Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thanks, Meg Tilly!

I didn't check her blog all that often.
But when I did, I loved reading about her life and her family. She wrote the way I imagined she spoke... in a friendly, next-door-neighbor style that made me feel I really knew her.

I found Meg Tilly through a Google search aimed originally at Colin Firth.
Since he is my favorite actor, I occasionally check to see what's coming next in his film and TV work so I won't miss a single performance. That's when I found the link to Meg, who is the mother of Colin's son, Will. She and Colin worked together in Valmont, a version of the classic story, Dangerous Liaisons.

She lives in Canada, has long-since abandoned acting and instead writes books. She and her husband are raising their children and living, for the most part, like most of us do... struggling with social issues and worrying about our kids' futures in this unpredictable world. Her life is very different from mine, though. She cooks and bakes a lot. Imagine having the ingredients for made-from-scratch breakfast muffins on hand in your pantry instead of having to menu-plan and make a grocery list to be sure you have it all! She thinks nothing of whipping up a great, huge meal for her family without breaking a sweat and often shares favorite recipes with her readers. I cook because we have to eat, a trait I learned from my mother who was not a creative cook and didn't inspire me to want to become one.

I like Meg's philosophy of life, although I can't say I can be as fundamental and basic as she often is. I'm not a back-to-nature kind of gal and I laud Meg for being so mother-earthy. She seems happiest when talking about things family and I never detected any sense of longing for her earlier career pursuit, although she is still among the respected members of the acting profession.

Last time I checked into her site, settled at my computer and ready to enjoy a few weeks' worth of Meg's chatter, I was stunned to find that she'd signed off and abandoned her blog. She'd become too much of a slave to the computer, she complained, to the detriment of her relationships with family and friends. So she'd gone on a computer-free holiday, disconnected from the internet and returned to the simplicity of phone calls, visits and pursuing her varied interests without the interruption of e-mails and blogs. She was less stressed, she reported, and far happier than when the computer was her constant companion.

We part company there, I'm afraid. For me, e-mail contact with my friends and family and an occasional post on this blog are essential to my sense of well-being. I find that long months, even years, can go by without word from some cousins and long-time pals unless I take the time to initiate an e-mail that just says hello, how are you. Then I am rewarded with catch-up notes that reconnect us and bring them back into my life.

I've often said I don't know how people get on without friends. Meg connects with hers in her own way; I still rely on my buddy the computer for most of mine. Meg gave up her computer reliance for a less-stressful life; my life becomes more stressed when I don't have the means with which to chat with everyone on my list. Maybe I'm just not where Meg is. I'm quite certain I don't want to get there, either.

Still, I will miss your blog, Meg Tilly. You made me smile and enjoy reading about your wonderful family and your writing.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

A not-so exclusive club!

Computer techs in India are savvy people.

My respect for their training, patience and skill grew immeasurably yesterday, particularly in the person of one young man, Amit, who spent nearly the entire day trying to rid my hard drive of a particularly vicious Trojan. When I was younger, a Trojan was something we girls giggled about. And, as I've gotten older and somewhat computer knowledgable, I did learn the new meaning of the word, but never had first-hand, closeup experience with one. Operative word ... had.

On Tuesday, my computer began reacting sluggishly to commands. Nothing to alarm me, mind you, just hesitance to obey my wishes. But Wednesday brought the frightful truth. I couldn't access the internet using Internet Explorer and found my browser taking me to strange, unrequested places without explanation or recourse. In a minor panic, I called my daughter and son-in-law, both of whom are my tech gurus who can solve any problem. Not this one, it turned out, despite both their efforts, mostly my daughter's. Terri researched the symptoms and found the recommended remedies, all of which we tried for several hours. By nightfall, we thought we had it under control and I went to bed, leaving my computer humming away as my Norton antivirus did a complete system scan so we'd be sure we'd succeeded.

Then came yesterday morning. Confident I would be able to boot up the computer and resume life as I know it, I dashed into the office and was terribly dismayed to find IE still sending me to points unknown, this time accompanied by an error message I'd never seen before. That's when good fortune led me to Amit.

After sitting through several calls to Verizon to determine that I was properly connected, I was sent packing to the manufacturer of my computer, Dell, who as most of us are aware, maintains its primary call center in India. With the first two techs stumped, I was sent to the young man who was touted as their malware expert. With a great sense of humor, super people skills and a tenaciousness that was admirable, Amit began his quest to eradicate my Trojan at about 9:30 a.m. (our time). He took control of my computer and then performed his magic, thwarting every effort of the sleazy virus to override his efforts. At times, the bug seemed to be winning but Amit pulled out every trick he knew and eventually slayed the enemy, restoring my computer to useability by about 3 p.m. Of course, none of this was free, but the cost was well worth it.

Now to the Trojan. I will never understand why anyone would spend brain power and time developing tools of destruction like viruses, Trojans and worms. Amit explained to me that the creators are well paid for their effort by people who stand to gain by disruption on a mass scale. Why???? I felt nothing but anger and resentment toward these disrupters as I struggled to rid my computer of their invasion and they gained nothing by disabling me.

I've learned a lot through this brief encounter with malicious codes. I will no longer open an attachment unless it is something I've requested from a person I know. I won't let a day go by without running an update of my antivirus definitions so stuff like this won't get into my hard drive again. And I will never join in any ridicule of the overseas tech support people. Granted, Amit could have solved my problem from inside the US of A, but he wasn't here. He was at a computer somewhere working for Dell. Most of yesterday, though, he was working for me.

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