Monthly Archives: October 2020

What A Fiddle

I printed some meeting minutes on our HP LaserJet 1200 printer last evening. This faithful 16-year-old workhorse sits in Steven’s office and has printed 39,592 pages, with only 110 mispicks or jams. l gave it more RAM a couple of years ago, clean and dust it, sing it lullabies.

This morning I had to print a poster for a bake sale. Same MacBook Pro, same network, same printer, same same same…but no printing. The print job would go to the queue, show it was printing, the job would disappear as if it had printed, and nothing would happen, no lights, no movement, nada. I plugged the printer directly into my MBP and still no luck. Meanwhile, Steven’s older MacBook connected as normal. Well.

I opened every setting I could find and fiddled in dark corners of my computer I had no business being in. An online search leads me to believe that no one in the history of the online world seems to have ever had this exact thing happen, or perhaps they expired with frustration before they could write about it. Given how many different types of printer/computer configurations are out there, and that this is ancient tech connected to current tech, it’s not a surprise I had to find the answer on my own.

I finally found a pretty simple solution: in System Preferences>Printers and Scanners, I just added the 1200 as a new printer and chose something called “Generic PostScript Printer” settings instead of “HP LaserJet 1200” (“Generic PCL Printer” seemed to work just as well). Hey presto, printing resumed.

I bought my first computer in 1992, along with a 14.4k modem. In those 28 years, I’ve had two desktop computers (a Compaq with a huge 100MB hard drive and a G4 iMac in Bondi Blue) and four laptops (my first computer, a Sanyo without a graphics card, two iBooks and my current MacBook Pro). I have had only two printers: one ink-guzzling Canon inkjet, and now our dear 1200, who has been with me for more than half my computing life. Now that 1200 is a teenager, I guess it’s allowed a tantrum!

15 Years of Kiva

Today is Kiva’s 15th Anniversary! Kiva is a microfinance platform that allows people to make small loans to borrowers around the world. I’ve been a Kiva lender since 2007 and a volunteer editor with their 400-strong Review and Translation Program since March 2009.

As of today, I’ve edited 11,787 loans that have enabled 11,206,606 USD in lending activity on the Kiva website. The nifty Kiva editing platform, Viva, also tells me those loans added up to 1,585,796 words. I check each loan over at least twice, so it’s no wonder I now wear reading glasses!

It’s interesting to look back at how my yearly editing totals grew over the years, with the exception of 2015, the year I was diagnosed with hemochromatosis and obviously slept when I should have been editing! This year’s total is certainly a reflection of the global impact of COVID-19, with very few loans being posted for a while as the pandemic raced around the world.

What have I learned after reading about nearly 12,000 people, most of whom live in places I’ve never been and will probably never visit? More than I can ever relay, I’m sure, but here are a couple of examples:

  • a convenience store is called a sari-sari in the Philippines (so when one opened in my area, I knew exactly what it was!)
  • tuk-tuks, boda-bodas, habal-habals, and just plain motorcycles seem to move billions of people every day
  • M-pesa is changing Africa and most of us in Level 4 countries have never heard of it

I was asked to tell my personal Kiva story earlier this week at a Zoom meeting of Kiva staff and volunteers. The rest of the world seems to have spent the entire COVID-19 pandemic on Zoom, but I’ve not been able to join in due to our janky home internet. A kind friend with slightly better internet connection allowed me to set up shop at her house and everything went well! I had hoped to impart some profound wisdom gleaned from a decade of being a Kiva volunteer, but it all ended up being quite simple :

The biggest lesson that is constantly being reinforced for me through my Kiva volunteering is that we all want the same basic things, no matter where we are in the world. Everyone who is caring for children wants them to have a good education, they want clean water and better living conditions, an opportunity to start a new business or improve the one they have. It’s certainly like that here on PEI, and while I imagined it was the same everywhere, I get to see the proof of this in every loan I edit.

PEI is in the Atlantic time zone, 4 hours behind the UK, 4 hours ahead of San Francisco. So, when I’m heading to bed on a dark, snowy Canadian winter night, I sometimes think of the people I’ve met through their loan descriptions, who are 12 hours or more ahead of me in Asia or Africa, starting their morning by opening their store, or preparing food for their restaurant, or walking to the fields, getting their children ready for school, launching their beautiful boats to go fishing. I cheer them on from afar, these new global neighbours, and for me, that’s what this editing journey has been all about. 

I’ve been volunteering for something or other almost my whole life, but my experience as a Kiva volunteer has been the most enjoyable and enriching of anything I have ever done as a volunteer. It remains fun and interesting, and that’s why I’m still doing it (and the fact that I can do it any time, even in my pajamas, is pretty great, too!).

Through Kiva, I get to see the best of the human spirit, and help to make the world a bit better for others. On days when the world seems especially upside down, which seems to be quite often lately, Kiva gives me hope. I’m not sure who I would be now without Kiva.

I happened to notice yesterday I had made a total of 499 loans, so I’m off to make one more in celebration of this milestone and round things off nicely. If you want to join me and nearly two million other lenders, you’ll find more information here.