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Joy Lee Rutter

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Member Since: Feb, 2003

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Where's My Buddy List?
By Joy Lee Rutter
Monday, January 10, 2005

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Mom has arthritis and traded in the crochet hook for her first computer. She's thrilled; now she can chat with her grown offspring every day without racking up long distance charges. You, however, the grown offspring, may not share her joy.


What to do if your elderly parents purchase a PC: Run, don’t walk to their home before they remove the computer from the box. Once there, set it up, and spend no less than four weeks showing them how it works. I wish I had done this, but fourteen-hundred miles separated me from my parents.

Two years before my mom passed away, she got a computer. My life changed from that moment on. Ever get an AOL Instant message like this?

Mom: “I can’t find my buddy list”
Me: “You’re instant messaging me, so it’s working.” 
Mom:Joy! I can’t find my buddy list. Where is it?”
At this point, I realize she didn’t understand my message, so I have to put it in terms she’d understand.
Me: “Where’d you leave it last?” 
Mom: “Huh?”
Me: “Your buddy list. Where was it last time you saw it?”
Several minutes of silence go by, so of course I picture her searching the house for her missing buddy list. 
Me: “Did you look under the bed?”
Mom isn’t a blithering idiot. She knows I’m having way too much fun at her expense.
Mom: “Stop laughing at me.”
Me: “Mom, it’s open, but you minimized it.” 
Mom: “Where’s my buddy list?”
Me: “Argggghhhh!!! Look on the bottom of the monitor.” 
Mom: “Joyyyy. I can’t find my buddy list.”
Me: “Turn off computer and go cook something.”
Mom: “You’re funning me again.”
Me: “LMAO”
Mom: “What’s LMAO?”
Me: “Nothing. Reboot and your buddy list will return.
Mom: “Reboot?”
Me: “Shut it down with the ‘Start’ button. Wait 30 seconds, then reboot. Or just click ‘Re-start’.”
Several minutes go by while I play Spider and her name stays online but she is no longer typing. I reread my last message and realize the problem.
Me: “Mom, I just booked a flight through Travelocity and will be there Friday. Don’t touch another button on the computer until I arrive.” 
Mom: “Oh Good! How do I turn it off?”

I miss my mom and I would do anything to help her find her buddy list, explain that “reboot” has nothing to do with shoe repair and YES, you can shut down a computer with the “START” button.

We convinced dad to buy a computer; told him it would change his life, it's a people friendly machine, even more so than his VCR, and he'd do fine with it. He'd always argued he had no interest and knew nothing about them. We should have listened. One day I sent an attachment through his E-mail. After opening the E-mail, he instant messaged:

Dad: “What do I do?”
Me: “Click box that says ‘download now’”

Four minutes passed, then:
Dad: “I did that. Now what?”
Me: “Open it” 
Dad: “Open it?"

Me: "Click button that says "run"."

Dad: "I can’t find it”
Me: “Check folder you put it in” 
Dad: “??”
Me: Did you find it?
Dad: “How do I find it?”
Me: “Look in folder that says ‘My documents’” by clicking the Start button… (remembering my mom’s problem with the ‘Start’ button, I instant messaged him the long explanation you’d find in ‘PC’s for Idiots’.) Three minutes later: 
Dad: “Not there. Now what do I do?”
Me: “Open window...” 
Dad: “huh?”
Me: “After you open window, pick up computer and toss it out. Then go buy stamps, stationary and pens and write me #%.*&$ letters! LOL.” Good thing dad learned a few instant messaging acronyms because he LOL’d me back.

Dad finally learned to open attachments without losing them in some distant galaxy far far away, but that may not have been a good thing. He wanted to read the manuscript of my first book so I (gulp) e-mailed him an attachment. Dad was giddy with excitement over being the first to read my book. What I had not anticipated was his insistence on printing it out. I thought he’d enjoy reading it on the computer in big print and on a lighted screen, but I thought wrong. Dad wanted to sit in his easy chair and hold a copy in his hands. So he clicked the ‘print’ button. When the menu requested number of copies, he typed in the page count.

