Okay my friends. Many of you are positivists. You know I am an optimist. But there are days when the only responses are to grimace or scream. Just ask the Egyptians. You can put up with a lot. You can have a cheery attitude and always look on the bright side. But sometimes a day comes along when you have to stand up and make sure they hear what has to be heard. You gotta let it out.
Yesterday I did that in a big way. I probably shocked the neighbors; well, maybe not. They were probably inside with the windows closed. I was doing some gardening. Yes, I know that it’s February and it had been a frosty morning; but it was sunny and an opportunity to transplant an overgrown patch of Pampas grass. If you aren’t familiar with it, Pampas grass grows into thick bundles of slightly saw-edged leaves that reach eight feet tall with flower spikes that rise feet above that. It may actually be listed as a noxious weed. I haven’t checked. Instead I was following the frugal minded logic of using what I have instead of throwing something away and buying something to replace it. Instead of a bundle of grass, I was going to plant a hedge.
No problem. Dig out the old plant. Separate the root ball. Drop the pieces into prepared holes. Refill. Water. Watch them grow.
That actually all happened. Insert one detail. After I’d dug out the two-foot diameter root ball and had partly separated it, I went to roll it over to work on the other side. I have a bad back. I wasn’t going to lift it. I was only going to roll it. It hesitated. Evidently, I put a bit more of me into it by either twisting or lifting. I can’t quite recall because the next thing I remember is a scream of pain and my hands clutching my back. I didn’t care who heard it as I staggered into the street. I wanted to lay down and curl up, but I knew that the best thing to do was move, slowly and steadily to keep the muscles from locking up. I walked into the house, grabbed some Advil (ignoring one doctor’s advice while remembering another’s) and grabbed the phone so I could walk and talk to a friend to calm myself.
The scream and the talking were possibly as therapeutic as the drugs. I know the walking helped a lot.
About twelve days ago I bought a MacBook. My venerable PowerBook fried and died from a power surge (despite protection). Since then, as you can read in a previous post, I’ve had a series of problems with my new machine. Apple, Adobe, HP, and Quicken have all logged errors as I’ve haltingly made this computer operational. There’s plenty to scream about, but each event happens more slowly and subtly than a ill-executed turn, lift and twist of a back.
My back and I have a long relationship, and we’ve been negotiating this issue since 1988. I know what I need to do for recovery and then for maintenance. It may be counter-intuitive, but my back tends to go out when I’ve neglected my karate exercises.
I have a long relationship with computers. My second personal computer was a Macintosh 512k. My first was from Texas Instrument. Unfortunately, computers don’t heal themselves. The computer problems I am experiencing won’t get better with time. There aren’t exercises to strengthen and protect against future failures. I’ve even had a cascade of faults occur from trying to use the automated backup software.
A scream can release hormones that encourage the body to act. If nothing else, the shout moves muscles that might be locked up. In today’s society though, stress can build from accumulated errors, workarounds, and incompatibilities. Online support can be polite and patient, but the result is still useless if the software people think it’s a hardware problem and the hardware people think it’s a software problem. At the end of the call, they’ve moved on to another customer, and we can be left with more unresolved issues and more internalized stresses than we had before we made the call.
We gotta let it out. We shouldn’t carry the stresses that are the consequence of bad design or narrow boundaries of support. I don’t know how anyone else can do that for themself, but I relieve a bit through this blog, social media, and dreams of so much wealth that I can hire someone to fix all of this.
I don’t expect everyone to start a blog, and I don’t expect a behemoth like Apple or HP to change because I said or wrote something, but I hope that enough of us tell the people we’ve sent our money to that their products and services can make life better than they have. A flashier interface or a better search function isn’t as important as compatibility (even amongst competitors) and a recognition of how people live their lives. Our lives involve so many devices that it is unrealistic that they will operate from within the same operating system or set of proprietary cables.
And if they don’t, if the existing companies don’t understand everyday lives, then some day a new company will and that company will tap into a massive, overlooked, underserved and very appreciative populace. That’s the company I looking for, for their products and their stock. Then what we’ll be able to let out will be a global sigh of relief.
PS To continue the irony from the previous post, all of the Microsoft products are working fine; and while WordPress wasn’t able to resolve my iWeb issue by porting over my old blog posts, Andrew, one of their Happiness Engineers, went far beyond the norm in trying to make my life better. Hmm, I wonder if WordPress is going public and if they’d consider making computers. TT