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Saturday, Sept. 29, 2001
I don't think there's anything more insufferably boring than reading about computer woes (see previous entry).

Unless they're your own. Then, of course, you feel free to rant until dawn about the mysterious ailments afflicting your beloved beige box causing you the pain normally reserved for an abcessed tooth. How said ailments were solved by your own tenacious grasp of computer codes, handed down from the wizards who first tapped out COBOL onto an Underwood upgrade, and pronounced their own deity. Or I could tell the truth and say that I got lucky, and never fail to light inscense when the little bit of DOS knowledge I possess once again comes in handy.

Fact is, I simply don't trust computers. I understand more about the physical parts, the guts of a CPU, than I do the software. Which is a backasswards way to do things. It's all about the software. Or more recently, the HTML. Both of them conspire against me. One day, I'm sure, they'll ruin my online life forever.

I can't believe I just used the words online and life concurrently.

The word wizard was coined years ago when I was the proud owner of a new Gateway computer (for those of you who own and operate a Gateway, you may not want to proceed). I called the Gateway tech department about an apparent software flaw within their video setup. Which is a polite way to say that the screen was screwed up. Some 20 year old kid talked me through about a dozen possible problems and remedies, none of which solved the problem. For the better part of an hour, he and I did wage a mighty battle on the phone.

He finally had the good sense to admit he was flummoxed. Whereupon he put me on hold and summoned the wizard.

This ancient, gasping voice came on the line and inquired as to my health. He sounded like he'd just been awakened from a fine nap. Waving away my explanations of what had transpired, he asked me to take the cover off my CPU. Get under the hood, as it were.

Fine by me. I yanked the cover and listened to his technical advice.

"Now ya see that there big wire on top? Looks like a blacksnake on a bender? Yeah, well, grab it and run yer hand on down to where it ends. Don't worry, it won't shock ya. Much... hee hee. Feel where it ends? Okey dokey, now rare back and shove that sucker back into its' socket."

How on earth he knew that the wire was half unplugged in the first place has never been explained.

Sure enough, I looked at the monitor and had a perfect picture. I started to babble into the phone but was too late. The wizard, with his pointy hat and bottle of Seagrams had shuffled back to his cave. Left me with the kid on the line, who was just as awestruck as I was.

"Do you know he almost never talks on the phone? This was your lucky day. I haven't even seen him outside of his office in 6 months."

Before he could tell me that the wizard never bathed and wore goatskin cowboy boots I beat a retreat. I knew already that Gateway swathed their products in cowhide boxes, and I was pretty sure I didn't want to have more information on the company than I could handle.

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