I am at my auntie and uncle’s house for dinner. I like visiting Auntie Wei and Uncle Wang. They both love hosting visitors. Auntie Wei is also an outstanding cook and her dinners typically showcase the best of northern Chinese cuisine. Although their house is small, it has a very large kitchen. This kitchen has a neon sign on the wall that says ‘Oriental Gourmet Kitchen’ and Auntie Wei likes to stand in the kitchen stirring food that is in bain-maries.
She always makes Uncle Wang and me queue up so that she can serve us lemon chicken and sweet and sour pork. When I arrive at the house, dinner is served very quickly, as usual. Over dinner, Auntie Wei tells me that her life sometimes seems quite similar to a Hollywood movie. Auntie Wei lived in a remote village in the Gobi Desert until only a year ago so I think it is interesting that she feels that her life has some similarities to a Hollywood movie so I ask her what kind of movie and she says any movie made by National Lampoon. Me, I think my life sometimes seems quite similar to a Dungeons and Dragons game but I decide to keep that thought to myself. Auntie Wei then explains to me that she watches Star Trek films when she wants escapism but when she wants reality she watches National Lampoon films. Uncle Wang suddenly says that he has been getting an intriguing dose of escapism lately by volunteering as a subject for neural interfacing research. He is required to go to a university lab three times a week and be wired directly to a computer. I come from a family of high achievers so it is no surprise to me that my uncle might have a bi-directional interface between his nervous system and a computer. But then Uncle Wang confesses that the computer he is being connected to is only a 386 DX/33 that runs Microsoft Word 5 so he finds it all a bit slow. Then Uncle Wang suddenly starts saying over and over:
// Copy text into clipboard
HANDLE hMem = ::GlobalAlloc(GMEM_MOVEABLE|GMEM_DDESHARE,
if (!hMem) return;
LPSTR lpStr = (LPSTR)::GlobalLock(hMem);
AfxMessageBox(“Failed to open the clipboard!”);
Auntie Wei and I are alarmed at this sudden change in Uncle Wang. However, I have a solid background in IT so I begin to repair Uncle Wang while Auntie Wei clears the table. I soon discover that those university researchers have done quite a little number on him. It actually takes me almost 3 hours to repair Uncle Wang, but the gist of the repairs can be summarised in the following MacGyver-style
montage: Tom opening Uncle Wang’s head / Tom using a soldering iron / Tom driving to a local computer store to get new parts / Tom cutting wires / Tom wiping sweat from his brow / Tom using a boot disk to start up his uncle / Tom de-bugging various C++ programs / Tom closing Uncle Wang’s head. It is past midnight by the time I have finished and my auntie and uncle are very grateful. They thank me for my hard work. I tell them that it is my pleasure. I hug them and it is time to go. I say goodbye and turn to leave. But before I can leave, an army of orcs suddenly enters the house and attacks us. It is a classic Dungeons and Dragons scenario. I immediately cast a Fireball that kills the entire army. Uncle Wang and I are unharmed but Auntie Wei has lost a few Hit Points so before I leave I cure her with a Potion of Healing.