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Wanted: one pasture for escape from technology

Joyce Walter reflects on her problematic network
ReflectiveMoments_JoyceWalter
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

During the past week I have had to repress the urge to pack a picnic lunch, two or three books, fill the gas tank and head to a far-flung pasture to get away from the daily trials of technological annoyances.

Housemate winsomely asked if I would also pack him in my vehicle. He got the skunk eye and slowly seemed to understand that he was not invited to participate in my escape. And no, I would not have my phone turned on so he could keep in touch. And no, I was not taking along any other device, including my laptop that has somehow tied itself to my daily existence.

When housemate bought me the laptop so I wouldn’t have to navigate the stairs after two bouts of surgery, I was skeptical that I would ever use this new device. At first I fought with the soft touch required to scroll up and down. I threatened to dump the laptop in the trash until reminded it was a gift and I certainly should be smarter than a piece of metal with a mind of its own.

Slowly, but surely, it and I made friends and now I have to admit it has become an important, if not essential, participant in the tasks I undertake each day. And it is a source of entertainment as I follow a few groups that mostly enjoy complaining about everything from city streets and garbage pickup to hatred for certain politicians and contradictory recommendations on Moose Jaw’s eating establishments.

In addition to saving me the agony of going up and down the stairs when my back and leg feel twitchy, the e-mail capability of the computer keeps me in touch with friends and neighbours and allows me to converse with anyone else who somehow obtains our address.

Then one day, May 11 to be exact, I noticed something odd: The last email to come across the network arrived at 3:26 p.m. and it was now 6:30 p.m. I did all the necessary steps to refresh the network and still nothing. 

A quick trip to Housemate’s office and his computer showed he had received dozens of items in the three hour space of time when I was being ignored. It was a puzzle to be pondered, for sure, since the network down there was the same network and addresses as up here at my table-top office.

Then we discovered that I could send e-mails even if no new ones came in.

But conversely, Housemate could receive, but could not send e-mails out. My message to him from upstairs went nicely, but he could not respond. So we did something old-fashioned — we talked, loudly of course, so it might have seemed like shouting to an outsider, but it was simply making sure our voices could be deciphered around the corners and through the walls.

Housemate was then convinced to make the call to our provider to see if a quick solution could be obtained after holding awhile and then being directed to a person who might possibly be of help. 

The provider employees did their best and provided us with a temporary e-mail address which works somewhat in getting in new e-mails but has no discerned capacity to allow sharing of word processing documents.

Now a week later, we are still suffering from e-mail separation anxiety and to add to the collective misery, Housemate’s magic cellphone is no longer magical, it having disconnected itself from networks that provide news highlights and weather forecasts. No wonder he retreated to the bedroom to have a bit of a lie-down before attempting once again to have someone with expertise help us solve the problem.

Meanwhile, I am thinking some egg salad sandwiches, a few cans of ginger ale, a cracker or two and some chilled water would fit nicely into the picnic hamper. Unfortunately, my gas tank needs nourishment so I figure the getaway will be costly, but maybe worthwhile, for when I return there is a possibility that someone will have successfully sent me a note to find out why I haven’t answered all those notes that went astray.

Now I just have to find a pasture whose owner would enable my escape. 

Joyce Walter can be reached at ronjoy@sasktel.net

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.