Monthly Archives: May 2015


I’ve been thinking a lot about this guy, The Taoist Farmer, lately. He’s been a big help in seeing  recent events from a broader perspective than just the latest crisis.

This farmer had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The neighbors came to condole over his terrible loss. The farmer said, “What makes you think it is so terrible?”*

My computer wouldn’t turn on. In order to relieve the stress I felt about it, I began pulling the hair on my head and the weeds in my garden.

A month later, the horse came home–this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer’s good fortune. Such lovely strong horses! The farmer said,

“What makes you think this is good fortune?”

When I finally got a working computer with everything transferred to it I found photos from 8 to 10 years ago that had been buried somewhere on the C Drive. I was happy!

The farmer’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. Such bad luck! The farmer said, “What makes you think it is bad?”

My replacement computer came with Windows 8 operating system. I’d had Windows 7 on my old one. How the heck am I supposed to find what I’m looking for now?

A war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg, remained. The neighbors congratulated the farmer. “What makes you think this is good?” said the farmer.

Now I look out on a weed-free (almost) garden, and have been planting drought-tolerant succulents and grasses, something I thought I’d never get time to do.

*As told by Executive editor, Elise Hancock, in the Johns Hopkins Magazine, November 1993, page 2, in section entitled Editor’s Note.


I’m not at all sure this is how it came about. I have no evidence to back me up, but  the following story is the best explanation I can think of that would explain my recent computer woes..

I have been bemoaning the fact for several months that I was too busy to work in my garden. It was becoming weed-filled and decidedly unattractive. The worse it got, the more I complained until the puppet-masters of the universe decided to take things in their own hands. The behind-the-scene guys assigned to my case are a couple of nasty little devils I’ve been calling Clyde and Clem.

“I’m sick of her bitching and moaning,” Clyde decided aloud one morning about a month ago.

Clem agreed. “Yeah, bro. I think we need to step in. You have anything in mind?”

“As a matter of fact I do,” Clyde admitted. “Have you noticed what keeps her from getting out into her garden, as she says she wants to do?”

“Guess I haven’t been paying much attention. No. What’s her excuse?”

“Her computer. She’s glued to it all day. Thinks she has to do that to get her business going.

If she has no computer,she has no excuse.”

“Oh, this is going to be easy,” Clem remarked. “And fun, too.”

“Which bug shall we use this time?”

“How about the ‘it won’t turn on bug?’”


Meanwhile down on earth I am struggling with a quirky computer that requires a bunch of maneuvers to get it booted up. Finally I call Dell for help. Their suggestions work a time or two, but they finally send a technician to the house.

“Has she been out in the garden yet?” Clem inquires.

“Nah. It’s going to take more than this little inconvenience, The nerds at Dell seem to think the problem;s in the mother board. Let’s let the tech change it a couple of times and see what happens.”

A nice guy from Ukiah arrives for a house call with his travel kit of tools and a refurbished mother board and sets to work. After the last screw has been screwed in place he hits the power switch. Nada, nothing, zilch. He returns the next day with yet another mother board (“Sometimes they send one that has the same problem I’m trying to fix.”) Great.

Two new mother boards and a new power cord later it’s decided by Dell that they need the computer at the factory to diagnose the problem. Sounds reasonable. Problem diagnosed quickly, but the part needed to fix problem is “not in stock.” One to two week delay while they look for it.

“What’s going on with our gardener? “ Clem asks.

“Looks like we have an ally down on earth. A friend, who’s probably sick of her complaints too, has offered some help with weeding.”

“That should get her outside!”

Meanwhile I’ve accumulated a MacBook, Chrome Book, Bluetooth external keyboard for my tablet and an I Pad with keyboard, all from friends who are trying to help out. And it does help, but also requires my learning all kinds of new stuff, and my brain is on overload. A week passes and Dell decides they’ll send me a “refurbished” computer.

“ Look at her. She’s punching keys like crazy on that mini-computer, and she’s been at it all afternoon,” says Clyde.

“Oh, oh.” Clem worries, “ What’s going to happen when the new computer arrives?”

“Don’t worry. I’ve got something in mind.”

FedEx arrives with a delivery around noon on Thursday. I let the box lie, unopened, on my daybed most of the day. Dell had promised to help me transfer everything from my external hard drive, so I finally dragged the computer out of its traveling box, did the preliminary stuff and called Dell.

All went well until the tech guy suggested he help me install the software I have on CDs. However, I find there’s no CD drive on the new computer!

Okay, I finally get it!  I give up. I surrender. It’s out in the garden for me until an external CD drive arrives from Dell.

“How about a refill, Clem?”

” Sure, top ‘er off. We have reason to celebrate!”



