Ella Minnow Pea Redux or, My keys won’ work

Computer keyboard, view from down
Computer keyboard, view from down (Photo credit: Wikipedia). By Orange.man (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Computer problems. They happen. They happened to me last week. Bad ones, very bad.

I acted with my usual grace under pressure, but I don’t want to talk about them.

I will, however, repost a story I first shared in 2010, about the first time my keyboard malfunctioned. I was preparing a post when it went wonky, proving a major inconvenience more to my readers than to me, because I put it online anyway.

To assist today’s readers, I’ll start with an introduction:

While I was writing, laptop keys stopped working–one at a time, in no particular order. No matter how hard or in which direction I tapped, they didn’t depress, and nothing appeared on the screen. After muttering for a few minutes, I decided to keep a-goin’. The next I called technical service, was told I could replace the keyboard myself, visited to Radio Shack for tools, used them and nearly stripped a screw, called tech service,received a visit from a tech, got a quick fix and an offer to do whatever else the laptop needed while he was there. He installed several Gbs of memory I hadn’t known what to do with.

An easily replaceable keyboard isn’t usually much to worry about, but in my keyboard’s case, there were extenuating circumstances, and I didn’t look forward to anyone poking around underneath. The tech might think what was under there caused the malfunction. He might give me a look of reproof, even a mild reprimand.

William Davis & Bookworm
William Davis & Bookworm

I would have to stand there and take it, blushing all the while. Love of truth would prevent me from saying my husband did it.

To learn why I’d have blushed, you’ll have to read to the end.

Here’s a bit of help: A single e might mean tech. But it might not. An a might mean a or something else.

More help: It wasn’t cat hair.

*****

Wa do you do wen your keyboard malfunions?

Wen my spae bar sopped working, I aed online wi Dell e suppor.  e e old me I would reeie a new keyboard in e mail. I was supposed o insall i.

“Me?” I said. “Insall a keyboard?”

e e said i would be a snap. If I needed elp, e would walk me roug i.

I go e keyboard and looked up e insruions, wi said I ad o unsrew e bak. I jus knew I would be eleroued.

Bu I boug a se of srewdriers a RadioSak and flipped e lapop oer, remoed e baery, and aaked e srews.

e srews wouldn’ budge. I exanged a srewdrier for anoer srewdrier. I used all six. None of em worked.

I wen online again o a wi Dell. e e lisened, en old me o ry again.

I oug abou e definiion aribued o Einsein: Insaniy is doing e same ing oer and oer and expeing a differen resul.

“I wouldn’ urn,” I old e e.

He said e would send a e ou o e ouse o insall e keyboard for me. (I’m no dummy. Wen I boug e lapop, I boug a e o go wi i.)

Anyway, e nex day a e ame. He go ou is se of 3500 srewdriers, remoed e srews, ook off e old keyboard, and insalled e new one. He said I didn’ ave e rig size srewdrier. en e asked wa else I needed.

“I know you don’ ae an order for is, bu ould you wa me insall is exra memory a Dell e said I’m ompenen o insall myself?” He said e’d o i for me. I oug a was ery swee.

Anyway, i’s appened again, exep is ime i’s more an e spaebar. I’s e , , , and  keys.

I’e used anned air. So far all i’s done is make ings worse. Wen I began, only e  key was ou.

How an I wrie wiou a keyboard?

So tomorrow I’ll chat with my Dell tech and–

Well, mercy me. I took a half-hour break and now all the keys are working again. I wonder what that was all about.

Nevertheless, I shall report the anomaly. Call me an alarmist, but I don’t want this to happen a third time when I’m preparing a manuscript for submission. If the keyboard should be replaced, I want it replaced now.

But still–I’m torn. If I do need a new keyboard, I want a tech to make a house call. I don’t have the proper screwdriver, I don’t know the size screwdriver to buy, and I don’t want to tamper with something that is still under warranty.

On the other hand, I have to consider the worst-case scenario: He takes out his screwdriver, loosens the screws, turns the laptop over, removes the keyboard, and sees lurking there beneath the metal and plastic plate the reason for my current technical distress: rumbs.

e same, e earae, e disgrae a being found guily of su a soleism. e prospe is oo illing o spell ou.

Bu for the sake of ar, I sall submi myself o e proud man’s onumely. omorrow I sall a wi Dell.

Addiction, Facebook, Doctors, Pigs, and Zombies

I confess: I’m hooked.

