency to turn off occasionally, but suspending and unsuspending had fixed it before. This time no; not even shutting down the machine and removing the batteries made the screen function. I began to wonder how I could get any further work done until I obtained a new machine. Would connecting it to an external monitor produce a useful display?

Wouldn't you know, this was just the time that the plane had to circle for an hour waiting to land. There was a bad storm in Boston. If the laptop hadn't died, I would simply have gone on working.

Eventually we landed. Going through immigration and customs was pretty quick, and then I had to get home. Wheeling my suitcase to the bus stop was itself difficult, so I thought I would take a taxi. I went to the taxi line and discovered about ten people before me. When no taxis arrived in five minutes, I decided the bus to the subway was the better option. Indeed, the buses and trains were operating normally, and the only difficulty was carrying my suitcase down occasional stairs. The real problem arose once I got out of the subway. It was a short walk from there, just a few blocks. Ordinarily it would be easy.

The first thing I noticed, as I tried to cross a street, was that the heavy suitcase could not roll over piled-up snow. Instead it pushed the snow ahead of it, and quickly got stuck. I could only move the suitcase by carrying it, but I don't have the strength to carry it for several blocks. I saw that the sidewalk across the street had been cleared recently and thought that maybe the suitcase would roll there. It worked--most of the time. At least I could carry the suitcase the distance needed to get in and out of the street.

The problems weren't over. The wind was blowing snow hard into my face, painful as well as cold. Wheeling the suitcase, even though it worked, forced me to go slowly. I began to think of leaving the suitcase on the street, but I waited for a minute with my back turned to the wind, and then was able to continue to the vicinity of the building.

Then I saw that the path from the street to the door had not been cleared. I wasn't sure what to do then. But there was a man around, and I asked him to carry the suitcase to the door.

Back inside, I rebooted the laptop. It worked fine. However, I am now using a different one.

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