Technological Prowess (A Boast)

caribbean map 0420

Let’s just call me Mr. Technology. The only way I really win the title is if every other contestant drops out, but I’m feeling half-virtuoso-esque (and yes, I’m quite sure you’ll find that in a dictionary somewhere).

[Which reminds me of a dictionary story. It’s a cautionary tale, and the moral is: never bet against the dictionary.

Waaaaay back in college, when I was studying things like words and my friend Dan was studying whatever particles existed in electricalness at the time, he started throwing around this word, “initialize.”

Now, you children of today are thinking, Of course that’s a word, but back in 1980 it really wasn’t, except maybe to would-be electrical engineers. So Dan and I bet, I think it was dinner at McDonald’s or something equally extravagant, and I pulled out a dictionary, a perfectly respectable one like Merriam-Webster, and it wasn’t there. It wasn’t in the second dictionary we checked. It wasn’t in the third.

The problem — and this is where that moral comes in — is that the world has an endless supply of dictionaries, and while “initialize” did not materialize in books # 4, 5, 6 or 7 (at which point you would think Dan should have conceded graciously), we made the horrible mistake of going into the math or science library on campus and found Funk and Wagnalls — and the dang book had “initialize” sitting right there like it was a real word. One cheeseburger, out of pocket.]

So if we move from a complete digression of my humiliation (how did we get there, I wonder?) to my accomplishments, you did not hear from me earlier today because I was mastering any number of technologies.

It started with a Zoom conversation with the director of the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, where I confirmed that my computer microphone does not like Zoom. Fortunately, this issue had come up in a previous iteration of Zoom, so I knew enough to dig up my headset with a microphone.

I should back up because I almost didn’t get to Zoom because the internet was non-functional here at home, as has happened three times in the last five days. So far, it restarts with a push of a button, which is better than at work, where the internet was down for the count Friday afternoon and almost all of today. We would complain, because it’s the same excuse offered every time (a line cut by Bailey, a town close to Denver), but we’re getting free internet this month as a pandemic assist. So we really shouldn’t complain, even though we want to.

I restarted the internet, fixed my microphone issue and Zoomed, all successfully, and then I attended my first webinar, which took an hour to provide the same material that could be covered in five minutes of reading. I will confess that I made the middle section of the webinar, the presenter’s “slides,” if you will, full-screen and then couldn’t find my way out until in a moment of panic I started pressing function keys and F11 bailed me out.

I took a phone call in the middle of the webinar, and sent any number of internet links to the chamber director, and Kara and I had a day-long run of text messages, so I feel fully plugged in. I even used the new wireless printer Lynn and I got.

The one place I failed was the modern-day version of a radio contest. Remember those? “Be the 24th caller and you’ll win two concert tickets!” Except this was on the internet and the prize was going to be $5,000 of free money from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I don’t know what caller I was, probably 200 millionth, because I never got past either a blank screen or one telling me the site was experiencing heavy traffic, up until the moment it crashed. I don’t think I’m getting $5,000.

I guess there are two places I failed, because I’m locked out of my new One Drive account for on-line Microsoft Office, and I’m at a stalemate with Microsoft: they tell me information is optional, but won’t let me back in until I give them my birthday, which I don’t think they need for me to use their stupid software.

Now, if we want to talk stupid, I must further confess (I thought we were done with humiliation way up the page) that after years of ownership, I finally figured out my stud finder only yesterday and only thanks to videos on Youtube.

(Oh, I should further confess that while Lynn and I together managed to call Facebook up on our TV, we never did figure out how to access the “living room concert” on offer by the Gunnison Arts Center Friday night. And I learned that you can’t sign up one minute ahead of time to take part in Senator Bennet’s town hall phone calls. You have to be an earlier bird than that.)

I have this Stanley IntelliLaser stud finder, a gift from someone long ago, and it’s never located a single stud (not even the owner). Needless to say, and yet here I am, saying it anyway, it all turns out to be operator error.

The first thing one has to do is set it on a wall, not in front of a stud (not even the owner). Then it calibrates, and only then do you move it along a wall. When it locates the edge of a stud it beeps, and then you go a little farther before back-tracking, so that it can locate the other edge of the same stud.

Once you know what you’re doing, many years of ownership later, it actually works pretty well. Of course, it can’t solve the problem it then creates, that not a single stud in your walls anywhere is located where you’d like to put nails to hang pictures.

I did use studs for the two nails I used to finally — and I mean finally, since I had it framed years ago and then never hung it up — hang my 1960s National Geographic map of the Caribbean, although it did occur to me that by the time the little nails made it through the drywall, they’re probably hanging to the studs by their fingernails.

So far, though, the only picture to crash to the ground is the unframed one I duct-taped to the wall, and it’s been at least 24 hours, so that ought to impress you all almost as much as it does me.

I should feel empowered, right, that I mastered practically everything except Microsoft and Facebook (and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce)? Or, at the very least, that it probably only took me 10 years, or more, to learn to use my stud-finder?

Believe it or not, I watched 25 minutes of stud-finder videos yesterday — but it turns out to have been time well-spent. Sadly, I didn’t buy the $70 stud-finder that attaches to your phone, even though I really wanted to.

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