Tuesday, December 09, 2003

To complete that thought

Didn't want to leave out today's musical selections:

"Mbube," by the Mahotella Queens
"Mbaqanga," by Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens

...From the truly excellent album, entitled South African Legends.

My moment of truth, wherein I finally conclude I have to read the directions.

I am not the world's most patient person. I do not like reading directions. For the most part I have gotten away with it, and have felt vindicated when people I view as 'real' experts have told me they, too, learned by fiddling with things, breaking them, then figuring out how they worked.

However, it appears I have attained my level of incompetence in two arenas.

1. I just got a new cell phone. I insisted on one that has all the capabilities of a rocket ship, or possibly more. The manual is 99 pages long. I really, really wanted all these features, but I have no idea how to use them. Actually, I have no idea how to even answer the phone if it rings. (Fortunately it hasn't. I am afraid to give the number out.) I attempted to complete a Bluetooth file exchange between the phone and my computer yesterday. Although I was able to make the connection, I couldn't figure out how to input any text to send. Oh dear.

2. I just received a massive data file for a very important client project. It is an SPSS file, but I only know how to use Statview, the user-friendly version of SAS. Oh, did I mention that SAS was eaten up by another company that has decided not to support Statview? That it is, to my knowledge, impossible to exchange files between SPSS for OSX and Statview(which only operates on OS9)? I know, because I tried repeatedly! So, it appears I will need to learn how to use SPSS. It is a really, really powerful program and thus the tutorial/manual/directions are completely overwhelming. But I just tried to just fiddle and putz my way through the data without consulting them, and 10 hours later I was still in nowhere-land. In short, it's time to face the music.

I think that at some level I fear I'll be sucked in by the directions and never emerge. I'll never figure out how to use these things, but I will fall into a cycle of reading teensy weensy print that makes very little sense, forever.

I doubt that Eleanor Roosevelt was referring to tasks like reading the directions when she said,

"You can gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

...But I don't care. If reading the directions is my personal "frontier," so be it.

If you hear nothing from me for the next six weeks, please send in a search party. Oh, and don't bother trying to call. My silence probably means I still haven't figured out how to answer the phone.