|How to fix a Social Minimalism computer--Get a kid!
Sometimes it’s best to wave the white flag and give it up a while. I did that once. With God. Twenty years ago this fall, 2009. In my previous life. Gave up on making it in Life. Alone, without Him, that is. Without Him and his social safety net--close friends who’ll help; a family.
Long divorced, but with a chain of weekly newspapers in corporate bankruptcy around my neck (all but one, defunct); and me going under water fast holding onto the final one--I realized something. I couldn’t make it.
So…I reached out.
“I need help, I said. “Can’t do it alone.”
And then I listened. Listened to my instincts. The voice of God that’s inside all of us. Your survival instincts, some say. But many more of us know it as listening to The Man Upstairs, however.
“Move, move! Get away from all this! You’re going to drown in it!” I heard.
And it made sense. Reaching out for another emergency loan to keep up a sinking tub just didn’t make sense. And asking friends to throw away money--especially in the high-investment, frenzied days of the Sunbelt Era--at a problem you’d been a part in creating yourself…Well, it just didn’t appeal to me much either.
So…Let’s say I got sent here--to the dry, hot, mountainous and windy Chihuahuan Desert; and to the good folks of Far West Texas. Who saved my life. Saved me from the Sunbelt ‘s murky social minimalism undercurrent, the way your wealth status raised or lowered you in some people’s eyes; and the cheap, greedy trappings of urban sprawl. Capitalist Oppurtunism gone amuck!
But then today, another time…I did it again! Waved the white flag, that is. Different occasion though. This time, at figuring out how to work a computer. And I didn’t have to go anywhere either; this time that Voice Upstairs sent me Kareli, a child. (Rewind, please!)
Sept. 1, 2009, PRESIDIO, TX--You a person good at all these electronic gadgets we have today? Yeah? Not me! I’ve got two left feet and four right thumbs and neither of the damn things can think!
I’m accustomed to operating things. Wheels. Switches. Levers. Shovels. Pick-ax’s. Control knobs. Push this; pull that. Slide it over here! As an old beat-up, former 20-yr. newspaperman and recently retired JP in this community, indeed, I’ve met the word “control” a few times before in my life.
This, however, was much different. Kay, my little sister, sent me an email today from San Diego a copy of the power-point video presentation (some photos) she prepared of Mom’s life; and that she had showed at the funeral a few days ago.
Our 87-year-old mother, Ruby Lee Albaugh, had died in a nursing home earlier that week.
“Wow!” I thought, when I first spotted Kay‘s message on the computer screen. My own copy! I want that!”
But computers and gadgets are…Well, again, they’re just not “my bag,” let’s just say.
Somewhat apprehensively, I quickly clicked on. it. Then…Nope. Got the message that my computer didn’t have a program that could accommodate such a move.
“Would you like to create one?” it asked.
“No! And mind your manners!” I shouted.
That’d jumped up there so quickly (in a gnat’s eyeblink) on the screen it’d startled me. Computers have no respect for old folks. Cut your bait and run! your innards scream.
“No!” I said, answering the computer this time. “I’ll figure out something!”
And then just as quickly there was a reply in my mind--an idea. For a split second it seemed as plain as day. Immediately after that… it hit opposition, however..
“Getting back into you old ways of thinking, aren’t you, Big Boy?” It was my conscience again. “What do you know about computer programs?!”
A few times before, Kay’d sent me some photos, and I wasn’t able to download them. Never told her though. That same message had come up; I always had clicked No, then moved the file over into the Correspondence folder.
“Manana,” I thought. “Right now I’m too busy to waste my time figuring out how some contraption works!”
But… Manana…seems…like I always forgot about it. And ended up…never going back to those pixs! None of them! Never feasted on what Kay’d sent.
“Has time squeezed us so much we don’t have enough time anymore to spend on a loved one’s photos?” my conscience asks. “Or am I just too selfish with my own thoughts? With my own time? Or maybe…Could it be just that I can’t remember anymore? Huh?”
Whatever, I rallied out of it. This time it was different. This was Mom’s time! I had to get into those photos. How?
Eight or 10 heartbeats later I had the answer.
“Ain’t going to waste my time trying to create some damn program I don’t know even if it exists or is even possible to exist, with this ol’ computer here,” I reasoned. “Go for that one over there!”
I turned slowly in my seat in the home study, at the computer table where I was, down its length and to the cross table abutting it along the side of the wall facing me, and stared in puzzlement at the new computer setting on it. I wasn’t familiar with that one.
That’s the one I’d bought to build an Ezine website with. Studying and writing about social minimalism, in the spiritual way it denigrates us all, long has been my passion. Now that I’m retired, got a hankering to get back into the thick of writing again. Only thing…I didn’t know much about it as a business anymore.
Nor the computer. Especially the computer! Except it seemed to work. And it had a lot of bright lights and gadgets on it. Thanks to a friend, I even had a g-mail account on it!
And that computer and the account was the idea that had hit me like a lightning bolt.
“Get Kay to resend that thing! I gotta bigger ‘cool tool’ just to handle it!” I smiled.
