I should never assume that, just because something is difficult for Suzanne and me–as well as most of our generation, that it is difficult for Gail, too.
I tend to forget that not much gets her down.
For the past few weeks, I have been complaining to Suzanne, and anyone else who will listen, about my struggles with technology, specifically my new computer and the programs I am learning, as well as unfortunate technical incidents I have recently experienced.
When I asked Gail about how she handles computer glitches, in her trademark style, she reports “I don’t get stressed about it. It’s not worth it. I just picture the successful outcome, and keep going forward. It always works out.”
Maybe for her. Suzanne and I, and I am guessing many people over age 50, struggle with the ever-changing world of computer technology.
“It makes me crazy,” Suzanne says. “I hear people talking about a PDF, a JPEG, and I am lost. I don’t get it. we are always having to learn new updates.”
When Suzanne and I returned from our beach trip last month, we had to get back in the groove of life on land. It was hard enough without the technical difficulties literally facing me when I opened my computer up the next day for a noon Zoom meeting. I had taken it along in its padded case and transported it in the back seat with the blanket and pillows, but somehow it sustained a fatal blow. It was a touch-screen, and the screen was cracked. The video portion of our call quickly was lost, and everything went downhill from there, until it was no longer functional. I went straight downhill with it.
My book was on there; I have been working hard to wrap it up. And another book. And two others I am starting. And several hundred WORD documents.
I knew I had no choice but to suck it up and plow forward with a new one. I knew that someone, somewhere, was a computer wizard who could transfer everything from my old computer to the new one. So, while I did panic, I knew I would find them, and all would be saved.
Because I am an old dog and I have no desire to learn new tricks, I knew it would need to be replaced with another one just like it. Except they no longer make that model, which I bought only three years ago. So, I dug in, did the research, called the company and found the closest replacement. It showed up on my porch two days later.
I took them both in to the local wizards, and sure enough, they saved the day–and my documents, as well as my sanity. And everything else on my computer. They gave me the hard drive from the old computer–about the size of a flat stick of gum–and told me to tuck it safely away somewhere just in case…All was well.
Or so I thought.
When I opened it up again to get back to the book, it was nowhere. Not in the file I had created. Not with the hundreds of other WORD documents. Nowhere. Neither was the other one, or the other files I had created as beginnings of other books.
I felt a wave of disbelief, then nausea, then my little voice kicked in and reminded me that nobody died. It could be a lot worse. The panic didn’t leave after that reminder; but my self-talk went something like this: You have both books on paper. You may have lost the words for the other books, but you haven’t lost the ideas. It will be a fresh start; perhaps even better than what you had.
This was all flowery and good, except I wasn’t buying it from that little voice. Once you get words on paper, they can never be duplicated when lost. Perhaps the general idea, but never the words. And when you were happy with what you wrote, this is soul-crushing for a writer. The waves of nausea and panic continued.
I had apparently been a little too confident, I neglected to put these documents on a jump drive, because that won’t happen to me. Neither did I consciously save them in a cloud; I don’t even know how that really works. I called the computer wizards, cried on their shoulders (again), and granted them remote access to my new computer. They couldn’t find the files either, but it since was close to closing time, they assured me it was there somewhere, and asked me to bring it back in the morning, along with the hard drive they took out of the old computer.
I did just that, after an almost-sleepless night.
Turns out I did save them to a cloud; I just didn’t know I had done that. Except for two chapters of the book I was working on–the longest and the shortest, everything showed up–as far as I can tell. I re-wrote those two chapters from the paper copies and called it a day. The wizards at JAB-IT in Salina, Kansas, saved my books–and my sanity. I owe them a debt of gratitude, which I will continue to attempt to repay with more cookies, and hopefully my recommendations that will bring more people with their computer issues through their doors. I highly recommend them to anyone in this area with computer issues; they’ve got the magic.
The owner, Jason A. Bathon deserves special thanks, not just for his help with my computer, but for his service to our country in the United States Navy. The book he saved, the one I am wrapping up, details the life of another veteran. It is a departure from my normal writing subjects, but I am honored to help tell the story of a Vietnam Veteran who fought for our country over 50 years ago, experienced the devastation of war, and has led the most incredible life since then.
