Sunday, 19 May 2013
Technological storms and the calm beauty of spring
After a couple of weeks of being driven absolutely nuts by technology and even more nuts by so-called internet service providers and the people at the end of the 'phone (when they are, finally, at the end of the 'phone) there was a final straw moment last week when our printer stopped working.
We had to spend an entire morning sorting it out. Firstly establishing that it was more cost effective to just chuck it in the "Small Electricals" skip at the Sort-It Centre and buy a brand-new one. This seems to be the case with almost everything now. No repairs - too expensive. Just throw it away and buy another one. Don't worry about the ecological implications. Just buy more stuff.
Then driving to the nearest out-of-town shopping centre (nothing available in our small town). Then agonising over which of the thirty or forty makes and models to choose. Which was most reliable? (None of them are particularly, we were told by a surprisingly truthful salesperson). Which would be cheapest to run in ink cartridges? (Not possible to work this out apparently). Which would best suit our purpose? (We only need black and white pages and a very occasional burst of colour - not wireless, high definition, auto duplex-printing, cloud-connecting, pict bridge, optical character recognising magnificence.)
We picked one. We were not filled with confidence. It took half an hour to unpack and plug in. It took the rest of the afternoon to install. (I know, I know, it isn't supposed to. But with us, it did. There were error messages and tantrums.) But finally it was done, and it will probably last around two years, like the previous ones we have had. And then we will throw it away and begin again.
All this got me thinking about how it used to be. You had a typewriter. Lots of them are still around now, decades later. Still working perfectly. If they aren't, they can be repaired. Once you had your typewriter, which was probably Made in England, you just needed some ribbons, some paper and some carbon. If you ran out, you popped along to your own town centre and bought some more. Forty minutes later you'd be back home and typing again.
My other half, who is constantly being asked to provide copies of documents he has produced that his clients have misplaced, asked what happened when pages get lost. Well, they were possibly a little more careful with them before the time of photocopiers and computers. And obviously there was a lot less paper around back then, before paperless offices existed. Because of course paperless offices don't actually exist. It's a nice idea, but we all know it's a fiction. Back then, there was a letter, perhaps a page or two, with all of the information carefully set out. And it was posted to you, and you put it on your file. It didn't get lost in the overflowing filing tray along with the fourteen faxes and seventeen emails that had come in the meantime, containing the information that had been omitted or superceded. The file was smaller, and your secretary knew where it was because she worked for you and she knew everything about everything. She didn't have five bosses and hundreds of files for each one because of the vast amount of documentation produced by slapdash computer-happy paper pushers. (I should add here that I was one of these, by necessity; if you have an office job, you don't have much of a choice, it's the way it is.)
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying life was better back then. Just that we have got lost along the way. Overwhelmed by our inventions and the things we have made it possible to do. And I do apologise for ranting, but it has been building for days. It had to come out. I still can't reply to comments on my own blog, I have to do that from a different computer. I am still in a "discussion" with an ISP which is making my blood boil. But I do feel better for sharing. Thank you!
I did actually have a lovely calming afternoon today. Soft spring sunshine, late spring flowers and boys having mini-adventures in the trees.
We went to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which is always fantastic. There are fewer birds in the summer, but at this time of year there are ducklings, goslings, cygnets and little coots and moorhens everywhere. These are the young of the swans I photographed building their nest a few weeks ago.
They really were gorgeous. The two on the right of the picture actually fell asleep for a while, and bobbed gently along together, snoozing away.
On the bank, the first of the yellow flag irises was just breaking from its bud. Beautiful.
An afternoon outside with three little boys is the very best medicine for all that ails. Hope you had a great weekend too.