Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life in the Tech Lane with a Moving Disruption

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

It is Monday morning, and I do not know what to do with myself. I have lots to do, but I am unable to work. My network is down. It is not my desktop computer. It is the network. At least I have power.

Even with the big storm that woke me up this morning, – high Chicago winds and crashing rain – I still have power and satellite TV, so it is definitely my network’s Internet provider. The network light is flashing even after I reset it.

I call Comcast. A recording states they are aware of service interruptions due to severe weather. They are working to restore service. Local news is reporting large areas with power outage and cable and Internet disruption due to the storm.

It could be worse. At least I am not sitting here without air conditioning in July. I can brew a much needed cup of coffee. I am going to think positive. A moving disruption is part of life in the tech lane.

I will try to work anyway. I make a few business phone calls. No one is in, or their cell phones are off, or they are letting it go to voice mail. I do not think it is me – that they do not want to talk to me - but who knows? They usually respond immediately to text or email, so no, it is probably not me. I wonder, “Why am I thinking like this?”

Sitting alone with no Internet resource and ability to communicate online leaves me time to just think, and I am kind of bored. Time is moving very slow. I call a few friends and my favorite sister just to say “Hi” for a minute or two. All of these calls go to voice mail. I do not leave any.

Even my unemployed friend did not answer her phone. Oh wait, she just sent me a text, “Impossible to talk right now with my son around. Everything ok?”

I could call my mom. She loves it when I call her out of the blue. I have not talked to her in a week or two. No, she is probably having coffee and danish with her friends. She is a social butterfly and always out somewhere. She loves bakery goods. I really need to get to work.

Another friend texts me, “Saw you called. Are you ok? Need something?” I do not call either friend back. I was just calling to say “Hi” anyway. I check the network. It is still down. I go back to just thinking.

It is strange now days that everyone has a phone, one they even carry around with them everywhere, and yet, lots of people do not really call to just say “Hi” anymore. People use their phones to do everything except literally speak on it to people it seems. Most people seem afraid to miss a call though. People are always busy.

Time is moving slower without my Internet capability. Random thoughts are moving faster without it.

The world is kind of funny now. Online friends, some whom you have never met in person or may not actually have their phone number, comment on your every day life posts on Facebook. They text you, tweet you, email you, and iChat you just to say “Hi” or ask “What’s up?” These conversations are usually without any real purpose – kind of like a real phone call just to say “Hi.” I guess they do video chat.

My third friend texts me in response to my earlier call, “You called. Are you ok?” Back to just thinking.

It is odd that people will leave a comment on your wall on Facebook expressing they miss you or love you, but they do not seem to call you to express this as much. They let your calls go to voice mail, because they have busy lives.

My sister returns my call. She greets me, “Is everything all right?” I explain I just called to say “Hi.” I explain my network problems. I tell her I am kind of bored waiting for it to come back up, and I need to get to work. I need email and the Internet to do what I have to do. She asked me if there was a storm in Chicago.

I ask her if anybody just calls to say “Hi” anymore. She answers she knows what I mean. She tells me when she texts her friends, they respond immediately. She says if she calls, they never pick up but will text immediately asking if everything is ok.

She notes if she leaves a voice message, it takes them 2-3 days to return the call. They always start the conversation with how busy they are. She says she does not get it, but she accepts it.

Then we start talking about her latest tribulation with her blended family. I tell her the real problem is she is not setting expectations, and then when her unknown expectations are not met, she is frustrated.

This is not really what she wants to hear from the sister with no kids. She tells me, “You are yelling at me, and you do not understand.” She hangs up on me.

I check the Internet. It is still not up. I grab a notepad and pen and start writing down my thoughts. My friend texts me, “Need something? Can’t talk. Super busy.” I smile to myself.

This is the friend that immediately starts an iChat with me every time, and I do mean every time, I get on Facebook no matter the day or time. It drives me nuts. I have a few friends like this. It makes me go on Facebook with iChat off-line most of the time.

Facebook is not just for fun for me. Facebook is a part of the social media element to my work. I wonder, “Would these iChat addicted people pick up the phone to have a real conversation if I actually called them?”

That makes me think of the most outrageous examples of this paradigm I have experienced.

