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Noah of the Elder Scrolls

“Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time.” (Howl, Ginsburg)

“Oh, [F—]! Oh, [F—]! Oh, [F—]!”. It was Sunday in Wisconsin. And even though the TV was on, which meant of course the game was on, my string of unstoppable expletives had nothing to do with the fact that the Packers were gaffing its record-breaking winning streak to the usually wobbly Chiefs. Instead, I was standing, heart pounding, eyes blurring, and hands shaking like the A train as I realized they held a total stranger’s laptop.

Given that I was traveling with my laptop and opening it on a Sunday while visiting family halfway across the country to do work during a potentially historic game (at least for dedicated cheeseheads) should tell you there are certain other matters keeping me up at night (two of which are in active litigation).

But dinky di!  The year closed out leaving me with renewed belief in the goodness of human kind, if not unfettered faith in our natural inclination to be good when no one’s looking.

That fateful Sunday, as I watched the Packers slowly and irrevocably break their near record streak, I believed that the fate of my laptop was inextricably intertwined with my home team’s performance.  I was only partly wrong.

As sure as my laptop was lost, the Packers lost.  Despite multiple calls, made with frantic freak out barely restrained, by the time I returned to La Guardia on Monday, there was still no sign of my laptop, no hint anyone was looking for theirs, and dwindling hope I would ever discover who “Noah” was.  (His name was revealed when I first turned on the laptop but then we got snared by the various gatekeepers, protecting all of Noah’s identity from about seven pairs of prying eyes).  It was small wonder no one had called to claim Noah’s notebook.  Mine was only two weeks old – that newness likely a fault.  It was shiny and pretty, and fit for heavy lifting or at least a really great screen for a serious gamer.

While, like a couple of Kubrick apes, my sister and I tried to break past face recognition on the mystery laptop, Noah, a 17-year old Aussie, was wondering where the hell his Skyrim disk was. He didn’t bother to call the TSA but, when I finally tracked him down through my partner’s super sleuthing and hard drive cracking, Noah didn’t run or hide. To his credit, he politely informed me his uncle would be returning to the great concrete jungle December 25th (yes, Revel, there is a Santa Claus and he comes from a land down under), and he would be happy to make the switch, and how did I happen to find him?

There is a favorite part of a Dr. Seuss classic: the end of the Cat in the Hat, where the very naughty gato has just whisked away every sign of his presence and suddenly Mother, who was not privy to the pranks and havoc that ensued in her absence, turns to the children to ask them what they did while she was away.

After finding Noah’s Skyrim: the Elder Scrolls disk (the disk drive – too obvious for any of the seven of us back in the Dairyland to think to check), my Brooklyn wizened and technogeek partner removed the hard drive, and we found young Noah’s treasure trove of surreptitious classroom snapshots, college apps, and, frankly, little else.

I was grateful for the clear compass on young Noah, a leery lad standing at the threshold of adulthood and high stakes academia (I only got on the wait list of the law school at the university he’s applying to), and soon certain to face harder ethical questions than whether to return the laptop of an adult who apparently was too distracted by this big busy world to notice having made the switch (another downfall of my laptop’s newness — I was judging its familiarity by weight and feel rather than actually looking at this thousand dollar piece of luggage going through security).  Yes, your author is the culpable party.  It was only later as I stood watching the Packers fall to pieces that I recalled a missed Blink of a moment: the person behind me had picked up his laptop and turned it over, looking at it oddly, almost like a Space Odyssey primate, while I strode confidently past, proud and smug at my deft ability to sail through security regardless how much luggage and crap was strapped on me.  It was not even a full second when it flashed that something was amiss(ing).

So Noah of the Elder Scrolls posed the question how I found him, which certainly was to mean what did I find out about him. My partner is perhaps more virtuous or less curious than me. I suspected there was much more Noah had in store. There were, I was sure, secret savant rantings and prodigious teenage genius locked behind some hyper-encrypted file, and couldn’t my partner please get out of my way so I could find it? The best he did was indulge me in looking at Noah’s college essay. It was a rough draft, needed some work, but it was a valiant beginning.

Noah, hanging out back down under still had my laptop in his possession, and could just as easily look for secret genius in my own traveling home (and would just as likely find none). But the question hung in the air, crossing continents, “how did you find me?”  And I silently questioned the same of him.  Had he, too, broken in and was he now poring over some long lost files, riveted by my screenplay eleven years in the making and insisting his father, the renowned and wealthy producer, read it immediately, or was he sifting through techno glut and the electronic clutter of one overworked paper pusher? Or was he biting his nails through another wave of Skyrim withdrawal, staring abjectly at the useless trapped gadget? And if I told him how I rifled through his files and found his email address on his college app, would he feel like turnabout was fair play, pop out the hard drive, and look at the person who on the other side of the globe was looking at him, both of us through electronic techno bobble eye goggles? I stood staring at his question in my email on my iPhone, and paused for a moment before I answered.

Ted Geisel asked his young readers, “Well, what would you do if your mother asked you?”