I have become more keenly aware of the sacrifices of our veterans, and whatever I can do to help them in their journey after their service to our country, I will do. Which is why I am recommending Jason’s business to anyone who needs computer help, and why I am hoping the book, One American’s Story: War, PTSD, Politics, Parkinson’s and the Pandemic Through the Eyes of a Vietnam Veteran, will soon be on your reading list. Jim, the Vietnam Veteran I am co-authoring with, offers incredible insight into the nature of conflict not just in Vietnam, but in our present-day society as well.
If, like me, you are an American who values your freedom, but knows woefully little about the Vietnam War, as well as the aftermath, and how it compares to our present-day conflicts, then perhaps your eyes will be opened through this book, too. If, like me, you say thank you for your service when you see an active-duty military person, or a veteran of any war, but feel there is little else you can to do thank them, please consider reading the book, and letting Jim’s wisdom sink in.
We are hoping to have it ready on Kindle Direct Publishing via Amazon within the next few weeks. I will let you know when it is available both in print, and as an e-book.
Having gestated and birthed two children, I think I can safely compare the book-writing process to that: the development seems slow, painful and tiring at times, but now that the final steps are taking place, the contractions have started, and exciting things are happening. We had to call in a few specialists, but it looks like the bouncing baby book will be just fine, once it gets here.
I must also give special thanks to my new friend Laura, who is the formatting wizard. She is preparing the book for publication, and if I hadn’t struck up a conversation with her at her garage sale early in the summer, I would be having even more technical difficulties.
I am proud to say that, after a year of use, I am now feeling comfortable with my iPhone.
I was a die-hard Android user, and somehow, someway, my children talked me into converting to an iPhone. Initially, I regretted it, but now that I am comfortable with it, I can say I am happy I did it. Most importantly because it allows me the easiest method to communicate with my son, who is literally on the other side of the world.
It was a steep learning curve, and I still have questions sometimes, but my youngest son is still around to help me answer them, because he has the very same phone.
Obviously, I am not proficient with technology. I have realized with age, and especially through my work, that most people are either primarily left-brained, which means they are good with facts and concrete information, or they are right-brained, which means they are good with abstractions and tend to be more creative. I know that I fall into the latter category, which means I struggle with technology.
Language learning is typically done effortlessly in the first few years of life. Children, if raised in a multi-lingual home, often pick up two languages simultaneously, and speak them both perfectly. There is abundant research to show that this window of learning is wide open until about age five, when it begins to slowly close. It never completely closes, it just become harder with age, much like learning new technology.
Anyone born before the 80’s will likely agree with us: we didn’t learn computers/cell phones as children, which has made the learning a bit harder with age.
Age, however, doesn’t preclude such learning. It was once thought that the brain lost its plasticity with age, but research and experience has shown us differently. In my work as a speech therapist, I have been privileged to witness this rebounding many times. The human brain is resilient, and remains open to new styles of learning, whether due to illness or injury, or the presence of new technology.
Some people like Suzanne and me, however, resist it. Others like Gail, just roll with it.
About 15 years ago, my six siblings and I gave our parents a computer for Christmas. In our discussions prior to that gifting, I think I was the one who was most doubtful. “I really don’t think they will use it,” I said, “but I’ll go along with it.”
Turns out Mom and Dad had to sign up for time slots because they both enjoyed it so much. Turns out I ended up inheriting it when they died because I was the only one who needed a new computer at that time.
I’m so glad they all proved me wrong.
Suzanne and I had a low-tech lunch in the park on Friday of this week. We brought sandwiches, enjoyed the beautiful weather and beautiful landscape, talked and laughed. I almost made her choke once, but she pulled through.
We then took turns snapping each other’s photos in front of the three trees, one for each of us three sisters.
As always, we miss Gail when we are together, but she is always there in spirit. And, thanks to technology, always just a phone call away.
I am feeling more comfortable every day with my new computer, and I still have to remind myself that these technological difficulties are very much a first-world problem. A problem I may not have if not for our veterans, as well as active-duty, Reserves and National Guard soldiers. It is a privilege of the first world.
Thank you, Jim and Jason, and every other soldier, past and present. Our technical difficulties–and all the other difficulties– would be much greater if not for you all.