I remember when my mom went into the hospital unexpectedly with pneumonia. I am the only daughter of the four that lives in the same state as my mom, so I called my sisters with updates. After the second update call, one of my sisters told me she really did not have time to take phone calls. She asked me to text or email her mom’s updates.

One of my close friends used to text me at night a few days a week. She would carry on a full conversation for over an hour via text. I would call her, and she let it go to voice mail. I finally began texting her back “Call me.” She would usually text back, “Don’t have time to talk.”

She rarely actually called. She seems to always return my calls with a text. We do not see each other that much anymore. At the time, I remember chuckling to myself about the irony of having a conversation strictly by text on an instrument meant to speak with others.

Time is a strange thing too. Or at least the perception of it can be odd. One of my sisters drives all of us crazy, because she will not return a phone call. When you do finally talk to her, she always explains she does not have 20 minutes to talk on the phone with anyone.

This is usually being explained during an hour lunch in which she is texting the whole time. She does not think this is rude, and she does not care if you do. After all, her time to just talk is limited. Her life is very busy, and she has told you she does not like spending her time talking.

One of my business calls returned my voice mail with a text, “Email you. Skype later?”

Even on a business level I see this. I will set up an interview via email. More than a few times, the person will suggest we set up a conversation via the Internet as opposed to the phone. I like to talk to people I am interviewing at least once in person even if that is over the phone. I love technology, but maybe I am just old-fashioned in this particular instance. I wonder, “Am I old-fashioned or getting old?”

Internet service is still down. Maybe I should call my mom. You know, she is funny. She does not see the need for a computer. I got her one as a gift several years ago. After trying to show her how to use it a few times, and even writing down step-by-step directions for email and taping it to the computer, she never got the hang of it.

She never understood why everyone wants to talk on the computer. She ended up giving the computer to a neighbor’s son a couple of months later. I was not happy. But then I realized she did not know the cost of a new computer, and it did not have any real value to her. It is what it is.

I check the network. It is still down. I am annoyed now. I go to my computer and start writing this article with Word, since I do not need a connection to do this. I write from my hand written notes. It was then I realize I never write out articles longhand before I compose them. I wonder, “Does anybody do that anymore?”

A business call returned my voice mail with a text, “In meeting. Emailed research link.” My last friend text me, “Saw you called. Text if you need something.”

Winslow, my white German shepherd, bounds in my office and barks at to me to let her out. She likes to speak, howl, yodel, and moo. She would pick up the phone if I called her just to say “Hi.” She has no opposable thumbs. She is a verbal talker dog. She genuinely loves me.

I have had four cups of coffee. I need to start drinking water. I should eat something.

I go back to thinking and writing. Maybe my mom is the one whom has it right, at least on a personal level, after all. It is nice to have a real conversation and to hear real laughter instead of reading LOL.

It is fun to flip through an old photo album and actually see the aging of the photographs. I do like curling up on the couch on a snowy Chicago night to read a book instead of looking at a screen to read it. I do like the feel of the physical book and turning real pages. I like the smell of a real book too, especially old ones.

But then again, I’m half Italian with three sisters. I must say, fighting via email is the only way we all ever get to make our points without being interrupted. We certainly have fewer yelling matches and less hanging up on each other.

Note to self: Text my sister later and apologize. She was right. I do not have kids, so I may not understand. I was not yelling at her though. Pointing this out defeats my purpose and is not a good idea. I am right fighting. Let this one go.

I check again. It is still not up. I call Comcast again. I receive a constant busy signal. This is not a good sign.

I am officially irritated. It has been four hours. It feels like it has been ten hours. I remind myself life is attitude, and attitude is a personal choice no matter the circumstances.

Maybe it is time for a Plan B. Should I transfer the files I need onto my laptop and go over to Starbucks? I wonder if they have power and Internet service. I should call them.

I have a deadline today on submitting one of my series articles. It was completed last week. I should have sent it then instead of waiting until the deadline date. I wonder, “Why didn’t I?” Note to self: Send articles when completed no matter the deadline date in the future.

Local news is now reporting there are over a half a million people being affected by the power outage. Another business call returned via text, “Power down. Need 2 talk 2 u.” It occurs to me the two nearest Starbucks probably do not have power or Internet. Plan B is probably a bust.

My phone is ringing. It is my mom. She is surprised when I pick up the call. I ask her “Is everything ok?” She answers, “I just called to say hi.”

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