Thursday, February 25, 2010

Luddites, Unite!

Some say, we must move with the times, but I say, let's do so very slowly and beware of the dominance of machines. I'm a big fan of slowness and my computer obliges me. I've been told it's obsolete although it is only six years old. That makes me wonder if I'm past my 'best-by' date because I'm 66. Just yesterday, my computer's diagnostic program told me that my pc doesn't have enough RAM. Now, I resent that because another part of my computer informed me that 81% of the hard drive is free space. What good is all that space if it isn't useful for RAM? I have no idea. I know that my own random access memory occasionally fails to respond to my commands and has to be prompted, but I don't know how I can acquire more RAM and I don't know how much free space for memories is left in my wee brain. I prefer to assume there is plenty.

Not only does my computer lack enough RAM but also it could not change an MSWord file into a pdf file. I searched for the answer but failed to find it. As it turns out, that's because my 'old' Office 2000 MSWord didn't offer that option. I didn't know what a pdf file was because I operate my computer on a need-to-know basis and before this week I didn't need that information. I believe there are tiny people inside the computer and one shouldn't piss them off by asking for too much. In any event, thanks to The Viking who is not a Luddite, I have a new Microsoft Office program and it converts Word files to pdf files. As of this morning, the little green people have been content to obey my commands. Now, if only I could find all the widgets that change margins and fonts and other things in my new Office program, I'd be content too. I am slowly figuring it out.

Because I'm a Luddite, I prefer to form long-term relationships with my machines and appliances, but they are often fickle and even treacherous at times. My stereo receiver which is about 25 years old (I know, yikes!) will operate the turntable and the CD player that was attached to it a couple of years ago, but it refuses to tune in FM stations anymore. Maybe it was tired of carrying only CBC radio 2. It's very old so it's entitled to be grouchy.

On the other hand, my hot water heater was only about seven years old but it peformed poorly so I sent it out of the game and bought a new one. I didn't want to retire it so early, however; the plumber who replaced it said electric hot water heaters last only about 5 to 7 years (yikes again!). He informed me of that after he gave me the $790 invoice. In this age of sophisticated machines, I wonder why no one can make one that will last as long as my stereo?

My television is only about two years old, but it isn't high-definition so it is old technology and if the local TV station disappears I'll be boob tube-less because I receive the TV signal via my aerial (ancient technology). Yes, I could hook up my computer to our local cable provider but that would be too expensive. I can survive without television as there is seldom much worth watching although I am enjoying some of the Olympics coverage.

I'd prefer not to think about the age of my central air conditioning unit which is located five floors above me, on the roof. Apparently it uses freon, so if it fails to work it can't be repaired. Freon is a banned substance now. I can only hope that fans, which are simple basic machines, will still be available if I need to buy some. Maybe I'll buy black-out blinds, but then again, I'm told the roller thingies wear out in about four years. It's enough to make a Luddite like me sew curtains by hand because I've never had any luck with sewing machines either.

Also, earlier this week our family lost our favourite car. The Crown Victoria which had carried the family to and from many places and events and served well and honourably for many years was totalled. We are all saddened by the loss of the beloved Crown Vic. I'm sure neither of the other cars will last as long or be as comfortable for long trips. They are newer cars, but they just ain't the same.

Luddites like things to stay the same, or at least same-ish and we like things that work well for long periods of time but perhaps we are obsolete too?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Someday, It Will be Spring

According to the calendar the official arrival of spring is a little over a month away. Of course, when the day arrives we could have snow, or ice, or almost any darn thing imaginable in the way of weather. The southern parts of Canada are not immune to the reappearance of winter until perhaps sometime in late May, if then.

I get antsy waiting for spring to get here and want to run off to ... somewhere - to Montreal (winter is an acceptable season if I'm in Montreal) or to Mexico, if Mexico wasn't dangerous, or Costa Rica. Unless something spectacular happens, I'll be staying put. I do enjoy dreaming about travelling though.

If you could go away for one week, where would you go?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Chutzpah - Do You Have It?

My Canadian Oxford Dictionary says chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means 1: shameless audacity; cheek and 2. boldness. I wonder if writers need of it more than other people do. There are so many times when I could benefit from being audacious. Is the work ready to send out? If I have honed it past a fare-thee-well, then likely it is. But, I still hesitate. There are no places to take chutzpah lessons because, while there are assertiveness classes chutzpah is more than being assertive. There's no exact English equivalent for the word but I think chutzpah is more illogical than mere assertiveness. It's being bold in spite of the odds. Consider the number of rock singers with much more urge to flaunt themselves than talent or the men wno run Ponzi schemes.

I've been thinking about this more of late, thanks to a book I picked up: How to Become a Famous Writer before You're Dead (Your words in print and your name in lights) by Ariel Gore. She has more chutzpah than any writer I know, and maybe she has more of it than of good sense. But then, when did good sense ever lead to well, seeing your name in lights - or even in a respected literary journal. Gore has a lot of fun and presents a lot of off-the-wall ideas.

In any event, among her many suggestions for becoming a brazen self-promoter, there is one I'm considering. Start a zine she says. Now, I don't know how to do that, and I'm not very web savvy and there are likely many good reasons why I shouldn't even think about it. On the other hand - I know some writers, I know how to edit and I know it could be an adventure.

Do you have chutzpah?