Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Jason glanced at the screen and gasped. "What happened?!"
"I don't know," Julie responded. "The lights blinked and then the computer went 'beep' and then this screen came on."

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#58- M.F.B.?

A Character story about gratefulness.

The twins were really enjoying their new computer in the days following Christmas. At least Jason was. Julie wanted to play with it too but found that her turn was often cut short.
"Jason," she remarked in frustration one day, "how come when it's my turn, your turn always needs to be longer, but when it's your turn, I need to quit right on time, or even early?"
"I'm just - a - punctual person, I guess." he continued to type without looking up.
"Well your turn was over five minutes ago and I'm ready right now. How about showing me a little of your punctuality."
"Yeah, O.K. I'll give you a chance in just a few minutes. I just want to finish typing this e-mail to Jonathan."
"I've heard that one before too."
"Honest. I'm just about done. I just want to tell him the stats on this computer."
"Judging by the length of the letter, you must have already told him what everyone got, ate, and wore for Christmas." Julie sat down and leafed through a computer book but soon gave up trying to understand the jargon.
"O.K. You're time is really up," she fussed, with growing impatience. "You're already ten minutes into my time."
"Sh-h-h-h-h! I can't talk and concentrate on typing at the same time."
A few more minutes passed and finally Jason grinned and announced its completion. "There. My first long e-mail to someone else. I'm going to get Dad so I can show him how to send it."
"I think he already knows," Julie responded as Jason exited, calling for his father. Shortly Mr. Jensen followed Jason into the dining room where the computer was set up. Jason glanced at the screen and gasped. "What happened?!"
"I don't know," Julie responded. "The lights blinked and then the computer went 'beep' and then this screen came on."
"Oh, no! Don't tell me I lost all that work!"
"I'm afraid so," Mr. Jensen affirmed. "If the power went off, even for a second, then whatever you had in the RAM memory was lost for good."
"Well, that's a bum deal. What good is it to type anything in if the stupid thing is going to erase it?"
"Now just calm down, Son. It isn't useless if you learn a lesson from it. I told you before that the cardinal rule of the computer is MFB- make frequent backups."
"Yeah, and I was going to do that as soon as I finished it."
"But if you had saved it every few minutes as I told you, then you would not have lost much when the power fluctuated. It only takes a few seconds, but it can save you hours of time and frustration."
"Daddy," Julie asked, "how come the computer forgets some things when it's turned off, but it remembers other things, like the DOS prompt?"
"That's a good question, and shows that you're thinking and observant. The computer has two kinds of memory, the RAM which stands for 'random access memory' and the ROM which means 'read only memory.' The ROM was build into the computer by the manufacturer and cannot be changed. The ROM would be like this book. All the pages are filled and bound together. It would take a lot of effort to change its contents. The RAM on the other hand is much more temporary. It is a set of memory chips that can store whatever you want into them but only while the power is on. RAM would be like a diary. A diary is a blank book to keep track of someone's thoughts, feelings, things like that. One person's diary would be completely different from another's, as one computer program could be completely different from another. However, unlike the diary, the computer RAM memory can be easily erased and used for something else."
"Easily is right," Jason grumped.
"This is why we need to make frequent backups on the disk. The RAM contents can be stored permanently with the SAVE command and then later, if the RAM is emptied for some reason, it can be quickly retrieved. The disk would be like a diary all filled in, only disks can also be erased."
"Well then, how does the computer remember what time it is, even when the power is off?"
"Another good question. The computer has a small rechargeable battery inside that keeps power to this part of the memory. If the battery stopped working, it wouldn't remember the time either."
"Hmmm," Julie said. "I think sometimes in school when I'm taking a test, my brain is more like RAM than ROM. When I'm trying to remember what I studied, sometimes it seems like the power just went off and I lost it all."
"I know the feeling," Mr. Jensen chuckled. "But we know that the brain does 'make frequent backups' so to speak. In fact, the more you go over something, the more permanently it is stored there. This is why the Lord wants us to meditate on His Word, so that we have His words fresh in our minds all the time. Remember GIGO?"
Julie looked puzzled but Jason said, "I remember. It means 'garbage in-garbage out.'"
"Right. I see your RAM didn't have a power failure that time, Jason," Mr. Jensen teased.
"I remembered that because some guys at school were talking about looking at dirty magazines. When they offered to include me, I told them I didn't want that garbage in my mind. When I said 'garbage', I thought of GIGO- what you put in is what you get out."
"Good for you, Jason. I'm proud of you for doing right, even when you have to take a stand against your peers. There's another lesson in this too. You both know how quickly the computer can empty its RAM memory, even of good things. If you don't have the information stored on the disk, then you just have to start over. It's important for each of us to keep track of the blessings the Lord has given us, things like special answers to prayer, or special provisions He makes. If we don't write these things down, we might forget them. The diaries of some of the great Christians of the past have been a real encouragement to others many years after the writers died. But of greater benefit is the encouragement you can receive when you're reminded of what God has done for you personally in the past. Your diary or journal becomes like a backup disk for things you won't want to forget."
"That's a good reminder, Dad," Jason remarked. "I've kind of gotten away from keeping my journal up to date. I'm going to write this lesson about the computer in it this afternoon while it's still fresh." He smiled and his dad smiled back. "Well, Julie, it's well past time for your turn. Just don't forget to make frequent backups. There's no point in having to learn this lesson the hard way twice."

1. What is the next number in this series: 1, 8, 27, 64, __
2. What do these two sentences have in common? Madam, I'm Adam. A man, a plan, a canal- Panama!



ANSWERS: 1. The first is 1 x 1 x 1, the second is 2 x 2 x 2, etc. so the missing number would be 5 x 5 x 5 which is 125.
2. Both sentences are palindromes. A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sentence in which the letters (not counting spaces) are in the same order backwards or forwards. Words like noon, peep, toot, sees, and redivider also qualify. Can you think of others? How about this sentence: Straw? No, too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts!