Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Old Dogs, New Tricks?

Welp, the Great Website Revamp foisted on us by the credit union turned out not to be the disaster I feared. No hassles, no headaches, no lost data, no disappeared scheduled transactions…yea verily, not even a helluva lot of change in the site’s appearance. At all. Guess the reason I was dreading it so much is that this old dog has come to dislike — deeply — learning new tricks. Especially new techno-tricks. 😀

No doubt this trait does have to do with age. Believe it or not, when I was a young pup I was ahead of the wave. We were the first in our (affluent) set to get a PC — an IBM, direct from the breathtakingly pricey IBM store on the ground floor of a fancy high-rise on North Central. And yes, I could code in those days…you had to know some code to do anything on one of those things. DOS was, yes, code. And XyWrite? A pure ASCII system.

XyWrite…how I miss it. Never once did it crash and lose half a day’s worth of work. Nay, not even half a minute’s worth. Yesterday Wyrd shut down twice as I was struggling through an exceptionally difficult Chinese math paper. This team is definitely in the “All Your Bases Are Belong to Us” set…actually, that idiom is significantly clearer than many turns of phrase infesting said paper.

Luckily, Wyrd is now set to save every 5 minutes. Plus I usually hit ⌘-S every time I enter an edit these days. So little was lost. Actually, a lot was lost in the original file, but Wyrd would bring up a phantom file containing the most recent data, which I would then have to save back down under the original filename. This, when you have several files open at once, amounts to a significant PITA.

I vacillate between thinking there’s something wrong with me — I do not learn fast enough anymore, I cannot remember things, I’m getting fat and lazy and just flat do not WANT to learn anything new thankyouverymuch — and thinking we humans of the 21st century are besieged with techno-ditz: far, far too much ever-changing minutiea that is not helpful, does not improve our performance (often quite to the contrary), does not improve our lives (ditto), and exists solely to annoy the hell out of us.

Case in point: the phone system down at the church’s front office. In three hours I get to slide into the chair at the front desk and watch very charming people come and go for four hours — I’ve taken to volunteer receptionist’s duty once a week. This sounds like it should be easy for the likes of me. My first job was as a receptionist at a large law firm. There were four of us seated in front of the elevators on three floors. I was usually on the main floor, where the incoming calls hit the switchboard. There were two of us at that station, and each had 12 incoming lines. Often all 12 were active at once.

Did I have any trouble handling these? Noooooo…. No problem at all. Easy as breathing.

Fifty years later: on a busy day, maybe two phone calls come in. Can I remember how to transfer those to staff? Can I figure it out from the instructions taped to the desktop next to the phone set? Hell no!

Literally, I can NOT figure this damn thing out. I’ve sat next to one or another of the women who do know how to work it for three entire shifts and still cannot remember what they told me or figure out on my own how to operate it.

It’s just not that hard! Yet my brain does not want to know it.

Maybe that’s it: the brain does not want to know anymore trivia.

But alas. I’m reminded of my late, great secretary, lovingly known as La Morona. The one who almost burned down the Social Sciences building when she put her lunch in the microwave, set it to “high,” and went off and forgot about it.

La Morona could not learn PC hardware and software to save her life. The poor soul. She had been using an antiquated Mac for years. When we hired her, she was sure she could learn the PC. Just as I was sure I could learn that phone system.

Not so much. At one point…oh, this is good! I’d sent her to an employees’ training course to learn how to navigate the university’s arcane bookkeeping system. And arcane it was — one of my RA’s was an accountant (a real one), and when I tried to foist the job on her she rose up in high rebellion. I should have known better than to inflict it on La Morona. About a week or into it, the instructor called me on the phone. The woman was in a rage. She demanded that I send in a disciplinary report on La Morona. Why? asked I. “Because she asks too many questions.”


Presumably because she was trying to learn something that no one in her right mind would want to know…

I really do think there’s a point at which your mind says enough of this crap, already! and simply refuses to store away any more pointless trivia that we all know full well will be changed or dorked up before it can be used more than a half-dozen times.

Yesterday, in the techno-terror department, my Chinese team’s lead author emailed in a sweat. Apparently one of his colleagues is a classic loose cannon. This personage sent the article we’ve been working on in to Elsevier, totally unedited. Result? The editor sent back a flame that must have set their hair on fire.

My guy says this editor sent back a sh!tload (not in those terms, of course: sh!tload seems not to be among the vocabulary lessons given in Chinese middle schools… 😀 ) of editorial suggestions. I interpret this to mean she did a light edit on the thing and entered a bunch of changes or QAs. Understand: at this point I’m two-thirds of the way through second edits on this unimaginably sophisticated and abstract magnum opus!

Now I’m thinking WTF? How am I going to justify a whole new set of edits against my edits in 18 pages of typeset copy? This is going to be a nightmare of Brobdinagian proportions.

I decide to motor on through to the end; then open the file he sent and at that point figure out what the hell to do.

Well, when I finally do reach that point, I find it is, thank GOD, not edited or commented-upon copy, but simply boilerplate the woman has copied from Elsevier’s website and pasted into her email. The “what to look for in your ESL copy” boilerplate. Thank you, ma’am: we already know that.

So. That was close!

Author: funny

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