Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bad Old Days, Good New Days! - Christina Hollis

I was stuck indoors all weekend nursing a horrible cold (donated by Son Number One). I couldn’t get to church, and there was definitely no gardening. That was a wrench, as during the week the weather was perfect for a late autumn tidy-up. I was looking forward to gathering leaves and putting everything to bed for the winter. We’ve had brilliantly starry nights and clear, cold days. On a couple of occasions the gate has been frosted shut when we headed out on the school run. While all that was going on, I was sitting behind a computer screen and looking forward to Friday. By the end of my working week, the bug struck. I lost the urge to do anything outside. Instead, I tried tidying my office. That’s a never-ending task. We don’t have much room, so my desk is squeezed in between an enormous chest freezer, the telescope my OH’s dear father refurbished forty years ago (and we can’t bear to lose), the Christmas tree in its box and all the decorations ditto, and any number of other useful bits and pieces which can find no other home.

My trouble is, I can’t bear to throw anything away. I have boxes and boxes of children’s drawings, birthday cards and other treasures. These can’t be sacrificed, so it had to be my stack of magazines. I’ve kept every one to which I’ve contributed over the years, but this was the time to say goodbye. As a compromise, my published articles now fill one box file instead of a tottering heap of publications.

While I was emptying my filing cabinet, I came across six, closely written foolscap sheets. There were columns for ‘page number’, ‘query’ and a big space for ‘remarks’. In seconds, I was taken right back the nineteen-nineties. That was when I used to write historical novels. I love research, but these pages were an illustration of how difficult it was back then. The good old days? I don’t think so! With no access to the internet and only a small dictionary, the only way I could double-check every historical fact and spelling was to make a sixty mile round trip (babies in tow) to the county library. That took ages, and we all ended up over-tired and frustrated. Now everyone who has access to a computer can find information on anything, in seconds. It’s a wonderful invention. The only question I’m left with is…weren’t computers supposed to herald the paperless office? It certainly hasn’t worked in this house!

Have computers made life easier for you, or just altered your workload?


Estella said...

Computers are a Godsend!

Lois said...

They made life easy and altered everything! LOL :) Plenty of the stuff I've done online I probably would have never known about or thought of doing, and sure wouldn't be able to talk to authors or people on the other side of the world. . . but sure wish sometimes think back to a quieter time where the only place you could get your info is from tv. LOL :)


Lily said...

Computers are just amazing...

Get well... colds are horrible!

christina said...

Yes, on balance I agree with you, Estella and Lois. Computers have opened up the world. I get messages from all over the world, and all the information now at our fingertips is invaluable. The trouble is, investigating one subject can so easily lead to dipping into half a dozen more!
And thanks for your good wishes, Lily. I'm fighting fit now!

Karen H in NC said...

I love and agree with the 'new' old saying: "To err is human, but to really screw things up, you need a computer!" I laugh everytime I hear that, because it is so true.

I also agree with Christina. The computer does open worlds up to your fingertips but when starting out on a search, you almost need a road map to find your way back to your original quest. I am easily led and get lost in a hurry.