Poor dad. He really did not want over 300 copies of my manuscript to sell door to door. The problem he then faced; he had no clue how to stop the printer. Its buffer demanded several hundred copies of my 300+ page manuscript and since I lived 1400 miles away, I was unable to help. I tried to explain the ‘abort print job’ option, but ran into brick walls. The printing icon was minimized at the bottom of the screen, as printing icons always are, and dad could not find it to save his life. Or the life of his now tired printer. His solution? Unplug the printer. Eight months later, we went to Florida to visit and I plugged his printer back in, aborted the print job and life was good again. I sent my second book to him through the mail after it was published. While walking through the woods one day, I swear I heard a tree whisper “thank you”. 


Sadly, dad passed away a week after his 79th birthday, on February 1, 2005. Dad was the sweetest man I’ll ever know and even on his deathbed, he still had a sparkle in his eyes. His last words to me were “I love you too”.

 Joy Lee Rutter



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Reviewed by 000 000 8/22/2008
Dear Joy,
you did bring me much joy. I laughed out loud and am saving this to share with everyone I know. This is the best comedic write I have read in a long time. I know it is not proper to laugh at another's incompetance...but really; this is hilarious. I guess because I have been there, done that. When I have a computer problem, I find myself a young person to help me with the problem The children of our time are born and raised on computers...bless their hearts.
Reviewed by Cynthia Borris 4/16/2006

Modern technology requires balance. What would we do without people like our parents to remind us to slow down and maybe settle in a chair to read. Very interesting article. Reminds me of my mom and her email-not.

Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G 5/16/2005
Hi Joy- 1st meet.... I enjoyed this article... very funny... I smiled quite abit. My parents just got a D.V.D player from my brother and had problems- There ok now with it but, to get a PC. nOPe.. won't be happening... Not sure if that is good or bad... but, there living without it fineeee.... I also took a peek into your books... I beleive I saw 2 for now, and there quite intriguing... no kidding.. GREAT characters and the plot and ideas, I may be getting 1 of them.... I'll peek in later... Take cAre.. and God Bless.. Truly,Sheee
Reviewed by Tom Elkins 3/19/2005
Joy -
I'll be 74 next month, so this might strike a little close to home. Fortunately, I have been messing with computers for 25 years, since I first computerized the office at my radio stations. My own father died in 1997 at the age of 90. Even though he was an accountant he would have nothing to do with them. Every Saturday he'd call all four of us "children" (on the telephone, land line) and pass along the family news. I still miss him, and those calls.
Obviously, I enjoyed your account. And your subject matter is one that resonates with millions of Boomers today...and even with some of us old guys.

Tom Elkins, author of North of Texas
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 1/10/2005
i have a brand new computer (okay, not exactly NEW, but it IS new to me; got it for christmas!), and i am going to have our next door neighbor set it up. i have no clue on that; i DO know how to use the computer (otherwise, why would i be here if i didn't?? LOL), but there is still so much i don't know! i am learning every day! cute write, joy!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in tx., karen lynn. :D
Reviewed by Lisa Hilbers 1/10/2005
Thank you so much. About six months before my Mother passed away in 2001, she became the owner of a PC. Like you, from that moment on, my life changed drastically, to say the least. Only it was a good thing that I lived on moments away from her..but I spent all of them going back and forth.
She called me one morning around 4:00 am and when I sleepily answered the phone...she all but yelled in the reciever, "What did you do with that Giant E!" Ofcourse she was looking for the Explorer Icon, but when one is asleep..they tend to be a bit unfocused on life...
I immediately got out of bed, put on my clothes, trekked through the rain...and made her believe I was happy to help her find her Giant E!
I sure wish I could help her today.
Thanks Joy.


Books by
Joy Lee Rutter

A Flamboyant Disarray of Dreams

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A Disturbing Presence

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The Shorter Version by Kathryn Perry

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Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road by Diana Estill

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