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Anyone who has been on this site in the last couple of days may have noticed a disappearing act. Many of the photos that were supposed to be embedded in the London posts simply vanished, replaced by a window from Flickr saying (in several languages) that they were unavailable. They were still on Flickr; the screw up had to do with my ageing MacBook and a program I use to organise my photos called Lightroom. In attempting to fix one problem, I triggered another.

I won’t bore you with the details. I have gone back and re placed photos in the posts that were affected so everything should appear as it is supposed to. Only the pics may be different to the ones that were there before. And I have uploaded some new pics that don’t have anything to do with the themes I chose to write about in this blog. I just thought you should see them.

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We will be doing our own disappearing act soon. We’re heading over The Netherlands for a couple of months. The peripatetic professor has a fellowship outside The Hague. I’m not quite done writing about London yet, but you can say hello to the land of dykes, bikes and tulips.

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Two weeks ago I got a lobotomy. Don’t let anyone tell you the brain doesn’t have nerve endings. It was (still is) very, very painful. It all began with my vision of peripherals not working. I would wheedle, I would cajole, I would uninstall and re-install. No matter what I did, nothing would get the mother ship to accept its acolytes. A scanner, a webcam, a sweet little device called a Squeezebox that allows music on the computer to be played through the stereo. My short, squat computer refused them all.

So, the question began niggling at me. What to do? Computer problems have a way of messing with your mind. If only, you say to yourself. If only it would work the way it should. Reformat is such a harmless sounding word.

Our very first lobotomy happened entirely by accident. It was in Hong Kong shortly after the handover from Dos to Windows. I know, I’m dating myself. Despite its reputation as a great place to buy electronics, the IBM laptop we purchased was a major investment. It was the software that was cheap. Something about not paying royalties. Sure enough, six months later there were serious issues.

I took it back to the shop and told the owner about the problem. He smiled at me, took it under his arm and said: “reformat. ok?” I had no idea what he was talking about. It did not dawn on me that he was talking icepick. That I would be picking up a reamed-out brick instead of the clever little crutch that I had come to depend on for everyday life.

Everything we had written and received had been turned into randomly polarized electrons. Contacts, email, articles. I looked at the man in disbelief. “You mean you didn’t save it somewhere?” He looked around the shop to see if my life had been mislaid somewhere among the printers. “Works okay now.”

The very word ‘reformat’ gives me heart palpitations. But time heals, as they say. We forget. Twelve years is a long time. I have everything backed up. It is simply a question of reinstalling my programs and the data. That’s what my rational, intelligent mind had to say. My body got the night sweats. Big brain won. I lost.

All my contacts, appointments, email. Everything My computer guru did the same thing I did to reinstall Outlook data file. He tried. He failed. If you are reading this I may have had your address in my files once upon a time. Not any more. No worries. Someday, someone will figure it out. In the meantime, enjoy the peace and quiet of my absence. Pretend I’m on Mars. I won’t be bugging you anytime soon.

Check back here in a few days. We just returned from nine days down under down under. That’s right, Tasmania. Words and pics will be up as soon as I get the bills paid and a pile of laundry done.

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