From the Pastor: Prime Days or Doomsday?
Amazon Prime Days returned! Yes, these are the days that everyone seems to go gaga over shopping online. Prime Days were postponed by a few months this year due to that nasty computer virus, COVID 19. When the CO(mputer)VI(rus)D(duh!) 19 virus first started spreading throughout the internet, I quickly shut my electronics down for safety’s sake. Nothing electric, no computer, no tablet, no TV, not even the refrigerator, was left running. I wasn’t about to let that nasty particle into the rectory where it would infect all of the appliances and would probably spread to even the battery operated gizmos like smoke detectors and wall clocks once it got a foothold. Heck, even the wooden chairs might not be safe. But after months of being cut off from the web, I really wanted--needed--an internet fix. I would have settled for a quick glance at Farcebook, and I nearly did several times, but my Catholic guilt got the best of me and I couldn’t justify “killing grandma”--as everyone kept accusing gamers and bloggers of doing when they just wouldn’t stop playing and writing even to save the world--just to see posts about what people were eating (accompanied by the inevitable nasty comments from “friends” and trolls deploring the restaurant of choice, the type of food, etc.) and memes with Jesus facepalming just about everything. I nearly caved to the desire to watch cute kitten videos on YouTube but thankfully the Google censors were removing them as soon as they were reported in a fairly successful attempt to keep us from temptation and electronic transmission of the infection. But when it was announced that Prime Days were back on the schedule, I knew the time had come. If Amazon was having this massive event, it must be safe to go online!
I set my alarm clock for 2:37 am so that I would be up and ready for the 3:00 am start time. I needn’t have bothered, though, since I was so jacked up that I couldn’t sleep a wink anyway. As I prepared to get my computer fired up and running, the panic the government so lovingly instilled in me kept welling up. My index finger trembled as it hovered over the power button. Was I doing the right thing, entering into this crowded buying frenzy? I wanted to push such doubts out of my mind but I was not certain that all of my precautions would keep my computer free of this terrible virus. Maybe I was going online too soon, I thought, and putting the entire network in danger of contamination. But I knew that I had taken all of the precautions touted by Fauci and Friends. After months of government mandated interpersonal outdoor social activities, I tried to believe that the Great Isolated Indoors were finally free from contagion, or at worst would only kill off old DOS and XP systems. We have “flattened the cord” by now, so I wasn’t endangering the world by participating in this mob transaction, was I? I went over my safety checklist one last time. No computers or other electronic equipment within six feet of any other. Check. A mask over the breaker box so that the virus could not get in through the electrical outlets. Check. Lysol glistening on the keys of the wireless keyboard just in case some of the tiny little critters slipped past the mask and somehow travel through the air rather than staying confined to electrical cords (experts are still contradicting themselves and other as to whether this virus is spread more through wires or wifi or bluetooth). Check. A full protective suit of plastic bags enclosing both the modem and the router. Check.
I took a deep breath and told myself that everything was going to be just fine. I was finally ready to step back into the world wide web by buying something--anything--on Amazon before somebody else could purchase it. As you can tell, though, I was nearly as worried as I was excited. My mind continued to race. What if my computer gets sick? Will it infect all of the others in the house? Am I putting the Geek Squad in danger unnecessarily just for the thrill of spending money on things I really don’t need? What if the virus lurks, unbeknownst to anyone, in the computer without doing any damage, and then one day, Bam! Bam! the government knocks on the door with a Norton Security Suite and detects that my machine is an asymptomatic carrier, contact traces all connected equipment, both those things physically present and those in the cloud, and quarantines every last thingamajiggy for two weeks or more? How could I live with myself should somebody in Nebraska have their fancy IoT toaster suddenly switch from “bagel mode” to “pop tart” after it connected to the same server in Utah that my DNS server possibly passed a few ones and zeros through? Maybe, I whined to myself, I should just curl up in bed and admit that the world will never go back to being connected, for even if a rushed computer vaccine is found to be safe and effective, the COVID might hack itself and bypass all antivirus measures in no time. I was truly torn about what to do.
In the end, I caved to my temptations to return to “normalcy” (i.e., virtual reality). I turned on the computer, clicked the mouse, and bought a reusable metal straw. Doggone it, if I am going to doom the planet, I will save it at the same time.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka