I thought junior year in high school chemistry was going to be a disaster. There was a new curriculum with a lot of math, and let’s just say I didn’t do math, at least not very well. And the teacher was the Fury not only of the department, but of the school. She ruled through intimidation and fear. We were a bunch of “good” quiet kids, so her draconian measures were unnecessary, but she used them nonetheless. One guy, fresh in from California, dared to shrug when she asked him why he didn’t have his homework. He disappeared from class and no one ever saw him again.
The class had 35 members, without enough places for everyone, so after about a week of this chemical reign of terror, Mrs. Ott–not her real name (she liked to say about almost everything, “This might be on the test” to increase our anxiety)–announced that five people would be forming another class. And miracle of miracles, I was one of the five. I was never so relieved in my life. I think the new teacher could have been Satan himself and we would have been glad.
Instead of Satan, our new teacher was a tiny quivering woman whom I will call Mrs. Carter fresh from a career as an industrial chemist who apparently decided to try her hand at teaching. She was terrified of us and grew so nervous she had to sit down every once in a while and calm her nerves. We were kind to her, knowing what we could be sent back to, and together we learned chemistry. One of the students, Dick, was a mathematical genius who went to M.I.T. and became a rocket scientist. When Mrs. Carter would lock up on a math problem, she would stare at the board and tremble more than usual. Dick got up, took the chalk from her, sat her down in her chair and worked the problem. “See?” he would say, and Mrs. Carter would nod her head with the rest of us.
She also made tests easy. If a concept or problem would be on the unit test, she would say, “A word to the wise–study this carefully.” We just had to mark what she pointed out, study that, and do well on the test.
I was thinking of “a word to the wise” this week when my iPhone offered to update its OS–and in doing so, wiped out all my contacts, telephone numbers and calendar items. I have been trying to be all high-tech and keep everything on my phone, although I do have some random scraps of paper with information on them. I eventually found that I could recover most of the information from my computer, which synched with the phone when I uploaded some pictures about a month ago. That made reconstructing the information easier than had I been forced to start from scratch. I’ve heard from some other people who had the same experience and were fortunate enough to have the material synched as well. (I’ve also heard that the new OS drains the battery more quickly. Carry your charger with you at all times!)
So, my word to the wise is, back up your data. Back up your data. Back up your data. You’ll be happy you did.