Home Columns & Editorials Iva's Input The machines are out to get me!

The machines are out to get me!

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Does a computer count as a machine or a device? Matters not, they’re after me.

So I’m sitting at the computer typing away at my much-anticipated column for this week, when, out of the blue—or whatever color cyberspace is nowadays—the screen went black (that color I know) and totally unresponsive. I wiggled and jiggled various plugs and sockets, wires and cords—no effect. Next, I tried the “nuclear” option; I shut the thing off—totally—electricity gone. Cold turkey. Turning it back on had very little effect. A sort of emergency message appeared, along with a countdown to normal restart procedure. All to no avail. I repeated all of this several times. The best the network could do for me was to present an apologetic message, “Well, this is embarrassing, we can’t seem to connect you with anything that you want to connect to.” Or words to that effect. More black screen. Aarrgh!

Several more episodes like this and I decided to cut my losses, insofar as this was possible, and I went to bed. Morning did not improve the situation. Every so often a different message would appear…then disappear…or offer suggestions for doing something that I could not do because the machine/device was not working (and, besides that , about half of the instructions were totally unintelligible to me). Right now I am typing on the back-up laptop, which, in any case will not help because there is no internet connection. I will probably just tote this baby down to the editorial offices of The Weekly Villager and have the tech wizards there suck this piece of deathless prose out of this functioning device and into whatever it is that makes the paper come out on Thursdays (I have a sneaking suspicion that it involves magic—aromatic smoke, drums, rattles and discerning omens in the tracks of chickens).

Anyhow, I spoke to one of my other resources, computerwise. He went online, via his phone, only to discover that the whole system had gone out in this part of the country. All very well and good but not very helpful when I’ve got work to do. The best that I can say for this bit of information is that, at least, It’s apparently not my fault; somebody will, likely, dispute this, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The piece that I was working on was about new words that I’ve been running into. See, I’ve been reading (and rather slowly, too, as the Garrettsville branch of the PCDL keeps very politely reminding me) an interesting book. The book is by a gentleman who was an editor for the most recent edition of the OED—Oxford English Dictionary—the supplement and the digital version. It ‘s really informative in a lot of ways and he diverts every so often to explain some of the words and expressions that make up this multivolume linguistic resource, recognized more-or-less universally as the ultimate authority for word usage and origin of words and expressions found in English. It’s a monumental work, which took YEARS to produce( 43 volumes or thereabouts) in the first place and the supplements, the short version and the digitization were almost equally time-consuming. At least, with the whole thing now encompassed in number-thingies(That’s a technical term) in digital form, a person can make use of the information without having to maneuver about with a wheelbarrow full of books just in case you might want to look something up. Just whip out your smart phone and you’re even smarter than Dr. Samuel Johnson—generally given credit for the first English dictionary—could have been…although he surely would have challenged that idea. He came up with a lot of the definitions himself and figured that they were quite good enough, thank you very much.

Rtf00000000000tp-fdddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd09rp<< Cat’s contribution to this article—she walked across the keyboard. I think that she’s angling for a column of her own. As soon as she learns how to apply for a credit card, I’m toast. I’m already suspicious of some of the items on the phone bill. Reading all about these interesting words has caused me to become more aware of unusual terms that I’m coming across just reading regular (Well, sort of) stuff. This doesn’t even count my copies of Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words or The Superior Person’s Book of Words. Suddenly, I’m noticing all kinds of oddities. The whole computer disaster came about just as I was checking out the word “spatchcock”. Not something that one encounters in everyday conversation, at least, not considering the people I talk to. It happens that I even had heard of this word, having been listening to a cooking show on NPR when I heard it and sort of figured out what it meant. I was right in the middle of checking with Martha Stewart’s website when—WHAM—the whole thing was gone. Just in case you’re interested, spatchcocking is preparing poultry(chicken, turkey, goose, duck, etc.), mostly by cutting out the backbone and flattening the carcass so that the flesh will cook more quickly and evenly. Makes it easier to stuff the bird too. Requires sharp scissors, that’s for sure. All of that is lost somewhere out in the ether. Judging by the lack of lights on my computer still, it’s likely to remain lost for the foreseeable future. So everyone will just have to wait to find out the definitions of “snollygoster”, “crepuscular”, “coppice”, and “jnana”. AND there are more. Bet you can hardly wait.