I spent way too much time on the computer last night, especially considering how tired as I was. But I couldn't help it; I started to catch up on one of my favorite sites, and the rest just sucked me in. Lileks led me to Dave Barry's Blog, which proceeded smoothly to Althouse and InstaPundit, the last three of which I hadn't read since Monday. The school year gets busy enough that I really need to regulate the time I spend on blog-reading (which definitely includes only the sparest helping of comment threads, since those can kill an hour in what seems like mere minutes). So while discipline is the order of the day for a while, last night was a frenzy, akin to a roomful of kids attacking a pile of presents underneath a Christmas tree, reducing it to a pile of paper and boxes in record time.
My four nights with no computer (save for the checking of essential emails while at the college) were definitely different. but, unlike in the Arby's commercial, different wasn't necessarily good. With TV and reading as my only diversions once I got home each night, I felt almost Amish in a way. It definitely showed me how the Internet takes the sting out of being single, because I hadn't been this bored at home since my roommate moved out a few years ago. (In this case, it could be said that the Internet serves multiple good purposes, since it lets me do work efficiently, research things quickly, lets me communicate with friends in true multitasker fashion, and it keeps the inherent boredom of singlehood at bay enough to keep me from doing something impulsiv--like, say, rushing into a bad marriage--that I might have regretted later.)
As for the computer itself, almost everything is built back up to previous levels; it took a few downloads to get my preferred version of Mozilla and return to the latest version of OS 9, since my system disk boots up the barest-bones edition of that system. I have at least rudimentary versions of most of my Word documents, but it'll take a bit of editing to get them updated. There are a few things I don't have that will be difficult to get back, like all the songs I had on iTunes (and no, I didn't buy anything from their music store yet; everything I had was either sent by friends or loaded from my own CD collection). I also will have trouble using Finale NotePad for a while, since the newest version only works on OS X (that being said, if anyone reading this has NotePad '04, please feel free to share the love). The biggest thing to rebuild will be my email address book, which contained around 300 names (not that I'm Mr. Popularity or anything, but when you add up friends, family, fraternity brothers, professional contacts, students and parents, it does get to be a pretty big number).
I haven't decided if I'll ask for a new computer for Christmas or just continue driving the Ancient and Venerable iMac into the ground for a while longer, but I hope this is the last time I experience a total loss of the hard drive. The two times it's happened are two too many for me.
Not exactly Southern hospitality: Several residents of a neighborhood in Ocala, Florida wanted to welcome some hurricane evacuees into their homes, but their efforts were quashed by their subdivision's deed restrictions. I'm certainly glad I don't live in a place with a homeowners' association, since they tend to range from heartless (like these folks) to totally Nazi-oid (like the one a few years ago who seized an elderly woman's house when she got behind in her association dues). This might be a blog topic for later, but feel free to comment now if you wish.