Thursday, June 06, 2013

#158. or, My Lines Are Crooked

 Let's just say it's your job to draw straight lines. You've drawn straight lines since you were old enough to pick up a pencil, and learned how to do it from sitting on your fathers lap, watching him as he made his living drawing straight lines.

  So, you come from a history of straight line drawers and you're reasonably good at what you do. Oh, there's others, who can draw straight lines better than you can, but you still do the best that you can and you're pretty proud of the lines that you draw.

  Then, one day out of the blue, somebody invents a magic ruler. A magic ruler that makes every line you draw, a perfect line.

   Every. Damned. Time!

  Then, in the true spirit of the advancement of technology, the magic ruler people come up with a magic pencil, that for the most part, draws the line for you. Which is pretty wonderful, because now, you get to direct all of your attention toward  the little nuances like how much pressure the magic pencil is applying. It revolutionizes line drawing, because now, you're way more efficient and never waste any pencil lead which lets you draw more lines in a day and increases productivity.

  But, say one day the magic ruler breaks, and because the pencil and the ruler work together, the magic pencil won't work either. It forces you to go back to the old method of doing it freehand. And even though it's something you've done all of your life, your freehand lines pretty much suck ass and you discover that you've become reliant on technology.

  That happened to me yesterday.

  When I was seeding, my very last field of the year, my GPS signal cut out. It happened just as I was going to have my lunch and at first, I thought it might have just been a momentary loss of signal so I watched my little monitor, waiting for the icon to tell me my tractor was ready to steer itself again. But it didn't come back on.

  And I freaked out a bit.

  I stopped, shut the tractor off, got out, climbed up on the hood, unplugged the GPS antenna on the top of the cab and plugged it back in, hoping it would reboot the system. Twice. It didn't work.

  So while I was attempting to draw my straight lines in the dirt with my seeder, free handed, (and sucking at it) I thought, I could just get on the twitter machine and ask the good people who supply me with my GPS, just what the heck is happening. But the things that used to be easy. Like twittering and eating my lunch as the tractor steered, which let me watch things like seed depth and that I hadn't picked up a stone in the packers causing them to dig a giant rut across the field are way way harder to do when I have to steer as well.

  Apparently, through the twitter machine, I discovered it was some sort of system wide failure. We just had to wait it out. So for the next 2 hours, I drew crooked, squiggly lines in the dirt, made a giant rut in the field, tried to eat my lunch, type out messages to the GPS people on my phone, and watch for that icon, hoping I'd get my signal back.

  It was horrible.

  But, in the end, the signal reappeared as quickly as it disappeared, and I readjusted my line and everything in my world was normal again.

  Until it rained an hour later and chased me off the field, leaving me with still the better part of a day to finally finish this job.

  ............I hope the wheels don't fall off today. However, unlike magic rulers, I know how to fix that.


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26 comments:

  1. I absolutely love this post. I keep asking the guys at work what they do when their computer breaks down. The most popular answer is "Have a nap."

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    1. Luckily, since I was seeding, I could still see what was done and what wasn't. I ended up overlapping a bit, but as still getting it done. If I had been spraying, it would have been nap time.

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  2. I'm stuck inside because of the rain too. And all the hay I want to make is out there. Along with the hay storage shed I want to build. Stupid weather.

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    1. Hi Holly,

      You have to make hay when the sun's shining! At least that's what everybody keeps saying.

      There's nothing worse than trying to make hay when it won't stop raining. Good luck!

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  3. You forgot the part of the process where you kicked the tractor and cursed the GPS machine... ;) Otherwise I can visualize it all beautifully. Glad it's back up and running. Good luck finishing that off today! :)

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    1. Hey BB!

      I did finish yesterday! I'm done! YAY!

      There may or may not have been cursing involved. ;)

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  4. Funny and so very true, technology is turning us into a bunch of incompetents. Today's kids can't do math in their heads or on paper, they use a calculator, they can't tell time from a clock with hands either. Try telling them about typewriters that didn't autocorrect your spelling or record players where the needle stuck and played the same refrain over and over unless you manually readjusted it. Handwriting isn't being taught either, who needs it? I love technology and wouldn't give up my electronics for anything, but if the day comes when none of it works anymore, God help us all!

