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Sometimes is it hard to know when you are working too much or too fast. Other people can tell you you need to take a break but they are not inside of you so they don’t know the pressure that can build up trying to get something done.

We have a computer like that.

It is a high-speed graphics one that my spouse uses for his photography work. It is a great computer. It moves quickly and most of the time it is a happy camper. It has two fans and a special cooling system to keep the computer running at high output without overheating. The fans are very busy and very loud. Fans running loud on a busy computer are to be expected and desired. My less snappy computers that have one, not two fans can be really loud too. The reviews on one of my computers say that it runs quite loud when it is running an action game. Having never played an action game on a computer, I could not vouch for that.  I do know when I am doing graphics-laden geographical mapping programs the fans get going really loud.

Therein lies the difference between my computers with fans that ramp up when the computer is working hard and my spouses computer whose nickname is “The Dragon.” For some reason The Dragon thinks it is always working at high speed. Both fans are blazing full speed even if he is playing a game of Spider. I suppose The Dragon and The Spider have an agreement that whenever the Spider gets to play The Dragon gets to play along. Trouble is, The Dragon thinks it is working, not playing. Full fans a’blowing. It simply does not know the difference between hard work and a gentle afternoon of reading for fun.

The Dragon has been a source of amusement and frustration over the past couple of years. The Dragon wants to stay awake. I suppose dragons need to do that for if the fall asleep I think there has to be some princess kiss or a spell or something like that to wake them up. The Dragon at our house gets put to bed and then wakes up when you least expect it. I had no idea that Dragons and new-born babies were so similar. Sometimes when I am at home working quietly in the office and Sophie is snoozing under the desk, one of us will move just right and poof! The Dragon awakes with a roar. For a while it startled both of us every time it happened. After a while we got used to it and just rolled our eyes and muttered, “The Dragon.” Well, I suppose Sophie did that, being a polite dog and not wanting to speak badly of others she never quite said it loud enough for me to hear.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, The Dragon does an excellent job at its job, developing photographs. When The Dragon arrived, life changed for my spouse. Before The Dragon, he could set into motion the transfer of files from the camera to an editing program and have time to go to the grocery store, come back and put the groceries away before 200 photos downloaded. The recline function on his desk chair was well used because he could take naps between the start and the finish of a high-pass sharpen (for those of you who don’t know electronic photo editing that is making the image clearer and does not take a whole lot of computing power).

There was a family decision to replace his old computer. The way computers get replaced in our family is that the owner of the computer moans and whines and occasionally puts their head on their desk in despair. They really are experiencing true and appropriate distress related to the match, or not match, of the computer hardware and the software programs they are running. The dialog goes something like this.

The other one of us says, “Why don’t you get a new computer?

The owner of the computer says, “No, I cannot justify the expense. This one is still       working.”

The other of us responds, “I think it would help you a whole lot.”

The owner responds, “It is just too expensive. I can wait. It is not that bad.”

The other one of us rolls our eyes and mutters to ourselves, “Yep, it is that bad.
I am not sure how long I can put up with this.”

After a while, the other of us put our foot down and say, “You have to get a new computer.”

I got a new computer a couple of weeks ago. When the fire came we saved the box of my computer but not the keyboard or the monitor. Replacing those were relatively simple. The box was a problem. My computer was one of those today-only specials that I happened to see on the internet. I was looking for a modestly priced computer to replace my spouses mom’s computer which had given up the ghost. Like her son, she likes to play solitaire. She likes to email with her friends and family too. She needed a new computer but not a fancy one. I ran across a dandy looking computer that was surprisingly cheap. I read the ad several times to make sure it was not just the box and no monitor or something like that. It really said they were both included. When I tried to order it, turned out that the monitor did not come with the computer. I politely asked if I could have it since it said that on the website. The conversation went on for quite some time and they honored the price on their website–which I noticed changed while I was on the phone. While I waited for this person to talk to that person to talk to a supervisor and so forth, I decided I would get one too since my machine was the old one my spouse had replaced. My hand-me-down computer worked quite well but had lately been making some very disquieting noises. I had ordered her the modest version and bought one for me that had a memory upgrade. It was a great decision. We both were happy with our computers. Mine put in a couple of really hard work years and then started to flag. We talked about a new computer but I kept saying it was ok, I could keep going with it. I usually run two computers and a laptop because of the sort of projects I do. I made it out of the fire with my laptop and one of my desktops. We discussed purchasing a new computer for me but predictably I said I was fine, I did not need a new computer.

