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When you hover over the internet explorer icon, it says something akin to “finds and displays information on the internet”, but I find that is a gross oversimplification of what internet access does.

The internet at work is down this morning, mysteriously, and while my iPad can detect the Wifi, it cannot latch on.  The desktop is a lost cause until the rest of the building has been restored.  Until then, I sit, making a pen and paper list of the many tasks I wish to accomplish today, but cannot.  Being off-line has me stymied.

As a speech pathologist who trained under the pot-and-wooden-spoon approach to speech therapy, I could do therapy out of a cardboard box.  Some of my working spaces have resembled cardboard boxes, actually, but I digress.  I have all the tools and materials I need to make it through a day, if need be, and I won’t be shirking any responsibilities, or compromising any treatment sessions.  But it’s making the tasks around my job mightily difficult to be off-line.

I have to e-mail the parents the weekly session notes from last week, so they know what’s happening with their kids.  All my session notes are safely tucked away on googledocs.  I have to e-mail the HR person to find out about my coverage.  I can’t very well just pop by there, as the poor woman manages the entire 80-person staff by herself and can’t handle walk-ins.  Likewise the nurse, with whom I’d like to make an appointment for a flu shot, and hasn’t arrived yet anyway, judging from her darkened office window.  I can’t share notes with my colleagues from a meeting last week concerning their students, as they’re trapped on my iPad.  Nor can I let them know which meetings I plan to attend this week so we can decide who goes to lunch duty, who sits in meetings, and who might possibly have a blessed day to just eat lunch.  I can’t look up new resources for the students I’m working with today/this week and prep in advance.  I can’t add an appointment to the google calendar to “claim” the time I’ll be doing an observation on a shared student, so that Psych, OT, and I don’t show up at the same time.

And let’s not forget all the non-work tasks I could fill my time with, if strictly necessary.  There’s shopping on Zulily, lusting after the cutest baby clothes.  There’s downloading or uploading wedding or baby photos for photo books since I just realized that printing digital pictures and then putting them into albums by hand is sooooo 2003.  I could be blogging in real time, instead of typing into a Word document and uploading it later.  I could be looking up images to inspire this year’s Valentine postcard.  I could be taking my turn on any number of internet based games, keeping up to date on my friends’ latest child-rearing or gustatory misadventures.

Instead, this morning, seeking company, or more than that, I walked upstairs, sat down in a colleague’s room, and we talked while he drank some tea.  He couldn’t print his day’s work; I couldn’t plan mine.  But we caught up on our weekends.  It reminded me of my first year here, when our rooms were dark, cramped, inconveniently placed behind partitions, and we routinely ran into each other due to geography.  While I prize the privacy I now have with my own office, and not having to compete with two other sessions happening at the same time, I miss being able to talk over the partition to ask a colleague a question.  I miss being able to easily run into someone in the hall.  I miss that we all gathered in a centrally located reading teacher’s room to clutch scalding tea between our gloved palms in winter mornings because the c.1900 building didn’t heat up until noon.  While our new building is sleek and modern, with Smart Boards, central air, and security cameras in every corner, we’ve lost a little something.

This morning a, while the server was down, I still had a connection.

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January 2013