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    1. You are so right Josie!

      I have this thought about trying to do a post on an old typewriter. But then I remember how terrible my spelling really is and I doubt anybody would be able to understand what I'm trying to say. I'm pretty dependant on spell check. :)

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  5. While Im pretty sure when the great robot rebellion takes place we are all sunk, in the mean time you couldnt pay me to do your job. It seems riddled with this sort of stuff.

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    1. Hi Zoe,

      It really has become a part of my job, specifically in the last 5 or 6 years. I'm not even sure you can buy a tractor without some sort of computer in it anymore.

      I'll be watching out for that robot rebellion!

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  6. Straight lines are overrated anyway. Waves, curves, and squiggles are way more fun!!

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    1. Hi Heather!

      You make a good point there. Now that I think about, I'm an awfully big fan of curves! ;)

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    1. It's a 2 edged knife. It makes things so much easier, yet it's hard to keep up sometimes, and when it disappears, you're lost!

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  8. I admit, I'm clueless when it comes to how much you would use technology on a tractor. Now I know just a little bit more! Glad you got it finished, Ken.

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    1. Thanks Elsie!

      I'm pretty sure, if my dad were still around, it would have him shaking his head. There's more technology than I can keep up with.

      It's good to be done! (that job) :)

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  9. GPS really has made it's way into our lives. For farmers, not wasting seed or chemicals is a huge benefit.

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    1. I remember when it was first being introduced and I was laughing at people for getting some gadget to steer their tractor. Now I'm one of the masses and happily drink that Kool-Ade. :)

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  10. Luckily enough, I'm not that dependant on technology on a daily basis - I only use it to keep in touch with a few friends (and if I happen to be unavailable due to tech issues there isn't anybody crying about it). However, it's quite apparant how much one takes for granted when the power goes out due to thunderstorms or other weather related phenomenons... I think it's pretty scary how much one relies on technology these days, there are so much craftmanship being lost - but I do recognize all the relief most tech supplies us with. It's a double edged sword I guess.

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    1. Hi Annika,

      I'm pretty dependant on technology. My tractor runs because it has a computer in it, my seeder has a computer to calibrate the amount of seed that I put in the ground, the sprayer uses a computer to adjust the rate per speed. So many things! It would be difficult to go back to the old way for me now.

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  11. Way to persevere! It's amazing how reliant we've become, even those of us who remember the days without cell phones or internet!

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    1. I remember those "olden" days all too well. When I would watch Star Trek (the original) as a kid and be taken with all of the fancy gadgets. Now the things that they used are mostly all surpassed by cooler stuff. It's really amazing!

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  12. Great analogy! And I can imagine how much you would be freaked. It's not that you have no capability of drawing straight lines, but if you haven't had to draw straight lines, you would be woefully out of practice. Good thing all your neighbors didn't pop by just then :)

    Glad to hear it's back online! After seeing your lovely wife's picture of your custom gadget deck for your tractor, I can appreciate how much you weren't able to do when you just had to focus on steering!

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    1. Hi Kianwi!

      I was just pretty happy it happened on a back road and not along the major highway where most of my screw ups seem to happen. Still though, I imagine that somebody's going to mention that part of the field with the crooked lines in it at some point in the future.

      I only freaked out a little bit. :)

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  13. So funny how we come to rely on technology to the point we don't notice it until it's gone. Where I grew up, a bit north of you, Ken, we had a homestead - no electricity for the first year we were there. And we managed just fine.

    A couple weeks ago, I came home from work and the power was out. I spent 5 minutes tracking down a flashlight and candles. And then I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do that didn't require power or good lighting. I ultimately put together a desk (for the new computer I'm thinking about buying...).

    Great post, glad that things worked out. :)

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    1. Hi Reanna.

      I think I would probably go into some sort of withdrawal if it all disappeared in an instant. But I'd probably survive.

      Carpentry by candlelight? That has a sort of romantic ring to it? :)

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