QUESTION: what would you do if your Noah asked you? Go ahead … Gimme the dirt!

5 responses to “Noah of the Elder Scrolls

  1. Ralph ⋅

    Unless there was something with his name/ address/ contact info it’s pretty obvious the information was gotten from his machine. I would tell him the information was found on his computer, but I wouldn’t volunteer the part about hacking into his data, and certainly wouldn’t mention what if anything else was looked at.

    Not a gardening topic, but since anyone reading this is using a computer this brings up some important often never thought of or overlooked points. First, computers fail, hard drives crash (break), they get lost and stolen, and are subject to malware such as viruses every time you go online. Many people store lots of personal information on their PC which may include online banking records, passwords, account numbers, emails, and pictures- things strangers should probably not have access to, or in the least things you would not want to loose.

    A backup of your information should be periodically done. A backup is simply a second copy of your information that is not physically on your computer. Depending what you do with your computer, copying all your documents onto a DVD or ‘thumb drive’ may suffice. Don’t leave your backup right next to your PC! An easier more thorough way to back up your information can be done by buying an external hard drive which includes automated backup software. A number of companies make this type backup system, my personal preference being Western Digital.

    To keep things on your PC private, an encryption program can be used. Basically once you encrypt your information it cannot be viewed without a password. There are a number of these programs available commercially. My personal choice is True Crypt, which is available as a free download.

    Although a bit long, that was an overview of keeping your computer data safe. It is far from complete or thorough. If anyone is interested or would like some further information on backups or encryption post a message.

  2. thanks ralph and
    revel, the packer’s playoff hopes seem contingent on
    your next move.

  3. Ralph ⋅

    I don’t follow the game, so I hope the playoffs aren’t depending on me 🙂

    Speaking of games, I just got my Park Seed catalog. I usually begin my ordering by filling out my wish list on the enclosed order forms. I see there’s going to be a problem with too many companies, duplicate orders, and probably a couple things omitted. I think I am going to use a spreadsheet instead of the order forms so I can sort things easier than on paper. That may seem to be (is?) overkill, but it seems to be the easiest way to keep track of multiple catalogs and orders. I know the final order lists will be small, but getting the larger initial lists cut to size is the problem. At the end I should have a final list of exactly what I planted to keep in that still ever so elusive garden journal. Am I getting too many seed catalogs or do others have similar ordering issues? Maybe this is why some people buy plants rather than seeds.

  4. Revel

    I think a lot of people buy plants instead of seeds because they feel the plants might have a better shot since you can actually see them already alive. Other folks, I think, like the anticipation of watching something sprout up from almost nothing (a seed). Kind of like giving birth to a baby versus adoption (hope not to offend anyone by the comparison — just seems apt from the parent’s perspective because you love it no less; it’s just the different stages at which the big person gets involved). That said, I have a thought about your garden journal…have you considered a binder? It seems you have a lot of materials to keep together. I, for one, think there’s no problem in perusing as many of the catalogs as you can, so long as it doesn’t become overwhelming. You’ll benefit in the end by comparing prices. Also, if you’re able to track where you got your various seeds from and how they perform, you’ll be yet another step ahead of the game come the following season. Hopefully you’ll share your insight and review the performance for other catalog readers (and fellow revelers if you don’t mind). I browsed a catalog for the first time this past season. My friend had one from Johnny Seed Co. I can see how it could get to be like a kid in the candy store situation, though, too. This could be okay depending on your budget, and planning. I think getting a binder will help because then you can keep the catalogs in it, as well as loose articles, print-outs, etc. You can also have a separate space for diagrams and spreadsheets, and then your journal can be a three-hole punched notebook or printed out from your computer. I have some extra plastic folders for loose materials that you’re welcome to, should you decide to take this route. Right now, looking at my closet, I have seven binders that I use for various purposes (one is called “Food” – another is labeled “Writing,” for example), and I find this format incredibly useful. I think I’ve convinced myself, since I also was mulling over the journal idea. Now on my weekend to do list: start gardening journal/binder. I will keep you posted…keep me posted too please!

  5. Ralph ⋅

    The binder idea is probably a good approach since I can see a journal going through many stages of evolution as I start using it. Speaking of catalogs, I just got one from Rain Tree Nurseries. They sell a lot of trees and fruit bushes, and is the place I ordered my bamboo from. Two seeds I ordered from more than one place (stevia and wormwood) failed to grow until I last ordered them from Seed Savers Exchange. I can’t say if I finally got my seed growing a bit more refined or the seeds from SSE were better, but I’ll order those from SSE this year. Gardening is one of those things that you never finish learning about.

    I think I mentioned before that I seem to take better care of plants from seeds than store bought plants. As you said I think it’s the care given to get a seed out of the ground.

    I’ve heard good things about Johnny Seed but haven’t got their catalog or ordered from them online. Many seed catalogs have a lot of good information about seeds and how to care for them.

    If you missed it, or anyone is interested there was a recent podcast of about 5 medicinal herbs you should grow. The show ran long so only 4 were covered. Another recent episode was on seed starting- both were pretty good.

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