Saturday, February 17, 2018

Barbara vs. the Machines (Round 3)


Victory over technology! I fought the scanner and I won! (It just took a few rounds, but I’m back.)

There are three things that can cause stress and anxiety in my life, and the last two weeks have been the perfect storm of all three:
  • Logistics (as in flight arrangements, tickets, and lodging)
  • Income Taxes and other Bureaucratic Forms
  • Inexplicable Technological Failures
All three conspired to make blogging difficult, but it was the last that made it impossible. The first made me a basket case, the second amplified the hysteria, and the last left me vibrating.

The Logistics Nightmare
       I scored Hamilton tickets on Broadway. Through an elaborate process of being designated a Ticketmaster “verified fan” (meaning I don’t scalp tickets), receiving a secret code at 4 a.m. Alaska time, and getting online with a bazillion others; I scored Hamilton tickets. I was going to take another month in Manhattan.

Which, of course, meant Logistics. I began with Airbnb, which meant hours of looking at other people’s apartments. I had never used Airbnb before and I was haunted by things like this:
Less than three days’ notice! Yikes, yikes, yikes! So after I found a lovely spot, I emailed back and forth with the host, seeking reassurance that she’d never do anything like that. She promised.

And then she did it. After I’d already matched my flights to her dates.

Okay, that’s worth some tension. That’s worth about five more hours on the Internet and more emails with prospective hosts, seeking reassurance (in a situation that offers no reassurance). The most I could achieve – until I show up in Manhattan and get a key for an actual apartment – is temporary relief. So we move on to:

Income Taxes and other Bureaucratic Forms (such as Medicare enrollment)
       I went to an information session, I ordered explanatory booklets, I talked to friends. I was ready. I signed up.

And then the bill came: $402 dollars when everyone else is only paying $134! $402 a month is $4,824 a year. That is more than I’ve ever paid for health care. My budget is blown!

I phone friends, I Google things. I freak out (because, of course, I’m already in the midst of the Logistics Nightmare). Only much later do I see that the bill is quarterly.

But then assorted IRS documents show up in the mail. In my efforts to declutter financial accounts, I now have to research things like “basis” and “automatic reinvestment” and the inches-thick file I have on an account I’ve had since I was 23.

I haven’t even faced this problem. At this point, I’m so notched up – didn’t I just return from vacation?!? – that it’s even interfering with my ability to avoid, to zone out with Netflix.

Inexplicable Technological Failures
       But our Internet has suddenly become so slow that a single Netflix show is buffered 17 times. Watch for a minute, wait for a minute. Watch for a minute, wait for a minute. The Internet Service Provider says nothing has changed; they continue to deny reality. They change our password.

Now the HP printer-scanner won’t scan. It needs the new password, but it tells me:
What does that mean?!? I turn to the HP Support Forums … again. If I were to make my contribution to the world, I would re-do Support Forums. This is how they work: random person has a problem, random person poses a question, not-so-random people pose solutions. Many, many people have my same problem, and they all post the question so there are zillions of the identical question. The not-so-random people who answer only answer the one they see, so you end up with zillions of potential solutions which are hidden like needles in a haystack.

Let’s say my problem shows up 57 times. Answerer #28 answers Questioner #47 and Questioner #47 says it works. Hooray! Except that Answerer #28’s answer is buried underneath Problems #1-57, and those other Answerers were wrong, communicated in Klingon, or missed the point. But you have to look at ALL of them, try ALL of them until you happen to stumble upon Questioner #47. Where you discover that you must have been given a WPA2 security protocol with a WPA2 password … and your printer-scanner was manufactured before they invented WPA2! The Internet guy says, “Whoa, your scanner is OLD!”

No, it’s just in its Third Third.


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