IMG_2800
By kathywaller1. All rights reserved.

The computer is a Kathy magnet. It wasn’t so bad until 2008, when I replaced a forty-hour work week with a laptop and my husband installed wi-fi. The Internet brings so many fine blogs and other attractions into my living room, where I sit with my feet up and examine them all; email can take up an entire day, if I leave it open while working.

Doubters would say that what I do isn’t working. I disagree. Negotiating the web is fatiguing. Commenting draws a lot of energy. I don’t want to write something that will be misunderstood; I don’t want to leave typos or incorrect punctuation; I don’t want to sound stupid.

Example: The previous sentence initially read, I want to sound stupid. It’s easy to mess up online.

Political posts on Facebook leave me just wo-ahn out. There’s the writing, of course, which is draining, but there’s also the emotion. Righteous indignation requires energy. Restraint requires more. After exercising restraint for several months, I stopped logging on. But there are friends and acquaintances–no, they’re not all friends–I want, and need, to keep up with. I like knowing how my great-niece’s first year of school is going. I like knowing that in the doctor’s waiting room when she was four, she suddenly came out with, “DOOOOOOOOOMED. We’re all DOOOOOOOOOMED.” Her fourteen-year-old brother wasn’t impressed, but I was. Her pronouncements remind me we’re not all doooooooomed.

Anyway, I logged onto FB today, discovered a post about a remark a sexist pig made on a pseudo news program, and was moved to share the post and a rousing Jeremiad of my own.

I didn’t address my remark to the sexist pig, nor did I call him one. I saved the phrase for this post. I merely suggested that his comments reinforce the ignorance and the bigotry of listeners who agree with him. Plus a couple of other salient thoughts.

Then I copied my remarks and pasted them into a Word document for future publication somewhere, perhaps here. They were scathing, simply scathing, but reasoned and polite, and they deserve a wider audience.

Another example: I’m getting all het up here just recalling the incident. Molecules of emotion surge through my body. I am giving the sexist pig power over me. That isn’t good.

Yesterday I heard a segment of a call-in program on NPR about the downside of computer technology on the culture. I’ve seen one of the effects on medicine already. When my former doctor’s practice installed computers in examining rooms, he stopped looking at me and started looking at the screen. So, to a lesser degree, did a specialist I consulted. They were excellent clinicians, and the latter possibly saved my life by doing surgery that only she and I thought I needed.*

But there’s  information to be drawn from faces as well as from words, on both sides of a conversation. Eyes transmit confidence and sympathy and a number of other messages. With the Party of the First Part looking at the side of the Party of the Second Part’s Head (or, as once happened, the back of his white coat), and the Party of the Second Part looking at a screen and typing away, I wonder whether the two Parties make sufficient connection.

The internist I see now has no computer in the examining room. He taps here and there on a Palm Pilot (or something; it has a light on it for closer examination of funny-shaped moles, plus, it appears, an entire pharmacopoeia; I hope it’s not an iPhone). But he sits near me and looks me in the eye, and I reciprocate, and we get along very well.

He also asks at every visit how the writing is going, thus allowing me to infer he remembers something about me that isn’t in the file. It probably is in the file, maybe scrawled inside the cover of the folder, but as long as I haven’t seen it, it isn’t.

One day I’ll walk in and find myself looking at a 17-inch flat screen. It’s inevitable, and, all things considered, it’s a good thing. But when the time comes, I shall tell the doctor how to conduct himself while interviewing patients, just in case he doesn’t know. I’m old enough to be his mother and I taught high school English, so I’m not only entitled, I’m an expert.

But enough of doctors.

I’ve been thinking for months–years?–about the power I give technology over my life: I don’t move as much as I used to, or get out of the house as I should. I don’t read as much as I did–I read much less, in fact, and this is the first time I’ve been able to make that claim.

I don’t write with a pen and paper as often as I used to. I’ve always enjoyed putting words onto paper with a good pen, not an expensive one, but a pen that fits my hand.

And although he hasn’t said anything, my POSSLQ** might be as tired of seeing me staring at a screen as I am of seeing the doctor do the same.

So. I’ve decided to pull the plug nightly by 7:00 p.m., and to work backward towards 5:00 p.m.

To do so, I’ll have to write everything I want to write during the day. For a nocturnal animal whose brain

starts functioning about 9:00 p.m., the change won’t be easy. But it’s the right thing to do.

