Friday, July 24, 2009

The Cards


In middle age I seem to have become more and not less subject to the brisk forms of nannying in which our Yale information technology time-lords seem to specialize. Just now, you cannot log onto anything internal without being reminded that it is time to change your password. Tick, tock—it must be done, once a year. This is dreadful because, having in recent days finally obeyed that instruction (for fear of getting a big smack on my bottom for non-compliance), I now type in the old one out of sheer habit before remembering to correct myself by entering the new one instead—almost as ingeniously configured. Nobody could ever possibly guess what these were/are, and they are not written down, except in some secure and (I hope) impenetrable spot on the server. On the other hand, I do wonder what anyone would gain from stealing my identity. Best not to tempt fate, but they might at least get a few amusing surprises. Anyhow, now the central presidium urges me to scan my computer for credit card and social security numbers, a process that takes forever and yields a bunch of false hits—ten-digit clusters that are not, in fact, social security numbers at all, but rather the accession numbers of various objects that belong to other art museums. I am invited to shred the offending documents in which these suspicious numbers crop up, and indeed I have now done so because (a) resistance is futile, (b) anything for a quiet life, (c) I don’t seem to be able to proceed unless I obey, and in any case (d) you have to log onto some internal site and click on a box that alerts the authorities to the fact that you have carried out their instructions to the letter. All of which reminds me that my very first job after entering university—this was in the upper cretaceous period—was to type out Mollison Library catalogue cards for the estimable Jean Mary Waller of beloved memory, a task (in her words) of “sub-professional” responsibility, which I carried out in a small room right next door to Angela Mackie’s private loo. Everything else has long since changed; the cards pulped (or worse), but at least the loo is still there.

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