Tuesday, July 21, 2009

RantWoman unplugs at NPYM

RantWoman is trying to swim against the current of an overflowing inbox. RantWoman is trying to stay centered after all the ways her journey to the NPYM Annual Session in Missoula exhausted--and re-energized--her. RantWoman is also trying to hold onto that lovely sense of relaxation she feels in the slower pace of MT even though RantWoman mostly likes living in the middle of a big city and generally handles the sense of frenzy. RantWoman is also turning over several themes that she expects deserve their own entries.

First though RantWoman must pay proper respect to the work of the Annual Session planning committee. For sentimental personal and family reasons RantWoman always enjoys going to Missoula. RantWoman is also very grateful that this trip was not fraught with as many medical moments as previous trips. Missoula Friends also work so hard to make things work well and RantWoman wants to surround them with gratitude for that.

Perhaps the other reason RantWoman feels so relaxed is that she had to unplug. RantWoman did not mean to have to unplug. RantWoman toted her enormous laptop with vital accessibility software on the bus. RantWoman even noted in the registration materials that the campus charges a nominal fee for conference-goers to access the campus Wi-Fi. Somehow though it escaped RantWoman's attention that she should pay for this in advance or list it on her registration form at the very least.

There are a couple subtleties here: RantWoman was happy to pay for her own internet but was getting financial aid for everything else. More importantly, RantWoman upon even modest reflection has to admit that another time or two recently she has just concentrated on filling in information in blanks on forms and not necessarily made the screen reader read every word of background info on the form. That is pretty much what happened in this case and RantWoman is now resolved to address that oversight for the future.

Alas for Annual Session, RantWoman had just to cope. RantWoman's other conference-goers waxed enthusiastic about where the Wi-Fi was good. The Daily Bulletin, which RantWoman was supposedly editing even said things should work! True, RantWoman arrived late and the daily bulletin was prepared by other people for two days.

RantWoman cranked up her computer and got nowhere helpful. RantWoman solicited info from two different campus employees who seemed unaware of how the university handles Wi-Fi access for conferences.

RantWoman even went to the library. Last time RantWoman was on campus, the library had one computer with accessibility software so that, if one knew how to use the accessibility software (RantWoman did not at the time, sigh) one could at least approximate the same access provided people via the public terminals in the dorms. Some kind of change had recently been implemented so this time, even though RantWoman knew how to use the software, on a Friday afternoon when the techs are all either off or crash-testing software demos, access at the library was not really happening either. RantWoman actually thinks she will write a gentle letter of remonstrance to the university about that.

Somewhere in the middle of this, RantWoman decided to talk to NPYM's own conference registrar. Think of this as another adventure. RantWoman had to explain more than once that no, she really cannot see to use the computers in the dorm. The registrar explained that from her perspective it was perfectly reasonable that RantWoman should pay attention to info on the forms about deadlines just like she did for everything else.

At this point, RantWoman had a meltdown. She had exactly the sort of meltdown that, if someone else were having the meltdown, would cause her to roll her eyes so loudly that it sounds like one of those marble games. RantWoman had Things to Do! The Wi-fi access was vital. The Daily Bulletin even said it should work! Well, no, Daily Bulletins have been happening for years without Wi-Fi. Furthermore, RantWoman as editor of the Daily Bulletin could perfectly well reword the announcement to alert others in her situation to the other options at local internet cafes. Plus RantWoman just travelled 500+ miles to SEE PEOPLE and why on earth did she think she needed to be wired to do that?

On the way back to Seattle, several carloads of conference goers reassembled for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. There someone else commented about the number of laptops and one also imagines cellphones and text messages. The cellphones were really slick at a couple points for making easy connections but are never compatible with Meeting for Worship or even plenaries.

Now that RantWoman has discovered that she can, with great difficulty, survive a whole Annual Session without blogging every zig and zag of her spiritual journey, expect her to bring the convert's zeal to queries for everyone else about whether they really NEED that laptop in plenaries!

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