Monday, January 12, 2009

Algebra and Pizza

It's a sad thing to be geekless in a geek-driven world. I had so many questions. Technical forums were above my head. I learned not to post as a newbie (no need to be the butt of jokes). Sitting back and quietly waiting for the right answer to come up wasn't much help, either. Tech discussions, to me, always looked like those algebra problems Mr. Leonard used to put on the board. "If Train A is going X miles per hour on a zigzag railroad track and Train B is going Y miles per hour in the opposite direction, and the bridge is out at Point C... then who gets to order pizza?" (Mr. Leonard was a schizophrenic. I'm sure of it.) My brother wasn't much help. He thought I knew more about computers than he did. My niece, who seemed to be a whiz on computers, had a slight attention-deficit problem. She could hack away at the keyboard all right, but she rarely slowed down enough to find out what I actually wanted her to do. I wanted doublespacing in my text documents. "Here, look at all these cool fonts I downloaded for you," she would say.

"Uh, thanks," I'd say, "but I really liked Times New Roman better without those little cactus spines." There was another side effect to that particular brand of tech help. At the end, my machine would quite likely be reduced to a pile of rubble. Her professional philosophy pretty much fit in with all those Terms of Use documents you sign daily. "When it breaks, you're up the creek without a paddle and we're not liable. Oh yeah... and your machine will be reduced to a pile of rubble..."