Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WORK, Dammit!

Several months ago, through the disputable wonder that is Facebook, I reconnected with an old friend. And the timing was fortuitous. As it happened, she was only weeks away from traveling to the L.A. area to see her Dad. So, we made plans to get together.

On the day of our scheduled reunion, I found myself cleaning my apartment in anticipation of catching up with someone I hadn’t seen in 30 years. While reloading the Swiffer Duster, I thought about priming the CD player for a song that was part of our adolescent experience back in the mid-70s. But then I got sidetracked by the vacuum cleaner…

Later, after her arrival – which found us jumping up and down outside my apartment building as we squealed and hugged and squealed some more – we were settled on my living room couch in rapid-fire catch-up mode. On the one hand, it seemed as if we had been talking together only yesterday. On the other hand, we each had three decades worth of personal history to share.

At a certain point, I remembered the idea of providing a soundtrack from our youth.

“Hold on!” I said, interrupting our conversation. “I gotta find a CD.”

I then ran to my bedroom to retrieve the disc, and I quickly returned to set it up in the living room player.

My sound system, though, would not be cooperative. Sure, it would make busy moves, and it would click to convey that busy-ness, but no song was delivered as a result of its efforts.

I tried a few maneuvers that, in the past, had helped to kick the CD player into submission.

And then… I simply took a few steps back, looked at the machine intently, and yelled, “WORK, Dammit!”

Immediately, we heard the tender opening notes of Harry Chapin’s Taxi.

“I’ve got it on voice command,” I told my friend, smiling smartly.

If only.

(Voice command, my ass.)

The fact of the matter is this: I have a love/hate relationship with anything that involves a cord.

The love comes from what I get from the technology: music; netflix; the opportunity to share my writing in cyberspace; quick communication with my clients; and so on. The hate comes from the possibility that, at any moment, something could go wrong with that technology, and I feel completely powerless in those moments of malfunction.

More than two weeks ago, I bought an external hard drive, and then… I let it sit on the table for 10 days. I dreaded opening the box and going through the procedure of setting it up. Why? Because I might confront a problem.

(I’m still hoping to meet and fall in love with an IT Guy, but until that happens, I’m screwed.)

Finally, the other night, I got bold and took on the project of setting up the external hard drive. And as I was going through the install procedure (and, for the most part, it wasn’t difficult), I had an AHA! moment regarding technology and me. It is this: I don’t CARE how it works! Technology is simply not something I want to LEARN.

And that is very much the problem.

I am absolutely learning-oriented, and technology flies directly into the face of my modus operandi.

If I don’t care, then I’m not interested.

And if there is not a learning opportunity (that I care about – from my gut), then I’m definitely not going to stick around for all the hairy details.


End of discussion.

I don’t care what’s making the damn computer and all its software work. I don’t care if it’s a microchip or a fucking hamster on a treadmill. I don’t know megas from gigas, and I don’t even want to hear about them. You can just take that chatter to another Gates.

And speaking of names… the other night, after I plugged in the external hard drive and had moved on to the screen that allowed me to backup (but not to the 60s, unfortunately), the window indicated that the computer from which the hard drive was retrieving files was KATIENEW.

Seeing that title really jarred me for a minute. I swear, I have no idea where it got my name. (I know I didn’t introduce myself!)

But… maybe I shouldn’t complain.

It could have said KATIEOLD.

... I recently was sent an hysterical YouTube video that speaks to my frame of mind. It's about a Medieval Helpdesk, and the subtitles are therefore in English.

I just tried to load the YouTube here, and I am growing increasingly impatient. So, here's the link:

... I'm over it. I'm just.. over it!


Anonymous said...

This post made me smile. I am always the one other people ask about computers, DVD players etc. I am not an expert but I do love to find out how things work. I have my limits of course. After ten years, I gave up hands-on web design because I reached a level where I really didn't want to learn any more new technology in that area.It moves on so fast.
My friend and colleague has your level of IT/Machine patience and has no interest in how the thing works, "Just get it working!" she cries.
Love the YouTube clip - just sums it all up really.:-)

cj Schlottman said...

katie, i'm with you all the way, don't care HOW it works, just THAT it works.. i've had particular problems with external hard drives.

as usual, your words are clear and paint a great picture in my mind.


Jules said...

LOL. I hear you girl. But I on the other hand have took the leap and actually tried to make friends with my hamster on the wheel.

So far so good, but I have found that how to get the hamster poop out of the case is not in the manual. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Green Monkey said...

big, right on, smile! (I'm trying to bring "right on" to the east coast)

so many things I liked about this post. first of all, I love how the title deceived me. and when you finally met your friend, I too got excited. I have an external drive, still in its packaging, its staring at me right now (stop looking at me external hard drive!!!) Katie, I think I've had it for atlas 3 months.

yes, I too chose not learn technology. although I'm proud to say that I know how to sync my ipod! and, I can work my portable tom tom.

when you said that you don't like anything with a cord, I thought...well, thank god for batteries! (if you know what I mean)

okay, time for coffee, so glad I started my day with you!

