"HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?" Francis Schaeffer

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tossing out Floppys: Computer Spring Cleaning

A 3 1/2 inch floppy labeled,  "DOS 3.3 - backup";  O.S.2 Warp - a box full of disks that puts the O.S.2 program on to your harddrive; I gritted my teeth and tossed them out today.

A Quicken Home and Business ‘99 C.D.  Several CDs that have the utility drivers for long since lost and destroyed motherboards.  I THREW THEM ALL OUT this afternoon. Spring cleaning has come to my home computer center and when I walked in this afternoon my wife pointed to a file of floppys, CDs and manuals stacked near my chair and suggested I needed to do something about it. I said, "What?" She smiled and said brightly, "The trash pick-up is tomorrow?" I wailed, "But what if O.S.2 Warp makes a comeback?" Her smile suggested that the Mental Health S.W.A.T. could be at the house in under 5 minutes if needed.

I purchased my first computer in 1985, an  IBM clone.  I got the  one with two floppies; it turned out to be handy.  I figured it would last me 10 years, at least that what I promised my wife.  [Within 2 years it had been replaced by an upgrade.] She was afraid I was wasting my  money.  I’ve long since lost count off how many computers my family has owned but my wife and I currently have 6 working computers between the two of us.  If we want, we could be  on 3 computers a piece at one time.  Of course you only end up using one at a time though laptops and  chrome books (my latest acquisition} are handy to drag around.

Not only are floppies long since passe, the youngest generation is bypassing laptops for sophisticated smart phones, leaving the "boomers", such as me, way behind. Oh, I now have an obsolete iPhone and I can make calls on it and text too. It actually does a lot of stuff, I just don't know how to use it. I can still mostly find my way around a P.C.

But I can't on a unit that has Windows 8; the O.S. from hell. I don't own it but I know about it. I talked my little old neighbor into buying a new laptop since his 10 year old would no longer load, and ended up being confronted by Microsoft's newest demon; Windows 8. I don't LIKE Windows 8. Windows 7 is an excellent O.S. Windows 8 makes every attempt to make sure you can't find things; or if you can, you can't move them around. It's been pretty successful at that. Sooner or later, against your will, you're going to own it. It will be pre-installed on your next soon-to-be-obsolete P.C.

But back to the floppys CDs and manuals. If you were wise (and after a few major errors we all became wiser) you made backups of everything, particularly drivers and utilities. But now they're all available on the internet? Need a Dell computer or printer driver? Go to dell.com and with a little searching you'll find all you need. It was a huge advance when companies started putting their utility drivers on the internet for downloading.

A big "shout out" to that advancement in acquiring needed information.

So all those backup floppys, all those CDs with the utilities and drivers on them; "Historie" Kaput, needless, obsolete. Computers quit being built with floppys a few years back. For now they have flash-drives, but I have no doubt they'll also be obsolete not so distant future. But what about your priceless pictures and documents? Don't we need to back those up? Maybe not .......

BECAUSE now we have "THE CLOUD." Write a post using google docs and google Chrome and your work is automatically saved somewhere out in the internet ether where only God actually knows where it is stored. Theoretically it will always exist in "THE CLOUD." Pictures will be there too. And the cloud is cheap and they say you'll never have to worry about backups. But, if the Google Server Farm is ever hit by a nuclear device, we'll no longer exist.

In the modern era, I am only what Google knows about me; But that's a post for another day.

SPRING CLEANING; where do the years go.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Murder-suicide in my little neighborhood

[ This is not a good story.  You really don't need to read it. ]

They moved in across the street about a couple years after we did  A Dad, a Mom, an older brother and a younger brother my age.  The older brother was lively and funny, his name was Davey.  The younger brother was more serious but he and I got along well enough.   His name was Jimmy.  That's a picture of him.  He was 10 years of age when his father killed him and then committed suicide, apparently in response to his mother asking the father for a divorce and forcing the father to move out.

The father had visitation, came to pick up both boys one weekend but Davey didn't go.
The father took Jimmy to the motel where he was staying and shot him to death then turned the gun upon himself.

I really didn't live in "that kind of a neighborhood."  But I guess I did.

Jimmy wrote a suicide note;

It is a terrible thing.

Below is a picture of Jimmy's mother.

I suppose those are the detectives talking to her, I'm not sure.

My parents were very devout and we always went to church.  My father recognized, after the separation, that the father was struggling and he invited him to come to church one Sunday.  The father came and sat next to my Dad.  At the end of the service there was an "altar call" for people to come forward and give their lives to Jesus Christ vowing to follow after His ways, not ours.
So we're standing, singing the invitation hymn and the father is gripping the pew in front of him so hard that his knuckles are white.  But he didn't go ask for help, ask for salvation and he never came to church with us again.  Then a few/couple of weeks later  the father and Jimmy were dead.

"Sad" inadequately describes the story.  Decades later I still have trouble with it.
Davey and his Mom soon moved out of the neighborhood never to return.

I've often wondered how Davey is doing.  I hope he was able to find some hope, joy and love in his own life.  Maybe he became a follower of Jesus Christ.  I know my folks prayed for him and his Mom after the tragedy.  I hope he made it out of the family trauma alive.
He was funny, personable and he made the other kids in the neighborhood laugh.  He had a lot going for him.

I hope Davey made it.

Friday, January 11, 2013


They were in 5th grade, Haley had it all.  Cute, bright, personality plus, vivacious and liked by all.  If there was a popularity Clic, she was the alpha dog.

I asked her one day, "Who's the quietest kid in your class?"  She thought for a moment and then said, "Spencer." I asked her to tell me about Spencer.  She really didn't know anything about Spencer except he was kind of chubby, sat in the back of the class, never spoke and didn't seem to have any friends.
I said, "Haley, who's the most popular kid in the class?"  She replied, honestly enough, "I suppose I am."

