A Nerd’s Metaphor for the California State Government

I’ve had my iBook G4 for a long time. I got it in the summer of 2005, right after high school, making it almost 4 1/2 years old, roughly 143 decades in computer years. It’s been very good to me, though I regularly have to change and update it as times change and old programs become obsolete. There are a few structural problems, certain issues that have never been resolved and continue to be a bother, but for the most part they are just minor nuisances, paling in comparison to the many ways in which my computer helps me in every aspect of my life.


This began to change a little ways back, when I noticed that its hard drive space just wasn’t making it as far as it used to. I didn’t think that I was doing anything different, but I suddenly found myself lacking the resources I needed to keep my day-to-day business going. I didn’t think that anything was wrong, but rather that I had forgotten to delete something, and I promptly went to work.

I deleted excess music, uploaded pictures just so I could delete them, watched videos I’d been saving so I’d feel better about the purge: I invested acres of time and money (which apparently can now be measured in “acres”) in the solution, only to find that the gigabytes I’d freed up yesterday are full again today.

It started to drive me mad. I started deleting items that I had treasured: short videos that I had wanted to show to my friends; pictures of my friends and family; albums I’d been meaning to get around to listening to. I promised myself that tonight would be the night I would finally clear it out, only to find nothing to delete: everything I had was sacred.

I could also tell by this point that my computer was feeling the effects. Even the smallest item had to pass the test of necessity: was this worth it? Could it be a temporary item that would soon be deleted? Would it have long-term, negative effects on my digital life?

Eventually, I had had enough. There was simply no way that  computer, functioning as it should, could eat up the bytes at such a wanton pace. I scoured the forums and found a program, OmniDiskSweeper, that indexed every item on my hard drive, organized by size. My hand started to tremble as I clicked on its results. Would this be the day? Would I find what had been dragging me down? Was there anything at all, or was it just my own reckless online use, my disregard for file size, that had led my down this path?

Sure enough, there it was, a 20.9 GB block of files where 20.9 GB should never be. There was a problem with my computer, and it was generating hundreds and hundreds of megabytes of useless files day after day, failing to automatically delete its work after it ran its course of usefulness. I hit Delete, holding my breath, and watched as my hard drive returned to the golden wonder it used to be! Acres of space! Podcasts galore! Photos and songs for every adult, an iPhone app for every child! My computer had come back to its pinnacle of usefulness, no longer burdened by the dead weight of waste that it been dragging along.

I could have given up on my computer and bought a new one, or simply quit it all for a quiet, analog life in the mountains. But I saw the value of what my computer could be, and remembered what it had been, and I fought. I fought hard.

And thus ends my tale. My computer is back to its old self, a living example of “more good than bad.” Sure, it drives me crazy sometimes. Sure, I hate how much time and money I spend making it perfect, knowing that it never will be. But it’s mine, and I need it, and that makes it worth fighting to improve.

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