Who Invented This Thing?

Leo Pieffer's Dentistry Painting by Frans Schmanke based a Frans Hals painting
Leo Pieffer’s Dentistry Painting by Frans Schmanke based a Frans Hals painting

Our neighbor, Leo, is a sprightly 91. His typewriter died a few years back and he became very frustrated that no one would repair it. Everyone told him to get a computer so he finally bought a new Dell with his grandson’s help. He is able to email but he keeps getting confused as to what happens in his email package and what happens in his browser. He got an offer in the mail to subscribe to Consumer Reports but he had to register online. So Peggi and I helped him through that process.

Leo keeps his computer in the basement by his wood stove and he shuts it off after using it. So when we go over to help, we have to sit through his lengthy boot process. His grandson has all kinds of virus software running even though Leo has no files on his computer. Leo worries about viruses and he doesn’t even know what they are.

We turned on the printer to print the confirmation of his transaction with Consumer Reports but the only thing that came out was a letter to an old friend that he wrote a few weeks ago. The print dialog box was backed up with old jobs so we tried to delete them and squeeze our page out but there was one file in the queue that we could not delete. Peggi worked on this for about ten minutes and then the Consumer Reports page timed out so we gave up. Leo told us that last week he got so frustrated he was going to take a pick ax to his computer. He asked, “Who invented this thing?” We laughed. He went to shut down his machine and looked up at us. “That’s another thing. Why do I go to ‘Start’ to shut this thing down?”

Leo was a dentist and he still has a dentistry chair in his basement. And on the wall near his computer he has this painting from 1952 that a patient of his did in exchange for a break on a tooth extraction. Leo told us that the patient painted himself as the dentist holding his tooth. The patient’s name was Frans Schmanke and he based this painting on a Frans Hals painting. Leo said he hung the painting in his office but he had to take it down because his patients didn’t like it.

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