ES and IT: a match made in hell.

11 06 2011

Gosh, you’re all still there? What loyal readers I have! Thank you! In this day and age of instant gratification there are still a few folks who will remain faithful, even through a two-week writers’ block. You are too kind.

While suffering through my recent mini-drought, I turned 41. (Who would have thought?) And my husband had a really great birthday gift idea – he bought me a new computer.

My new toy.

Of course I had been coveting a new computer for a while, surreptitiously browsing the aisles in our local electronics megastore and oogling all the new technology on display. Today’s laptops all look really cool there sitting in the shelves.

But for months, that is where they remained – on the shelves.

Though somewhere deep inside I knew that my good old Compaq laptop’s days were probably numbered and a catastrophic failure was increasingly likely, I couldn’t see myself investing in something shiny, flashy and new. I mean – a laptop that was state of the art in the summer of 2004 when I parted with $1359 (purchased in Delaware – no sales tax!) and took it home with me isn’t that old and outdated. (Is it?)

My old toy.

It is?

Ancient, you say?

No, it doesn’t have a built-in webcam. Should it?

And a 30 GB hard drive is… measly?

Oh.

Really?

Okay, so I guess I needed a new computer. And my husband (a recent new-hardware-client himself) just cut to the chase and went out and bought me one. Not a moment too soon, turns out – on the day we took it out of its box for the first time, my old Compaq sucked up some kind of nasty Internet virus and has been unhealthy ever since.

R. warned me that setting up the new machine would require a few weeks of intense work, sorting stuff out, while all the updates and service packs and God-knows-what-else would be downloaded (automatically!) in order to prepare itself adequately for the next couple of years of service.

Huh? I don’t remember my old computer doing any of that seven years ago.

But then again, I haven’t really been paying attention to developments in the IT industry. The extent of my understanding of technology is that I need it to function when I turn it on. End of story. And when/if it doesn’t, and faced with the philosophical question “Fight or Flight”, as a wise liberal arts major, I usually end up on the “Flight” side: If something doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to the first time around, abandon it. Don’t waste another single minute on a process where the cards are obviously seriously stacked against you. Do without. Move on.

My husband, however, is the opposite. He (a recipient of a degree in physics) will sit there till 5 a.m. if he has to, in order to figure out what is wrong with a certain application/program/software/harddrive/browser/index/screensaver/mediaplayer/ format/language/taskbar/shortcut and fix the problem. His endurance in all things technical is astounding. The next evening at dinner he will then describe to me in detail his epic battle with technology and all he did to overcome it. I listen with interest, thankful that another electronic crisis has been averted and I still have access to all of my files.

Clearly one reason why there are so many unemployed liberal arts majors out there.

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Wacky American Stuff, Part II

22 10 2010

Oh man I really wanted to stay out of this one because I have no right to tell anyone what they should do on election day, least of all the voters of that great little state of Delaware. But I just can’t keep my mouth shut here.

The “I’m not a witch” commercial was amusing, and a few of the spoofs it spawned were absolutely classic. It was good to see that Americans have not lost their sense of humor despite the misery of the financial crisis. I would still be laughing my head off if Christine O’Donnell were not serious about trying to steal a Senate seat.

 

Twins, separated at birth

 

Sitting 3,000 miles away for the past 20 years, I have had a very unique – nay, privileged – perspective on U.S. politics. With the buffer of distance and only the high-level noise reaching us over here, we get what seems like a more objective idea of what is really going on back home.

As an observer across that great big ocean, you realize very quickly how wacky some of the stuff coming out of the American political system really is. Mainly because all of your European friends pester you with questions and ridicule you about it at every opportunity. You become the lightening rod for what they think is wrong with America. You get a cramp in your neck from looking up as they get on their high horses, leaving you firmly planted in the mud. Often you are strong-armed into a political corner you never in your wildest dreams expected (or wanted) to defend.

Though mildly irritiating, it’s certainly good practice and keeps you sharp.

After the international wave of 9/11 sympathy ebbed, the rest of the Bush II years were particularly rough for Americans living abroad. In 2008 a whole bunch of us voted for change, and then spent election night joining that collective sigh of relief that was audible around the world. This would be the dawn of a new era in domestic politics, too, where sanity overcomes madness, and the rifts in society would be bridged by constructive and concilliatory cooperation. Right?

Wrong. This year (my Pennsylvania absentee ballot already safely in the mail), after all I’ve seen so far, it seems like there is so much more lunacy going on out there than ever before, and the battlefront seems to have ended up in tiny Delaware.

After padding her resume, cozying up to Sarah Palin and telling the world she’s not a witch, NOW Christine O’Donnell goes and questions what’s in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Hello? Anybody home in that pretty little head? Election Day is still a week and a half away – plenty of opportunity to drop a few more verbal bombs that will shake the nation. Or just Delaware.

Hopefully the fallout will be enough to convince our dear Delawarean neighbors not to elect an intellectually challenged right-wing nutcase to the Senate. The Senate! Christine may not be a witch, but there are a lot of things she is. Like, entirely, undeniably, unbelievably unqualified for Washington DC.

I mean, where do they get these people?