Over the past six months, our family computer has come under attack. Viruses have found there way in and it now, it takes twenty minutes to open an e-mail from the time I fire up the beast in the morning. Finding my way to any to any website became a battle as I was redirected several times the no-man’s
, Viagra, and Trojans. land of Tazinga
At first, I thought it was simply a matter of having an older computer, so I kept a few books by the computer and read poetry or literary style guides to pass the time. My teenage sons, however, felt entitled to a computer that responded instantaneously to every keystroke. I suggested they use the library or school computer for Internet access. They declined. So did their time sitting in front of the computer downloading music (which I was convinced was the vector for all the viruses).
When the computer ceased to function, we downloaded three or four different anti-virus and malware programs, switched search engines, and called pc-savvy friends for advice. Nothing helped for long.
This past week, faced with the prospect of getting through both “Beowolf” and “Paradise Lost” in the glow of the screen, I unplugged the computer and took it to 4th Dimension for a diagnosis.
I got a call the next day. Viruses? Too many iTunes? Crashing hard drive? Computer senescence? No. The problem was too many clouds.
I have apparently loaded so many photographs of clouds onto the computer that our Windows operating system had no room to update itself and keep things running smoothly. This, in turn, made it possible for viruses to make their way into the computer. And, because we didn’t know any better, the software we downloaded to vanquish the viruses were working against each other and creating a quagmire in our computer. Now what?
I brought the computer home and set it near the tangle of cords and cables. I am dreading plugging it back in. I know that as soon as I do, I will be faced with the painful task of deleting most of the 1583 photographs I have taken over the past two years of clouds. Sure, I could buy an external hard drive, or store them “on the cloud” as one friend suggested with a laugh. But I know it is time to go through my collection of clouds, pick the best, and delete the rest. This means I will have to go through them, one by one, decide which is more beautiful than the next, which is unusual or rare or unique, which one has sentimental value or also includes friends, family, or a landscape I cherish. And there’s the rub.
Is there a “best cumulonimbus?” A “most meaningful family portrait with altocumulus?” A photograph featuring a combination of cloud types that has never been seen before and will never be seen again—something with potential scientific significance that I should send to a meteorologist for analysis?
No. It is time to make a thousand decisions. I need to figure out what the clouds in each photograph mean to me, why I value one over another, how my perception of clouds has changed over two years. All of this will inform each tiny bit of pressure on the delete key. A thousand keystrokes will send my clouds into the ether.
But one of the marvelous thing about clouds is this: They are ubiquitous, common, and unique. And living in the Pacific Northwest, I know where to get more.