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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Will compute for food
Computer + Problems = Home cooking

This is an X-ray of my head while I try to figure out anything mechanical or electrical.

Don't ask me how to change a fuse or the oil in my car.

Or re-rout the plumbing and wiring in a home.

I'm also not very good with a hammer or a saw.

But if the printer isn't talking to the computer or the CD burner is burned out, apparently I'm the guy to call.

And my dad has, at least once every two weeks for more than a year.

How strange life is. When he was my age, I ran to him for advice about school, money and girls. Now our roles are reversed in this one area.

I don't mind helping him. Heck, I don't even mind the half-hour schlep from Levittown to Northampton at rush hour. If I'm lucky, I can even finagle dinner from him and my step-mom.

Just have to add a few more RAM chips to my dad's Gateway.

It just seems a little strange to be needed by a man who knows how to do all of the things for which I have no or very little clue.

At 66, he's at an awkward age where he finally has enough time to devote to computing, but doesn't have the background knowledge to accomplish his goal.

He's also a little hard of hearing, so if you try to explain by phone how to attach a JPEG or Word file to a Web-based e-mail, he's probably not going to get it.

But show him how to do something once, and it clicks home.

His favorite hobby for the past two years has been downloading old-time radio programs from peer-to-peer networks, such as Kazaa and WinMX, and burning them onto CDs.

Some problems I simply cannot solve.

These are the shows he listened to when he was a kid, and now he has a whole library of them. Why he wants to listen to them all again is a mystery to me. Only the Shadow knows.

It's not as if the grand kids are going to say, "Grandpa, can we please listen to that episode of 'Lux Radio' again."

They're from a different time, a post-MTV era. Imagination is now a dirty word, supplanted by DVDs,  PS2 and other techno toys.

Like computers.

Come to think of it, maybe he's not as far removed from them as I thought.


When the printer won't print and the hard drive is playing hard to get, who do you call?

Everybody seems to know somebody who fixes their glitches or maybe you are that person. E-mail me at and tell me about it.

Stories you probably missed, but shouldn't have.

  • Typing monkeys don't write Shakespeare
    Give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, the theory goes, and they will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare. Give six monkeys one computer for a month, and they will make a mess.

  • Pa. town to update flag to 50 stars
    GLASSPORT, Pa. - Borough officials here learned just how behind the times they were when they noticed that their American flag was missing two stars.

  • School officials furious after DJ fails to show
    BERWICK, Pa. - Berwick High School was stood up at its prom when a disc jockey failed to show.

  • Bride's wedding dress survives tornado
    NORTHMOOR, Mo. - Jennifer Wells' new home didn't make it through a tornado that devastated this Kansas City suburb just three days before her wedding. But her wedding dress did.

  • City could sack boastful football signs
    CHARDON, Ohio - Self-described science geek Truman Parkinson thinks the jocks have had their mark on this town for long enough.

  • Florida to preserve 2000 election ballots
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida's chads are hanging around.

  • Bennett's gambling shows religions' split
    Gambling is no virtue but, religiously speaking, is it a vice?

  • Lawmaker wants to ban hiring on relatives
    TRENTON, N.J. - A Trenton area legislator wants to stop New Jersey lawmakers from putting their relatives on the state payroll.

  • Paulsboro bars basketball hoops, hockey nets from streets
    PAULSBORO, N.J. - Residents who play their sports in the borough's streets will have to find a new home court.

  • Cigarette taxes, patient surcharge could raise cash for docs
    An increase in the cigarette tax and a surcharge on patients are among new revenue sources that could be used to lower doctors' malpractice insurance premiums, the Rendell administration said.

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at . To read his previous columns, click here.

May 12, 2003