The Virus


I’ve been having computer trouble. Some sort of trojan set up camp on my laptop. I spent most of Wednesday dealing with it. Initially it  manifested as “pop-ups” which is a phenomenon of computer behavior that I have not seen in years. Frankly, it was kind of nostalgic. But I knew what it meant. A virus was trying to get in.

It can be difficult to download anti-virus software when your computer is infected, and if you have never had problems with your computer, bless you, but let me give you some warnings. Often times the internet becomes plain old inaccessible, in which case you may need to seek professional help, or a friend who’s good at this kind of stuff. If you do still have access to the internet, like I did, it can be tricky to get what you want, since the pop-ups take the form of “warnings” informing you to quickly secure your computer. If you click on these fake warnings then you’ll be up shit creek.

It helps if you have another device that can traverse the jungle so that you can research the problem safely.

During my work, however, I became chagrined as I read about the importance of computer security. It seemed I was just as bad as those people who refuse to vaccinate their kids. I was endangering the proverbial herd by letting my laptop wander around unprotected!

Anyway, after navigating the deluge of fake messages I managed to download Panda (though even on Panda’s website, fake download options appeared. Be careful, don’t click on them. Only download files from the trusted sources). After several hours of scans, where I found and destroyed thirteen suspicious files or programs I went to bed confident that I had eliminated and therefore conquered the threat.

Thursday morning, however, I discovered that the problem was not quite as “solved” as I’d thought. The pop-ups refused to be quelled. I almost decided to settle back in to another long day of scans, but instead I shut the machine down, unplugged it and went for a hike.

It was a good choice.

I’d been wanting to check out Newberry Crater, just south of Bend Oregon, for a while but I hadn’t made the time. It was sort of overcast and windy. I brought my camera, though I considered ruefully that if my computer remained in danger I really wouldn’t have anything “useful” to do with the photos.

The whole problem with my laptop had thrown into sharp relief how lonely I actually was out here on the west coast. Without it, how would I share my adventures with others? How would I reap facebook likes on the photos I took?

What should I do about the problem? What about my writing files and art? Some of it was backed up, but how much? I recently bought a mouse so I could start drawing MS Paints again, but now that would have to take a back seat. I fantasized about just throwing the laptop into the lake wrapped in chains and weighted with bricks like Alan Parrish did with the Jumanji game. Then I could buy a new computer (or maybe a typewriter) and start fresh.

Is that why I’m out here on the west coast in the first place? Starting fresh? Who would have thought a computer virus would herald such a dramatic existential crisis. How much of my identity have I tied to this silly little machine?

Alone I walked along the beach of Paulina lake, hoping to stumble on a hot spring, occasionally sticking my cold fingers into the water to test it out. The park was in it’s off-season so the place had a sort of desolate atmosphere. Most of the rest rooms were locked. Many of the signs had been tarped over with black plastic. The guard house was boarded up. While hiking along the trail that looped through the Great Obsidian Flow south of the lakes I passed a Polish tourist who exclaimed, “I thought I was the only crazy person out here!”

“No, I’m here too,” I replied before continuing on.

From time to time I would hear an echoing call from someone across the lake who had evidently lost their dog. As I was leaving a man flagged me down, “Was that you calling for your dog?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“Oh, because we saw a dog up the road.”

When I got home it occurred to me that the problem with the pop-ups must be browser based. So I downloaded a new version of Chrome, uninstalled and then re-installed.

So far it’s been smooth sailing.


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