Marching Bravely Into the 21st Century. (Did I Say Bravely?)

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You have doubtless been wondering what ever became of Jameson Parker? Why hasn’t he posted anything in recent history? Has he finally succumbed to age and injury? Has he been incarcerated? Is he on the run from the law, living in Bolivia with his moustache dyed black and wearing a serape? The answer is, I bought a new computer.

There are two schools of thought about this computer business, just as there are two schools of thought about buying a car. Some people believe it’s better to trade in your car regularly (like before you have to rotate the tires or change the windshield wipers) to take advantage of getting the best possible price on the old vehicle. Those people are equivalent to the computer geeks who camp out in front of Best Buy in sub-zero weather to get the newest and hottest Smart-Gadget before the next fellow. Then there are those who believe you should drive your car until it dies an untimely and inconvenient death on the interstate and has to be hauled away to the junk yard where the price you get for parts may – may – almost cover the price of having it hauled. Those people are equivalent to the computer, um, luddites (like me) who keep the same computer on their desk until smoke starts pouring out of the back and a pop-up appears on the screen saying, “Kill me! Please put me out of my misery!”

I kept my old computer so long that when my local computer genius/guru tried to transfer some of my old programs (Office, a Word program, a couple of others) this new computer laughed hysterically and said it couldn’t handle anything that old. It was like giving a modern agri-business employee a team of mules and a sod-buster and telling him to go to work; he wouldn’t know which end to put the diesel fuel into or where the GPS was located. So I now have a gleaming new computer crammed to the gills with programs that might just as well be written in ancient Aramaic for all I can understand them. The words and names are different and the locations of those words and names are different and the screen itself is different and there are tabs I don’t understand in places where there should be no tabs and there are keys I’ve never seen before and other keys missing that I was used to and there is no dusty bird’s nest of wires wrapped around my feet and cluttering up my desk and I don’t understand how the damned thing can work without wires everywhere and, and, and it’s, well, scary.

And the learning curve! I always thought of a learning curve as a sort of gentle, graceful curve, something slightly sensuous and enticing, like a girl’s waist. Ha. Remember that aerial shot in To Catch a Thief, where Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are trying to lose the bad guys, racing along in their convertible through endless terrifying hairpin turns on that nauseatingly vertiginous road on the cliffs of Monte Carlo (where poor Grace Kelly later actually did die) with sheer drop-offs that make you grab desperately at anything to keep from falling? Remember those tight, narrow, sickening turns? That’s what this learning curve is like. Think sweaty palms, a churning stomach, lungs that won’t quite fill, a heart that’s redlining. That’s sort of what it’s like.

But now, visibly aged, with a gaunt and haunted look in my eyes, the look seen on men who have survived weeks of enemy fire, I have emerged (sort of) triumphant (well…more or less, mostly less) into the 21st century.

Pray for me.

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