June 10th, 2005

Starting Over

For a school computer tech, summers are crazybusy. We’ve got new computers to set up, old computers to upgrade, servers to upgrade, and all manner of other things that just sort of pop up from time to time. The theory is that we can get all this done while the students and teachers are gone. The reality is that summer school goes through July at my school and teachers pop in at various times all summer as well. Regardless, I have a schedule I’m following so I have a general idea of what labs or classrooms I’m doing on what particular days.

This week was set aside to do the new lab. By “new” I mean “replacement,” as I was able to get rid of all the old computers in it and set up 30 new ones. The old ones were in rough shape and I was glad to see them go. The last few months with them have been a constant barrage of “#14 can’t see the network” and “the mouse on #28 will only go from side to side, not up and down.” Hardware failures and software hang-ups were commonplace and I was tired of it. I was never so job-happy as when I was unhooking them and putting them in the “To Go Away” pile. Well, that is, I was never so job-happy until I got to start setting up the new ones.

See, one of my favorite things in the world to do is to start from scratch. If something needs to be fixed, my first instinct is to dump it and start fresh. This applies to everything from baking bread to installing an operating system on a computer. If, for example, I was to mess up by forgetting to put the paddle in the breadmaker before adding the water and bread mix, I would most likely throw the whole mix out rather than try to dump it out, install the paddle, and dump the mix back in. In an OS install, if I install something that causes an effect I don’t like and can’t back out of completely, I’ll most likely wipe the hard drive and start the OS install from the beginning.

I call this mindset a “video game mentality.” You’re down to your last health bar and you’ve got 5 shots left. You turn the corner and find yourself face to … ankle with a T-rex. Five ineffective shots and one quite-effective bite later, and you’re restarting. Problem is, your last save game file was right before you entered the T-rex’s canyon. At this point you have three options:

  1. try to find a way to beat the T-rex with only five shots and your wits
  2. go back the way you came, scouring the level for any health packs or ammo you might have missed
  3. go to the Menu > Restart Level option and make sure you have plenty of health and ammo before you get to the T-rex canyon

I’ll choose Option 3 nine times out of ten. I might try Option 2 once, but it rarely seems to work. It just seems easier to go back and start the level over, since the next time through, I’ll know what’s coming. Game machines come with a Reset button for a reason, I figure.

So, while it was time-consuming and hard work, I liked setting up the new lab. I got to route the wires and cables the way I wanted, and I got to make sure all the monitors were situated correctly and all of that other obsessive-compulsive-related minutiae that goes with it.

I can’t help feeling, though, that this starting-over-rather-than-fixing thing is a weakness on my part. I look at others who will “do what it takes!” to get something fixed and I’m jealous. The easy response is to say “that’s just who I am” but I believe that’s a cop-out. I believe people can change, even if I’m proof that they don’t. This is something I’d like to change, though. Not in all areas, mind you, because I’ll never believe an OS install isn’t better when it’s fresh and unsullied. I’d specifically like to change it with regard to people. If things get bad and a relationship goes sour, will I try to fix it? Unlike computers, it isn’t so easy to just “start over” with a person. Our memories aren’t built that way. Most can forgive, but it’s hard to forget, and without forgetting, it’s hard to say “things are okay now.”

These are the times when I’m glad I don’t remember things. I don’t tend to think people have done me wrong – not so much because they haven’t, but because I don’t remember them doing it. Do you know those people who hold grudges for years and years? I could never be that person without the help of some gingko biloba or a written record or something. I might have the vaguest recollection that there had been something, but I’ll be danged if I can remember any details.

Of course, the bad side of that is I don’t remember good things, either. I’ll have a file marker in my brain that “so-and-so is sweet” but I probably won’t specifically remember that time you said something nice to me or what it is you said. I hate that my brain doesn’t keep those things. I know I’ve lived my life because I’m still here, but I feel like I’ve lost most of it to the effects of time on my little brain.

Blogging has been a way for me to hang on to some things. I’ll occasionally go back and read through old entries and I’ll be reminded of what was going on at that particular time, and it helps remind me of specifics – dates, times, people. It’s unfortunate that one really good electromagnetic pulse will wipe all this out. Memory is a fragile thing and time smoothes out the details.

Stupid time.

3 Comments on “Starting Over”

  1. Anonymous says:

    PW has your email addy. don't be mad.

  2. bd says:

    Wow, best anaolgy ever.

  3. BNick says:

    Are you sure you haven't been visiting a clinic with a blond receptionist and gray-haired doctor? Have you been seeing vague images of a contemporary hobbit when you wake up at night? Have you gotten any unsolicited audio tapes in the mail?

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