The Big Five-0

No, I’m not celebrating my fiftieth birthday, although that day is sneaking up on me so fast that I’m afraid to look over my shoulder for fear it will be closer than I expect it to be. Nope, “The Big Five-0” is the 50th issue of My Mac Magazine.

So to celebrate and bookmark this milestone event in literary history, the powers-that-be around this cyber office have asked me–an overworked, underpaid, and literary-challenged poor excuse of a writer–along with the rest of the more knowledgeable staff of this magazine, to pen a few words about what it’s like to be a writer and why we chose to write about the Macintosh.

Speaking for myself, I haven’t a clue as to what it’s like to be a writer.

If you’ve read any of my stuff in the past several years, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m more a doodler of words than a writer of them. In school I considered a poke in the eye or a yardstick across my knuckles preferable to sitting in English class for an hour every day. Consequently I never learned the basic rules of usage, composition, structure and all those other language building skills that all of the Sister Marys at St. Bernard’s Grammar School in Fitchburg, Massachusetts attempted to cram into my little skull of mush. A good student, I was not. To call myself an average student might even be stretching the truth a bit.

Therefore I consider it rather bizarre that here I am, an undereducated, middle-aged blue collar worker writing a monthly column for a computer magazine that has become widely respected throughout the Macintosh community. “How the hell did that happen?” I ask myself at least once a month. And to that add the fact that only six months before I was invited to join the My Mac staff I was a total computer illiterate who couldn’t type his own name in under 39 seconds, and you might begin to understand my confusion and befuddlement.

Fortunately for me, Tim Robertson, the head guru and publisher of this magazine, doesn’t get too excited when I mix metaphors, dangle my participles, or string sentences together without proper punctuation. Now Russ and Jim, our eagle-eyed word-arranging editors, might get a little excited over what I submit, but they always end up fixing the mess I send in and making it look at least somewhat presentable, graciously never saying too much to me about my poor language skills.

What really amazes me is that Tim allows me to use my very limited knowledge of computers and to distort that knowledge with my imagination until I end up with a rambling, sometimes nonsensical fictitious story that is only loosely tied to the Macintosh experience. Every month I keep waiting for Tim or Russ to send back my submission with a polite note attached to it. Something along the lines of:

–“Are you out of your freaking mind, Pete? We can’t publish this! What does this have to do with the Macintosh? What are you smoking out there in Washington, anyway? Good God, Pete! Wait until you’re awake before you sit down at the keyboard!”–

But, against all odds, this has never yet happened! My submissions keep getting published. Go figure.

And unlike my far more talented and knowledgeable colleagues on this magazine, whom you can count on to learn new and interesting stuff about the Mac and its accompanying hardware and software every month, I can only promise the readers of Miner Thoughts one thing: You certainly won’t learn anything of value in my column! Nothing, nada, zip!

However, if you should stumble through one of my stories and at some point it causes you to chuckle, grin, smirk, cry, cuss, laugh out loud or scratch your head in perplexed bewilderment, then I’ve accomplished my goal.

I have no false hopes or illusions of becoming the next Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or even David Pogue. I’m just happy to be able to spin up the hard drive in my brain, connect it to whatever available biochemical RAM I might have working for me on any given day and see how much of what is residing on that hard drive can make it down to my fingers and onto the keyboard of my Mac.

Now as far as why I write about the Macintosh experience, that’s an easy one to answer. You see my Mac, (not the magazine but my ) Mac. Holy cow Russ! Let’s see you fix that line. It even confused me! Editor’s note: I’m now really concerned… I understood what Pete just wrote. Even worse, it made sense!!!

Let me start over. My computer is a Macintosh and it just so happens that I write stuff for a Macintosh relevant magazine, which is why I try to write stories having something to do with a Macintosh computer. I could, I suppose, try to write something glowing and positive about a PC Windows computer, but who the hell would want to read that in a Macintosh magazine? Not me! Besides, I don’t now anything about a PC Windows computer anyway. Not that I know a whole heck of a lot about the Macintosh, but I do own a Macintosh, and it’s a Macintosh that I use when I’m computin’, and I have fun while I’m computin’ on my Macintosh, so it only stands to reason that if I were going to write about a computer, it would have to be a Macintosh. An Apple Macintosh. Simple arithmetic dictates that.

Of course I do write about other stuff that has nothing whatsoever to do with computers but you’ll never see any of that stuff in this magazine. I mean who wants to read about a buried skeleton coming to life and digging its way out of a shallow grave in the forest to seek its revenge on the psychopathic killer that put it there two years previously, when all you’re looking for is an answer to why your scanned photographs always display upside down on your screen.

The reason I even bother doodling with words is a selfish one. I find that it calms my inner spirit and milks away my tensions. It allows me to escape the vicissitudes of the day-to-day rat race we humans call survival. And as long as word doodling allows me to forget that idiot in the four-wheeler that zoomed across three lanes of traffic, causing me to slam on my brakes and spill hot coffee in my lap just so she could take the exit ramp that she should have prepared for two miles ago, and as long as doodling with words helps me get over the insane dispatch I was given last week, I will keep on keeping on, and word doodle until my heart’s content or my internal hard drive crashes, or the powers that be around here decide I’m a detriment to the health and well-being of the magazine. Mixed metaphors and dangling participles be damned!

Oops! Sorry, Sister Mary Vincent.

True to my word once again. You didn’t learn anything of value by reading this, now did you?

Pete Miner

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