Holy Shit.

(And no, I’m not going to apologise for taking Shit’s name in vain…)

Normally I love technology.  When human beings mystify me in their endless capacity to engage in rudeness and biases and cognitive fallacies, I know that I can trust machinery to perform sensibly.  Sure, things break down, and sometimes they frustrate us because our mental models are incomplete, or the design is too poor to provide the right information for us to build accurate models. But once you understand how a system works, you can rely upon it to be predictable.

But sometimes the hardware is crappy, and sometimes the software is crappy, and sometimes it’s the “wet-ware” (me) that’s introducing errors, and when things get bad, it’s all of those.  And then I spend literally hours trying to get the simplest of tasks done.  Even ordinary things, like … getting messages.


I have voice-mail messages to listen to during my brief lunch not-hour.  I’m sitting in a desk by the window, hoping that the signal doesn’t break up due to Invisible Wireless Velociraptors or whatever the hell makes the signal erratic from one minute to the next.

The first time around I miss half the message because I’m having trouble punching the mobile button and then getting it back to my ear quick enough to catch the beginning of the message.

The second time I dial back into my voice-mail, all I can understand is that there’s an Important Message from someone.

The third time around all I can understand is that someone whose name sounds like “Spencer Wallace” is calling me, and then two people in the room begin chatting and Mr Wallace’s message gets blenderized with their words.

I clap the phone shut in annoyance and go outside to redial my voice-mail a fourth time, and finally hear enough to realise that this is (A) a recorded message and (B) punching “1” will connect me to a live body … hopefully.

(Granted I have a lot of trouble understanding voice-mail messages because of my auditory processing problems, but you would think that a major mobile phone company could at least make sure their automated recordings were clearer.)

Yes, it’s a live body!  She informs me that No, it’s not Spencer Wallace, but Sprint Wireless. Damn, Live Body is mumbly or has an accent or is required to stick to scripts that aren’t helpful for me right now.  Rather than spend the rest of my break time trying to muddle out the situation, I thank her and return inside to bolt down the rest of my lunch before it gets disgustingly congealed. (The sad part is that microwaved fries/chips with leftover chile and cheese is the best lunch I’ve had all week.)

In addition to needing clearer messages, getting phone service inside of the school buildings where I work would also be a good thing — on one campus, I have to leave the building and walk across the open-air plaza and try facing cardinal directions in hopes of securing a signal.  Sometimes I have to pull up the antenna, hold the phone up to the sky, and stroll halfway to the next building to get signal.  Mind you, I am at a college in a heavily-populated area, not the intersection of Cornfield and Bob’s Road in the hinterlands.  [Name that movie reference!]


Another voice mail was from the department secretary.  Plus, apparently I missed some e-mails from her as well.  Oh heavens, that’s right — I have a staff e-mail account in addition to the other e-mail account I use at the college. I had totally forgotten about getting the password set up a couple of weeks ago, because I was starting two jobs at the same time and both jobs required lots of paperwork and setting up user ID’s and passwords for various and sundry programs.

Yes, I have two e-mail accounts provided by the college.  Not just two e-mail addresses, but two separate systems that run on two different programs.  The secretary kindly reminds me of the URL to access my other account program.

Unfortunately, that is just the sign-in page for the second account.  It runs on Microsoft Outlook, and there are no helpful user links to click for “I forgot my password”.  (Insert Mac user’s rant about Microsoftware.)  An hour later, I have finally noodled through enough of the college’s Web site to have found where to set/re-set my password (and received no less than five unwanted pdf’s that automatically downloaded after clicking on an internal search-engine result).  Finally I can go back to that sign-in page.

Polysyllabic Expletive!

I have 21,059 e-mails.

I shit thee not; apparently the account was set up for me back in September of 2003. I had no idea it was there. I assumed that my other account was “the” account, because that was the address that all of the links and documents contained.

Obviously any e-mails before this year can be deleted.  There are so many because 99.9% of them seem to be list-serve messages sent to everyone at the college.

But Techies, GET A CLUE: it would be a good idea to set up a small routine to flag when you have users who have more than a couple hundred unread e-mails AND who have never sent any e-mails, so you can send them an alert by some means other than their e-mail account.

Crap, do I have some housekeeping to do. I have to read through the past month’s e-mails to make sure I’m not missing anything critical.  Anything else that’s critical, because I already missed something.

