Although UNC requires incoming freshmen to buy a laptop computer, and although some SILS classes require a laptop (I'm thinking here of the database or programming courses), by and large, I've found that I haven't really needed a laptop on campus. I prefer taking notes by hand on paper, and the campus is lousy with workstations where I can check my email, which is what most people do anyway. Most of my homework and papers I prefer to write on my home PC, simply because it's already customized for my peculiar needs.
Nevertheless, since I entered the program, I felt a burning urgency to purchase a laptop--I'm falling behind! All the other kids have a laptop! I'm feeling left out!--and took advantage of a pretty good deal at the campus computer store to buy a black MacBook with the eerie glowing ghost-apple on the lid. I added an extra gig of RAM and donated the printer that came with it to a charitable organization. So, no worries there.
I also bought several of the Take Control ebooks to learn some more about the Mac. I tried out various backpacks, briefcases, and sheathes. I bought a Bluetooth mouse. I dedicated a spot to it on my desk where it sits and recharges.
And where it still sits, mostly unused. It's a fine machine, but I just haven't needed to use it.
The new MacBooks are now arriving with Leopard, which means that's another expense I'll have when I decide to upgrade the OS. Fortunately, I've bought no other software to install on it, so the hard drive and OS are still pristine, making the upgrade easier, I should think. Thinking more calmly now, I should have waited to buy till Leopard was pre-installed on all MacBooks.
It's clear to me now, looking back, that I had induced a panic state in myself over this issue and reason's sweet song would ne'er enter my ear. I took out a loan from the bank in order to pay for both my spring semester tuition and the MacBook, so paying that back every week is a constant reminder of getting too far ahead of myself.
Update: I wrote the above over a couple of days last week. This past Saturday, I decided to reinstall XP on my home PC, after dithering on that decision for a while. The reinstall went fine--except that Windows couldn't see the second internal hard drive, which holds all of my install files for my other software. I verified that the BIOS could see the drive but XP remained willfully blind. I schlepped the PC to Intrex (where I'd bought the PC in 2006 or so) for them to diagnose and (I hope) fix.
I didn't enter a panic state on this snafu, interestingly enough. I took the precautions of backing up my volatile data to my external USB drive and to the cloud, so they're accessible if I need them.
And, need I say, I had a laptop--an underused MacBook on which I could check my mail, finish my homework assignment due on the following Monday, and store info on my paper that's due in 2 weeks. Funny how these things work out.
Addendum: Back up those drivers, kids! And print out your Device Manager settings! I should have inserted the motherboard CD and installed the RAID and sound drivers; that's why Windows couldn't see the second internal hard drive. OK, that goes on the master checklist for reinstalling Windows...