In our increasingly complex world, we need someone to give us practical advice. 

Dear Mr. Fix-It:

My computer completely crashed. I lost three full-length novels and two haikus. Decades of writing down the drain. Is there any way I can recover my masterpieces? Signed, Desperate.

Dear Desperate:

I worked in IT for 30 years and there’s one surefire way to solve every computer problem. First, locate your power button. Now, turn your computer off. OK, count to 10 Mississippi and re-start your computer. Voila! All of your writing is now restored, including the two haikus.

Dear Mr. Fix-It:

My check engine light is on and I need to turn it off so I can pass my vehicle emission test. I’m worried that there might be some kind of safety problem, or that my car is polluting the environment. Should I take it to a mechanic? Signed, Clunker Owner

Dear Clunker Owner:

Do you have any idea how much car repairs cost? Here is the best way to solve your problem. Locate your car’s power source. In most cases it’s the battery. Disconnect the battery. Count to 10 Mississippi and reconnect it. When you start your car, the check engine light will be off. Drive immediately to the nearest testing station, before it goes back on. 

Dear Mr. Fix-It:

My wife is deeply devoted to me, which is perfectly understandable. But it gets embarrassing sometimes the way she gushes about me in public — especially if she’s had a glass of red wine. Do you have any suggestions? It’s not like I can stop being wonderful. Signed, Mr. Wonderful.

Dear Mr. Wonderful:

This can be a serious problem, particularly at parties. I recommend you locate your wife’s power source — in her case it’s a glass of red wine. Now substitute a glass of sparkling water. This will re-boot your wife’s emotions. She will still gaze at you adoringly but the gushing should stop.

Dear Mr. Fix-It:

My 2-year-old son, Warren, is out of control. I took him for ice cream yesterday and he was sitting quietly eating his vanilla kiddie-cone. I looked at my phone for one second and suddenly he’s behind the counter, waiting on customers. He is such a handful! Signed, Frazzled.

Dear Frazzled:

It sounds like Warren is going through his “terrible two” stage. I recommend you locate his power source — in his case vanilla ice cream. Remove the kiddie cone and substitute something boring, like dry toast. This will make him sleepy. When he gets up from his nap, his brain will be completely re-booted. From now on, he will sit quietly in restaurants, coloring his kids’ menu. And I guarantee he won’t work behind the counter of an ice cream parlor until he’s 16.

Dear Mr. Fix-It:

I’m always forgetting my usernames and passwords. I can’t access my checking account, make online purchases, or activate my phone because I can never remember which password to use. I’m so frustrated — why do I need to remember the name of my first pet to check my email? Signed, Sparky.

Dear Sparky:

I’m Mr. Fix-It, not Mr. Miracle Worker.

Dear Mr. Fix-It:

I have to write a newspaper column every week. It’s hard work. Any ideas? Signed, Burned-Out

Dear Burned-Out:

Re-booting won’t work for you, as you obviously haven’t had an original idea in years. I recommend you try my Artificial Intelligence App. All you do is enter a generic topic like “Thanksgiving” and the AI app will write a soulless, grammatically-correct column. Readers might miss your personal take on the topic but it sure beats straining your brain.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.