Then I have to figure out how to set one of the college’s e-mail systems to automatically forward to the other system.

Of course, that’s in addition to other little things this weekend, like teaching my Saturday class, writing the next three exams, figuring out how to use the grade-keeping program, grading the last two exams, and entering the two-week-point attendance (which information the secretary needs to drop anyone who hasn’t shown up).


Now that I’m at home, I also have to listen to the household voice-mails on the land line.

Oh, and I ALSO need to slog through setting up my voice-mail account with the college as well!

  • Voice-mails on my mobile.
  • Voice mails at the house.
  • Voice mails at the college.
  • E-mails at home.
  • E-mails at the school.
  • E-mails at the college.
  • The other e-mails at the college.
  • The e-mails within class-access program for the two classes I teach (Blackboard, which has its own special set of glitches).

My inner child is now whining, “Do I gotta?”

I could just cry. Were I the prayin’ sort, I would be praying.  But I’m not. Were I the drinkin’ sort, I would be drinking.  But I’m not.  I’m the rocking sort. So I am going to sit here and rock, because that’s what I do when I’m stressed.  At this rate, I’m going to be walking around in circles and flapping too, before the night’s out.

Twenty-one thousand and fifty-nine.  Ye gods and little fishes!


  1. Bug Girl said,

    15 September 2008 at 20:42

    Ugh. Yes. I have left a message on my (office #1) voice mail that says “I’m usually out of the office and it’s better to contact me via email; also this machine garbles messages.”

    I swear, NO one ever listens.
    I have voice mail at office #2 which no one knows how to work, I have 3 different email accounts via work. this doesn’t count my personal emails (2 different ones) and my cell phone and home phone.

    Too much. I agree.

  2. qw88nb88 said,

    6 September 2008 at 22:19

    Oh yes, I was definitely able to delete large chunks at a time — I set the viewing window to display 100 emails, started at the oldest, and then repeatedly Selected All and Deleted. Even so, there were still pages and pages and pages of things to work my way through. Then I went back and skimmed the past month and a half of messages to find the ones I needed to know about and keep.

    Now to tackle the voice-mail system. Maybe I can get an accommodations letter from my doc to remove me from the necessity of having an office voice-mail. But meanwhile …

    And of course, I am still learning to tell everyone apart! I have one set of students distinguished and am starting on their names, but the other class is still a blur of generic people. It’s not just the names, it’s also building those gestalts to identify who’s who when they are not sitting at their usual seats. ::sigh::

    In the end, it’s a combination of “first time teaching this subject” (a staggeringly uphill amount of prep, including writing all the exams), the exhaustion of working 10 classroom hours a day plus 2 prep hours a day doing two jobs, figuring out how to work around my own particular cognitive glitches, being sick for one week, and tiptoeing around the inevitable politics. Once I get past all that, my actual ability to teach will be more visible to the students and faculty.


  3. 6 September 2008 at 15:31

    I have my own rant about MicroSoft. (I do honestly think Bill Gates is doing great work in Africa. I do *NOT* love what he has done with computers.)

    You should also hear my rant about people who honestly believe that Microsh*t, er, Microsoft is the best thing there is and that anyone who finds it frustrating simply hasn’t understood it yet and must be really dumb.

    Yep, I have run into that sort, on one very overwhelming, frustrating afternoon some years ago when I was on a bunch of deadlines for school and was having more trouble than usual juggling them specifically because Microsoft stuff at school was not cooperating with me. I made the mistake of turning to a Microsoft guru/worshipper for help who spent more time basically criticizing me for failing to immediately embrace the Microsoft religion than he did in actually sorting my problem and amde me feel like an idiot in the process. I might not have become quite so upset by him if I hadn’t already been enormously stressed with all the work I was juggling, but I was so I was. So I came home really upset that day.

    Fortunately my partner is a confirmed Mac person too– but as a computer programmer, she still makes her living working with Microsoft stuff all day, so she knows it inside and out probably much better than the person I had talked with that day, and she still sees all its limitations. She helped me feel better that day. She’s a good person to talk to if you ever want to hear a really good, thoroughly *informed* Microsoft rant ;-) (except she terms it Microshaft … )

    Re, 21,059 emails … hope you start to feel better after you’re able to delete most of that. Does the system at least have a way to delete large numbers of emails at once?

%d bloggers like this: