This week saw two difficult problems arise that took a whole lot of problem-solving, panic, and unbelievable luck to solve. I had considerable evidence that my laptop computer was fatally infected with a trojan virus in spite of the subscription I had to Norton anti-virus software. And on top of that, I had to renew my driver’s license since yesterday was my birthday. And not an ordinary renew-by-computer sort of thing, but a dreaded trip to the horrid hated DMV.
The DMV was a thorny problem because Texas is a Red State and fully committed to keeping certain people with the wrong color skin, the wrong sort of last name, or the wrong size of bank account from acquiring picture IDs for the purposes of the foul crime of voting for Democrats. So, specifically, of the long list of things you were supposed to bring to get a license renewed, the birth certificate was a problem for me. I have a birth certificate, but because of a courthouse fire in Iowa in the 1970’s, it was only a photocopy of a handwritten replacement document. They had warned me when I called and asked that this would never do. I had to have an authenticated copy issued by the records department of the State of Iowa. So, I spent 50 dollars on an expedited official document by express mail, still likely to arrive after the expiration date of my license.
Of course, once I lucked out and received the document only three business days after I requested it, I discovered that the DMV had been moved from the location I had relied on for almost ten years. And when I did find the DMV office and waited in the cold in the early morning for the doors to open, I discovered that the DMV I had found didn’t actually issue driver’s licenses. Bummer. I had to try again the next day ten miles further away in Lewisville.
I fully expected to be turned away again that day for some unforeseen and petty reason. Instead, I found the opposite to be true. They saw an old white guy walking with a cane and thought, “Oh, Republican voter!” I was moved to the front of the line. The Indian lady ahead of me was not given a license because she did not have both a birth certificate and a valid passport. But I got my license with only the expiring license to prove my identity. They didn’t even need to see the birth certificate.
The computer virus was just as frustrating. The only option was to try to find the right software to remove the bug by using the infected computer to purchase one online. Since Norton had been overwhelmed, I went with McAfee and, fortunately, got a year’s subscription for 60% off the regular price. I downloaded it, spent three agonizing days on a full scan, then got a result of zero problems found and fixed. So, as further programs began crashing, I called their tech support and got a guy with a heavy Indian accent to remotely fix the problems for me. In three hours of time, he miraculously restored my computer and even removed some other unwanted programs slowing my computer which I had been unable to remove myself. It turned out that the problem may have been caused by another anti-virus program whom I accidentally downloaded with another program package, but then I refused to pay for the upgrade when it reported that it had found five seriously infected files on my computer. You can’t be too careful when downloading things from the internet, though being careful and vigilant is almost impossible when there are so many horrible things out there that you never suspected people might be capable of.
Anyway, I survived both ordeals and still managed to finish a novel manuscript and got closer to publishing another one.