A taste of dystopia

Thanks to http://persononthings.wordpress.com/

Thanks to persononthings

Well, that was fun…not. The Daughter and I have just had six hours of being without power, and it was kind of scary, not because of any intrinsic danger [there was none], but because we were forced to acknowledge just how much we rely on power from the grid.

The most obvious thing that hit us was the lack of computers and internet. We both use the internet to stay connected to the great big world online, so six hours offline was painful. Strangely though, being offline would not have been so bad if we could have continued with our work. ‘Twas not to be.

The daughter uses a computer graphics package called Maya to model and animate 3D digital graphics, and of course I write and blog. She was reduced to dragging out a sketch pad and working in 2D. I went out into the garden and worked my butt off while cursing fluently and at length.

Why didn’t I get a notepad and pen and keep working the old fashioned way? Because I can’t seem to think and write longhand at the same time, not any more. But this very lack in myself was rather interesting, and triggered one of those moments when you recognize the influence of the past on the present.

Back when I was in my early 20’s I tried looking for a job armed only with my brand-spanking new BA Β [Bachelor of Arts]. The economy was going through a downturn, and no one was interested in training up a graduate. In desperation, I talked my parents into giving me the money to attend a dinky three week course. The purpose of the course was to train me to be a receptionist.

Most of the course was devoted to the use of archaic switchboards, grooming and what passed for elocution back then. Tucked away in odd hours was some instruction on touch typing. We were given a manual with pictures and graded exercises, some paper, and a roomful of the oldest, clunkiestΒ manual typewriters ever invented. The ones where you had to press a lever to create a ‘carriage return’.

For some odd reason I really took to typing. I’d learned the piano for ten years so my manual dexterity was pretty good, and it just felt so damn satisfying seeing those letters transfer from the inked ribbon to the clean white page.

Anyway, I digress. By the end of the three weeks I knew more about how to apply nail polish than I would ever want to know, and I knew how to touch type…very slowly. My speeds did improve though, and for many years I supported my life, and continuing studies, by temping as a typist/secretary/personal assistant. In short, I became a very good typist.

The ability to type, and my psychology course, eventually led me to computers and the rest is history. The point of this ramble, however, is that today I had an epiphany – if I had not done that stupid course, and if I had not learned to touch type, I might never have become interested in computers.

Would that have been so terrible? you ask.

Well, on my first date with my ex-husband we spent the whole night talking about philosophy and… computers. I firmly believe we would not have had a second date but for our shared fascination with this new phenomenon. And had we not married I would never have had The Daughter, I might not have done tech support and tech writing, and I might never have morphed that technical writing into writing fiction!

So there you have it, a whole life sent off on a different track because of just one, small skill. It’s not quite Chaos theory, but my own personal butterfly definitely clicketty clacked its way into my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The power’s back on, and I want to know if any of you have experienced something similar. Can you remember some small thing that changed your life? Maybe a series of small things? Or even some big ones?

TALK TO ME!

-cough- suffering from internet deprivation syndrome -cough-

cheers

Meeks

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

34 responses to “A taste of dystopia

  • Stephanie Allen Crist

    In one of my current classes, Tech & PA, the professor shared with us a not-so-tongue-in-cheek revision of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He assumed self-actualization, above which he put power and broadband.

    Like

  • metan

    As you can probably tell by my more intermittent blogging schedule of late I have been trying to ease off on my minor Internet addiction but I feel your pain.
    I remember watching a tv show recently that asked the question “what is the greatest invention of all time” and I couldn’t believe that the ability to control/use electricity wasn’t even mentioned! They focused on actual objects in the show but so many of them wouldn’t work without it. Power and water are the two things we would have the most trouble living without.
    You would laugh to see our caravan. We have no intention of doing without electricity while we are away no matter how remote. We have solar panels to charge the battery, an inverter to change 12v to 240v so we can charge our laptops, and a drawer full of 12v chargers for everything else!

    Hmmm… The thing that changed my life?….
    When I was young i started volunteering at the local animal refuge. On my first day I met The Man, whose mum was the manager there. And the rest as they say… is history! πŸ˜€

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    • acflory

      I know, electricity has become so ubiquitous we don’t even notice it any more unless it’s taken away. Back in the day when we had self standing stoves fueled by only gas, all you needed was a match to turn on the griller, a burner or the oven. When the power was out we had to find matches to run on our gas cooktop because the piezo wasn’t working. -rolls eyes- And no way to make toast. Even our solar hot water uses a small electric pump to transfer water from the tank up to the solar heater thingies so we didn’t dare use it. 😦

      Oh I love how your volunteering led to marriage and a family. That’s one of those great, feel good stories. πŸ™‚

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      • metan

        Oh yes, gone are the days when we could get through the day without flicking a switch. I admit though, the thing that annoys me the most when the power goes out is cooking being interrupted as we don’t have gas. A good excuse for slacking off though!

        I just asked the Man about the solar HW and power situation as we have one too. He thinks the pump is just for the cycling of the water when the panels get too hot or too cold and that the system is pressurised so the water will go into the tank if the power is on or not.

        (Family yes, marriage no! πŸ™‚ )

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        • acflory

          Gah… I have friends in Selby who have to cook with a gas bottle. You need an AGA! lol I’d love an AGA stove but to my budget that about on a par with a Porsche car. We can dream

          Thanks for the feedback on the solar hot water. It’s good to know we can still use it next time the power goes out.

          You know, my marriage lasted 17 years but my sister and brother-in-law never married but they’re still together – almost 35 years on. Funny ’bout that. πŸ™‚

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          • metan

            An Aga is high on the far-too-expensive side of my wish list too. After all, we keep the fire going all winter anyway, why not use it for cooking as well as heating.

