I play computer solitaire. A lot. I started playing solitaire when I wrote a weekly column.  I found it relaxed my brain just enough to let the ideas I had roaming around take root and form themselves into something I could write about.  Some people fold laundry or wash dishes (by hand, of course, or it defeats the purpose).  I came upon solitaire as the almost mindless activity to cook writing ideas.  My hands are engaged and minimal brain activity is required.  I've been using this technique for years now, trying to avoid any sense of competition with myself, or the game, for higher scores.   ( I do confess, I have at times succumbed to the, shall I say, addictive quality of the game, but that is another matter.)

Yesterday morning, going through my usual routine of coffee, dog on the lap, feet on the desk and reading my email and the NYTimes e-newspaper, I started my next task (don't laugh) of pulling up solitaire to get my brain in the mood for writing.  But, lo and behold!  e gads! somehow the computer decided to switch me from the easy paced, who cares what the score is, standard game to the Las Vegas version, which has a totally different scoring system, and, worse and worser! it takes away the points you have earned if you are not quick enough to add to the score.  No lolly-gagging in this cruel version.  I'd go along at my usual slow pace, because, after all this is a device to help relax my brain, not engage it in Olympic style competition.  I became agitated.  A call to my husband/computer guru resulted in me losing most of my points during the course of the conversation.  What the......

So, then it got more interesting.  He, the guru, sent me an email while we were conversing.  I opened the email and a click here and there, and voila! I had given over control of my laptop to my husband who at the time was several miles away.  He somehow (magically, I believe) wrests control of the aberrant solitaire game, waves his magic wand over the hidden waves of whatever technological wonders that makes this thing work and returns my lazy paced, who cares what the score is game to my laptop.

Yes, I was relieved.  But..... How did the game just decide to switch to the Las Vegas scoring without me knowing?   How did I lose whatever illusion of control I had over my humble laptop when my husband could just extend his reach 35 miles and fix it?  And then, when I got up from my desk chair to make another cup of coffee, my darling Frankie, (he's my small dog, in case you were wondering) hops into my seat.  Control, huh.  The ultimate illusion.