Rebooting, crashing, reinstalling

What an analogy!

Reboot: My father, who has worked with computers his whole life, called to wish me a happy birthday. I had just turned 36, and 36 is how old my father was when my parents, Sasha, and I emigrated from Russia to America. You're turning 36 the way people are supposed to, he told me: You're settled, established in your profession, everything's on track.

When he was 36, he said, he was rebooting: He had to throw away everything he'd built up in Russia, and started from scratch in America. And true enough, he was as well set in Russia as most people could be; when we came here, he had to start again at minimum wage as a computer operator, taking two buses to get to work, and having to work two jobs for a while. He said this without rancor -- he's done very well for himself and his family (he and I are partners in the small software business we cofounded), and his decision to reboot has been proven sound many times over. But it was an interesting reflection on the difference between his life and mine. If only lives were as easy to reboot as computers.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

36 is about right for me too! My father had just died, and I decided to terminate psychotherapy which I'd been in for four years. (I started that because from 1984-1995 everybody just kept dying, and my background growing up in a medical culture hadn't raised, programmed or trained me to deal with non-wartime deaths of healthy young men; quite the opposite, in fact! Modern medicine had proved useless to stop my friends from dying. So did psychotherapy -- which also failed to stop the pain of my constant, growing, losses. AIDS was new, and everyone died -- including almost all my close friends and lovers -- all people I'd assumed would accompany me through life. Drugs and alcohol only acted as temporary anesthesia -- plus there's the impossible, unreachable tolerance: "the more you need, the more you need!")

Rebooting didn't help much. People just kept dying.

SO.....I rebooted again.


Tried again.

Crashed my whole OS.


Then reinstalled a new OS.

Crashed and rebooted too many times to count. Unfamiliarity with the new system made it very difficult to learn. Had to reformat too!

Be 50 soon. The system is tougher and tougher to crash.....

As Eugene Volokh laments, "If only lives were as easy to reboot as computers."

To that I add, "If only they recovered as well from total crashes!"

If only operating systems could be installed more easily, though.

(Especially new and unproven operating systems!)

But on a happy note, once you start seeing yourself as a machine, all this rebooting, crashing, and reinstalling gets easier and easier to do....

I guess, "What does not destroy my hard drive makes me stronger?"

In retrospect, its almost funny.

(But that's gallows humor....)



(My thanks to Steven Malcolm Anderson for encouraging such daring decisiveness!)

posted by Eric on 03.03.04 at 12:13 AM


Bad command or file name

I've never felt the need to reinstall my operating systems, but there've been times I would have liked to go back to a recent restore point.

Allan Beatty   ·  March 4, 2004 9:00 PM

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