Joyride Through Cyberspace By Caroline Wright

Caroline in Carolina
from the Internet Gazette, May 1998
When we last heard from Caroline back in February, she was preparing to leave Hawaii for her new home in South Carolina. Ever optimistic, she promised a new ďJoyrideĒ in time for the March issue. The fickle finger of fate, however, inserted itself into her good intentions and goosed Ďem good. Here are a few journal entries which describe Carolineís experiences of these past few months.

February 18: Interesting Southern phenomenon: today I went into my very first Piggly Wiggly. (Piggly Wiggly is a Southern supermarket chain.) The checkout girl caught a glimpse of my Hawaii driverís license when I reached for my cash. ďHey!Ē she said, ďAinít Hawaii one aíthose... you know, one aíthose.... states that ainít quite a state? You know, itís a... a...Ē and here she paused for a moment. ďI dunno. But ainít it reeeeeeeal far away?Ē

Guess geography isnít a forte of some of my new neighbors.

My computer should be here soon, and Iíll be able to start Joyride for the March issue of the Internet Gazette. Itíll be fun to tell everybody how my puter got here just a few days after I left Hawaii. Iím a little nervous because the air freight company doesnít insure computers. But it was the only way to get my system here within a week of my arrival. If Iíd sent it with the rest of my household goods, I could have insured it - but the movers said it might take 5-7 weeks for my stuff to get here. How could I survive without my puter for almost two whole months?

I wish Iíd been able to back up my entire system before I left. I MUST get a Zip drive one of these days.

February 21: How I miss Ito-En Iced Cappucino! The most heavily caffeinated beverage sold in convenience stores here is Mello-Yello. Another interesting Southern phenomenon: iced tea, known in Dixie as sweet tea, is the house wine of the South, and a single glass contains enough sugar to keep a small child amped for a week and a half.

Oops! Almost forgot. My computer arrived! All the boxes are right here in the living room; Iím sitting here looking at them now. Wish Iíd saved the original boxes for shipping, back when I bought my puter a year ago. The air freight company apparently made do with what they had. Is that a pineapple crate?

Uh, oh. I just noticed that NONE of these boxes are marked ďFRAGILEĒ...

An hour later: I hooked it up and turned it on and nothing happened. Totally blank screen. The case is visibly damaged. Arrrrgghhhhhhh!

Why, oh, WHY didnít I get a Zip drive before I left Hawaii?!?

March 1: My new friends Scott and Varqa, geeks from Dixie, have fixed my puter... sorta. They put in a new motherboard and video card. They replaced the mouse. They put all the guts of my system into an old 386 case. But the sound card doesnít work anymore. Scott will come over in a couple days to replace it. I think Iíll ask him to order a new case, too. The reset button on this one doesnít work. And the system keeps freezing up, but when I press CTL+ALT+DEL to reboot, nothing happens. Oh, well, at least all my files and applications survived the long journey. Iíll have to get a Zip drive real soon! Too bad thereís no Computer City within a hundred-mile radius.

Todayís noteworthy Southern phenomena: All of the women seem to sport carefully sculpted bouffant hairdos and full Kabuki makeup, no matter the time or occasion. And everythingís closed on Sunday - except for the churches, which use their outdoor signs to sell salvation as aggressively as the strip joints use theirs to sell flesh.

March 17, written under the influence of heavy sinus medication: Apparently the pollen count here in Dixie has risen to unprecedented levels. Ooooh! Iím floating!

Scott came over tonight to install my new sound card and exchange the old case for the new. At some dreadful point during this seemingly simple procedure, he emerged from my office to announce that my master boot record had ceased to exist, and that all of my files, once segregated from each other in thousands of neatly accessible little containers, had been magically welded into a single undecipherable blob of electronic trash.

Yes, itís true. Everything on my hard drive is GONE.

If I could feel my head, Iíd probably be totally hysterical.

Todayís Southern phenomenon: Two streets down, past Leeís Landing (as in Robert E. Lee) and Civil War Drive (Iím not making this up), one can take a sharp left onto Confederate Road, go toward the river... and see house trailers.

Not just any house trailers, no sirree. House trailers on stilts.

April 18: Well, my puter DID have a lot of extra stuff on it, I guess. First novels are usually pretty lousy; who am I to think that mine might be any different? And all those lost graphics and lines of HTML code for my new and improved website - could it be some higher, hyper-Gatesian power trying to tell me that I need a fresher approach to web design? So now my driveís all squeaky clean, waiting for me to fill it up with the Great American Trashy Novel, and the most brilliant website the world has ever seen.

If only the dang thing would stay booted up.

Dixie trivia of the day: the state motto of South Carolina is Dum Spiro Spero - While I breathe, I hope.

Caroline Wright, of WRIGHT FOR YOU Word Services, is a freelance writer. A former resident of Hawaii, she now lives in rural South Carolina. Feel free to e-mail your comments to Caroline at