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A photo of a vintage slide rule
Photo from Ebay.com

Once upon a time, back in the dark ages, before the unwashed masses were allowed to know about the wonders of the internet, there was, the humble slide rule. I took two years of High School Chemistry and Physics (yes, I was one of THOSE) and while we were allowed to use calculators in Physics (and math classes as well) this was not the case in Chemistry. In Chemistry class, Mrs. B. Insisted that we could only use slide rules. Her reasoning, and she probably wasn’t wrong, was that one day, we would be engineers out in the field and there would be some calculation needed. All of our colleagues would start bemoaning that their calculators had dead batteries, we would whip out our trusty slide rules and do the calculations, saving the day and our employer’s ass. We would therefore become superstar engineers and when we accepted whatever Engineer of the Decade award, we would speak highly of Mrs. B, who never let us rely on anything we could not control. Of course, Mrs. B. didn’t consider the smart phone, where not only can we do the calculations needed, we have GPS maps, email communications, texts, a studio quality camera for video and stills, oh, and some music. (The smart phone is a subject for another Tuesday)

So, aside from awakening a deep desire to by a $19 slide rule on Etsy as a reminder of Mrs. B, I am thinking of the idea of relying on things we cannot control. My Scrivener right now is linked with DropBox. I do back up the files somewhere else, from time to time, but I can’t control DropBox. I cannot control the iCloud, where my MacBook backs up. I surely can’t control Google, where I have recently uploaded all my photos, because who needs 6500 photos on the iPhone all the time?

Then again, I am relying on these tools, but except for photos, there really aren’t things I cannot recreate, and recreate better in most cases. And in the end, photos matter until they don’t. But even pencil and paper, which one could presumably control, can’t be. Ask Ernest Hemingway, who lost all of his writing, save two short stories, when a suitcase it was all in was lost. He shrugged and went on to writing masterpieces instead. Sometimes a clean slate is not a bad thing. 

So, here is a Tool Time Tuesday reminder to back up your work. In multiple locations, some of which you can control. Not all of it, just the stuff you don’t want to do over.