In my new spare time, I will read books and write in my journal with the pen of my choice. POSSLQ will follow his tradition of reading every word in the newspaper and in several magazines. We might converse.

I will go to bed at a decent hour and wake at a decent hour, in time to get a table and an electrical outlet at the BookPeople coffee shop, and there I will write–write meaning to write stories and novels for at least one hour every day. I will do it because I promised author and editor Ramona DeFelice Long that I will.

Giving away your power isn’t a bad thing as long as you know the person who receives it has good motives.

Note that I write I will, a construction implying determination, resolution, perseverance.

If I absolutely can’t help myself, I’ll toss off a blog post now and then. But only outside that sacred hour.

It hasn’t escaped me that the BookPeople part involves using a laptop and wi-fi. I can’t write what I need to write without the laptop.

But as I would not be a Luddite, so neither would I be a Zombie. And I’ve had it on good authority that computer addiction leads right down the primrose path to Zombie-ism.

###

*The subsequent biopsy agreed with us. Thank you, Dr. Carla Ortique, who now practices in Houston. I wish you were here.

**1) Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters. 2) An affectation. We’re married. 3) See in its entirety “My POSSLQ” by Charles Osgood. A darned good poem. Here’s the first paragraph:

“Come live with me and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands and crystal brooks
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
If you would be my POSSLQ.” . . .

###

The Passive-aggressive Imp

In the 1980s, I was among about a zillion public school teachers introduced to the promise of CAI–Computer Assisted Instruction.

When computers replaced the classroom teacher, as they eventually would, students would learn gladly, each at his own pace. Discipline problems would  disappear, because there would be no dissonance in the new student-teacher relationship. Computers were neutral. There would be no personality conflicts, because computers had no personalities. They neither took offense nor gave it. There would be no frustration, no irritation, no anger, no unhappy track record, no grudges, no bias, no impatient sighs, no rolling of eyes, no gnashing of teeth, nothing from either student or computer to upset our little CRT-filled Edens.

In other words, as soon as the teacher withdrew to the sidelines and left teaching to the expert, all would be well.

Uh-huh.

Fast-forward to 2014.

For the past hour I’ve been trying to register for a week-long writing class–The Damned Rough Draft, to be specific. I belong to the sponsoring organization. To receive the member discount, I must enter my user name and password.

I don’t know my user name and password. I didn’t know I had a user name and password. There is a hazy slip of memory that might touch on receiving something like that, perhaps written on the back of the new card. But during a recent purse purge, a handful of cards were relegated to a stack somewhere that isn’t a memory at all.

So I emailed a friend who was engaged in the same pursuit. She had figured out her username and suggested I follow her pattern, fill in my possible username, and click Forgot Email.

I did. I entered my email address and requested the password be sent to my account. Clicked Okay. Nothing. Started humming in hopes of keeping my blood pressure down. Clicked Okay again. Clicked many, many more times. If I’d found a student clicking away like that, our personalities would have conflicted immediately.

I clicked some more.

Nada.

So here I sit, frustrated, irritated, staring at the one thing standing between me and my precious Damned Rough Draft, this laptop, the portal through which the wonky registration page enters my sight. And I think, Computer Assisted Instruction, yeah, right.

Because I don’t care how neutral this machine is supposed to be, I’m as irritated as all get-out with the damned passive-aggressive little imp. And although I’m tempted to stay here and click click click, just to let it know I won’t be beaten, I shall give in and go to bed.

Because the tune I’ve been humming through this ordeal is “If I Had a Hammer.” And if I don’t get out of here, I shall be overcome by temptation and write a whole new verse to that song.

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Silver Linings

After yesterday’s post, I believe I owe it to you–and to myself–to write about my Silver Linings.

When I got home from Just for the Hell of It Writers (by way of the grocery store) this afternoon , I found a FedEx tag clipped to the door. Two packages, it said, had been delivered to the office of my apartment complex. They’d been dropped off at 2:00 p.m.

I called the office to confirm it was open before walking down there. The manager said she had no package.

I went online to track the packages. The FedEx website said they would be delivered on Monday. This is Friday.

I called FedEx. Customer service said the packages were back on the truck and would be available for pickup today from 6:00 pm. to 9:00 p.m. and tomorrow from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

When David came in from work, I reported all this. He said we could retrieve the packages tonight. But because I had a migraine hangover–I woke up this morning with the darned thing and by evening still felt as if I were made of eggshells–I said I’d wait until tomorrow. Except for the pain of laptop withdrawal, there was no rush.

