Friday, October 06, 2006

Full moon up, email down: setting priorities in life

We glanced at the calendar. No, it’s only Friday the 6th.

Around here, it feels like Friday the 13th.

For most of the day we have had major server problems that led to several hours without email. The horror!

Fortunately, Friday is one of our quieter production days. We complete our newspaper on Wednesdays so they can make it the customers hopefully by Friday (anyone who receives it later than that can blame/thank the post office for delayed delivery. But let’s save for another day the issue of post office service, and why the Pony Express might have been more dependable in delivering publications on a designated day.)

However, whenever our email system goes down it becomes a reminder to us how dependent we have become on the internet for our communications and business. And also how vulnerable. Early on in business my business life, a former boss had always stressed we should have a backup plan.

For example, if our main email server is down, but we still have internet access to the outside world, have an email account with an outside provider that can still help get communication out to people outside the workplace. Important messages such as “Hey! We’re trapped in this building with no email! We’re being forced to actually talk to each other in person on the inside! Please send Etch-a-Sketch and thick doodle pads to save us!”

The bigger concern then having to walk 1.76 minutes to a fellow employee’s workspace is that we don’t know if any of our sources, customers, out-of-state staff, owners or others are trying to reach us. There may be an extremely important press release floating in cyberspace that hasn’t reached its destination here. A politician may have said something important to tell us. A better mousetrap may have been invented. A widget may have been recalled for causing rare rashes on those who handle milking machines. A politician with a rash may have been caught in a mousetrap with a suspicious widget.

Hey, it could happen! But we wouldn’t know. Why? Because we have no email.

Fridays are also the day that readers may wish to tell us what they think of an article in today’s newspaper.

Hopefully they don’t think we’re ignoring them. Please have patience, whoever and wherever you are.

I would email them my backup email address used for emergencies … but if I don’t see the original email, I don’t know who to contact.

Of course, the problems with email do give me a few extra minutes today to contemplate life and do more productive things. Rather than spending valuable time filtering out spam, I can research important facts to share with our blog audience.

Such as … tonight’s full moon is 12 percent bigger than some of the other full moons this year. I appreciate NASA letting us know. Now, if NASA could kindly move some of the clouds here on the West Coast, we’d appreciate it more.

* * * *

The moon is relevant to this blog because it’s the Harvest Moon, nearest the autumn equinox. Being from a farm, I always appreciated that extra light as my siblings and I spent late nights shivering in grain trucks waiting for my father in the combine to signal he was ready to unload the grain.

The moonlight helped us see the hills and trails in the stubble that we needed to follow, especially when our old grain truck’s lights weren’t working the best and flickered on and off depending on how hard we hit rocks along the way.

The moonbeams were a relief when we were later attempting to back up the truck straight to dump into the grain auger; the yard lights rarely reached where the bins were, and there never seemed to be sufficient batteries or flashlights around when we needed them.

Forget the talk of how much the full moon impacts tides. This time of year, it’s the Harvest Moon that tugs at me, and pulls me most to memories of the farm. The family, the land, the lifestyle, the exhausting but triumphant feeling of reaping a year’s worth of work that heat wave or frost, drought or downpour, hail, disease or pest didn’t get first.

The Harvest Moon always signaled a time to celebrate if the harvest was near complete.

This year, my family got the crop off before the Harvest Moon, a rare occasion.

Another thing our family was also thankful that no one was hurt, miraculously, when a tornado hit our community this summer.

A small town 11 miles away — the place I had attended school — had taken the brunt of the storm, while the bad weather had only hit one of the fields that belongs to one of my brothers.

For several days after the storm, our area had become a community of neighbors helping each other pick up broken trees, salvage tossed grain bins, fix fences, look for lost cattle, and see who might need extra hay for the winter.

* * *
Somehow my problem with the email here seems so insignificant after thinking about all that this community back home went through this summer after the storm, or even the annual cycle that my farm family and so many others go through to raise their animals, grow their crops, and produce their products for market.

Sometimes you need a Harvest Moon reminder to put life into perspective again.

The email can wait. The full moon awaits those of us who eagerly seek to find it.

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