On offending the gods

Last night, I went to see Antigone – by the way: a most elegant production by the Third Wall Theatre Company – and it made me think. (Did I hear someone laugh?). Well, it did. You see, it was all about what happens when you screw up massively and annoy the gods (or nature or the universe, or whatever it is that slams us to our knees with such depressing regularity). And let me tell you: Those gods, once they get their knickers in a twist, have no sense of the ridiculous. That’s why it’s called “tragedy.”

Destiny is the wellspring of Greek tragedy; it also dominates my relationship with technology. It’s pathetic. Just as I start to think I’ve made my peace with the 21st century, kowblooey! There I am, spinning along at a rate of knots, pouring out words, inserting images, sorting data, even contemplating the purchase of an mvd player – I think that’s what it’s called – when all of a sudden, the machine comes to a screaming halt and says: “No.”

I am irked, I admit it. “What do you mean, no?” I snarl. “You did it last week. What’s the matter with you, anyway, you rusted-out barrel of byte-sized bolts?”

I am told that some people, when they hit the electronic wall, waste no time in calling for technical support. Personally, I find that this leads to embarrassing conversations. For instance: “What do you mean, you didn’t keep a backup?!” Alternatively, there are impenetrable questions along the lines of: “When did you last defrag?” (When did I last what?!)

The ancient Greeks had it right. This is destiny we’re talking about, and it’s best to go quietly. When computers stop working, all you can do is cast your hands up to the heavens, acknowledge that fate has dealt you one in the chops and go buy some gin.

All this to explain why I have not yet updated the Linden House website to incorporate the hot news (see the previous blog) re our 2011 production of The Circle by Somerset Maugham.

I actually did the work. I went in to the website-builder and updated everything. This involved more thinking, I’m afraid, and that can’t be good for me. At one point, I think there was actually smoke coming out of my ears as I pushed technology to the outer edges. Never mind! I gleefully hit the “Save” button, happy to know that yet another job had been ticked off the endless and self-renewing “To Do” list.

“No way,” said the computer. “Forget it. Go away. Nya-nya-nya-nya!” and words to the effect.

This is a family blog. There is a young dog in the house, and I will not share the words that came from my lips. I gathered my forces and cautiously tried again. Same answer. “You have offended the gods,” intoned the machine. “Eat your heart out.”

This was an especially painful blow, given the character of the last couple of months, which I can only describe as grim. Some time around February 15, my favourite clients typically glance at the annual work plan and say something along the lines of, “Whoops.” That’s when – if I am lucky – the phone rings and a mother lode of emergency work results – all of it with a March 31 deadline. Now, this is a good thing in many ways, rather like the Christmas rush in the retail market. It helps me to finance a few bad habits (such as the annual play) and luxuries (laundry soap, for instance) and even the odd necessity (gin rises to mind).

Don’t get me wrong (are you listening, gods?). The only thing worse than having too much work is having too little. Still, I wonder what bright light first had the idea of inciting our government into a frenzy of year-end activity. Anyway, it’s over for another year. I thundered over the finish line in the middle of the night on Thursday, March 31. I pressed the “send” button and, as the sun rose, went for a long walk with Juno the Dog. Three days have passed since then, and life is beginning to filter back into the numbed extremities. I have actually smiled twice this morning.

Before I cheer up too definitively, do you mind if I snarl a bit about daylight savings? Last month, I was proceeding along, minding my own business, head down, working away steadily and in good heart, all things considered, when all of a sudden the government ripped an entire hour out of my life. Don’t get up at 6, screamed the powers that be. Get up at 5! IN THE DARK!

I ask you. Then the bastards have the nerve to ask for my vote. Not until they give me back my hour! Of course, it could have been worse. It could have been a whole day. My sister has just returned from the Orient, having crossed the dateline (twice) in going and returning. My understanding of that line is that the universe first gives you a whole day and then grabs it back. Isn’t that typical? The head spins. Literally.

Cautiously opening one eye to see if the spinning has stopped, I cast it forward to the future. There will be a morning, some time in October, I believe, when the government will grudgingly give me back my hour. Though unforgiving of the original injury, I will drink that hour to the dregs. I will luxuriate. I will roll myself up in it. I will soak in it. I will pour cream into its steaming depths and dawdle over it. I may even have a second cup as I wonder how to use that wonderful new expanse of unscheduled time.

In the meantime, I’ve got things to do. It’s Sunday, and I am running late. My beloved nephew is probably sitting beside the telephone in Denver, waiting for my call (ha-ha). Never mind. When he does make the mistake of answering the telephone, he’s mine! He has this little program by which he takes over remote control of my computer. I sit on my hands – literally, because the instinct to seize the mouse and make trouble is almost overwhelming. So I sit on my hands and watch wide-eyed, while a ghostly mouse in Colorado moves the cursor around in a slow and methodical way and, presto, it’s all fixed.

Andrew, my wonderful nephew, is mentioned in my will. Not – given my various bad habits (see above) – that there will be anything to inherit. But worst case scenario: he can have my computer. He, at least, knows how it works.

And now dear reader: Give me an hour or two, then check out the website – www.lindenpro.ca. If you see the date “October 20-29, 2011” mentioned anywhere, you’ll know that Andrew still loves his old aunt and that I managed to catch him when his resistance was low.

If not and if you know anything about computers, please call.