Early childhood learning is all about connections. 

Do-re-mi‘ leads to ‘fa-so-la‘. Dem bones, dem bones…the neckbones connected to the headbone and the thigh bone?  Why it’s connected to the hip bone, of course.  Duh. It’s all so logical.  I think that’s why I’ve made it point to adopt Jungian logic in naming some of the different behavioral elements (or traits) in my personality.  

Following Debbie Ford‘s lead, I have names for them like ‘Bunker Boy‘, ‘Island Man‘, ‘Viking‘ and ‘Ditzy Dan‘. I use the proper nouns as a way to de-energize some of the recurring emotional behaviors that still try to return me to the gerbil wheel of despair that can infect our efforts at self-improvement. For me, when I  cartoonize the traits, they suddenly shrink and become ever so much more manageable.  This week brought me back in touch with a crowd favorite from my band of renowned.  I’ve named him ‘Otto, Otto Pilot‘.  But more on that in a minute.

There were plenty of connections I couldn’t make this week.  Let’s recap the week:   my computer began acting like it was possessed; North Korea was talking with glee about the missiles they were going to launch our way; Cardinals in conclave took three-days to elect Frances the 1st , when if I remember correctly, it took NBC more than a year to find a replacement for Regis. I remembered all the heartfelt condolences offered to the families of Newtown from every politician that could find a camera crew, while this week, many of those same Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee voted ‘No’ on the question of enacting universal background checks.


On other fronts, it took less than a week for a court to block Mayor Bloomberg’s quest to limit uber-sized soda drinks in NYC while cases involving voter suppression and marriage equality moved with the lumbering speed of molasses to take their place in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

But wait, there’s more. 

As a fitting underscore to this cornucopia of mayhem, a lone gunman set his house on fire and then proceeded to shoot up a small town in upper New York state, killing half-a-dozen people that knew him before he was eventually killed in a subsequent stand-off/shoot out with police.  This week also marks the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq?  And did I mention, that Rick and I have made a Huck Finn pinky swear pledge to each other that the time to quit smoking has come.  This is going to be interesting.  Are you exhausted yet?  I am. 

For all of that, if ‘Do’ leads to ‘Re, why did my computer choose Thursday night to begin its audition for an exorcism?  Getting it fixed has consumed my every waking moment.  Which brings me back to Otto.

Many of the personality traits I’ve named have, at one time or another, served a very real purpose.  I’m grateful to them for that.  But unlike Darwin and his finches, many of them have failed to adapt to my evolution as a fully functional person. 


Not to be redundant, but ‘Otto’ stands for auto-pilot.  For whatever reason, I can (at will) tune out any and everything that doesn’t have to do with meeting my objective.  Like a heat-seeking missile, I will not be deterred.  That’s the focus I evoked in my efforts to cure my sickly PC.

I ran every diagnostic at my disposal.  I rebooted again and again.  I downloaded new search engines.  I restored to past back-up points.  I even tried reloading my operating system from its original discs.  I called my internet provider three times.  No disrespect to John, but the calls were useless.  I unplugged, powered-off and hit the reset button – repeatedly – and all, to no avail.  But Otto refused to be beaten so I did it all over again…and again.  Friday led to Saturday and the battle waged on.  I may not be a DeVry graduate, but I’m not without my skills when it comes to computing so the frustration was mounting to insufferable heights.  Still, Otto refused to be beaten.  He’s funny that way. He’s also a loner in his bore-sighted mania at fulfilling his objective. And for all of that, he wasn’t enough.  For having followed every jot and tiddle the manuals, help documents and bloggers had all spelled out on paper, it wasn’t enough.

Now nearly midnight, my other half asked if he could help as I prepared to power down yet again.  Part of me thought it quaint.  I remember thinking “How nice…I’ve followed every protocol I know and he thinks he can help me.  Bless his heart”.  OK.

About three-minutes later, he asked me, ‘Even though you’ve unplugged it, there are still two lights lit on the modem.  Why don’t we remove the battery and see if that helps‘. So simple…so charming for him to try and help.

So I did.  I removed the battery and de-energized every component I had. My beautiful PC was now finally, certifiably, irrevocably dead.  This was a big deal and it wasn’t looking good.

550px-Revive-a-Dead-Laptop-Battery-Step-4 wikihow

But Otto, now with the help of his wing man, counted to ten and reconnected all the parts.  I powered up the reconstituted machine and waited for the rebooting process to go through its paces. Breathing a silent word or two of prayer, I clicked on the icon and before you can say ‘Otto-sesame’, I was back in the land of the living.  I was reconnected to the web and all the outside world.  All of which got me to thinking…

Maybe the real key to conquering all those traits that have vexed me for so many years wasn’t to kill them, but rather to unplug their battery…the one part of my psyche that never went dark even when I’d gone to great lengths to unplug and reinstall every part of myself there was.  And you know what?  I feel like I’ve lost fifty pounds in the three minutes it took to go through the whole process one more time with its one notable addition of subtracting the battery and for reasons that have nothing to do with my resurrected PC.