Then, out of the blue, came a robust knock at the door. Ernest and William scrambled up the stairs to safety. David ran to the door.

A young woman in a FedEx uniform stood on the sidewalk, holding a clipboard and two packages: an external hard drive and a replacement hard drive.

“I tried earlier, but the office wasn’t open,” she said.

I thanked her and told her we’d planned to pick up the packages ourselves.

“Then I just saved you a trip.” She grinned and walked back to her truck.

That young woman saved me more than a trip. Because she made a second attempt at delivery, my headache of a day took a sudden upturn. She was my first Silver Lining.

David was my second. After I hooked up the external hard drive to the laptop, he spent two hours trying to back up the wonky internal hard drive so it can be replaced by a non-wonky one. Unfortunately, the manual accompanying the external drive was short on instructions. It told, in four languages, how to connect and to disconnect the drive but not how to use it.

A third Silver Lining, however, appeared in the small print: the address of a website offering tech support. It was too late to speak to a technician, so David e-mailed the question. We’re waiting for a username and password so we can access the answer.

So there’s tomorrow’s Silver Lining: instructions about running the necessary backup, and then installation of the new hard drive. And finally I’ll be back in business–in a comfortable chair.

I realize I did things wrong. The song says, “Look for the silver lining.” I didn’t. I looked at the migraine and the idle laptop and the uncomfortable chair and the work I wasn’t getting done.

Nevertheless, Silver Linings appeared.

The mystery here is why I’m so surprised. After all, I’ve been married to a Silver Lining for the past six years.

Ella Minnow Pea Redux or, My keys won’ work

Wa do you do wen your keyboard malfunions?

Wen my spae bar sopped working, I aed online wi Dell e suppor.  e e old me I would reeie a new keyboard in e mail. I was supposed o insall i.

“Me?” I said. “Insall a keyboard?”

e e said i would be a snap. If I needed elp, e would walk me roug i.

I go e keyboard and looked up e insruions, wi said I ad o unsrew e bak. I jus knew I would be eleroued.

Bu I boug a se of srewdriers a RadioSak and flipped e lapop oer, remoed e baery, and aaked e srews.

e srews wouldn’ budge. I exanged a srewdrier for anoer srewdrier. I used all six. None of em worked.

I wen online again o a wi Dell. e e lisened, en old me o ry again.

I oug abou e definiion aribued o Einsein: Insaniy is doing e same ing oer and oer and expeing a differen resul.

“I wouldn’ urn,” I old e e.

He said e would send a e ou o e ouse o insall e keyboard for me. (I’m no dummy. Wen I boug e lapop, I boug a e o go wi i.)

Anyway, e nex day a e ame. He go ou is se of 3500 srewdriers, remoed e srews, ook off e old keyboard, and insalled e new one. He said I didn’ ave e rig size srewdrier. en e asked wa else I needed.

“I know you don’ ae an order for is, bu ould you wa me insall is exra memory a Dell e said I’m ompenen o insall myself?” He said e’d o i for me. I oug a was ery swee.

Anyway, i’s appened again, exep is ime i’s more an e spaebar. I’s e , , , and  keys.

I’e used anned air. So far all i’s done is make ings worse. Wen I began, only e  key was ou.

How an I wrie wiou a keyboard?

So tomorrow I’ll chat with my Dell tech and–

Well, mercy me. I took a half-hour break and now all the keys are working again. I wonder what that was all about.

Nevertheless, I shall report the anomaly. Call me an alarmist, but I don’t want this to happen a third time when I’m preparing a manuscript for submission. If the keyboard should be replaced, I want it replaced now.

But still–I’m torn. If I do need a new keyboard, I want a tech to make a house call. I don’t have the proper screwdriver, I don’t know the size screwdriver to buy, and I don’t want to tamper with something that is still under warranty.

On the other hand, I have to consider the worst-case scenario: He takes out his screwdriver, loosens the screws, turns the laptop over, removes the keyboard, and sees lurking there beneath the metal and plastic plate the reason for my current technical distress: rumbs.

e same, e earae, e disgrae a being found guily of su a soleism. e prospe is oo illing o spell ou.

Bu for the sake of ar, I sall submi myself o e proud man’s onumely. omorrow I sall a wi Dell.