Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Cautionary Tale

Three days ago, my computer locked up. This was a problem because I was in the middle of posting grades for my university students, and my impotence with the situation sent me into a dither. Thank God for the Geeks, who found the problem after a quick diagnostic. I had a simple software incompatibility. They fixed me and I’m back in business. Grades were posted on time, thanks to my dear friend Ron, who loaned me a laptop with all the software I needed and understood. But what if Ron hadn’t been available? What do we do when we’re suddenly without computer? No calendar, no ability to work, no email, and a not-exactly-current backup.

Fortunately, my tale ends well, and I’m making plans to prepare for the next time this happens, for surely it will happen again.

But let me tell you another story.

In September, Al and I went on a cruise. We made it to the cruiseport to check in well ahead of time, only to find 2,000 people sitting in chairs, waiting. The cruise computers were down. We waited three hours before being allowed to board. Needless to say, everybody was low-blood-sugar testy, as we all anticipated going aboard for lunch. Fast forward a delicious ten days, and it’s time to leave.  We get to the airport and the airline’s computers were down. This delayed our flight. We get to Chicago, to Immigration/Customs and guess what? Computers were down. This made us late for our connecting flight. We race to the gate that is listed on the big Departure board. The flight has already boarded, but the gate attendant opened the door for us and let us race down the jetway to the plane, but someone was sitting in our seats!

Guess what? This plane was going to San Francisco, not Portland. The computer on the Departure board had it wrong. We had to run, again, to a completely different concourse to catch our flight, which was, conveniently enough for us, late.

We got home all right, and against all odds, our luggage arrived with us. The whole thing has now become a squirmy memory of difficulty in traveling, particularly international travel. But more than that, it seems like a portent of events to come. A very squirmy thought indeed. And that was just one day of travel for two people.

We are horrendously dependent on technology. This in itself is not a bad thing, except that I expect that we’re horrendously unprepared for an internet meltdown. This country, and perhaps the entire world would momentarily grind to a halt.

Would that be a bad thing? Maybe not, unless you’re stuck at O’Hare airport in Chicago. Or worse.

It’s worthwhile to give a thought to our personal dependence on this technology.  I’d love to hear your conclusions.

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