Tag Archives: Computer

The Oscars Come To the Retirement Home

It’s panic night here at the retirement home. Someone, who has to remain nameless, downloaded copies of a dozen movies and guess what – they all ended up in different categories in the Oscar Awards this week. Downloading movies is a definite no-no so the minute disc-on-key device that is moving at the speed of light from one apartment to another is much sought after. Two days after Oscar night, the entire disc will be out of date, the movies discussed, hacked to pieces by this discerning crowd of Golden Aged movie critics and forgotten.

Meantime, the main objective of every resident is to get one’s hand on the disc for the least possible amount of time and make copies of the movies one wants to see, meaning all of them. There are a few minor problems in this. The average age here is 80, so the computer operators are all between 75 and 90 with quite a few in their mid-nineties. The first problem is finding the switch on the computer. Once that’s been accomplished and the screen is glowing in anticipation, one has to remember exactly where one hid the disc-on-key thingy the last time the great-grandchildren came to visit.

The second obstacle is locating my glasses which are always on my head when I don’t need them. Finally I am confronted by the microscopic disc-on-key and the almost invisible matching slot in the computer. By the time I’ve got everything together the crotchety old guy from the fifth floor who is next on the borrow-list is banging on the door. I hit the ‘enter’ key and start the copying process. “Too bad!” I smile at him, let him in and pour him a whisky to dull the edge of his impatience. “It’s out of my hands. My computer is almost as old as me and steam operated!”

We have 6 great movies to watch, enough to get us through the next couple of weeks. But I‘ll have to buy another bottle of whisky tomorrow.


A Letter from a Pen-pal

How, how and how do I get my name off the income tax department’s computer? How many more phone calls must I make and letters must I write to tell them I have retired, that I exist on pensions, such as they are in these days of dark economy? And even if I manage to break through into the brain of the infernal computer, will it believe me? Or will it simply put an ‘x’ in the box marked ‘Liar’? Will the computer recognize my address as that of a retirement home or will it read it as part of my tax evasion scheme?

I remember the last job I did. I completed the work, checked everything, pulled up my invoice from the depths of my computer, wrote it out to my client and hit the ‘send’ button. About 4 seconds later I heard a gong chime, the sound on incoming mail. You guessed it. My partner, aka ‘Income Tax Department’, was there, demanding payment of his 50 percent share of my fee. That’s efficiency as I would expect from a government department. But when I tell them: ‘Retired – look elsewhere’, they laugh: ‘Yeah, right! We hear that one every day!’

Now comes decision making time – tear up their letter and file it in the bin under the desk or write them another letter? Or make another phone call and leave a message with another tinny voice which you know will never go anywhere?

On the positive side, my pen-friend has already decided on the amount of money I will be earning this year. That’s the advantage of having optimistic friends…


A Computer Crash in the Retirement Home

Computers, as most of us have found out the hard way, can crash anywhere and at any time. The retirement home is no exception. There is no germination period and no warning. No little box opens up and asks you if you have backed everything up. One moment you are busy banging away on the keyboard and next moment you have a blank screen grinning at you. “See if you can fix it, buster!” It is a most stressful situation. So I sat and prayed it was a temporary illness of some sort, then started fiddling with the wires and switches and anything else that moves with no results and finally called the techie. He did a quick examination over the phone, connected my computer to his and from 10 miles away informed me that the whatsit had died.

“Say a quick prayer and head for the phone company and get a new one,” he explained. “Then call me.”
I did as instructed and today he showed up, pushed in a couple of plugs, entered some numbers on the keyboard and held out his hand for a token payment. I’m back in business.

I bought my first computer in 1984 and have never been without once since. But I have never taken the trouble to learn what makes the thing go. And if you watch the techie when he comes, he doesn’t really do much. Back in the 80s the computer man would arrive holding a small screwdriver and pair of pliers. “These are all the tools required to fix anything that goes wrong inside the box,” he explained. I remember thinking that I should ask him if he would teach me, but for some perverse reason I held my tongue. Big mistake!


