Poe’s "The Raven" in the PC Age: Abort, Retry, Ignore?
Once upon a midnight dreary, fingers cramped and vision bleary,
System manuals piled high and wasted paper on the floor,
Longing for the warmth of bed sheets, still I sat there doing spreadsheets.
Having reached the bottom line I took a floppy from the drawer,
I then invoked the SAVE command and waited for the disk to store,
Only this and nothing more.
Deep into the monitor peering, long I sat there wond’ring, fearing,
Doubting, while the disk kept churning, turning yet to churn some more.
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token.
"Save!" I said, "You cursed mother! Save my data from before!"
One thing did the phosphors answer, only this and nothing more,
Just, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"
Was this some occult illusion, some maniacal intrusion?
These were choices undesired, ones I’d never faced before.
Carefully I weighed the choices as the disk made impish noises.
The cursor flashed, insistent, waiting, baiting me to type some more.
Clearly I must press a key, choosing one and nothing more,
From "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"
I tried to catch the chips off guard, and pressed again, but twice as hard.
I pleaded with the cursed machine: I begged and cried and then I swore.
Now in mighty desperation, trying random combinations,
Still there came the incantation, just as senseless as before.
Cursor blinking, angrily winking, blinking nonsense as before.
Reading, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"
There I sat, distraught, exhausted, by my own machine accosted.
Getting up I turned away and paced across the office floor.
And then I saw a dreadful sight: A lightning bolt cut through the night.
A gasp of horror overtook me, shook me to my very core.
The lightning zapped my previous data, lost and gone forevermore.
Not even, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"
E-Mail Facts of Life
1. Big companies don’t do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is not giving you $1,000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation.
2. There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. You can relax; there is no need to pass it on "just in case it’s true." Furthermore, just because someone said in the message, four generations back, that "we checked it out and it’s legit," does not actually make it true.
3. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to their cousin. And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. None have."
4. We all know all 500 ways to drive your roommates crazy, irritate co-workers, gross-out bathroom stall neighbors and creep out people on an elevator.
5. Even if the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) did contain plutonium that went to particulate over the Eastern seaboard, do you really think this information would reach the public via an AOL chain letter?
6. There is no "Good Times" virus. In fact, you should never, ever, ever forward any e-mail containing any virus warning unless you first confirm it at an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with viruses.
7. If you still absolutely must forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who’s received it over the last six months. It sure wouldn’t hurt to get rid of all the ">" that begin each line. Besides, if it has gone around that many times, we’ve probably already seen it.
8. And finally, Craig Shergold in England is not dying of cancer or anything else at this time, and would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards. He apparently is no longer a "little boy."
Contributed by Teri Blumenthal, New York City