Daily Archives: December 27, 2013

outages and optimism

xmas sant and reindeer flying“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house ,

not a Facebook was stirring , with or without a mouse ……….

…………or something like that . Suddenly Facebook , AOL , WordPress , and a couple of other sites Ada visits were not working . I knew that it must be the server , that our equipment was good .

I know almost nothing about internet technology . But , after several hours of past conversations with India , and one or two with the Philipines , I know a little bit . I know enough to  ” power down ” and then to ” power up ” , as a start .  I don’t turn things off and then turn them on again these days . Instead ,  I power down .

I used to talk to the computer guy at work when I had  computer problems . Well , that is , when I had  concerns . A colleague of mine used to say , ” There are no problems here ; only concerns . “  Nine times out of ten , maybe ten times out of ten , the computer guy , said to be a tech whiz , said to be a computer genius ,  would tell me “Turn it off and turn it on . “

Turn it off and turn it on ? Are you kidding ? That’s the extent of his great computer knowledge ?  , I used to wonder . Turns out , now that I know a little bit more  about it , his frustratingly inane-seeming  advice that used to make me question his sanity  actually  held some essence of tech wisdom .  Maybe he should have told me to ” power down ” , though . I may have felt a little better , more  confident in his great technical genius , more optimistic as I turned my laptop off and waited a couple of minutes so the invisible internet armies could gather , could stealthily  marshal their magical forces to once again breath life into the now -useless  hunk of metal and plastic that sat quietly  on my desk waiting with me for the magic to happen .dancers old

A note about human capacity for optimism:

I walked over to Ralphs Market on Christmas morning to buy a bag of ice .  Ralphs was closed . There was not even one car in the huge parking lot . Not one delivery truck . As I got close enough to realize that the supermarket was closed , which was obvious from  about a half-block away , I saw a  small car with two people drive into the Ralphs parking area . They found a good spot near mid-lot and parked . They  de-car-ed . De-vehicled ?  Okay , how about  de-automobiled ?  The two of them de-autoed and walked toward the store. The entire place was dark .  Wouldn’t you think that one or the other of them would have picked up a couple of hints that the place was shut down for Christmas ?   One of them then tried the door , still not giving up ! It wouldn’t open .

Optimism is a good thing , but I suppose it’s on a continuum with brain-frozenness  . Maybe it’s a fine line, there’s a slippery slope ,  somewhere along that continuum when an otherwise intelligent , functioning person could slide from one condition to the other .

” Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible .”   ———Albert Einsteindancer old

One of my nephews was over on Christmas and Ada asked him to look at her laptop . Maybe he could fix the problem . He was sure that he could and so he got to work on the problem . Sorry , he got to work on the CONCERN .  But , after he worked through a checklist of possible problems ,  he gave up . 

It’s the server ,  I said again .  The server —-as if I know what a server is . I visualize something along the lines of the Wizard of Oz  man- behind- the- curtain , with a bank of computer hard-drive boxes lined up on shelves . But my nephew tried .  He had begun the task confidently , optimistically . But ,  I knew that he wouldn’t be able to fix it . I’ve talked at length  to gentlemen in India about such matters   and  so I know a bit about it .

Later on the same day , a friend of ours wanted to try her hand with the problem . Her optimism was almost visibly bubbling up . She monkeyed with the modem , fooled with the laptop , checked in on her smart phone , I think , too . She was filled with self-confidence , armed with computer know-how , staunchly  determined . She disappeared into our small study . I found her sitting on the floor in there  , now with two lap-tops , hitting keys  as if triangulating them with the blinking lights of the modem , going through a mental struggle , bound and determined to overcome it .  It’s the server , I said again , but she wasn’t giving up .

“It must be your settings on Facebook , ”  she suggested to me . ” Did you change any settings recently ?  You’ll have to reset it . “But I hadn’t . ” Maybe get rid of cookies . ” I insisted that she come out and re-take her chair at the table . We were in the middle of Christmas dinner , after all .  She did so reluctantly  .   She again joined us there  , where the  cookies around were gingerbread men , and snickerdoodles , and had nothing to do with computers .

Ada asked me later to call our internet provider to report the problem . I did . A pre-recorded message told me that there had been ” an outage ” and that service would be restored by 10:00 p.m.    Nothing , specifically , was said about a server . I think , to tell you the truth , that the server , simply , had too much eggnog on Xmas eve , bored , stuck in there alone along with his computers , and nodded off for awhile . He , no doubt ,  unexpectedly powered down to take a snooze . It happens . I know a little bit about these things . English bottle olde


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