[lit-ideas] Of Chickens and Gardens

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2012 16:35:54 -0800

By dint of ibuprofen I managed to get me to my lecture today.  It was a near 
thing.  In the middle of yesterday's chicken coop building--it's a long story 
involving number one daughter-- the coop threatened to kill a tree, simply by 
falling on it as a wrestler would.  I offered, like the little boy with his 
finger on the Dutch pulse, to delay the fall while M. came to aid the rescue 
effort.  Though noble, this was not the best impulse.  No matter how much 
soaking in warm water and stretching I did yesterday, the road ran only one 
way--downhill towards the slough of buggered backs.  The critical moment under 
such circs. is when I swing my legs to get out of bed the following morn.  
Would I be able to stand or would it be a hunchback of Notre D. kind of a day?  
I stood.  I delivered my lecture on Ian Hamilton Finlay's Garden.  I was that 

I almost wasn't.  My history with technology has not been good, so I arrived at 
the lecture room an hour early to check that all was well.  I found I had been 
scheduled in a room without computer or projector.  Fortune smiled; I ran into 
the room scheduler in the main common area and she was able to look up where I 
could move to, put me in contact with an I.T. person, promise to put a sign on 
the old room's door.  Problem one: solved.  Problem two was that instead of 
doing a Power Point and shoving it into a memory stick, I'd uploaded all my 
"slides" onto our college's proprietary software site, which used to have a 
projection capability.  I learned today that they've recently removed said 

"Not to worry," says Mr. I.T. "we'll send it to the Blah, Blah Site and winkle 
its blungers."  Some such words.  All I was noting, thirty minutes from "go," 
was the little line above his hand which said the operation he was proposing 
would be completed in three hours and forty seven minutes.  "It's the WiFi," 
says Mr. I.T. guy, "give me your password; I'll do it in my office."  So he 
goes off with my password.  I take a bite or two of lunch and a sip of best tap 
water.  He returns.  "There, done."  "Great," I say.  And then I notice that 
the slides are in a totally different order.  "Yes," he says, "the program does 
that.  You should have named them differently."  "How will I know what slide is 
coming up?"  "You won't."  "So," I say, "I spent hours composing a talk based 
around slides appearing in a certain order, and now you're proposing I give a 
talk based on slides appearing in some random order?"  "Or you could go back to 
clicking on them one at a time and then enlarging them."

That's what I did.  The fact that I managed to hold an audience under such 
circumstances was, I think, a small achievement.  And I didn't even mention my 

Carry on.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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