Limping along down the information superhighway

I've lived with modern-day technology long enough to know that there are two kinds of people on the information superhighway today: Speeders (and you know who you are) and those who clip-clop along with just enough knowledge to be dangerous, but not enough to know exactly why. Needless to say, I belong in the latter group.

Oh, it's not like I can't understand modern technology, or I resist progress or anything like that. But, frankly, there are some things I don't want to hear about. I'm the type of person who likes having a little mystery in my life. I don't need to know why the lights turn on, what makes the car move or how the television works in order to be happy. I prefer to just go through my day thinking of it all as wondrous miracles taking place around me.

In fact, as far as I'm concerned, my computer is run by a hamster that lives inside the metal case spinning around in a plastic wheel. And I'm perfectly fine with this theory. However, my husband is determined to teach me everything he knows about computer technology.

After all, everybody knows that knowledge is power. But, tell me, what do you say to a person who gazes deep into your eyes and says things like, "Your PC Windows swap file is fragmented and needs to be reconfigured"?

One of the problems is, you see, he speaks in a mysterious language which is only understood by other speedy superhighway travelers.

Take the word "ram" for example. All these years I thought it either meant a male member of the sheep family or a football team. Well, not anymore. No-sir-ee. It now means "Random Access Memory," which, don't let this fool you, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the animal kingdom or sports.

And, if that doesn't make you run away screaming, there's more. On top of that, there are several different types of rams like "dram" or "edo dram" and even still "sychornis dram" which I suspect means something so complicated it could make your head explode if you ever found out what it was.

"It's time you learn that your computer is more than just a fancy typewriter," my husband said during breakfast.

"Uh, why?"

"You have no idea how anything works. The children know more than you do."

"What's to know?" I said, rolling my eyes. "I mean, I press the 'on' button which jumpstarts the hamster wheel and signals the miniature monkey to reel in the e-mail so I can get my messages."

"Don't get smart."

Now a wiser person would've nodded politely and gotten out of the room as fast as possible. But I'm not that wise.

"So then tell me," I heard myself say.

Then he spent the next two hours enthusiastically discussing the binary numbering system and tossing around terms like "front side bus speed" and "system upgrade" and all that. Truth be told, when he was through, I didn't understand much more about computers than when he had started.

But I did learn one thing: I could press a few keys, pay a couple bucks, and download long-lost forgotten songs from the musical glory days of the 1970s and '80s. The only problem was figuring out which ones.

And by the time I did that I could've gotten in the car, drove to the store, paid for everything and been back.

Between you and me, as far as computer technology goes I prefer my monkey-and-hamster theory. Somehow it just makes more sense.

• Reach Debbie Farmer at


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