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Many years ago there lived a wise couple. The two of them planned to run a restaurant, but their plans were foiled before they completed their task. When the building of the restaurant was almost built there was a vast forest fire that caused the price of wood to suddenly spike, and the poor couple could not procure enough planks to complete their floor. You can't receive customers when you don't have a floor. If there are no customers then there is no income. This meant that there would be no income to buy the expensive needed floor boarding. The only thing that increased was their debt.

1. The mysterious set up

One day God observed the wise couple and said to them.
"It seems that you are in real trouble, so I will grant you one wish."
The couple rejoiced for this that they had not even dreamed of, but they asked that they could hold off their request until the next morning so they could consider. After god had said yes he left them for the night.

The next day when God appeared to the couple again they asked him to grant them a curious set up for the restaurant. This request seemed so strange that he thought it would not really be very useful for them. Because he knew they were in need of floorboards, he was surprised and checked with them again if this was really their wish or not saying that this was their only request he would grant. However, from that day forward their restaurant became very prosperous. Since then no one was ever seen taking floor boards into the restaurant. How in the world could they possibly take in customers without floor boards?

One of the customers said that the floor of the restaurant was painted jet black and could not tell if there were really floor boards or not. To summarize the witnesses at the restaurant this is how the story was going.

When a customer arrived at the door he first saw the jet black floor and hesitated for a moment as if wondering whether or not to go in. But the couple told him that there was nothing wrong, then he moved ahead. Even after walking into the restaurant he was still wondering if there were really floor boards or not. He asked the couple if there was a hole in the floor. The couple in reply laughed and said, "Of course not, we wouldn't have our customers in such a place". As the customer was then assured of this fact he took step forward and found his foot to be firmly on the floor. With the worry dismissed the customer soon walked around the store freely.

2. How to use the set up (trick)

This couple's request made to God for the set up was like this. "When a customer comes into the restaurant and he is about to stumble time is held still in the place and the couple is signaled about this time lapse". In fact the floor had many holes and sooner or later someone would step off the floor boards. When a customer was about to step off he was frozen in time as if he were a motionless mannequin. The husband raised his foot and the wife ran off to remove a floor board from another place placing it under the foot of the customer. The couple then gave a light push to the customer's back by which the time lapse was broken and the customer took his step safely. This trick was done in a time lapse and the customer then believed that the floor was complete. By the way you might think that if the couple had to do this every time the customer walked there would be no time for cooking. However, after the first few times the customer stumbled he seldom did again because the customer, indeed, walked only on a certain course in the restaurant. After the couple did this for a while they purchased more wood and the restaurant was completed.

3. The wise man's wisdom living in the present

This wisdom is used in computer systems in modern times. Most computers have the same kind of set up as the restaurant, but instead of the couple switching the floorboards the work in the computer is done by software called a "kernel". Instead of floor boards the gaps are filled with memory and that is the only difference.

For the computer program to act the computer needs a lot of memory. But because it is so expensive the amount of memory equiped on a usual computer is very small. However, a "kernel" can make the computer operate as if it had much greater memory capacity than it really has. What is more, it can also make the programming itself much easier because if you use a "kernel" you don't have to make the trouble of formulating the program with a limited, small portion of memory. You can use your knowledge to reach a higher level of operation. It is just like this wise man in the restaurant, the customer can enjoy the scenery and the food because he/she doesn't have to worry about the floor boards. It helps us to accomplish a higher purpose.

Why didn't the couple ask for the floor boards themselves? That is because someone else would have to give up their floorboards for their sake. It was not the desire of the couple to take from others.

The wise couple knew that the resources that they needed would be very expensive at any time. The most valuable thing to learn from them is the wisdom of how to use resources. If we use these very wisely we can use limited resources effectively and efficiently.

Because they were truly a wise couple their wisdom goes useful beyond their own time. [1996]

2002 Translated by Takayoshi SASAKI.
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Copyright 1996 Shigio YAMAGUCHI. All rights reserved.