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But I Digress...
by Doc Hillman

Time Out For The Important Things In Life
October 13th, 2000

Over my lifetime, I've been accused of a variety of things. Some true (like when Mom caught me using a bong- no way out of that one). Now, as a Mac writer, I get more than a few jabs for a variety of reasons. So it goes. As my friend and colleague Rodney would most likely say, "Let it roll off your back Tim." And so I do. This week though, the copy that follows may make a few of you think that I'm a little too personal sometimes. So be it.

For those of you that don't know, I am by day a teacher, and the rest of the time an advisor to a group of twelve young men (I'll not call them boys) who live in a dorm attached to my home. It's an interesting job to say the least. This week though, it became a lot more interesting to me as one of the boys went through the trials of life, and I witnessed first hand the pain that another endures. What's all of this got to do with you? Read on.

Harry is one of the good kids (actually they are all good kids) that lives in my house. He's here on scholarship from inner city Chattanooga, where, until this past week, he lived with his paternal grandmother. She was, from everything I've gleaned, a remarkable woman. Blessed with a strong heart and generous nature, she served as the matriarch of this family. To her sisters she was their mother. To her children, she was a mother. And to her grandchildren, to whom she opened her home, she was mother too. Granny actually. That's how I think of Alfreda McMillan. A week ago, she passed away from a lung ailment at the relatively young age of 63. Harry was, and remains, devastated.

On Tuesday, I sat with a congregation of mourners who were brought to life by the ministers who led the funeral. Choruses of Amens rung about me and I finally found myself joining in, due in no small part to the gospel fervor that surrounded me. I heard of Freda's greatness, and watched the tears flow from the eyes of her family and friends. In her passing, I came to know her and mourn her passing on as well.

But what this got to do with the Mac? Our object or worship? We spend countless dollars on these machines, and use them for both work and play. There was no computer to find in Alfreda's house. No Mac. The spirit of the woman didn't need a computer to make itself known.

I worry though about whether or not my priorities are in the right place as a result. Here I sit, typing on a $1,500 computer, with an expensive printer attached, a network to my sons' study room, two different Internet connections, and a theatre chock full of the same manner of machine. A Wintel box for designing virtual reality scenery, a Mac for the DV work, another Wintel box running the lighting system, a Mac to check kids in and out of rehearsal, and a lust for more machines to make the theatre a lively environment. As I shill for cash from my employer though, I have to step back and think whether or not all of this is really meaningful. I'm caught in a Grotowskian jam.

Jerzy Grotowski made theatre with the least he could. A rag sufficed for a baby, and naked light bulbs adorned the ceiling of his theatre. Yet I look for the big toys as so many of us do.

Now I'm not advocating that we throw away our machines. Far from it. I really do find them to be something that has changed the world so significantly that I can't turn back from them. But I wonder about our own financial priorities. These machines are great fun in our hands, but what do they mean to a child without them, or to Harry, without machine or mother anymore? Very little.

So today, the digression is not so much a digression as it is a plea. If you are a Mac owner, you are likely to be one of the lucky ones among us. You've got disposable income to spend on computers and all the necessary paraphernalia. That's wonderful. When you go to bed tonight though, think for just a moment about whether some of what you've got might be directed toward those who are in need of more. Surely, there's a part of you that can take some time away from the busy world and look toward a different world- one in which poverty is prevalent and computers are a dream. Harry's one of the lucky ones in a way. He's been given a chance outside his community to prosper in a different way than his relatives, and works with a laptop provided him by the school. Next year though, the laptop goes to another junior, and Harry will be without the tool as he prepares for college. There's a great inequity in that fact that I am powerless to change.

And to the day traders among us? If you are a winner, remember to give to someone else. Apple's stock will rise again, as will your fortune. There are others who can benefit from that wealth as well. Think of them kindly.

But I Digress.

Your comments are welcomed.

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Dr. Tim Hillmanis a long time contributor to the Mac community through his work with MacCentral, MacOPINION, and most recently MacOS Daily.

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