Sailing by the Seat of One’s Pants

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Owing to an interrupted internet connection this past week, I was almost certain that I would have to complete this issue without the crutches of Google and Wikipedia. In fact, I was entirely prepared to do so. I’m well stocked with offline reference materials, printed on dead trees. For the thumbnail bio of Red Norvo to accompany Gary Price’s excellent drawing, I remembered that the Time-Life Giants of Jazz set had a comprehensive and authoritative biography of Norvo. I re-read it for the first time in over 30 years, and gleaned material from it that was unavailable on Wikipedia or probably anywhere else online.

I was sorely disadvantaged by the lacuna in web service, only because I made the grievous error of trusting in the customer service department of my internet provider not to thoroughly gaslight me. I suspected there might be local problems, but the customer service gal (speaking to me from half a world away) said that my internet was just fine. I then said that I might need a new modem, because that had fixed similar problems before. It took me two hours to convince my interlocutor that I was indeed experiencing problems.

Having been promised a modem (finally) I went to the store and bought one so that I could get right to work. That new modem did not work, since the problem was in the local service. Having been thus deprived of a whole day in which I could have been at least editing and writing, I was somewhat demoralized. But I arose on the next day determined to get things done.

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Of course, the next day the internet worked perfectly—with my old modem. Nonetheless, I kept to my original plan of relying on analog references to do my Norvo essay and am satisfied with the result.

Those of you who eschew the internet and its wiles are not wrong. Or not entirely wrong. It is way past the time for me to do this paper on a Linotype machine. Computer layout makes this job possible, though (thanks to time wasted this week) I am writing this perilously close to my printer’s deadline.

This experience bespeaks the necessity of being determined and resourceful, and of being able to sail by the seat of one’s pants. Fortunately, the winds are favorable, and there is enough fabric to get me exactly where I am bound to go.
—Andy Senior

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