The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

August 31, 2008

Sometimes Too Much Technology Just Isn’t Enough

Filed under: Personal Stuff, Technology — Brian Lutz @ 10:53 pm

As I have mentioned in other posts here, I attend a young single adult ward in my church (I’ve got the “single adult” part pretty well figured out, but I’m really pushing it on the “young” part of that these days.)  In my church, the members of the congregation receive callings to serve in various capacities within the ward, from the bishop and other leaders of the ward (the church has no paid clergy,) to the teachers for Sunday School and other groups, all the way down to the greeters at the chapel doors when people enter for their meetings.  Currently, my calling within the ward is to be the communications director, which mostly involves creating the weekly bulletin passed out at Sacrament meeting.  In general, callings in the church tend to be somewhat temporary in nature, and it is not unusual for someone to go through a number of different callings in a relatively short amount of time, but for one reason or another I have had this particular calling for a number of years now in two different wards that I have attended during that time.  I have to figure that either I haven’t gotten enough practice at the whole bulletin thing yet and they’re keeping me there until I manage to get something right, or I did manage to get it right at some point and they’re keeping me there because of that.  I can’t seem to figure out which of those is more likely.

Because a lot of the information that gets printed in the bulletin isn’t finalized until the Ward Council meeting an hour before Sacrament, I have to finish filling in the information during the meeting and print out the bulletin in the Ward Clerk’s office before taking it over to the copier in the library to duplicate.  There was a time that I swore that I would never for any reason bring a notebook computer to church, but apparently someone had other ideas about that one, and now I bring my notebook to this meeting on a weekly basis (but don’t bring it to the other meetings unless I get really lazy when teaching a lesson and decide to resort to multimedia.)  Either way, the arrangement usually works out reasonably well, but every so often something comes up and tosses the proverbial monkey wrench into the works.  Today was one of those days.

After the Ward Council meeting, I completed filling in and copying the bulletin in routine fashon, and expected to have the usual bit of downtime before the meeting started.  Just as I was getting ready to settle down, the Bishop came up to me and noted that I had made a mistake in one of the speakers’ names, which he wanted to be corrected.  Fortunately, I hadn’t printed out too many copies (most of the summer influx of college students in the ward has returned to school now) and even though I had put away my notebook and stashed it in the car, I retrieved it and set about making the change.  As I was printing out the corrected bulletin and getting ready to take it over to the copier, the young lady who would be speaking in Sacrament today (incidentally, the one whose name I messed up that prompted the change in the first place) came into the clerk’s office and asked if I could print off a copy of her talk, since her computer at home had broken down on her before she could get it printed.  Since I already had my notebook up and running, and plugged into the printer, I figured this shouldn’t be a problem, right?  I plugged in the flash drive the talk was on to my notebook, tried to open it and found that it was written in a newer version of Word than I had on the notebook.  The computer in the office had the same version of Word and wouldn’t open the file either.  Although another ward’s clerk’s office had a computer with the correct version, that office was unoccupied and locked at the time.  Since none of the computers in the building have Internet access , and Sacrament meeting was beginning in ten minutes, it was time to come up with a Plan B, and fast.

Lacking any other alternatives that I could think of at the meetinghouse, I decided that about the only way that I was going to be able to get this printed would be to run home and take care of it there.  I asked the person speaking if they could take care of folding the newly corrected bulletins on the copier and putting them out in the chapel, hurried to the car and headed back home, nearly hitting another car on the way out of the parking lot (Whoever that was, sorry about that.)  Once I got home, I proceeded to download the converter tool to at least be able to open the file (ever notice that no matter how fast your Internet connection is, it’s never fast enough when you’re in a hurry?) and converted a copy to the “proper” version of Word to be able to open it elsewhere if needed.  I then attempted to hook up my printer to the notebook (an HP deskjet that I managed to get for free at a garage sale years ago, which at this point may or may not be older than dirt, but it’s close enough that it would take some effort to determine that for sure) and it promptly decided to do nothing.  Rather than spend time fiddling with it, I hooked it back to the desktop machine, which I had to bring up from a cold boot.  After the computer (which itself is starting to get fairly old as computers go) finally booted up about two or three eternities later, I opened up the file and tried to print it, at which point the printer threw up some non-specific error that basically indicated that it was in no mood to bother printing out anything today.  Not having the time or patience for any sort of troubleshooting,. I tried a couple more times on the off-chance that repeating the same action over and over again while expecting a different result would result in something besides insanity, and eventually came to the realization that there was little chance that I would be getting any printing done from here. 

With the clock ticking, I headed back to the church, having to remind myself on more than one occasion that I was technically ditching Sacrament meeting at the time, and thatmy car is red and European, a combination that seems likely to attract more than its fair share of law enforcement attention if I allow it to (fortunately, I have only had one ticket in the time I have been driving, and that was nearly seven years ago.)  When I made it back to the church, I found that someone had thankfully left the clerks office open, so I opened the file on the computer in there and attempted to print it on that printer.  Without hesitation, this printer decided to throw up an out of paper error.  Back when my normally reliable printer at home started throwing up vague errors, I had begun to question the wisdom of this whole episode.  When the printer in the clerk’s office decided not to cooperate, I began to wonder what sort of divine intervention I had managed to put myself on the wrong side of. 

Fortunately, there was something that looked vaguely like blank paper on one of the shelves, so I tossed that in the tray and tried again, at which point the printer threw up another error, this time complaining about how I loaded the paper.  After a bit more fiddling around with stuff, I finally got the printer to accept the stuff and print out the talk, although when it printed I found that in my rush to get this sorted out I had fed the printer card stock.  Not being in a position to be picky about such things, I (somewhat) reverently made my way to the chapel.  When I got there, the person whose talk I was trying to print out was not on the stand, and the second counselor in the Bishopric was speaking, which led me to further question this whole misguided endeavor.  Fortunately, the speaker was able to claim her printed talk and her flash drive during the rest hymn, and proceeded to deliver the talk as planned, and was quite grateful for the effort afterward.  Even the Bishop thanked me for the effort, which leads me to believe that I might be able to get through this without too much in the way of eternal consequences.

All things considered, it was an excellent talk, although personally I might have preferred if there was just a bit less drama involved in the whole thing.  Sometimes it’s amazing what you can manage to accomplish with the combination of quick thinking and blind panic.  In the meantime, I think I might be in the market for a new printer.  Any recommendations?

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1 Comment »

  1. Your such a nice guy Brian! I hope the girl appreciated it! That was way above and beyond.

    Comment by Jacki — September 2, 2008 @ 7:23 pm


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