Whoa! Didja get the numbers off that truck?!?


March 27, 2005 - 12:05 a.m.

The fruits of my labor.

CB had a problem. His brand new HP computer worked, for three weeks, then didn't work anymore. Kaput. I figured the hard drive was bad.

Sure enough, it was. But because it was a new computer, he had to run through the HP Customer Service gambit. But CB is a unique story in himself; not well suited to international help desk situations.

CB fought in Viet Nam. CB was captured and spent six years in a POW camp. 18 months of that time was spent completely naked. He's owned an insurance company, a small truck fleet, he sold trucks, RVs, cars, customized vans... 20 years or more. He's also a dyed-in-the-wool Texan. He speaks Texan, so words spoken by someone in India or Pakistan or some other offshore site fall on deaf Texan ears. Compound that with his fundamental ignorance of all things Computer, and you have a recipe for - no new drive. CB is a born talker and a salesman, he just doesn't speak Technical.

I knew the drive was bad, but in order to qualify under their warranty system, you have to follow the explicit instructions of the foreign voice on the other end of the line. Extra points go to those that answer with simple "yes" or "no" answers to their questions whenever possible. Also if you know where the process is leading, don't skip ahead. It only confuses the Foreign Voice on the other end of the line.

Once I grasped those fundamentals, the process was a breeze. I proved by their process that yes, the fucking hard drive was bad, and they'd fly me a new one. Of course I'm on the hook for this new drive until the dead one arrives on their doorstep, with the fedex truck acting as proud cat waiting for the signature.

CB was ecstatic that his new PC was back to full health, and asked me about payment. I laughed, and said the proper method of payment would be to go to the Jewel and enter the liquor department. Go to where the scotch whiskey is kept, and look on the top shelf. (I had to explain this to him, CB doesn't drink.) I specified Single Malt, he couldn't miss with those directions.

He nailed it.


Future History stories:
March 31, 2005

As she was puking her guts up, she probably never imagined she’d be a future household name. Now she cannot imagine anything. She’s the present-day martyr for the right-to-lifers and other contemporary do-gooders seeking to press public policy. She’s the subject of several misguided and failed attempts at legislation to prolong her plant-like state of consciousness. Meanwhile the illness that kick-started the whole process is virtually ignored.

Terri Schiavo's brain damage is believed to have been caused by potassium imbalance caused by years of bulimia. Her extremely low levels of potassium led her to go into cardiac arrest on February 25, 1990 and stopped the flow of oxygen to her brain for about five minutes, long enough to cause significant damage. The exact cause of Schiavo's cardiac arrest was never determined, though doctors feel the likely cause was a chemical imbalance caused by her mental condition. This simple fact has been overshadowed by the increasingly vigorous protests from the masses in Florida; arguments about life or death. Meanwhile the human subject of this debate has been blissfully unaware of the altercations.

Terri’s dilemma has caused a national debate over the right to die, or not die; depending on which side of the enormous spoon-shaped protest sign you’re on. At the time of this writing, the legal process is drawing to a close; by the time this column is ink, she may be gone. These are worthy discussions; my point is not to minimize them. Some discourse should begin about the cause of this event, not the result. It could have leveraged national awareness. Mental illnesses get small mention in the press, until someone dies.

The saddest part of this story is the condition that started everything. Anorexia and bulimia affect nearly 10 million women and one million men (primarily teens and young adults). It is estimated that another 25 million people suffer from binge eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa has the highest premature mortality rate of any mental illness. The cause and effect relationship is not well-documented because the cause of death is symptomatic of the mental disease; and not the disease itself.

The central issue of eating disorders is a distorted body image. Control plays into this too: in many cases, the subject feels that the only thing he or she can control is nourishment, or the lack of it. Before anyone notices, the mental condition is in full blossom. Karen Carpenter was the poster child for this disorder after her death in 1983 from cardiac arrest. She was only 32 years old. I have a strong feeling that Terri’s death, although tragic, will not do enough to raise awareness of this horrible disease. Raise your own awareness at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

It’s a sad story about self image and control. Ironically, the central issue is on nourishment; the very thing that got her into this fix. Her parents have stood by her for what must surely have been an agonizing fifteen years, never giving up hope. I would imagine I would have similar resolve. They want her feeding tube re-inserted, in order to live. I hope they were urging her to eat fifteen years ago.



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