by Larry Peery

WDC/DIXIECON 2014 is history, and once again David Hood and his CADS hosted a stellar event. Congrats to Thomas Haver of Ohio for finishing first, Dan Lester of the UK (Does this man have a life outside of Diplomacy?) for coming in second, and Philipp Weissert of The Netherlands for a third. I look forward to reading the stories of their triumphs.

However, seen through this Old Fartís trifocals from a distance of two thousand miles away, it seems to me that there were two other real champions for whom this WDC was a special triumph. First, Heath Gardner, who in spite of many woeful experiences over the past months, managed not only to get to the event but also enjoyed it. Congrats to him. Second, Jim Yerkey took a Best France award home for his efforts; but I think he would agree that his real triumph wasnít in his playing, excellent as always, but in his mental triumph over apathy. He and I talked about this on the ride from Silver Spring to BWI, and I encouraged him to go to DixieCon. He went, he saw, he conquered; he rebonded with old friends like Tom Kobrin, and hopefully made some new ones. Most importantly he went home happy and smiling, Iím sure. Heath and Jimís triumphs wonít make the database record books but Iím sure the good feelings and memories will last forever; and be the subject of reminisces in years to come.

I, on the other hand was stuck in normally beautiful Oceanside, California where I will remember May as the month of two disasters and two triumphs. The disasters were the flood at my place that took four weeks to finally and completely repair, and the five fires that surrounded my home as a horrific Santa Ana storm brought temps into the low 100s, humidity down to 9%, and winds of up to 65 mph. One night I went out of the front step and I could see the flames of four of the fires burning to the south and southeast of me on four different mountain tops. Fortunately, I couldnít see the most dangerous fire of all; which was two miles behind my place on Camp Pendleton as 22,000 acres went up and the flames burned closer and closer to ammo storage areas. Fortunately, the winds changed and the fires were contained with only 38 homes burned and no one was killed. When it seemed things couldnít get worse, guess what? They got better! Even as the ashes were still falling and fire fighters and air crews were finishing their work our annual community yard sale went on last weekend. Over 500 resident sellers and thousands of buyers wheeled and dealed over the weekend madness. When the last pennies were counted we raised over $40K for our community association, and I raised $410 (and more to come this weekend at my first Procrastinatorís Sale) for the San Diego Opera and $9 for Edi Birsanís campaign fund (heís running for mayor but he doesnít know it yet). It was a collective effort and a great success, something like DixieCon without the BBQ, although I did pass out fried chicken that I had prepared myself in one of my Le Creuset frying pans. And thanks to the lady who bought the pan, grease and all, right off my stove.

But my big solo win came four days after Memorial Day on Wednesday the 28th. This triumph was entirely a solitary one with no witnesses to my great achievement. On the other hand, if youíre reading this itís because I did triumph! I got up early this morning determined to get an early start on the backlog of articles Iíd promised Doug Kent and Chris Babcock for their zines. I had just finished my first Tab of the day and was reading the morning online news when my monitor went black! No warning, no nothing — the picture just disappeared. So I did all the things Mike Maston has taught me to do over the past 40 or so years when I have a computer problem.

I shut everything down, rebooted, checked the power bars, checked all the connections, and made sure the other components were OK. Nothing worked. I debated on calling Mike for advice, but I figured I could at least unplug the monitor (itís one of those big, light-weigh flat screens that weighs nothing compared to the old ones that weighed 25 pounds or more) and take it down to FRYS, which I did. The guy at FRYS was, as always, totally uninterested in my problem or my monitor. He suggested I box it up and send it to the manufacturer since it was only covered by their warranty (it wasnít) and not the FRYS super warranty that costs as much as the monitor. I had to gently suggest to him (in Andy Bartalone style) that he might want to actually check it and see if it worked. He did and sure enough, it worked fine. So I lugged it home, plugged it back in, and tried everything again. Nothing changed. It was still blank. So I pulled the monitor out of the cabinet up close where I could look at it closely. I noticed a line of symbols along the bottom right edge that Iíd never noticed before. In fact, I donít think I had ever touched them and I didnít have a clue about what they were for. So I slowly started pushing them one by one from the left side. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Then, when I pushed the last one I heard a little beep, and a little blue light appeared and, sure enough the screen began to come to life. I was never so happy to see the Aspire logo in my life. Within a minute things were back to normal, except now I knew what story I was going to write first. Youíre reading it.

The point of all this is simply to point out in typical Peeriblah style how a small accomplishment like pushing a single button can turn into a great triumph! Now, for you computer geeks and tech wizards Iím sure what I did was nothing; but for me, who can barely work a three-way light bulb, it was a very big deal. It may not rank up there in history with Thomas, Dan, Heath, or Jimís triumphs: but it did provide me with a certain amount of satisfaction. Hopefully that will carry over until at least tomorrow, when I have my semi-annual visit with the cardiologist!

Larry Peery

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