So I quickly emailed her with the new plan. She sent it again. To the g-mail account. To the other computer.
This time I clicked on it…and whoopee! It worked!
“Hot damn, I got me a machine here!” I quickly exclaimed. “Damn fancy contraption stuff they send these days can’t outfox an old fox like me!”
Hee, hee. Yes’m, I was heady. Almost laughing. To the victor go the spoils…“Gosh, isn’t Mom pretty!!”
The download screen had quickly given me the option of “do you want” to open and view this now or do you want to save it to a file somewhere and then look at it later?
In two seconds (deciding instant gratification, for children, takes only a tiny split second; in us modern old folks we’ve gotten it down to a much slower 2-3 seconds now) I’d clicked give me show-and-tell time; and Mom’s beautiful smile from an old 1960 black-and-white photo had jumped up there so quickly it literally shoved all the air out of me.
“Whew! She was pretty then!”
Then in a few seconds, the contraption moved to another photo. Didn’t have to touch it or nothing. It just moved to another photo. Then later, another. And another. And on and on.
Kay had captioned each photo, and the stroll down Memory Lane was pushing me toward Tearsville again.
“Don’t you remember seeing all these at the funeral?” some voice asked.
“Yeah, but it wasn’t up close like this. Right in my face, and me in here all alone with just the thoughts.”
When the presentation showed what would be the final frame, there wasn’t a The End and a stoppage of motion or anything!
The power-point presentation immediately went directly to the first photo and started the whole sequence again. And again. And again! “I was on a runaway train!”
At first, I was simply astonished. “What’s up?”
Then in an instant--way out from left field; it blindsided me--the thought hit me hard: “There’s no Stop switch on this show!”
Now I’m an old slow, stuttering boy from the cotton lands of North Central Texas, with a slight “anxiety disorder.” (Hee, hee! Modern medicine has legalized all us old idiots now, hasn‘t it!?) But this wasn’t funny.
There was nothing on this thing to control it! The photos and captions just kept rolling. With the fancy curly-Q’s Kay’d designed around each page. No Stop, Pause, Rewind…Nothing to control it at all! And no instructions! Anywhere.
“Damn, man! What kind of deal is this?” I thought.
Panic was settling in now. I could feel it. Let the doctors call it what they want, but something very real and dangerous was bearing down on me, like one of those bullet trains coming at an old cow who’s spied some green grass somewhere, but between what are actually two shiny rails.
What does one do? Kick it? Get a hammer? When gadgetry’s got you in its crosshairs, how do you squirm out of it?
Like I said, I’m a leaner. I need something to lean on. Friends. Family…
“Send Kay an email! Ask her how to stop this contraption?!”
And then when I’d typed it, and just before sending it, I had a following thought.
“And next time send a kid with it!” I added.
Hee, hee. That’s what it takes for us old folks, right? “Need a kid!”
“Well…” I immediately answered myself. “Not really! I don’t need no kid. What makes you think kids are smarter?!
“Nope. Ask an adult. Noemi (my wife) is here; she brought Kareli home from school a little while ago, remember.”
I walk into the kitchen and ask Noemi if she knows how to work these things. Noemi comes out to the study, gets engrossed in watching the photos and spends no time at all trying to figure out how to stop the contraption. No time a’tall!
“No, hell, I need a kid!” I thought again.
And then that Voice Upstairs came again. And this time, their was no sympathy in the tone.
“You got one, you idiot! Go and get her!”
Kareli, our 10-year-old daughter, was in a room at the other end of the house, I remembered from going over to get Noemi. She was watching television. I heard it! I went after her quickly.
“Kareli, I need a kid!” I told her.
“What?! What’s wrong?” She jumped up out of the seat. Startled.
“Come show me how to stop this damn thing!”
I could hear her soft steps quickly running behind me. I was on a beeline drive back to the study. Opened the door and went in and stood glaring down at it. Noemi got up and stood beside me. Curious as to why I seemed so upset probably.
“That damn thing!” I said to Kareli. “How do you stop it?!”
Kareli stood maybe 3-4 seconds, then bent over and gently hit the “Enter” key followed quickly with a tap on the “Esc“ key.
“Just like a smart-alecky kid; ready to do anything!” I first thought.
But the presentation stopped! Screen instantly went back to the previous page in the download. With the little boxed X option to cancel.
“Duh, that’s what Escape means, dad. Escape!”
“Kill it,” I said of the program, ignoring the smart remark.
Just too exhausted to fight a kid now.
“Kill it! I can’t take it anymore!”
Kareli shut it down, then turned to go back. To her television, of course. Damn Disney Channel’s educating all our young ones these days. Depriving us older folks of so much of their “sweet” and valuable time. Now they even have children’s soap operas!
But she’d caught the earlier concern on my face, too. And the dark, wrinkling cloud that was lifting from it now. “I’d dodged another one, hadn’t I?”
“You Ok?” she asked.
“Yeah, I am now.”
I was even breathing easier.
“I just needed a kid,” I told her. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, dad”
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