This is happening…

Since the last time I sat down to blog, I have accomplished a lot.  Probably why I haven’t found the time to blog.

Recent events caused a complete upheaval for one of my family members’ travel plans.  I am so sorry they weren’t able to make it home to celebrate our mother’s ninetieth birthday, but it has evolved into a full-blown family reunion.  First one in almost twenty years!

Seizing the opportunity, I approached the family about planning a get-together to celebrate all of the parents’ milestones this year, but in one fell swoop.  It is difficult to get all of us together in one place, at one time.

Quickly, I identified everyone’s schedules to consider.  This was so much easier when all of the grandchildren were kids and the parents had a lot more control.  Now, everyone is a grownup, taking care of grownup things, so this task has become much more complicated.

I am proud to say that by the end of four days communicating, we were able to get the pillars in place that allow us to move on to the more interesting challenges with planning and executing a family reunion.

This sounds really mundane, but it isn’t.  We were able to agree on a date, location, schedule travel and other arrangements for 20 people in less than one week.  That is pretty impressive by itself, but toss in the fact this involves 4 different states, 10 professionals, 2 senior citizens, 2 teenagers and a couple of great grandchildren and the breadth of the task starts coming to light.

Family reunion, here I come!


Tech Support

This has been one long week!

There is so much going on at work everyday that when I get home the last thing I want to do is look at a computer.  Makes this whole attempt at blogging every single day tough.   Heck I had my forty in early this week, but that didn’t mean the work was done!  I need to fix that!

So what is the last possible thing I could need to do on a Friday night after a week like this one?   Tech support for my parents!  But I am not complaining.  It was like a light bulb went off while I was talking my father through his minor issue that the problem was between the keyboard and the chair.

To be fair, my father is elderly.  It isn’t like he is part of the generation that grew up on Nintendo.  My father is from the ‘tube’ generation where building your own heath kit television was a work of art and an inspiration for awe.  Computers were ‘work’ tools.  They did things like manufacture cars quicker and provide a consistent supply of utilities.  He knows how services work and understands filing.   The problem is he retired before computers were used for the mundane daily activities such as correspondence and filing.

It has only been in the last few years that he realized he didn’t have live under that mound of paper, that you could use the computer to store things too.  This is a blessing!  Gone are the days of writing the letter, printing it out, and then deleting the file.  The computer is more than a typewriter.  What a Godsend for me!

My Dad understood floppies.  Those were storage things you could use, rename and lock away for future reference if you ever needed it.  He actually likes the idea of the thumb drive and really appreciates them as gifts.  What he doesn’t realize is the price of storage has dropped drastically and that the volatility of the media has improved exponentially.  He doesn’t see the thumb drive in the same light as he does a floppy disk when in reality it would be better if he used the thumb drives.

The fact he understands how to change drives so that he can save things on a floppy disk is a plus.  Using this analogy we were able to overcome the problems he was having earlier today not being able to save things to the thumb drive.  I am terrified that the next time I go home I will find a billion copies of things he was trying to save on the thumb drive hidden all over the place on his hard drive.   But I am blessed that I will have the opportunity to find a billion copies of things on his hard drive and be able to help him.

I actually have an opportunity to solve my overworked problem and my father.  I could create a process manual for him to be able to do some of these things he wants to do and if I make it generic enough I could reuse it with my team.  If there are fewer things I have to do and there is guidance so I can delegate that task to someone else, I could solve my overwork problem.  Hmmm…..

Thinking about Father’s Day

I am blessed. My father is still alive and I have the pleasure of calling him every day. It would be nicer to live closer, but that isn’t my reality, so I have to be satisfied with being able to talk with him.

My father is a remarkable man. He shouldn’t be alive. If he had looked at his circumstances and let them rule his life, he wouldn’t be here and neither would I. Some will think that is an exaggeration, but it isn’t.
My father was born and raised on a small farm in the heartland of America. He lost his mother the same year he graduated high school. I believe this was an experience that fueled many of decisions that formed the life he built.
He was drafted toward the end of World War II, but was inured prior to being shipped overseas so he didn’t serve. Years later, he was called back when the US was entrenched in the Korean Conflict. In boot camp, his extreme intelligence shot him to the top of his class. He excelled at trigonometry, interesting as he had been educated in a one room schoolhouse near his childhood farm.
This exceptional math ability changed the trajectory of military career. Rather than be shipped to the front-line, he was selected to participate in Guided Missile training and teach trigonometry to his fellow enlistees.  About this time, our government was experimenting with atomic energy and needed guinea pigs. For reasons I will never understand, the US military chose the best and the brightest to use as testers.
Early May 1953, my father was one of those chosen to participate in Operation Upshot-Knothole. Lucky him. He was subject to an experience none of us can imagine. He had the ‘pleasure’ to climb into a bunker to witness the explosion of an atomic bomb less than a mile away. The group he was serving with was ordered to stand and absorb the full shock wave of the blast with their bodies then climb out of the bunkers and walk toward the impact sight to take measurements and record their observations.  These are the men who are now acknowledged as Atomic Veterans.  My father is an Atomic Veteran.
This was the bomb changed our lives. The hospitals were ill equipped to diagnose the illnesses that beset my father following the bomb. The irony is they didn’t diagnose him with radiation sickness, which is what he had, they continued to take more x-rays trying to diagnose him with tuberculosis. The poor man would endure daily x-rays in a machine that was built somewhat like an iron lung. How he survived all of the radiation he was treated with, one will never know. I am just grateful that he did and that he has continued to live his life with that same intestinal fortitude. I am hoping just a smidgen of it has worn off on me.

Happy Father’s Day!

The Hard Way!

I am so blessed!  Both of my parents are still alive!  They are getting older, but I am lucky enough to still have them around!  We are separated by distance, but isn’t the internet supposed to shorten the distance and bridge the miles?  The short answer is no.

My parents have internet access.  My parents connection.  What my parents don’t have is the dexterity to operate a traditional mouse or a basic understanding of how to operate a browser.  It makes it incredibly difficult to share information in a timely fashion without these basic skills.

I am nothing, if not tenacious.  The old saying ‘where there is a will there is a way’ seems to be my motto.  So whenever I try to email my father something, I have him check to make sure he has received it, and then we play the game where he tries to retrieve it or view it.  Heaven forbid he ever have his security settings set so he could allow a link to come across from a trusted source – Me.  I set my account up as a ‘trusted source’ last year, but it appears he has changed his settings, again.  He is a wee bit paranoid, God Bless Him for that!

Well, as he would say, ‘That doesn’t stop old Cisco.’  I have more relatives who are adopters of technology, so I just leverage that.  I tell Dad which relation I am sending the email to.  I add a header to the forwarded message, explaining the situation.  This will usually get a smile.  Wait a bit.  Dad calls the relative.  This is a no-fail solution.  Dad gets what he needs.  My relatives get an opportunity to visit with my father – this is truly time to be treasured!  I get to impress him.    But even I have to admit, this is the hard way.