Back When I Had Zip

Quite by accident, I ventured down another memory rabbit hole the other day. Unlike the previous trip taken during lockdown, which was purposeful, this one sprang from something as mundane as a search for a missing checkbook.

Desk drawers, plastic containers in closets, file cabinet drawers, lock boxes, etc., were all searched and then searched again for good measure. It’s rather concerning, but I am also not in a panic about it. The checkbook is from a secondary account with a grand total of $125 in it. A significant amount perhaps, but thankfully not one that will keep me up at night. Still, we do like to keep track of financial instruments both large and small. That particular search will continue.

In the midst of it, however, I came upon an old athletic bag that I’ve owned since high school. Its original use is long retired, and for the last 40 years or so its job has been to hold cords, dongles, adaptors, convertors, doohickeys, and thingamabobs for anything computer, audio, or TV-related. Each time I solve a problem with a new peripheral, the earlier device goes into this bag. It’s admittedly a one-way transaction; the items are mostly ignored and just sit in the bag to await a future use. An Island of Misfit Toys, if you will.

I am someone who gets distracted easily. Bored from looking for that checkbook, I instead stare at the Adidas bag and wonder what treasures might lurk in there. I remember using it in college to stash copies of Playboy and Penthouse, plus the occasional small bag of weed which thankfully my parents never discovered. Funny that. The nudie magazines would have elicited a smirk but grass probably meant that I was heading to a life of ominous implications. Praise the Lord that the eventual Walk Man, Disk Man, CD Deck, VCR’s, etc., saved my soul!

See what I mean? I do get distracted.

But please do get your collective minds out of the gutter. This is a G-rated blog. While I assure you no nudies will be shown, I will fulfill your munchie fantasies if you promise to stay till the end of the post.

Within the tangled mess of ancient cords and previous-generation USB gear, I found at the very bottom of the bag something I had completely forgotten about: a Zip Drive device purchased sometimes in the late nineties; along with several corresponding Zip Disks, all rubber-banded together. Checkbook/shmeckbook, this looks like WAY more fun.

Or not.

A wave of dread immediately comes over me. I have absolutely no idea what is saved on these disks. Some memories might be wonderful, others not so much. That trip down memory lane I took during the pandemic (with old family letters) was heartwarming. But reminders of troubling and uneasy moments from my mid-adult years might turn out to be disconcerting. As if I need even more fodder for those unsettling thoughts at 2:00am, amiright?

Still, though, what the hell is on these disks? There’s really only one way to find out.

Although my present Mac now has different external ports (gee thanks, Apple), I have a nifty-keen adaptor attached to it that allows me to use the older USB plugs found on the Zip Drive. I hook it up and watch it load with that familiar “whizz” sound. Ah yes, the sounds of circa 1998.

I must have spent at least three hours looking at the contents on all the disks. You read about data being corrupted because of age and environmental conditions, but all the disks and their contents remain intact. The first thing I noticed is how every document had a “.wpd” extension on it. That meant WordPerfect, which for a long time was the dominant word processing program. My Mac, however, had no friendly software that will open those old files. Some sleuthing on Google leads me to a downloadable program called LibreOffice, which easily opens the aged WordPerfect files as promised.

I find embarrassingly-written resumes and job application essays, letters to friends and family referring to dinners and get-togethers that I can no longer recall, and lots of to-do lists. I must have thought making a to-do list on a computer was way savvy and modern of me.

I find a letter written by my dad to someone named RB; I assume he must have had my oldest sister type it because (a) Dad didn’t own a computer, and (b) he had no typing skills. But I love the following line from it:

Sylvia [my mother] and I are both in our mid-80s. So we do a lot of existing.”

Mostly, though, there are a lot of pictures on each disk. Many are scenes from my first marriage, and various groupings of friends, siblings, in-laws, etc. There are also photos of things about which I have almost completely forgotten. For instance, we briefly had a Scottie dog named Ashley. She was a rescue. She was also deaf, which for her meant that she hated being alone. She barked constantly until we came home. The neighbors hated her… and probably us because of that. We ended up giving her to an elderly woman who loved Scotties and rarely left her home. They were a perfect match for one another.

I was also reminded of some of my more interesting purchases. For a time I apparently searched for that more rugged, inner me. I don’t think I ever found it, but it was nevertheless interesting blaring “In The Court of the Crimson King” from the open windows of my Ford Ranger on the streets of Fresno.

A picture of my mother and my oldest sister was a nice find. It was taken five years before Mom’s death. She was 88 when this picture was taken. I’ve duly sent it off to my sister, who was delighted to see it for perhaps the first time.

Some photos show me at my job. Beware of those rugged, truck drivin’ law librarian types…

… and the colleagues who are forced to work with them. Fortunately this particular one never held it against me. That’s my friend Sue, who offers wonderfully sardonic comments on this blog every now and again. When we was young, eh Sue?

I probably got through at least 80% of the Zip Disk contents before I decided I’d had enough. What with new covid variants, the monkeypox virus, and G-d knows what other fresh hell awaits us in the coming months, I figure there’s always the specter of another lockdown to offer more time for nostalgia. This is probably enough fun for now.

For those of you who are still pondering that earlier weed from the eighties, I’ll leave you with a little something to quell those munchies. Gorgeous recently tried her hand at making bagels. Add a little cream cheese and some lox and let’s all get comfortably numb.

