Technology Run Amok

It’s Friday morning of last week.  Ed comes into the kitchen and tells me that he is having trouble getting into his e-mail.

Instantly my heart sinks.  Yup, sure enough, I couldn’t get into my e-mail either.

First line of attack:  Call DoIT, our campus technology trouble-shooting line.  After a series of questions from a no-nonsense computer science student, I am told that the problem is not with the e-mail account.  The problem is with the “network.”  We are “off-line.”  We have no internet signal.  For us, that means we need to call AT&T.

Ed makes the call later that day, and spends the next hour or more on the telephone with the AT&T customer care person. Try this, try that.  Look behind the modem, look behind the computer tower, unplug the blue cord, plug the blue cord back in, turn everything off, turn everything back on.  Finally, exhaustion sets in.  Ed gives up.  “I don’t think I can do any more. Please, please send someone out here to help.”  Okay, tomorrow morning.

Sometime after hanging up the telephone, we gradually discover that it’s not just the computers that are off-line.  Since we have our technology “bundled,” everything is out-of-whack — the TV, my iPad, and my iPhone.  We are full of angst in our limbo of time before the AT&T technician comes the next day.  How is it that we have become so accustomed to this daily life with our various devices that to be without them leaves us feeling way out of kilter and “at loose ends?”

After a restless night (really!), the next morning comes and with it the visit from the AT&T technician to our house.  He asks some pointed questions, and quite quickly hones in on the problem.  “See that little red button on the back of the modem, down near the bottom?  Hold that button in for about 15 seconds, the modem will reset, and you will be back in business.”  And holy cow!  It actually worked!  We are amazed.  We are ecstatic.

thumbnail_FullSizeRenderAnd the story doesn’t end there.

On the next day, Sunday, I get a call from my good friend and piano partner Melinda.  She’s having trouble with her computer, her TV, and her iPhone and she is aware that I have been having problems of a similar nature in the last day or two.  Do I have the help number she can call to get assistance from AT&T?  Well . . . I can do better than that.  “See that little red button on the back of the modem. . . ”   Two minutes later she calls me back;  “It worked!.”  We are ecstatic and amazed all over again. Melinda, too, is back in business!

Daily life is back to normal.

***Photo courtesy of Melinda


The Emerald Ash Borer

All day long we heard the buzz of the chainsaw in the neighborhood.  As it turned out, over 20 trees were being cut down on the streets around us.  The emerald ash borer has been wreaking its havoc.

Especially sad for us was, and is, the loss of the Autumn Purple white ash trees on our street.  This graceful tree created a beautiful leafy arbor of deep lavender over the street every Fall.

Autumn Purple White Ash

The late G. Wm. Longenecker, professor of horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, introduced this cultivar in the 1960s.  At some point in recent years, the emerald ash borer found its way to the United States — likely on loading pallets from China. In this country, the borer was first noted in the city of Detroit, and from there it has been gradually spreading in all directions.

In the past decades in the United States, we had Dutch Elm Disease, which nearly wiped out the American elm trees.  Next came the gypsy moths which attacked our white oaks with a vengeance (the moths were really ugly creatures, too).  And now it’s the emerald ash borer.

Daunting to think of what might be next.


The Month of March

Today is the first day of March, 2016.  March — the month that ushers in signs of spring, that signals the approaching end of our “winter-weary” days.  Friend, colleague and poet Jim Batt shared one of his poems with me — “March Scripts Its Debut.”  How beautifully the poet captures the essences of everyday phenomena in our lives.

March Scripts Its Debut
By James R. Batt

Old March bestirs itself,
shaking off winter grime of tired snows,
remnant leaves, weeds and brush,
sending the lot of it tossing,
tumbling, blowing
with sharp-edged blasts
across lawns and parking lots alike.
Still pale but promising,
a winter-weary sun lounges yet,
late and low, hovering over
the southern edge of the land.

Somewhere, a kite caresses the sky.
A young boy, tethered to it by
a long line of string and hope,
marvels at the fancy of flight,
at the moving patch of brilliant color
he now sends singing about
the azure blue above.
Down the street, a woman cracks open a door,
steps outside, hugs herself from the
cold, picks up the morning paper
and returns to warm home, hot coffee.

A dog barks.
March continues writing its scenario.


© James R. Batt, 2016.