IBM images. (new product announcements, computer programs) (column) Susan Glinert-Cole.
Ah, February...that most lugubrious month. Cars don't drive during February, they slide sideways on streets covered with the refrozen leavings of the occasional snowplow. Ingress to the car is usually preceded by a protracted session with an ice scrapper, that is, if you were foresighted enough to take it out of the car before the friendly skies of February encased the automobile in six inches of transparent steel (melting point 32 [deg.] Fahrenheit, 0 [deg.] Celsius and 273 [deg.] Kelvin).
In an occasional burst of optimism I unchain the ice scraper from my wrist before proceeding with the duties of the day. The penalty for this mental lapse is two hours of hard labor grooming the windshield with a credit card. The FimbleCharge people gossip at great length about number 4129-544-54325, who required seventeen credit card replacements in February.
The pleasant slide home is followed by an equally amusing bout with the woodstove effluvia. The smell of melting nylon parka signals that the casing of ice around this writer has thawed sufficiently to permit normal movement. There are sound accompaniments to February too--the heart-rending moan of an exhausted battery, the clickity-click of the ligher as the owner of four frozen door locks warms up the car key, less polite noises when the water meter, in a frenzy of thermodynamic reaction, cracks wide open. So, to get into the spirit of the season, so to speak, we cheerfully present... Death And Taxes
Lassen Software of Chico, CA has a little package for do-it-yourself wills. (The Chico Town Council, by the way, recently passed an ordinance that provides a penalty of six months in jail and/or a $1000 fine for anyone caught dropping a nuclear device on the town.) It is tastefully packaged in an unobtrusive pearl gray disk box. They might have chosen a sombre black for the exterior, but no, they lightened things up a bit with the pale gray.
The Box contains one disk (sombre black), a manual (medium tan), and quick installation instructions for people who don't like to read manuals (or are running this program in the final moments before dropping into that great Bit Bucket in the Sky). The program was designed by an attorney specializing in wills and trusts.
The manual, which reminds you that the will generated by this program is not valid in the state of Louisiana, is easy to read and thoughtfully written; it takes a good tone about the whole subject without being either threatening or cute. There is also a glossary of legal terms used in the text, for those of us who are unused to talking in terms of pretermitted intestacies regarding escheat under duress. Explanations are provided for all the questions asked in the program. A sample will (the Last Will and Testament of Han Solo) is presented and analyzed paragraph by paragraph. (In case you were wondering, he left all his household articles to his wife, Princess Leia. One kid, Luke, made out with the space cruiser and the light saber. The second one, Chewbacca, was obviously a prodigal son; he wasn't the direct recipient of any goods or chattels.)