A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
— Robert A. Heinlein
I took a half-day of vacation the Friday before the 3-day MLK Jr. Holiday Weekend. I had put a couple of gallons of cider in to ferment on the Wednesday before New Year’s and it was time to put it in bottles with a little sugar in them so that it could carbonate itself. After that was done and I’d rinsed my equipment, I took the motherboard out of my computer and stuck a new one it. Those who’ve done that before know that this takes almost the same about of time as building a computer, but I got everything together, turned on the switch, and it worked.
With that done, I was feeling pretty cocky, so I decided to do one more thing.
I wrote that in a sentence by itself because my wife might want to have it carved on my tombstone one day. In fact, she might want to license it for other wives to use too.
Anyway, that one more thing was to upgrade to Windows 10. This was actually what was behind me installing a new motherboard. I’d been trying to upgrade with Windows 10 for months. I was free, after all. However each attempt at the upgrade had met with failure: UNKNOWN ERROR. Since my computer is homemade, I’d figured it was because of the off-brand motherboard I’d been using. So, I bought a main-line motherboard and thought that would fix the problem.
"I thought that would fix the problem."
That sentence might look good on a tombstone too.
Anyway, I got Windows 10 to install. I even played with it a little. It was not however perfect because it wasn’t giving me full screen resolution because it hadn’t yet found a driver for my video card. Then, the little dickens, found the driver and asked my permission to reboot.
That was the last I ever saw of it. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening trying to get some computer working so I could get my column in. That didn’t happen. The next day I made my way to a BestBuy (this was in another town, but don’t tell the folks down at the Chamber, okay?) and got the things I needed to fix it, and I am writing this piece on it right now. It all works.
That all having been said, there are a number of you who are saying to yourselves now what many will say to me face to face when you next see me: “Just go buy a Mac.”
And my answer is, what fun would that be? It is incredibly invigorating to have a bunch of electronics in front of you that you may have just reduced to scrap-metal. There is an awesome feeling of validation when you turn the thing on one last time and it actually works.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think that next time I will get my column in before I reduce my computer to rubble.
When I was a teenager, I was inspired by the Heinlein quote at the beginning of this article to try many things. And I have; and I am lousy at many of them. Who am I kidding, I am lousy at most of them. But at the end of the day it is good for your soul to know there are things that are just too difficult for you to do, but that other people can do them well. It breeds respect.
Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, gives a nice “Big Think” talk on YouTube concerning multiple intelligences. He says there are at least 8 different intelligences we all have to a certain degree, with zero being a degree. According to him, it is all a question of the time you put into developing them. Because it all takes time, you have to make a choice — be well-rounded; be a specialist; come to some compromise between those two extremes.
It is the decision we make about how we are going to spend our time that will decide what will be on that tombstone I keep talking about, at least in a metaphorical sense.
Given how my computer project went, I just hope that mine doesn’t say something about being done in by homemade hard cider.
— Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.