When It All Goes Out Of Control

Not everything is in our control. Some days just do as they like with no reference to the owner… Take my past few days, for instance. My normal day is wake, shower, breakfast and blog. Once past that routine I feel as though I have been set free. That’s not quite true – I still work. I am attached to an engineering company. Either they think I’m pretty good or the boss never looks at my date of birth when he prepares the monthly pay slips – may he never look. I am the bidding man; when we are invited to bid, it is I who prepares the figures. I work from home, firmly connected to the office by computer, telephone, Skype, fax and a couple of nerve ends. My workday starts at about nine and ends when the work is done.

It is exhausting work, always under pressure and always required in an impossible time frame. A couple of hours at the computer sends me running to the couch to gather strength for the next round. I enjoy the challenge of cutting prices to make sure we get the job, but I hate the pressure and panic atmosphere that goes with the work. I guess I have outgrown it all and prefer to work at my own pace. As I’ve aged so I have grown slower in my thinking, although I reckon my thinking is as good as it ever was. The other problem is that I am out of touch with the engineering industry. A retirement home deals in other subjects.

But I work and every day I hope and pray that the office will call and ask me for some vital piece of information only I can provide. So it is in the interests of a couple of giant projects – and the monthly check – that blogging has to step aside.


Practicing To Be 80 Years Old

I’m practicing to be 80 – there’s a birthday around the corner and I don’t want to arrive completely unprepared. All the 80-year olds I see look right at home in their age and that’s the 80-year old I wanna be. I also feel that my personal Freedom Day has arrived and I’m busy thinking about all the things my

  • Mother or father wouldn’t allow me to do,
  • Teacher wouldn’t allow me to do,
  • My wife won’t allow me to do,
  • My children won’t allow me to do,
  • I just never did because…

Is this the time when I am totally free (except from the income tax department) to do anything I want? Now is the time I can…, Um…, there must be something I wanted to do all these years. I had a list … somewhere…

Let’s see: I may decide to read or play on the computer until 4 am. I may also decide to sleep until noon. Can I now eat all those cholesterol loaded foods – chicken and goose livers that I shunned all these years? How about those full-fat smelly cheeses? Then there are all those practical jokes that old men play but can never be nailed for on account of their age. I am always tempted in the supermarket to move things around on the shelves and mix up the goods. I keep thinking about the joke I once read about the retired guy who kept sneaking boxes of contraceptives into other shopper’s trolleys.

Oh yeah, I’m going to be 100 percent positive about everything. I won’t care about what other people think. I won’t even question myself any more. I reckon I’ve earned the right to be wrong.

I like this feeling of being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I’m here, I will not waste time lamenting on what could have been, or worrying about what will be. I’m going to ignore the pain in my back and I’m going to eat ice-cream every day.

 


Say Hello to My New Driver

The temperature outside this morning was freezing so the coffee lounge here at the retirement home was overcrowded. I stood in line at the counter and then weaved my way to where the gang was sitting, spilling most of the coffee on the way. I dropped into a vacant chair and looked around to see a new face in the seat next to me.

“I’m Sol,” announced the old guy on my left. “Been here for 10 years now. I’m surprised we’ve never met.”

“You must have come here pretty young,” I counter.

“Nope. I’ve got a 93rd birthday coming soon. I’m okay, just keep forgetting stuff.”

“I guess it’s your age,” I suggest.

He takes a wad of papers from his pocket and looks at them intently. “Oh damn, I forgot to go to the pharmacy to get our medicines. My wife’s gonna kill me. What’s the time?”

“Eleven-thirty.”

“There’s still time. I’m off to the pharmacy!”

“I’ll come with you,” I offer, jumping up.

He totters towards the door. “I’m taking my car! I don’t even know if you can drive!”

We climb into a battered 20 year old Ford.

Sol zooms out of the parking lot and down the street, slams on the brakes when he sees the white line at an intersection. “Damn, nearly missed that stop street, huh?”

“You got a drivers license?” I ask nervously. Did he say 93rd birthday?

“Just got a 3 year renewal,” he laughs. “Bunch of optimists working in the license department or else it’s a computer that’s lost its memory. I’m a computer man you know. Set up a whole system for the defense force but that’s a long time ago.”

“Wow!’ I say impressed and scared stiff as we narrowly avoid a tree on the sidewalk.

“Anyway I don’t need a computer to help me remember things. Where are we going?”