Weather Forecast


Column: A tech crisis, and old-fashioned sticky notes

WORTHINGTON — I am back in business. I had a serious computer problem in the week past and was cut off from everything — Internet, email, weather. Everything. This was the day the wind was huffing 90 mph and the wind chill was 35-below. Whatever.

0 Talk about it

I called the number I had been given for help. Poor guy on the other end wished he had never answered his phone. He wished he never had encountered me. I have a tangle of wires here, and I can’t quickly figure out which wire is going into which thing. I talk about “things” because I don’t know the actual names of these devices. Man on the line wanted to know about my router. “I don’t think I have a router,” I said. “Oh yes you do,” he said. I figured out the router is that black, hard plastic thing that looks like it has an antenna.

We came to a point where the poor man said to me, “Ray (we were on a first-name basis by that time) — Ray, would you like a tech on location?” I didn’t understand, of course. I asked him to repeat. “Would you like a tech on location?” I had to think about this. Tech on location. “Oh! You mean would I like a guy come to the house and check out the computer. Yes! Yes, I would like that. I need a tech on location.” Frontier stepped up to the plate, and it didn’t take long to get everything right once again. My modem was shot. Modem — that’s another black, hard, plastic thing with flashing green lights.

So here I am. I began looking at notes (Stickies) that I had posted for one reason or another. There was a story I “clipped” from a Minnesota newspaper that sounded an alarm with a headline in big type. The story says Target, the big retailer, has an even worse problem than anyone knew. Story says that when hackers got into the Target computers they got the names, addresses and telephone numbers of 70 million people.

First I thought, “Gulp!” Then I thought — wait a minute — the chance that hackers may pick my name out of a list of 70 million is about the same as the chance my number will get drawn in one of those big lotteries. And then I thought, “What are you talking about? Hackers don’t need to copy lists from Target computers to get my name, address and telephone number. All they need to do is look in a telephone directory. I think there are five times 70 million names, addresses and telephone numbers in America’s telephone directories. If you want that information, just grab your phone book.”

I looked at another clipping I saved:

“Before modern agriculture was introduced, most of the Lake Shetek area was a treeless prairie with hundreds of species of wildflowers and grasses. Today, a large portion of the 1,108-acre park consists of old fields and forests of oak, hackberry, basswood, elm, and ash …” I thought another time, “Wait a minute.” A well-meaning group believes the White Guys planted all those trees and destroyed all those wildflowers after they got to Lake Shetek. I don’t believe this.

For one thing, I know records that tell of trees along the banks of other prairie lakes. There were trees along the Graham Lakes. There were trees at Lake Okoboji and Spirit Lake. Well — more than this — one of the attractions at Lake Shetek State Park is the Andrew Koch log cabin. I know Andrew Koch did not order a train carload of logs.

The hope is, “In an effort to restore the natural prairie, prescribed burns and invasive species control” will push back the trees and restore the flowers. Don’t do that.

From the expansive Cayler Prairie near Lake Park to the ditches beside every prairie railroad track, wildflowers of every description can be found. Many are found on tracts set aside for conservation. Our wildflowers are not lost. They are hardy, and they are not to be discouraged. It may take a bit of hiking, but the wildflowers are there. I wish we could go out now to see them.

Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.