I had one of the worst days I’ve ever had wrangling a computer. Of course, it was entirely my fault. It’s what I get for asking an aging piece of steam-punk history to perform modern wonders. But man, for a while there my blood pressure was right at about DEFCON4 levels.

Okay, so here’s the recipe for disaster that I whipped up to waste my afternoon, just in case any of you guys lose your mind like I did and try to attempt such an idiotic task:

To one 62MG clunker running Windows 98 with all gerbils firing (if just), add

One extreme desire NOT to use Outlook for calendaring, since you’ll have to leave it running in the background, thus tripping up at least a third of the gerbils on a regular basis, plus

One love of Web2.0 gadgetry and

A dash of temporary insanity

First, decide you’d rather not use Outlook, because it’s a resource hog and you just need a simple calendar – no email, no task management, no frills. Hop online, fire up your Google account and set up a Google calendar. This would take you 10 minutes at home, but because your gerbils are tired, it takes you the better part of an hour (!).

Once you get your calendar set up (after pulling your hair out because it takes 5 minutes to do, oh I dunno, everything), get a wild hair up your arse to try that nifty “embed Google calendar on your desktop using Active Desktop” trick so your calendar is always right there in your face and you won’t have to waste time firing up the Mozilla gerbils (who get surly if you pester them during their nap and whose work ethic is sketchy at best). Forget you’re working with Win98, which was notorious for not quite ever managing to catch the balls that Active Desktop threw it.

Activate “View my desktop as a webpage” command. Paste in calendar url. Click Apply.

Shoot self in head as you watch the entire computer grind to a glacial halt, to the point where it takes (and I’m NOT exaggerating I swear) 20 minutes to re-render the desktop background, in strained, grinding, crunching bouts of what sounds like birthing labor, broken up by long, panting rests in between. During each of these bouts of pushing, an inch or so of your desktop will be painstakingly rendered at great cost.

Realize you could stack the pixels by hand faster than your computer will be able to complete it’s task.

Click frantically at the “view my desktop as a webpage” checkbox, further confusing the gerbils, who finally give up and leap from the spinning binary wheel to their deaths in frustration.

Bang head on desk as computer continues to choke on the massive effort of such complex commands as clicking on the start button, to the point where it’s basically just sitting there looking at you and shrugging it’s digital shoulders. Give up. Do a hard power down.

Restart, taut with anxiety over what will happen when the computer tries to actually load the desktop again. Weep with relief when the Active Desktop Restore screen comes up and actually lets you click on “absolve me of my sins and give me a functional desktop back.”

Elapsed time, if this had taken place on a modern, updated computer – maybe half and hour, depending on crash speed.

Actual time elapsed: 5 hours. Yep, from about 9:30 or so until somewhere after 3pm, counting from the moment I decided to go with Google calendar and hit the go button.

Now, lest you think that I am working for cavemen or something, please understand that this is the only computer in the building of this antiquity. Everything else is all modern and up to date and, in fact, they are lobbying like the dickens to replace this hunkajunk as soon as they possibly can. It’s just what’s available for me to work on at this moment.

All the heartache described above was my own damned fault for attempting the impossible with the improbable. Hubris. Pure and utter hubris. I shall repent, and with luck the gerbils will forgive me and all will be well in the morning.

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