Wednesday, July 24, 2013

High Tech Failures, Low Tech Book Joys

I'm in a high tech bad mood today.  I have spent far too long on the phone with AT&T.  It used to be simple to transfer service.  Now it's not.

I try not to think about places with better connectivity and cheaper costs than we have in the U.S.  Eventually we'll get there.  We're a bigger country, and it will take longer to get the fiber optic (and better!) technology to everyone.

But in the meantime, could we please program our computers so that when I talk to one customer service rep it's clear what others have done?  Or so that the customer service rep can find me in the system, even if I don't have a reference # handy?  You should be able to type in my name and have a whole record come up.  And my last name is very unusual--it's not like there are 28000 Berkey-Abbotts in my zip code!  How hard is this?

I won't even go into the variety of tech troubles at work:  textbook companies that launch a whole new electronic curriculum (not the one we adopted and paid for) just before the quarter starts.  Fine if you want to do that, but get all the bugs out first.


No, let me focus on some old technology that's making me happy this week.  Let me return to the world of books.

Since we've had no Internet connection at the new house, and I have yet to move my computer over, I've been reading when I get up early in the morning.  I've been reading Meg Wolitzer's latest, The Interestings.  Wow!  What a great book.  It's funny, and I love the characters, and it's profound, and Wolitzer has the most astute societal observations.  I imagine students hundreds of years from now reading her books to glean what life was like during the beginning years of the 21st century.

She also has keen insights on the lives of people with artistic aspirations.  How do we express our creativity if the world isn't open to it?

It's a fabulous book; I had trouble putting it down.  Monday night, while I waited and waited and waited for the AT&T tech to be done (not done yet, alas), I settled in with that book, some cheese and crackers, and a glass of wine.  I felt supremely satisfied.

Unlike Tuesday morning, when I was bounced to 5 different people, none of whom could tell me when the tech might return to finish the job.  But I said I was going to focus on the book related events making me happy this week.  There's one more.

Our school library has been weeding books and putting the books weeded out of the collection on tables for anyone to take.  I've been adding rejected books from our personal collection too. 

On Monday, as I walked by the tables of books that need a new home, I heard a student gasp with happiness.  In her hand, she held The Journals of Lewis and Clark, a book that I had donated.  I saw the stack that she was creating:  lots of books from our history collection.  And many of the books from my spouse's Philosophy collection are gone too.

The nuclear war castaway books are still on the table.  Does that make me happy or sad?  Many of them are no longer relevant.  Alas, they've lost relevancy not because we're in a much safer world, but because the Cold War world they describe is no longer accurate.

It makes me SO happy to think that our students are taking these books away. May they enjoy them thoroughly.

And it makes me happy to know that I can still enjoy a book the old-fashioned way:  turning pages by lamplight, eating a snack, enjoying a libation. 

And it makes me supremely satisfied that I got the book from the library.  I love the Broward County Public Library.  I'm lucky to have this kind of system.

I'm lucky that I've always had access to good libraries--I'm very lucky.  And I'm happy that authors keep writing books which still find their way to the world.  I'm happy that there are still publishers that will deliver books to me in the old-fashioned way, on pages.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Oh, dear. If I were still at school I would've grabbed those Cold War books in a heartbeat. Too bad I'm hours away now.