Habits of A Lifetime

by dossier

Notes & Warnings

When Rodney was four, his mother gave him a Big Chief tablet with a fat, soft pencil. He sat at the kitchen table and carefully wrote down his ideas. They were small ideas, like him, but the way his mother stood next to him and beamed proudly made him happy, too. When he was finished, he would carefully tear them out of the tablet and take them to his room. He was afraid to let his mother have one, what if she didn't bring it back, how would he remember his idea? When she insisted, he laboriously copied it and told her she could have that one.

When Rodney was six, he sat at the kitchen table and wrote out his ideas on thin sheets of college rule notebook paper with a blue Bic pen. The pen fairly flew across the page, the cheap ink leaving blue smears in his haste; Rodney rarely went back to cross anything out or try to correct minor mistakes in spelling or punctuation. He held the paper at an angle so he wouldn't smudge it too badly, but that downside to being left handed was miniscule compared to finding out how much easier things were with the correct dominant hand. His mother no longer stood next to him in triumph to watch her prodigy, but Rodney sometimes still made her a copy.

When Rodney was eight, he bought a typewriter at a garage sale for three dollars. He sat in his room typing his ideas out on the old Underwood manual. It was tall and heavy, and the keys were stiff, but they slammed the type bars onto the paper with a satisfying smash. He had to use the one finger on each hand because they were the only ones strong enough, but eventually with practice he could touch type with all but the pinkie. He sometimes put a piece of carbon paper between two sheets when he wanted to give his mom a copy, but he discovered the premeditated act of making a copy caused him to freeze up and think too slowly. Rodney didn't make copies very often.

When Rodney was ten, his paternal grandmother gave him an electric typewriter and he sat in his room typing his ideas out with lightning speed. The model of typewriter had a correction button, so you could backspace over your mistakes, but Rodney never used it. He'd learned to be accurate the first time on the Underwood and the Selectric was like heaven on speed. It was quiet (compared to the Underwood) and fast, very fast, and Rodney put the old typewriter under the bed.

When Rodney was thirteen, his paternal grandfather gave him a Vic 20. Rodney was confounded because it was brand new and came with game cartridges, like Space Invaders. But he humored his grandfather and they played together, watching the little pixilated aliens fall from the sky. It wouldn't be very long before Rodney discovered what the Vic was really good for: he programmed the lights at the school Valentines’ Day dance to chase each other across the room and flash in time with the music. He still wrote his great ideas on the Selectric and stored them in the rows of wide three ring binders on the book shelves; they were dated because that was the only thing the pages had in common with each other.

When Rodney was fifteen, his maternal grandmother gave him a KayProII word processor. It had a screen instead of paper, but the keyboard looked just like the Selectric's. The screen glowed and the words were orange, but Rodney didn't care, it was fast and quiet. He stored all of his great ideas on wide, leathery disks until Christmas when he received the printer he'd requested. Rodney spent the rest of Christmas day in his room, feeding a ream of paper into the printer so he'd have it on paper in case the KayPro ever died.

When Rodney was seventeen, he learned about off-site storage. The house had burned to the ground, he swore he wasn't responsible he hadn't even been there, and all of Rodney's notebooks were reduced to ashes. All of his thin 5 1/2-inch floppies were gone, the Underwood, the Selectric and the Vic 20 and the KayProII all went up in smoke. He mourned their loss for a while until he learned that his mother had set the fire on purpose. He never saw her again because they locked her up in the Looney bin, and Rodney wasn't mourning anymore, he was furious. There wasn't any way to recover the work of a lifetime, and while adults scoffed when he said this, he knew it was true. Rodney got his father to give him some of the insurance money and he bought a new Amiga and rented a lockbox at the bank. He still saved the paper copies at home, but all of his work was backed up onto disks and taken to the bank once a week. Rodney had no way of knowing that his disaster recovery plan was cutting edge stuff, until he logged onto the BBS with a modem at 9KBPS. The world became a wide open place.

The computer at home was fine until Rodney discovered the university lab's mainframe. Rodney still saved disks and took them to the bank, but the Amiga gathered dust because he was never home to use it--he spent most of his waking hours at the lab. He put the Amiga in a garage sale when he moved to another university for his master's degree.

When Rodney arrived at Atlantis, he left behind the lock box at the bank. He'd signed a ten year lease and automatic withdrawal papers and left the key at the bank for the SGC in case he never came back. He didn't really need the 5 1/2-inch floppies, or the 1.44mb diskettes, or the CD's or the DVD's that contained everything he could possibly think of—including paper copies of his dissertations, and the beginnings of other, as-yet-unwritten papers.

Rodney no longer fears losing his lifetime's work, because now there is so much more at stake and he realizes that he is more than the accumulation of knowledge.

He still backs up the laptop, but now it goes to a crystalline database that’s ten thousand years old, and still the newest thing around.


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Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis

Category/Rated: Gen, E

Year/Length: 2006/ ~1050 words

Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, only having fun.

Sequel: Remix of this story by jadesfire2808: True Colors (The Mother's Love Remix)

Author's Notes: for the Left Behind challenge, and my first SGA story.

Beta: None

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