Until next time…

26 thoughts on “Back When I Had Zip

  1. Homemade bagels….yum! Your mom and sister look alike (and happy!). I think your old self looks more handsome than your young self or maybe it’s the picture taker! Rabbit hole indeed and no nudies!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great tripping down memory lane, but you lost me at “zip.”
    We didn’t even have a cordless phone or an answering machine or cable until my two oldest were in their second and third year of college.
    My trip is looking at all my cell phones. Most of them so antiquated, but I have them all…proudly displayed right beside my mint green rotary dial telephone. 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember coming across some old photos and having a great time tripping down memory lane with them. With so much of our writing and record keeping done online nowadays, I imagine many of the documents we have created will become lost forever once a device is trashed or a new technology/operating system/program overtakes an old one. Clever you for thinking to look for a workaround. Bagels, lox, and cream cheese sounds like the perfect antidote for a nostalgia overload.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True enough, Janis. In my last upgrade — Mac to Mac — it was easy to migrate everything. So I suppose now I have everything I had earlier. But in those PC days in the nineties and early aughts, I think quite a bit simply ended up at the trash dump. Found on these disks was an AOL chat transcript I saved with a sibling — talk about a weird-looking blast from the past!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi. The bagels look great. Here’s another delicious way to have lox: toast some slices of a good, rustic bread. Spread cream cheese on them. Put some capers and some greens on the cream cheese. Put lox on top of capers and greens.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Don’t think I have any zip files. Opened my camera case the other day and found lots of memory cards.
    Love the photos. Real treasures. Can’t believe you’re a Ford man 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Somewhere around here there are SD files from former digital cameras that never were transferred to a computer. You’ve just suggested a future blog post in the making, Dewey! 😉 Ah, yes, for many years I was indeed a Ford man. We even had a Taurus to go along with it. Crazy days, absolutely crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my WordPerfect! It really was – in my eyes. I remember the horror in my heart when I had to learn a new system. But then I also loved my IBM golfball typewriter 😀 😀

    Lovely pics & gorgeous bagels from Gorgeous 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recall in WordPerfect a feature called “Reveal Codes,” which was at the bottom of a document and showed all the formatting. It was especially a useful feature when you worked on a document created by someone else — you could remove what you didn’t like easier. When they forced us to use MS Word that feature was gone. Typewriters are still the bomb in my eyes, and they look GREAT. 🙂 Thanks, Debs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I ADORED Reveal Codes and still mourn its loss. Typewriters look fab, so much more writerly than a computer keyboard somehow. I learned how to type on a manual and our teacher played Scottish reels to encourage us to keep an even beat 😀 I seem to remember achieving 50wpm on a manual before I was let loose on electric ones…

        Thanks for the trip down memory lane Marty 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. You went down the rabbit hole, but don’t we all periodically. The bonus was the photos – they are great. I would have gladly bought that Ranger from you. 🙂 Technology changes so quickly that we save on one type of device and a year or two later we have no way to open it. You have a bag – I have a cabinet stuffed with old devices, cords, etc. They need to offer a ‘shredding’ day like they do with paper where you could go and watch all this crap get disposed of so no one could access it. Now, put that bagel down and get looking for that checkbook.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A charity resale shop we visit occasionally has a whole shelf area devoted to “vintage” computer cords and connectors. It appears quite popular, so I guess that’s one possibility for me to dispose in a nice way. Ugh, that checkbook… honestly! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I recognize this stuff! An Island of Misfit Toys…toys for the techie-guys for sure! Your bag is so tidy. I hope Gorgeous appreciates that and doesn’t complain about its existence. I say that because hubby has whole computers with data and info that’s only accessible via certain harddrives/readers…ultimately untransferable to other devices. Over the years and several moves, he has wanted to go through it all before disposing of the hardware, but that’s an ordeal & time sucking thing in and of itself…to be kind, he’s done some of that but there’s lots of stuff from his former software company that’s “sensitive”. However, who could even access it these days?
    And to be fair, he was on the cutting edge of data conversion, internet servers & publishing related stuff with customers like McGraw Hill and the IRS back in the days of owning his own business.
    Anyway – thanks for the laughs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, whole computers would make me anxious — not for what’s on them so much, but just in having to find a way to rid myself of them. I wish him luck! In your hubby’s case, though, I suspect there probably is proprietary data on those machines. Sounds like hammering the hard drives should take care of it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful picture of your mom and sister! Such happy smiles! And an interesting quote from your dad. I am thinking the items still in your bag could actually be donated to a museum. Or sold on ebay for lots of money – maybe you can get that kitchen paid off after all! And if not, gosh, you have some delicious looking bagels to enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You found a real treasure trove in that old gym bag, Marty. Glad you got your dose of nostalgia. Speaking of doses, Gorgeous’ bagels look munchable, but combined with that new-found bag of weed are your developing a “pot” belly?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It is amazing the doohickeys uncovered when searching for an item. I love your phrase “an Island of Misfit Toys.” Wow, truly a rabbit hole…yet in it lies some priceless treasures…especially words from your Father. Also, the photo of your Mom and Sister. Speaking about priceless…your Gorgeous…homemade bagels…you are a lucky fella, Marty!!😀

    Liked by 1 person

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