The past couple weeks, I've had some shocking incidents with my computer.
Colorado seldom has much humidity, and this winter has been dryer than usual. I try not to scuff across the carpet, but almost every time I first touch my keyboard, I feel the discharging static.
Usually my Assus EeePC takes it in stride. But three times it hasn't. The screen flashed to black, then asked if I wanted to restart Windows in safe mode.
I'm grateful that each time, the automatic file recovery has worked flawlessly. I haven't yet lost a word.
But I've sure had some scares. So I'll keep Open Office set to do an automatic save of files every five minutes. Whenever I break for lunch and at the end of the day, I'll continue to back up that day's files onto separate devices. And every so often when I'm working, my fingers reflexively type Ctrl + S.
Yet my work depends on a medium that's inherently fragile, more the realm of magic than mechanics. I think of these words by old-school journalist and writer John Dunning:
Unlike a computer, a great old manual typewriter is an honest machine. You do your work, it does its work. There's no sneaky nonsense, no hidden screens that pop up and won't go away, and at no time in my 35 years as a writer have I ever “lost” anything because I hit a certain key, failed to hold my mouse right, or sneezed at the wrong moment.
I'm not sure my fingers could standing the pounding of a full day at a manual typewriter. But maybe it wouldn't hurt to check Craigslist in case someone is trying to sell a Selectric. Or a humidifier.