Well, I was not fine. My computer consulted with The Dragon when we were not looking and decided that it would just take as many naps as The Dragon did not. My poor sleepy computer just could not wake up and keep up with what I needed it it to do.We discussed that the insurance money included the computer the fire ate so it was not exactly a new computer. I almost was convened–after I lifted my head from the desk in despair over what mine was not doing.

It was in this mood that I was slogging along when I got an email from my favorite computer company advertising a nifty computer for a very nifty price. They were moving out the Win7 machines to bring in Win8. “I will take one of those computers please and I will wait to have Win8 until we could afford to switch our whole barn full of computers.

I ordered the new computer, heart pounding. It was a spur of the moment purchase that followed months of shopping and talking about it. It was a complex task, I was on a chat with the computer sales person and texting to my spouse for his opinion and blessing on things like upgrading the RAM to 16GB. All in all there was a moment of electronic dizziness taking in the technology. We are usually toward the forefront of technology use but it was still a bit overwhelming to take in the concept of doing a chat where the operator was pushing you information at the same time you were checking your email at the same time you were texting.

I got my new computer and the fan is pretty loud. But it is only pretty loud sometimes. And, it can rest. It rests so easily. After a bit of inactivity it just quietly sits and rests until I come back. I just tap to button and we are immediately up and running.

The Dragon was interested in how that all worked. I promised I would contact the tech support folks and see if we could finally find the right hardware to let the poor Dragon rest. He told my computer he was pretty tired and he has come to suspect he is overdoing his work. He needs some rest to get back on his feet.

This afternoon I spent three hours on the phone with a very nice tech person while we tried to figure out what made The Dragon unable to rest.

While the tech had control of the computer The Dragon was looking at me with tears in its screen, “Please don’t let them take me away. I like it here. I want to work here. I love the Blue Drive and the Orange Drive. I love all of my computer friends on the Network. Your computers, BHS, BHSDesk and Z are my friends. I love that little kid we got, the tablet. I see that Babette has popped back up. I thought she died in the fire. This is my family. Please don’t take my chips from me.

I explained we were not taking his sentience away but that we wanted him to feel safe to rest and not feel so strained all of the time. I also gently explained to him that his loud fans and inability to go to sleep were disrupting to the whole household. I told him I understood he not want to go to sleep but he needed to know that if he went to sleep his work would still get done. He did not have to work himself to death.  He should not have to feel the need push himself to the  maximum all the time.

I think it made it better but his eyes were wide and pleading with me when the tech person was in control of his hardware and software.

In a whisper, “Did you know there is a strange man in here?”

I replied, “Yes Dragon, I told him he could visit you. He is trying to diagnose why you feel so tired all the time.”

The Dragon replied, “I don’t mind being tired, honest. I don’t want to change. Change is scary.”

I know it is Dragon,” I responded. “But you have to be brave. You were brave about the fire. You got yanked from your network and you were not even powered down. You got thrown into a box and then into the van. A great big bucket of dog food and then a suitcase landed on your head. You rode a luggage trolly into a strange hotel. You owner left you in that sad state with a promise to be right back because you had no power cord. He wanted you to be up and running. Your roar made him feel safe. Me to. Even after all the scary events of the day you booted right up with a roar. You are a hard worker and we appreciate that. We just want to see if you can learn to relax some. Your fans are running full tilt and we are afraid you are going to get burned out.

“Those are pretty words. A they really true? I did all that?”

“Yes, Dragon and more,” I said. You were the first computer up and running after the fire. You were the computer who took us onto the internet. You keep the whole family safe on that one.” Finally I said, “We need you.”

At the end of our several hours working on the computer he had made great progress and we have hope that The Dragon being able to rest. Would that we all could learn a lesson from that. We may need others to tell us when we should rest and, when we do hear from them, we should tell them what we know and we should listen too, listen. In doing so we can keep our Dragons happy and working smart.

an artstically styalized fantasy dragon