I know I’m not alone in finding it difficult to wait, whether in line, on line, on hold on the phone, or in my doctor’s waiting room. When I know I’ll have to wait I try to remember to take a book, but when I’m rushing out the door to make the appointment I often forget.  I think the most difficult waiting for me is to be on hold on the phone.

With my ongoing calls to Dell about my defunct computer I’ve spent literally hours with my phone pressed up to my ear. If I’m quick enough, I plead for silence while I wait. Dell’s music choice was not particularly irritating until I’d listened to it for several hours. Now when I hear it I’m reminded of the negative experiences I’ve had with the whole computer disaster.

There’s one business, can’t remember which, that has my favorite Rachmaninoff piano concerto to entertain their callers. The waiting time there is always too short. They seem more efficient than most call centers, but time has been described as “relative,” and my experience is undoubtedly colored by having my enjoyment cut short.

Not everyone likes classical music, though.The companies that use music to keep their customers happy are probably facing an impossible problem. How do you satisfy everyone with one piece of music?

Waiting in line or in traffic are annoyances I thought I’d left behind when I moved to a small town. Indeed, traffic here is nothing like it is in metropolitan areas, but lines at the pharmacy, the bank, the post office and the supermarket seem unavoidable. I think about how I can spend that time doing something I never seem to have time for, such as improving my balance by standing on one foot. But falling into the person behind me is a real possibility, and would be too embarrassing to consider.

I’ve found meditation helpful in airports waiting for a flight. Doing it while standing in a line that keeps moving might present a challenge, however.

What about working on a crossword puzzle and enlisting help from others in line? Many years ago I belonged to a pottery cooperative, and our lunchtime activity, other than eating, was working on the New York Times puzzle of the day. But we knew each other somewhat. Not sure it would work with strangers.

I’ve always admired people who can spout off dozens of lines of memorized poetry. Committing a short poem to memory is a possibility, too.

You notice I’ve neglected mentioning the one activity most people turn to these days – electronics. I find someone talking on a cell phone when standing 12 inches away from good ear to be offensive in the extreme. Being around someone entertaining herself on a tablet, or a smartphone is less bothersome, but it is isolating. Trying to strike up a casual conversation with someone intent on the screen of their device is difficult, if not rude. Even eye contact with them is not possible.

Oh, my. I probably sound like what I am, an old lady complaining about leaving the “good old days” behind. But even with my complaints, I find I need a computer, and I’ve been waiting for 3 weeks now for Dell to provide me with something that works. It will be at least 3 to 4 business days before I can expect a replacement. In the meantime, what’s bowling ball material in 7 letters?





Can you imagine 3 weeks without your computer? Neither could I until mine refused to boot up one morning about a month ago. I knew I’d been pushing my luck as I have an almost 5 year-old Dell laptop, and it had been requiring patience and much fiddling around to get it on. Finally, even fiddling didn’t work.

After unsuccessful visits from an independent computer tech and 2 house calls from a tech Dell sent, it had to be sent back to the factory. Thankfully I have a hardware warranty.

With smart phones, tablets and assorted electronic gadgets I probably haven’t heard of, many of you may manage without a computer with little disruption to your life, but if you’re trying to run a business or want to print out documents or photos, you have probably been as frustrated as I. (For all I know, maybe you can print from a tablet.)

The first week the computer was down, I felt I was dealing with it well; it was a chance to take a look at how I’d been using my time. “It’s like a vacation,” I told everyone who heard my story. There were plenty of other things I could do  – things I’d been neglecting, such as housework.

But as time passes the periodic updates from Dell get more and more discouraging. The part to repair my computer can’t be found so I’ll get something similar in 10 working days. I have had plenty of time to see how much of my former life had been spent looking at a screen, (too much.) And where did I get the crazy idea of it being like a vacation?

Luckily I’ve been meditating for many years, and think without that practice I would be a mess. Deep breathing, exercise and reading uplifting material (all those good things we all know about) are helping, too. And what would I do without the support of my friends?.

As time drags on they have come forward with a quirky external keyboard for my tablet, an old but operating MacBook and a Chrome Book. My sons pitched in with some telephone coaching to get all that set up.

Sounds as if I have all I need to carry on most activities. But not the most important one.  These computerless weeks have deprived me of my creative expression – photography.

Of course I don’t need a computer to shoot photos. I’ve got a picture card full of new ones. What I’m missing is my photo editing software, Lightroom.

The little screen on the back of my camera gives a general idea of what’s recorded, but to really see if the photo is worth saving I need my computer screen. I love being able to see my photos spring to life with a click or two and refine them with judicious editing. Shocking as it evidently is to some, I do edit 90% of what I save.

I’d been posting 2 photos a day to Facebook, but can’t do that now, either. I’m looking for something positive to come from all this, but at this point it’s hard to find. Have you been on an enforced computer holiday? How did you survive?