Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More




"Hey, DOSBox!"

McDonald's, Napa, California, USA

September 8, 2019




Systems programming by Peter Mierau

Distributed by MicroPro International
WordStar Professional release 4.00
Systems programming by Kevin Parker

Distributed by Command Technology Corporation
SPF/Professional version 5.0.4
Legacy softwares circa 1984


Given my computer legacy, I'm not big on tech. Really. It's costing us our humanity. And we've barely begun the inquiry into what it's doing to our children's brains. But with that said, one of the great things tech affords me is I can put myself in inspiring settings to write, and upload my work to the internet from wherever I am.

Sometimes I'll write at home, sitting at my writing table in front of the large window overlooking the cattle pasture. Sometimes I'll take my laptop with me when I drive people to our local wineries. When they're inside tasting, I'll be in bucolic environments writing. Sometimes I'll drive myself to nice places with gorgeous hilltop views, and sip something cold while I flesh out a new essay. Sometimes in the morning I'll take my laptop with me to our local diner, and get set up on the cramped counter, somehow making room for both my laptop and my plate of breakfast. Sometimes I'll treat myself to a gourmet restaurant, choosing a table in the corner away from the distracting chatter, where I write and eat. And sometimes I'll write and eat at McDonald's. It's probably true to say that only a gifted few come to gourmet restaurants (whose sophistication I do have an occasional taste for). But the world  comes to McDonald's. So it's an inspiring place to write.

Anyway I'm in McDonald's with a tasty chicken-something sandwich, sitting at a table, laptop open next to paper towels galore so I can wipe the dressing off my fingers before I type, and this guy, a McDonald's employee, is shuffling along, looking down, sweeping the floor and collecting trash, and he gets closer and close to me, and eventually he's right next to me. And that's when he looks over at me typing, is quiet for a moment, and then asks "What's that you're using?" pointing to my laptop screen.

I'm not your run of the mill Windows user. I have a Windows laptop because this is the genre of the day. But my preferred software predates Windows by decades. Mine is legacy software from about thirty five years ago which I've never upgraded ("If it ain't broke, don't fix it"). Some of it is IBM  (International Business Machines) legacy mainframe computer software adapted to run on Windows. Those in the know, call it green screen  software because of the characteristic green (or white) on black look of its fonting. It's legacy mainframe software which I run as DOS  (Disk Operating System) software on my laptop. It's my most used tool.

So he says "But it's so old!  How do you make it run on Windows?". The guy's a floor sweeper in McDonald's, and that's a pretty smart question for anyone to ask. I'm now interested in him as an interested person. "There's a freeware  called 'DOSBox'" I tell him, "which lets you run legacy softwares on Windows.". Now that's more than enough for anyone to absorb without any tech background. He nods his head, thanks me, and goes on his way, sweeping, collecting trash.

It's about six months later and I'm back in the same McDonald's with another same tasty chicken-something sandwich and paper towels galore and my laptop. I'm working in my latest essay, watching the other patroons, watching the staff at work when suddenly I see him, the same guy, sweeing the floor, collecting trash, and I call out to him "Oh Hi!", and he looks up from the floor, sees me, and then the light goes on and he yells joyfully "Hey, DOSBox!"  (he obviously remembered) and comes over to say hello and shake my hand. I ask him how's he's been, and he proceeds to blow me away by relaying what he's been up. He's been taking computer courses in the evening. He's been studying to be a network engineer. He said after we spoke last time, he saw (quote unquote) "something else possible"  for his life other than sweeping McDonald's floors.

"Wait!" I said flabbergasted, "what did you just say?". "I said I was taking computer courses in the evening.". "No, after that" I said. "I said I decided to take computer courses in the evening after we spoke last time.". "No, after that"  I said. "I said I saw something else was possible for my life other than sweeping these floors.". "Yes, that's it! And how did you know about this 'possible for my life'?"  I asked, incredulous. "I got that talking with you" he said, dismissively.

I was reeling. I remember our last conversation. I remember it well. And the word "possible" was never uttered. Not once. Yet he got it anyway. Wow! Just wow!

[... being completed ...]



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