Daily Archives: September 20, 2005

Geek Chic


It’s known in computer circles as a BSoD. Blue Screen of Death.

A fatal exception 0E has occurred at 0157:BF7FF831. The current application will be terminated.

* Press any key to terminate the current application. *

Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart your computer. You will lose any unsaved information in all applications.

Press any key to continue

It happens at random intervals in my computing endeavors, but mostly at the worst possible moment–when I’m paying my bills online or just about to save five hours worth of writing work. Click. Pause. Blink…it’s gone. And all that’s left in its place is the implacable Blue Wall of Nincompoopery, like a big sign asking, “Who let this chick near a keyboard?”

It makes me want to hoist my wretched, smirking computer onto my shoulder, where it will beg (beg!) in modulated electronic tones for a second chance to run my application before I pitch it unceremoniously out of the window and it explodes into fiery chunks on the sidewalk below. (Okay, I know it wouldn’t really explode, but that’s a satisfying detail of the fantasy, don’t you think?)

Fortunately for the traitorous lump of wires and plastic, before frustration finally mounts into violence, I usually remember Plan B: call husband. You see, I married a computer geek.

Yes, he’s also a poet, a dreamer, an athlete and a great dad, but definitely and unrepentantly a geek. Friday nights are more likely to find him at a LAN party than the local pool hall (think “poker night” with assault weapons and extension cords.) The intricate maneuverings of software companies are prime fare for our dinner table conversations.

My technological education really began when we said “I do.” As with other wives of geeks, it was mostly accidental. At first, all the jargon just washed over me in an incomprehensible river of geekspeak. When Paul said we were getting Red Hat, I went out and bought a dress to go with it. Asked by my dad about our new computer (which was brought home within days of our nuptials and placed with love on our shiny computer desk, like a newborn in a bassinet), Paul gave a ten minute description rife with acronyms and numbers. All I could tell my mom was, “It’s black.” That’s all she wanted to know, anyway.

But slowly, like a stranger in a foreign land, I started to pick up a word here and there. I learned that “fragging” someone is something to be proud of, and that Red Hat Linux, while superior in a server-based system, doesn’t make a good OS for the typical home user. I know how to reconfigure my internet settings and what “open source” means. I also discovered that liberally sprinkling one’s conversation with phrases like “server-based system” and “open source” is guaranteed to rev up a geek’s engine.

There are drawbacks to marrying into geekdom, of course: the endless TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), the growing pile of stray computer parts and software boxes reproducing in the corner of the bedroom, the psychologically disturbing love/hate relationship with Microsoft. But I’m here to tell you, thousands of dollars and six operating systems later, that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

I’ve never seen Paul face a computer problem he couldn’t figure out, eventually. I can’t count the times I’ve called him at work, in a huff, to deliver the bad news that the computer was screwed up beyond recovery–only to have him fix it in five minutes over the phone. Even the dreaded BSoD is no match for the awesome technological might of my super geek. Some women’s husbands protect them from burglars or spiders or bad pick-up lines. Mine also protects me from spyware.

And so, to my own dear geek, I just want to say:

Roses are #FF0000,
Violets are #0000FF,
All my base are belong to you.*

*Looking for a t-shirt for your special geek? Check out http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts