Total Reliance on Technology

Approximately two weeks ago, our community had a brief power outage that caused the local college computer servers to shut down.  Our campus is an extension to the main campus located some 31 miles away. Oddly enough, they too experienced a power outage that also caused a two-day shutdown.   This temporary shut-down lasted for two full days, bringing all online classes and services to a standstill, including telephone services. It is not my purpose here to question an IT department’s ability to resolve an issue in a timely manner, but wonder how it is that an institute of higher learning would not have planned for such occurrences, regardless of their infrequency.

To be fair to the college, this is not an isolated concern. There is no denying we have become totally reliant on technology to manage, operate and control, not only information systems, but mechanical systems as well. Damns, traffic lights, cell phones, GPS systems, public utilities, air traffic control, etc., all depend on the continuous operation of computer servers to maintain the functions they are in control of.

It is no surprise machines and systems break down or malfunction from time to time. What I do not understand is the seeming lack of planning and foresight for such occurrences. Many stores have back-up generators to restore power, but no manual system for checking people out if the servers controlling the cash registers fail. On several occasions, my bank and other financial institutes have claimed their computers were down so they were unable to help me. In today’s world of total reliance on technology, I think it is inexcusable that all major IT systems do not have instant back-up or crossover capabilities.  I would think that a good manager would automatically think-ahead for anything that would interfere with operations and production.

This brings me back to the ironic failure of an institute of higher learning being totally caught off-guard by such a predictable event. They said it was unprecedented. I say it was inevitable. Is it not their purpose in life to teach people to anticipate, plan and prepare? It makes it even more amusing having walked into a little Mom and Pop grocery store last winter during a power outage and seeing Coleman lanterns blazing away and the cashier writing out manual receipts with actual carbon paper! We should never forget how to stick to the basics.

Hobbies and Retirement

After dreaming about retirement for years, I found reality to be quite different than imagination. Retirement brings a new found freedom, one full of promise, but it also leaves you ……. wondering.

You see, when you are working, you fulfill a purpose, people need your services and appreciate your talents. Most of our waking day is spent in the support of our jobs, it becomes your extension, part of your identity. One that many look forward to putting behind them while others are lost and lack direction without. At some point you realize that retirement becomes your new existence, one that must be filled with interest, anticipation and excitement. Finding an interesting, challenging hobby is just what you need.

I found mine in lapidary – finding, cutting, grinding, and polishing precious stones for making crafts and jewelery. Actually, they don’t even need to be precious. Some of the most interesting and entertaining art and jewelry has been made from common beach stone, broken glass, shells and many other medium. Make a search on Google Images for precious stone jewelry or beach stone jewelry or just plain lapidary, you’ll be amazed.

The image above is a  free-formed (shaped without use of a template) cabochon (a gem cut in convex and highly polished) most likely to be used as a single pendant necklace. This particular cabochon was formed by Ahana White, more of her work is available in Google Images.

I am new to this hobby, but find it very relaxing and rewarding to walk along the beach in search for “the perfect stone” or go hiking in the mountains looking for unusual rock formations that can be cut and polished to bring out their incredible hidden beauty. It also ties perfectly into my love for travel. Their are several books available that site locations throughout the U.S. and the world where precious stones and gems are located. I have bought several from Amazon.com.

Whatever you decide to do in your retirement, pursue it with passion and purpose, if for only to satisfy your own pleasure. Life is a precious commodity, setting around watching television or spending all your time reading will lead you to an early disability. Be adventurous, stay youthful, and most importantly, engage in something that will challenge your creativity and expand your mind. I also love going to art museums. I find it very rewarding to view others interpretation of art and while I may not be particularly impressed, I try to imagine their thoughts while creating it.