ON a walk through my neighborhood, I passed a mailbox with the little red flag in the upright position.
Everybody knows what that means, right?
For a moment I marveled over such a simple but effective means of communication. Its chances of failure were slim, nothing a screwdriver or hammer couldn't fix.
If only that were the case for the other ways we now use to communicate.
Newspaper employees recently endured several long, frustrating days when our Internet connection went on the fritz.
Tech crews from inside and outside the building pounced on it. And pounced and pounced. It took four days to achieve a fix that held.
Those excruciating days showed us just how dependent we had become on the virtual world.
In the newsroom, we tried to be patient while meeting frustration at every turn. Emotions heated, simmered and threatened to boil over. I guess it helped that we all were affected and could vent to each other.
However, that didn't change the fact that we were stymied. The service would come and go, but we could connect for only a few minutes a couple of times a day.
We couldn't count on sending or receiving email. We couldn't post, tweet, blog, research or even fact-check. We couldn't consistently download wire stories or pictures.
Another longtime veteran and I were commiserating. He suggested younger staffers needed to learn the old ways of doing things. Unfortunately, that wouldn't have solved much.
Our hard-copy references - atlases, encyclopedias, etc. - are musty and outdated. New ones would have solved only one facet of the problem anyway.
The rest of the world has changed as much as we have.
There's no longer an Associated Press dish on our roof to collect wire content via satellite. Who could have anticipated space-age technology would become obsolete?
There was certainly no way to tell countless providers of ideas, tips and news releases that we weren't getting email; could they please call or stop by?