I said, "Hm."

I said, "Haley, have you ever talked to Spencer?"  She said, "No, why would I want to?"

I said, "Hm."

"Haley," I said.  "I have a homework assignment for you."  She promptly indicated she was doing enough homework already.  I said, "No, this is a different kind of homework, "I said, "I want you to speak to Spencer this week?"  She wanted to know why.  Then she wanted to know what she was supposed to say.

"In answer to your second question Haley, I want you to say 'Hey Spencer.'"   She said, "That's all?"  I said, "That's all."

She asked again, "Why do you want me to do this?"  I told her, that's how I measure popular kids.
She told me her friends would think it strange if she was talking to Spencer.  I asked if she would lose friends if she spoke to him.  She replied, "I guess not."

I saw Haley a few days later.  I asked her how her homework was coming.  She said she was walking by his desk and said, "Hey Spencer."
"What did he do?" I asked.
"Nothing" she said.  "He kind of looked startled though."

"Hm" I said.

I told her that her homework was to speak to him at least 3 times the next week I told her I'd be checking  her homework.
When I saw her  some days later she told me she had greeted him and that he finally muttered, almost inaudibly while keeping his head down, "Hey Haley."

I lost track of Haley for a few weeks then ran across her one day.  I asked about Spencer.
I said, "Is Spencer still the quietest kid in class?"

She said, "No; now he won't shut up."  ( I muttered under my breath, "YES" ) I asked if he only talked to her, she said "No, he talks to everyone."

Haley moved on, I ran into here when she was in high school; still smart, cute, vivacious and personality plus.  Sadly I forgot to ask about Spencer.

I was proud of Haley.   When you're the most popular girl in 5th grade it must appear there is no "upside" to interacting with the least popular  kid in the class; and she did worry about the ramifications.  But she did what she was asked and I have no doubt that Spencer's 5th grade year was immeasurably better because of the actions of the most popular girl in the class.

I struggle to remember my own lessons.  It's pretty easy to interact with some one pretty/handsome, personable and outgoing. But I find I have to discipline myself to say hello to the quiet, sometimes unattractive people.  It takes effort and sometimes I'm unwilling to make it.

But if the measure of a popular 5th grader is how she treats the invisible 5th grader, I suppose it's a measure of the adult male how I treat the less visible adults; male and female..

"Hey Spencer."   Such a simple assignment but what a significant impact on an invisible kid and maybe Haley learned something too.

"Hey Spencer,"

 I think I can do that.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Death of an old friend


My nursing home friend, Elmer, died today.

He was, by his own admission, a handful as a youngster.  He went off and joined the Army during WWII, served in the European theater and then came home.  He had dropped out of school and never acquired much formal education.
 He held various odd jobs and then, in his 40s,  he began to attend this small Pentecostal Church after marrying his second wife.  He was a faithful member there and one Wednesday evening, the pastor asked him to give the message.  Elmer thought this was a crazy idea but when the pastor asks you to do something, you do it.  So he gave the message and the pastor told him he wanted him to preach more.  So Elmer did. 
In the course of time Elmer became the pastor/preacher of that little Pentecostal Church in a run-down community of some antiquity.

By this time, Elmer was working at the Naval base and making a decent salary based upon his standards.  He ended up pastoring that little Pentecostal church for 14 years and never received a dime for his ministry.  He took his own money and fixed things up; repaired and ministered.  From what Elmer said, I don’t think it ever exceeded 50 people but Elmer didn’t seem to worry about things like that.  He was just amazed that God took someone like him and called him to pastor.

I met Elmer when he was about 80, his wife had died, his health was breaking down and he decided to enter a nursing home.  And so began his last journey.  He was classically the “old codger” and would both tease and joke with the staff.  He liked to call the staff psychologist the “nut doctor.”  The psychologist seemed to take it in stride.

Elmer had never fathered any children and his only relatives were just a sister and niece and they were out of state.  So visitors were few and far between.  The staff at the nursing home ultimately became his family for the last decade of his life.  They treated him well and on the last day of his life, a lot of women entered his room to check on him and make sure he did not die alone.

He had a TV,  it was always on but he didn’t really watch it.  He colored and did crossword type activities.  He built relationships with the staff but not much with the residents.  He always had his Bible open to be read.

Over the years, C.O.P.D. ( chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) became a bigger problem but somehow he held on.  Then earlier this year it got pretty bad and he was sent to the cardiac ward at the downtown hospital where he resided for a few weeks.  Much to my surprise, he got somewhat better and returned to the nursing home.  But he had lost a lot of ground that he would never make up.

When I came in this morning, the staff indicated he was doing fairly poorly.  So I write this sitting next to his bed, he’s on full oxygen but medications have been ceased and the staff has been instructed to just make sure he is comfortable. 
He is not responding interacting anymore.  He still has a feeding tube but that seems unnecessary at this point.

The staff has not been able to contact his sister though we’re pretty sure she’s alive because she sent him some mail a few days ago.  I read it to him this morning though he did not respond.  His sister recounted how he used to call her “Skeeter” when they were little and how furious that made her.  But she tells him in his letter and in the Christmas card, how much she loves him and prays that God might bless him.  She signed it, “Skeeter.”

I don’t know if he heard what I read; but it was  the last communication he would  receive from what is left of his family.

I told him I loved him too.  He’s an old saint and I don’t doubt he’ll be in the presence of the Living God the moment he breaths his last breath on Earth.

His eulogy should read:  He loved His God, he loved his wife, he treated others well and with a sense of humor.

It can be said of Elmer , “he finished well” and blest us with the last years of his life.

So on this first day of 2013,    R.I.P. old man.  You earned it.

(He died 8 hours later).