Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pray for Me in My Time of Need

I'm still without a computer. This is really starting to interfere with my life. I thought I'd make some Indian papier-mache things -- because I might go to the Sacred Lands show on Black Friday and because I simply won't call Indians Native Americans -- but I realized I'd need the internet to search out some designs and meanings I like.

I see that I've missed all the happy faces at Obama's election, and thought that, despite owning no television, I could check 'em out online. Oh. Right. No computer.

I wonder if XX got the check for the building of my website. I can just log on to my Regions account and -- oh. Right.

When I bought my first crock pot, I was living in Western New York, in the winter, when power outages are not uncommon. I was also boiling water for coffee (an essential nutrient) and pouring it into the Melitta cone-filter-drip setup. So I got to thinking that, with my new crock pot, I was all set for outages -- I could heat up the water in the crock pot instead of on the stove top.

Well, that's how it is without a computer. I'm so used to the thing that I keep heading for my desk, forgetting that it's unavailable. Can't use the computer? That's okay -- I'll watch a movie!

Oh. Right.

So it's sad times here in Gulfport. The motherboard arrived, but it's flawed. They're sending another one but apparently they haven't heard of overnight express, because I'll get my computer Monday. Or Tuesday. But Tuesday, it turns out, is a holiday. Yep. Veterans' Day. That's hard to remember. We went right from Halloween to Christmas, if the decor at Walgreens is any indication, yet Veteran's Day is in there somewhere (not to mention Thanksgiving), shutting down the post office for a day -- the day my motherboard would have arrived.

This is depressing to me. The only thing I can do is eat ice cream and send you to my website, on the off chance you haven't been there yet. In the meantime, if any of you Catholics out there (and you know who you are) have invented a saint for electronics, please tell me about him. And you know it's a him.

Back to the Indians ... Long ago, I was reading an article about something in some magazine (just to be specific). The term indie was used and I didn't immediately know what it meant. Ah. I finally figured out that it meant independent, but goddess forbid we should use a whole big word. That would be like spelling out WTF, and we'll have none of that. Those were the days before everyone had a computer but as you see, the language was already being truncated, preparing itself for emails and text messaging.

Anyway, I decided then and there that I simply wasn't interested in being cool anymore. Don't get me wrong. I'd never actually been cool. It had been a consideration, though, something I aimed at or at least hoped for. Well, I realized at indie that I simply didn't care anymore. It was too much hassle to keep up. It's not important.

So when it became clear that "Native American" was the phrase to use, I knew I didn't want to. Let the generation after me call them that. I'm too tired to be bothered with new words for old things for no apparent reason.

Ditto "African-American," unless you're like Obama, an actual African-American. "Black" is good enough. "Afro-American" will even do. But "African-American"? Can't make me. No one's calling me an Italian-American, let alone an Italian-Irish-Swedish-German-American.

So now maybe I'm understanding the middle-aged people in the sixties who didn't want to switch from "colored" to "Afro-American" or "black." They weren't being racist. They were just being middle-aged. They were starting to get tired.

I can't bear "people of color" replacing "colored people." I just don't get the difference. How can one be an insult and the other not? I admit that "people of color" sure sounds romantic. And it could include me, too, couldn't it?

No. I've already gone from colored to Afro-American. I'm not also going to African-American, and I'm not changing to Native American. I'm just not.

This won't, I assure you, make me stop referring to grown human females as "women." It won't keep me from harping at you to refer to us as such. I won't come to think "girl" and "woman" are the same.

I'm not that tired.


olga kruse said...

I would pray for you if I thought you really needed it; but you don't. You are just as funny and interesting without a computer as with one. So, perhaps, you are KOOL. You do sound KOOL.

Jason said...

When I describe you I call you "my cool Aunt in Florida".
As to the name thing, I got that way about certain terms a long time ago. For instance, "retarded" used to be the acceptable word for people who were in fact (scientific term coming...) mentally retarded. The science community used this term for anyone whose brain development and function were retarded. But then all of a sudden that isn't acceptable anymore. Mentally-Challenged was the new phrase which replaced the word. If you've ever seen me try to do a math problem in my head, you've seen someone being mentally-challenged. Ok, so that one doesn't work, let's make up a new one. Differently-Abled will be the new phrase... Well, I have different abilities than you do, so, are we Differently-Abled? Nope. Again, name change. I stopped listening to the terms after that. Mentally retarded? Fine with me. Does it a have a negative connotation to it? Hell yeah! do you want to be retarded? No. Do you think the people who are (if they knew what it was like to not be retarded) would want to be? No. Does it seem harsh? It is. Sorry. Not much I can do about it. Anyway, I will use African-American because I feel I'm supposed to. But I do it only because I feel I should for the sake of my kids. Native American I say beacuse I have true Indian (from India) friends and I wouldn't want them to be confused with a Native American. There was no Channa Masala at the first Thanksgiving, much to our ancestors' chagrin, I'm sure.

Love, Jase

Pi-Dave-ke said...

I went four months without the laptop computer. I know it isn't the same, since I had the old desktop right there available, but c'mon, that's like using a motorized wheel barrow to cruise around town!

I feel such redemption in knowing I am not the only curmudgeon who, at one time secretly hoping he might be considered at least somewhat cool, has entirely given up all hope of or act having anything to do with coolness. If something is considered cool today, I look at it to see what's wrong with it. I just can't seem to find a cell phone encased in cast iron, or even cast aluminum that will do nothing but make a phone call.

[Sidebar: Recently noticed a sign on an off-lobby restroom prohibiting digital imaging devices, cameras, camera phones, etc. from the rest room. Seems almost as obvious as the warning label on a step-stool not to use it as stonemason's scaffold.]

As far as the political correctness invading our language, we all know it is well intended and I suppose there is nothing inherently wrong with that. What bothers is that there are those who must busy themselves with all the wrongs they perceived ever happened and then finding it their personal responsibility to finger-wag fuss, correct, and punish each and every possible or potential offender.

Yeah, I guess I'm tired too. I would never want to offend anyone individually, and would certainly prefer to refer to someone as he or she likes, but you can't please everyone all the time etc., etc.

In the work I do we sometimes find defects in the equipment that will prevent it from performing its intended function. In the written form, that equipment carries the abbreviation BOS, or Bad Order-Shop. But in speaking we simply call these pieces of equipment "cripples". A simple term, everyone knows immediately what it means, no questions need be asked. It does seem rather callous until you consider the environment: its a railroad car, it can't be used until it is repaired, fact of's a cripple until it is fixed.

In a tongue-in-cheek manner of political correctness, some of us started calling these cars "mechanically challenged". That was a big hoot for a while, but in reality, it takes a lot more to say "mechanically challenged" that it does "cripple", so we return to the path of least resistance.