Cheryl said...

I used to love IT crap. Then I didn't. I married well in the IT department. Still too stubborn to ask for help. That video summed it all up for me. I forget so fast, what's the point?

Annie (Lady M) x said...

How bloody cool is that.. meeting a chum that you haven't seen in years! I had the same thing happen to me this week.. a friend telephoned me after 18 years and we just chatted away as though no time had passed at all.... sign of a true friend!

Lily Johnson said...

Hahaha! You had it on voice command!? Anyway, i have problems with eletronics and stuff too but i have an IT guy for a brother. I met a long lost friend on Facebook too and we were exicted but when it came to visitation, she just disappeared! Funny right? She wasn't a real friend afterall.

Sioux Roslawski said...

First of all, one of my all-time favorite concerts was the only time I got to see Harry Chapin...His ballads were unbeatable, and his concert was so intimate and funny and poignant, all at the same time. His death left a huge void in my musical life.

Secondly, I am still bamboozled with how records (remember those plastic flat things with the tiny hole in the middle?)work. Fax machines...Telephones...Internet...People try to explain how they work, and my eyes glaze over. I have a smartboard in my classroom, but I manage to get it into weird messes, to the point that my kids call it the "Dumb board" even though I am constantly mumbling, "It's not the computer that's dumb, it's the operator..."

Your posts make me laugh as well as think...The best kind of blog, in my opinion.

Patricia said...

Oh Katie I am so happy I just read your calmed me right down - back to the reality of my physical world. For you see my computer is running really slowly these is definitely moved into senior citizen is cranky too...
Then I am fund raising for an k-6 school that has no computers for the children and the librarian has to bring her computer from home to teach as do all the other teachers ( how do you teach about discernment with no computers to teach about?) no wonder these students are bored..

I spent 3 hours on the phone trying to get the price of a laptop for the teacher...and find out if there was a discount...Still no discount quote until they see the money!

Today 3 hours to find out it will take $800.00 to disconnect my house phone because it is a business phone # which will have to sold back to the original company and turned in to residential phone again and we will lose the phone number if we are not careful ( which is my husband's birthday and we have had this number for 33 years) Who changed it to a business phone? I guess the company that severed our phone lines into the house and then would not fix the problem...??? Another 3 hours lost today...I would not turn off the phone if I had the money to pay $48 a month for service...
IT Girl has deadlines for her thesis outlines coming up for approval - she is not even using the logmein program right now to help me...

How is all this stuff getting easier and easier...I have to use my own paper to keep track of statements...this just saves the company money..

and now I have a 1 month job evaluating grants for kids and my job is to find the things that don't add up to assisting and helping children learn and grow and be I don't even have time to read all my favorite blogs and comment until mid- November which means I am miss moments like this that I can truly relate to...
Harry Chapin we need a new ballad or two...soon.

Linda Medrano said...

Katie, I am married to a geek. We have every piece of tech equipment that anyone can think of. And it changes constantly. I am the most low tech woman to ever walk in a pair of stilettos. He starts the "geek speak" at me and my eyes glaze over and I stick my fingers in my ears and sing "I can't hear you" loud over and over. This is hysterical!

Anonymous said...

I have just been reading through all these comments and just had to say that, while I am IT savvy, my husbnand is not. Yes he uses a computer and an ipod etc. No, he doesn't know how they work and he once had to call our youngest son up at University to ask him how to work the DVD player. (To be fair, Steven had changed a few leads when he was last home.)

My husband's mother on the other hand, is 81 years old and has always been 'gadget-happy'. She was electconically opening cans when the rest of us were using hammer and chisel!
She had a Nintendo when my children craved one and wouldn't let them use it very often in case they messed up her high scores. She has a laptop and uses email, spreadsheets and surfs the web. Her latest coup is her ipod onto which she downloads e-books from the library. Go mother-in-law!

BECKY said...

You and I are kindred spirits, soul sisters, etc! I do NOT want to learn things that do not interest me or I do not understand. That explains my lack of mathematical skills over...let's say....Grade 6. I'm like that with insurance stuff, too. It's like trying to read a foreign language! Thanks for making me laugh out loud!!

Deb Shucka said...

I have the same love/hate relationship with technology. Even married to a tech guy doesn't always rescue me from its black hole energy. The logic is so beyond anything I consider logical. I just want it to work, dammit!

What a gift - the visit from your friend. Facebook does have its pluses.