MY LIFE - Befuddled

MY LIFE - Befuddled

Let’s get one thing straight from the start. I am not stupid. I know this because I am smart enough to know that I’m not. Nor do I think I’m a genius either, because I’m also smart enough to realize that, too. But I know things. And one thing I know for sure is that there are lots of things I don’t know.

I am also good at remembering things, like poetry, for example. I can quote poetry at you until your eyes glaze over and you topple out of your chair, including every stanza of “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendell Holmes. I am still able to rattle off the complete set of auxiliary verbs (has, have, had, do, does, did ... etc.) that I learned in 6th grade, and I can sing the first line (albeit it only the first line) of almost every song I’ve ever heard, as well as God-only-knows how many Broadway show tunes.

So tell me how it can be that I seem unable to learn and/or retain the basics of everyday electronic communication devices.

Part of the problem may be the fact that things keep changing. For example, I no sooner mastered and became comfortable with my old desktop computer than it bit the dust and I discovered it had pretty much become obsolete anyway. I then progressed to a newer one that no longer had any use for the “floppies” on which hundreds of my old columns had been saved, but instead used something that may or may not have been CDs, which I never used anyway, before things change once again and so on, into the wide world of wireless devices. And thus has gone until I now find myself befuddled once again, but now on multiple fronts.

First of all is the iPad. I bought my first iPad six years ago and managed fairly well in my own fashion until it died in the fall of 2016 and I bought a new one that locked me out before I could even get into it. I then had to throw myself on the mercy of the nearest Apple store where they were able to unlock it without making me feel like an idiot, and then unscramble whatever else had addled its brain so I could once again get back to socializing on Facebook and playing Words with Friends. Then just this morning it was once again demanding that I subject myself to the angst of letting it do an update.

I hate updates. Every time I finally give in and let it do its thing, it comes back with all kinds of weird changes seemingly just for the sheer hell of it. It was still “in the process” when I left it to begin this column on my non-Apple laptop, so who knows what new stuff it will be waiting for me to wade through once I get back to it. Always in the back of my mind at times like this is the fact that my first computer was actually killed by an update. I agreed to the update, walked away, and returned later only to find a blue screen with a small notice in its center that essentially said, “Oops, something bad happened during the update.” The computer never worked again.

Then we have my relatively new laptop which I am currently using, but only thanks to my son Tom who, tired of having to talk me through the process (using Google doc. now instead of my old Word program), emailed me directions on how to get into the program needed to write this. Last week’s column was a rerun because I couldn’t get to where I needed to be once I logged on. Although I thought I had it all committed to memory and had managed to do it several times since buying my new laptop almost three months ago, suddenly I was back to trying every which way but loose and failing at every turn. I will save the instructions (actually pictures of each screen I need to access) and hope for the best next week.

Apparently needing more befuddlement in my life, three weeks ago I finally threw caution to the wind, gave into the urgings of my kids, and upgraded my old flip phone (never completely mastered) to an iPhone. It seemed like a good time to make the switch since I will be going to Quebec later this year and I mentioned how nice it would be to be able to take pictures with my phone. The iPhone seemed the way to go because (“old dog, new tricks”) it would be easier to adapt to since the new phone’s screen is almost identical to my iPad’s. So far, so good, but my fingers are still crossed on that one.

And then as if my poor brain had not already been taxed enough, two days before the iPhone, I also got an upgrade on my car, trading the old 2004 PT Cruiser for a nifty 10-years younger Jeep Cherokee equipped with more bells and whistles than I knew even existed, all of them electronic and every one still a puzzle to me. I know things are in there because the salesman showed them to me, but darned if I can remember how to access them, and the voice in the box keeps reminding me that my phone is not connected, by which it means my Bluetooth is not yet speaking to its Bluetooth.

This weekend will see them finally interacting and I will be able to check one more thing off my list, but to be perfectly honest, I suspect most of the features may remain a mystery to me forever.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.