            I thought the same as you but we have used to hot water when the power is out before and it hasn’t been a problem. Maybe next time the daughter is having a hot shower go out and listen to see if the pump is on while the water is running normally, just to double check? I would think that if using it while the power was off was an issue they’d would be sure to let you know when they installed it.

            We have many friends who wondered why we never got married ‘as we should’, but the Man and I have been together 25+ years, outlasting nearly all of them. I think a lot of people get married because of pressure from friends or family and don’t get to make the decision on their own. I see a wedding ceremonies as being based on gaining approval from your god or tribal leader, or society in general. Being inherently distrustful of authority and not being a believer in god at all I don’t see the point! πŸ˜€

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          • acflory

            Good advice re the solar hot water, I’ll do that.

            I’m not religious either, but I think my Catholic heritage must have been brewing in the background without my being aware of it. Not in a religious sense but simply because that life long commitment always seemed so special to me. In hindsight I know we’d have been better off just living together but … -shrug- You do what you do and either live to congratulate yourself or learn to live with your mistakes. πŸ™‚

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          • metan

            I always think that even things that go wrong in life are just lessons that make us better in the end. What kind of person would we be if life had always gone smoothly? πŸ™‚

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          • acflory

            Wrinkle free. πŸ˜‰ No, seriously, I agree. Every bad thing I’ve had to overcome has ended up being a blessing in disguise.

            Like

  • EllaDee

    It just proves how passsionate and dedicated to writing you are. I would have gone whooeee power holiday… let’s find me a book to read πŸ™‚ Even attacking the garden sounds like a good deal but yes, I know, you had other things on your mind you wanted to get onto a screen…
    There were hints from an early age of where life might lead me. I loved playing pretend typewriters, and catwalk model dress ups. The typing has been longstanding and lucrative enough, the other notsomuch.
    I’ve always said if you can cook and type you can live but you should never admit to either as you’ll end up doing it for someone else…

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    • acflory

      LMAO!!!!!!! I do love cooking but there have been so many times in my life when I wished I couldn’t boil an egg! The Daughter is much smarter than me – she chose a boyfriend who is a foodie and a great cook, which allows her to remain a neophyte in the kitchen. πŸ˜€

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  • Jon Jefferson

    I taught myself how to type on an electric keyboard and word processor (this was long before Microsoft word was an everyday thought).earlier this year I tried working with pen and paper again. Thought it would be fun and give a new perspective. All I gained was hand cramps and slower writing speed.

    When I had time for guilds and such in online games, they used to hate me. I hate using a microphone. Text messages in game is the only way for me.

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    • acflory

      Yes and YES! I’ve used Skype in-game when pushed to it but much prefer typing what I want to ‘say’. As for the cramps…every Wednesday I spend a whole horrible day scribbling longhand then come home, cook dinner and have to spend hours transcribing the scribble while I still have some chance of remembering what those chicken scratches actually mean. 😦

      Like

  • Carrie Rubin

    So hard to be without online access. I can’t believe how enmeshed my life has become with the Internet. On the days my power went out, I had my iPad to fall back on. As long as the battery held out, that is. But so much of our lives is online now, from banking, to shopping, to work, to pleasure. Definitely a first-world problem, I suppose.

    Like

    • acflory

      I’m not even sure it’s just a first world problem any more. I’ve read quite a few bits and pieces about how smart phones allow villagers in places like Africa to connect to the internet and actually sell their produce online. Apparently smart phones are cheaper than computers and connect to the net easier too.

      I think this is just a fact of life now. Our kids will probably tell /their/ kids about the bad old days when Grandma restricted their internet access. πŸ™‚

      Like

  • Honie Briggs

    “No one is going to tell me what to do, I’m joining the military.” That one ridiculous statement completely changed my life.

    Like

  • Candy Korman

    A life at the keyboard!
    Loved this post. It’s perfect.

    Like

  • anne54

    I taught myself to touch type, and I am grateful that I took the time to do it. Of course, when I went to school only those deemed to be heading off to a secretarial job were taught typing. Those of us thought to be brighter were destined for much more exciting careers in teaching and nursing!

    Like

  • davidprosser

    Be honest, it’s gaming deprivation you’re suffering really isn’t it. You haven’t killed anybody for hours. I suppose that should leave me quaking in my boots but I know you have a softer side, I just hope you can remember where you left it. I haven’t much defence at the moment as Ju has hidden my tool roll.
    I’m glad you’re powered up again now,
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Like

  • geooorge

    Man that thing called electricity. I was trying to integrate leaderboards in the game. And we lost power before i pressed Save…
    I got scared thinking why we lost power and then i found out that a civil worker cut a cable by accident while working on some road works and tripped the mains. Got really crossed.

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    • acflory

      Ouch, very ouch. I was writing when the power went [apparently they did send us all a letter…?] but StoryBox saves automatically so I didn’t lose much. Did it take long to redo what you lost? As for that worker…did he survive??

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  • dadirri7

    hello Meeks, we did not lose power, amazing since the winds were gale force and terrifying all on their own! We made preparations at 6am, filling a huge pot with water, since we need power for the pump to get water from our tank … but eventually the wind eased, torrential rain turned gentle, and we never lost touch with the www!! Love how you link your typing with the computer … I got hooked when doing a psychology degree at Macquarie … then honours and PhD … lots of typing, which I have never been very good at πŸ™‚

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    • acflory

      lol – great minds, at least re the psychology, although I’m ashamed to admit I never did finish that psych degree – the computer bug hit me hard.

      So glad you didn’t lose power. We had to rediscover the joys of heating water in a pot on the gas cooktop – after lighting the burner with a match coz the piezo was out as well! I don’t think I’d make a very good pioneer. πŸ˜‰

      Like

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