What makes us great isn’t always what it says on paper.  Sometimes it’s the lessons we learn when we go to obscene lengths to solve our own problems and end up spilling coffee all over our precious operating manuals.  Otto is to be admired, but it wasn’t till I had help that my PC problem evaporated.  While I have to smile at three-days of effort, I’m no less grateful for the last three minutes that made the difference.  I saw it through and it happened when I got help.  I chose different and did not go it alone.

Otto may disagree, but if you haven’t caught it yet, I heartily recommend you watch the movie, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. Beyond featuring a world-class cast and a poignant story, the hotel’s manager Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) dispenses a wise little nugget of wisdom I’m taking with me this week. 

Dev Patel and Judi Dench in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I go into this week, humbled in the knowledge that our stains are the ink with which we write the next few lines of our trip through this short life.  Stains have the power to line us up with ourselves and the people we love.  Like my PC, I feel newly connected.  New week, new page and I’ve got plenty of ink.  I can not save the world, but I will do my part. 

None of us are, as of yet, at the End.  Right on, write well.

Your page is waiting…






On this the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War I stand in quiet reverence remembering those both of the quick and the dead whose lives were forever changed by the Iraq War.

March 20, 2003 – March 20, 2013

The U.S. suffered more than 4,480 deaths and 32,000 wounded.  The monetary cost is estimated at least $2.2 Trillion.  According to the website, Iraq Body Count, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians would die violently.  No estimates as to the count of wounded or the cost of property damage in the region.  After starting a war for the very first time in our history, I ask myself: 

Was it worth it?

PS: No weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were ever found.



PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Reba McEntire: read more at and and SCOTUS Blog:; do re mi with sign:; Soda and the Statue of Liberty cartoon: Otto the autopilot (with Leslie Nielsen and Robert Hays) helps fly the plane in the 1980 film “Airplane!” / Paramount Pictures:; 550px-Revive-a-Dead-Laptop-Battery-Step-4 wikihow:; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011): and Sonny Kappor’s quote: and and Dev-Patel-and-Judi-Dench_photograph Ishika Mohan: and marigold pic (happy-new-year-with-gendha-phool):; Iraq war facts and figures: and; Photo Credit: us-military-personnel-prepare-for-departure-from-the-sather-air-base-on-december-15-2011-in-baghdad –

happy-new-year-with-gendha-phool inset 150 by 150

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About dan4kent

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dan lives in the Chicagoland area. With a grown son from a previous marriage, he has since built a committed relationship of 34 years with his partner Rick, the Love of his Life. Having written his whole life, he blogged the past 7-years because he has to write…he can’t help it. Know the feeling? There’s ‘good‘ to be found in all of it. “If all I do is leave someone (or something) better than I found them, then I’ve done my part. Thanks for letting me grace your screen, if only for a little while.”
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6 Responses to OTTO PILOT

  1. wisejourney says:

    Go Sonny and dan…… Que sera sera ….

  2. I had a similar problem with my computer last month. I was tearing my hair out sad I know but to me as a writer it was the end of the world… even more sad … maybe the universe was telling me to get a life. My Hubby suggested calmly to the screaming mess I had become that I step away from the computer slowly and we take it to the computer shop the next day. we went and I was never so embarrassed in my life, he did one diddy simple things 10 secs if that an it came back on lol. Great post you have my sympathies.

    • dan4kent says:

      Thanks Athena — I’m grinning from ear to ear hearing of your experience with the 10-second solve. Congrats to you and your husband for walking things back a bit. The Universe is, in fact, a fickle mistress. On behalf of Otto and the rest of the gang, travel well. Dan

  3. purplemary54 says:

    I’m sick, and we had to get a new water heater today because I noticed yesterday that the old one was leaking (and leaning, since the wood underneath had broken/rotted out). So I am aware of this Mecury-in-retrograde level of annoyances you speak of. And I need to thank you again for having my epiphanies for me; it’s so much easier when someone else does the work. Remind me to send you a fruit basket, or something. I’ve been trying to reset myself with limited success for years, and now I know all I have to do is take the batteries out. Now I just need to figure out where they are.

    Regarding your passages, war is never worth it (not even so-called “good” wars like WWII). Nothing is worth that much loss of life and destruction of history/art/property/nature. I join you with a prayer for every life needlessly lost in this conflict.

    • dan4kent says:

      Good to hear your update and ‘ditto’ on the task of finding where the batteries are so they can be removed to enable the ‘reset’. My hunch is it’s easier to travel well now that you’ve got good hot water. Be well. Dan

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