A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


There was a passing in the family this week.  In fact, if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you would join me for a moment of silence on behalf of my old computer.

Rest in peace, you defragmented hunk of rigid magnetic disc.

And . . . you know . . . all that other stuff.

The passing wasn't surprising.  We’ve been seeing signs of impending doom for months – slowness, unreliability, a soft whimpering sound whenever we tried to log into the internet (from the computer, not from me).  Occasionally we would get a message from somewhere deep inside the computer warning us that our hard drive was flawed.  I thought the computer was bluffing, sort of like when my doctor tells me that I need to do more laps and fewer Big Macs or else my arteries will clog up like a squirt gun filled with Jell-O.

But the computer wasn't kidding.  I should have known that. Few computers have much sense of humor.  And ever since Bill Gates took that pie in the face a few years ago, most computers have turned downright testy.

We kept plugging along with a flawed hard drive until a teenage friend of our teenage daughter offered to replace our computer with one that his brother – a teenage (what else?) computer guru – had renovated.  And while he was at it he would throw in an IMAX-sized computer screen, a refurbished keyboard and a really cool 3-D mouse pad.  Who would have thought that having a cute, bubbly daughter would bring us such technological wonder?  Talk about MicroFate!



So we have a new/old computer now, and it's working nicely, thank you.  I've spent most of the past few days re-installing software and updating various planners, calendars and address books.  There are still a few files that I haven’t been able to find (no, I didn’t back them up on a CD or a floppy disk – that would make way too much sense), but I’m sure my teenage computer consultants know some expert – probably a sixth-grader – who can help me find them.  If not, the world may never see my unfinished screenplay for "Titanic 2: Love Among the Bubbles" (Leonardo DiCaprio meets "The Little Mermaid" -- think romance!  Think realism!  Think billions of merchandising dollars!)

And all because of a little flaw on a little piece of computer equipment

Thankfully, humans don't have to be replaced when a flaw is detected.  Otherwise, we'd have no pro sports, no entertainment industry, no politicians and no newspaper columnists (OK, maybe there would be one newspaper columnist -- but how much Dave Barry can you take?).  The entire human race would consist of ministers, rabbis, my wife and a few assorted Osmonds.  Which wouldn't be such a bad thing for the unflawed, I guess.  But the rest of us would be somewhere up Computer Creek without a hard drive.

And believe me, that's not a place you want to be.

Although most of us are flawed to one degree or another, very few of our flaws are fatal.  In fact, one of the great things about being human is the opportunity life offers us to learn and grow from our flaws, and to eventually overcome them.  And have you noticed how often the process of overcoming flaws results in extraordinary strength?  It's like magic, and we're each our own Wizard of Flaws, pulling miracles of improvement out of our flawed lives.

Even if we can't find data on our flawed hard drives.

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    © Joseph Walker

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