The average life expectancy of a home inkjet printer is four years. I know that sounds pretty ridiculous, but that’s the industry’s estimate. (Of course, the “industry” wants you to buy a new printer…) Anyway, if that is indeed a reliable estimate, then Cheri’s printer probably is close to 150 years old in printer years. We actually have five separate printers in our home, occupied by four people, but all of them are quite essential to our life and work. At least, that’s what I am told. Actually, the printer in the basement should almost be called Methuselah, after the grandfather of Noah in the book of Genesis, who lived 969 years. I’m not sure, but it may be a coal-fired printer, but it’s still chugging away.
Not so for Cheri’s printer. About two years ago, for some reason, her printer began to sound like it was a chainsaw as it printed off pages. I took it into the “printer fix-it place,” and they somehow used printer chiropractics to move it back into alignment. We got it home, and three days later, it started sawing wood again. For the cost of the repair, I was well on my way to buying a new printer, and I decided that we could just live with the sound, so long as the printer continued to do its job.
Two years later, as I sat at my desk writing, suddenly MY printer sprang to life and began to print pages. That’s a spooky thing if you are not ready for that to happen! The pages were definitely those of a women’s health nurse practitioner, so I walked the 50 steps from my office to Cheri’s workplace to inquire about the print job. “Oh yeah,” she said, “My printer isn’t working, so I just pulled up yours on the list and printed stuff out.”
You see, one of the wonders of the 21st Century is a force of nature called “Bluetooth.” Bluetooth was actually named after King Harald who, in 958ad united Denmark and Norway. It only made sense, then, that the technology, invented by Swedes in 1994 would bear the name of a king who had a dead front tooth that took on a blue-gray tint. You can’t make this up. Bluetooth (the technology, not the king) along with its fearless companions, WiFi and GPS, have managed to make much of the world terribly dependent on the magic they provide. I remember, back in my day, when you actually connected a cord from your desktop computer to your printer in order to print off something. Nowadays, I can sit in our gazebo in the backyard with my smartphone, and “tell” my printer inside to run off the recipe of the pork roast I am making tonight. The only thing I haven’t figured out is how to make the printer then roll on little wheels out the back door, down the steps and across the walkway to hand me the paper with the recipe. Of course, anyone in the generations younger than I am would shake their heads, and ask why I printed something off in the first place, and not just read off my cell phone while I am cooking. I’m not there yet.
Back to Cheri’s printer. I asked her what the problem was with the thing, and with a straight face, she was able to say, “It only prints in yellow.” Certainly that couldn’t be the case, I remarked, and she ceded her chair to me to see what I could do. I changed the black cartridge, which was fine. I did a realignment of the thing, and it looked fine, even with black ink being printed. I then pulled up another page to print, hit the button … and it was yellow. By the way, yellow print on a white page is kind of hard to read. So, abandoning the wise saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result, I did the same thing over and over. Sure enough, after about five times – it printed yellow.
So, now we were in possession of a printer that sounded like that chainsaw, and only produced something close to invisible ink. In my estimation, that made it the equivalent of an 8 pound door stop. “That’s it,” I said, “I’m calling it. Time of printer demise – 2:15pm.” We decided against holding any services for said printer, and instead, just moved it to the floor.
I ordered Cheri a new printer. It’s an up to date little rascal, with lots of bells and whistles and the promise of actual black print. Even better, it will use the same inkjet ink that the printer in my office uses, so we don’t have to keep a closet full of all different sizes of printer cartridges. It’s arriving today, and the entire household is astir with anticipation. Well, at least I am moderately interested. I’m hoping to get a good four years out of this one…
From birth onward, we humans are faced with problems. Even a newborn has to figure out how to not be hungry or wet. Usually the problem there is solved with lots of crying, and having an outside consultant take charge, and feed and change the little one. It would be nearly impossible to count the number of problems, or challenges, or detours we confront as we are living our lives. Also, it would take too long to list the ways in which we are able to remedy the problems, and move on. Actually, if we are honest, we admit not that the problems get in the way of life, but are truly life itself. We wish that we could just enjoy the green pastures or the still waters, but truth be told, we also spend a great deal of time in the valley of the shadow of death, or at least the valley of the shadow of broken printers, or broken promises, or broken relationships, or broken lives.
The key, of course, to “overcoming” problems is to make sure we don’t lose our vision of life while we are working through the sludge that comes. We don’t lose our imagination, or our humor, or our love while we at times battle situations that seem more troublesome than rewarding. Intentional lives are lived with goals and plans and dreams. Those are more important than the things that get in our way, like old printers or old hurts. Focus this day on what God intends for you, and how you might live hopeful and helpful to this world, that also sees more problems than freedom, more darkness than light. The world, in fact, is waiting for you to act with powerful intent, even if it means ordering something new for your life, that you had not originally intended to do.
And remember – if you can use Bluetooth at the same time, it makes it all the better.
Word for the Day: minatory. Pronounced simply as it looks – MIN-a-tor-ee – the word is an adjective meaning, “menacing,” or “threatening.” Note that the word only promises a future harm. When something is menacing, it really hasn’t done anything but heighten our senses to what COULD happen: a dog growing, hornets buzzing, a shotgun being cocked, a verbal threat. Nothing has happened yet, but in our minds, we imagine something worse coming, and so a minatory action works. The word of course is Latin, from the verb minari, which means two things – to threaten, as we said, but also “to jut, or project.” The noun, minae, means threats, and projecting points.
Why would it include both of those? It’s all part of the wonderful mix of how words evolve. We have a mantle that is three sides with our two sided fireplace. I constantly warn Cheri “Watch your head!” as the mantle juts out, projects and at the same time threatens to bonk that beautiful head. Perhaps it happened that the future tries to jut into the present with menacing and dangerous possibilities, and so the practical physical projections contain future predictions of at least discomfort, if not pain of some sort. Try not to be too minatory today. The world doesn’t really need it.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.