Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Yesterday began with class, where I took students’ random ideas and showed them how to organize said ideas into a paper. We do this as a group, with further examples for the students to work on. I like this process, and I always hope that the students will walk out of class able to do it themselves.

Then I had to rush home and take #2 son to work (spring break). He works right next to T.J. Maxx, so I stopped in there and bought a jacket for $14.99. The original price was $106. It was worth $14.99 to get out of wool and black, which were my choices. This took about 15 minutes, and I then rushed home and got to work on my medical billing people. #1 son made lunch, bless him, and then I met The Computer Guy for a training with a new set of clients.

We’re rescuing these guys from a bad website. The Computer Guy showed the office people how to get into their website to make updates. He kept the mood light by telling little stories while things were loading.

“Don’t touch anything while it’s loading,” he’d remind them, “or it might crash. See how I’m not touching the mouse?” And then he’d tell how he and his dad had built his first computer together when he was a little boy, and he had paid for the parts by doing household chores. He had therefore had a keyboard six months before he got the mouse, and this is why even now he uses keyboard shortcuts rather than the mouse.

The office people, only slightly relieved by this, kept watching him with big eyes and frequent giggling announcements that they didn’t know anything about computers. We could tell that they were the kinds of computer users who would jiggle the mouse and punch buttons randomly in hopes of making the remote files hurry up. I spoke to them in soothing tones.

“I live three minutes from here,” I said, “and you can call me if you get confused and I’ll come right up and help.”

The Computer Guy would do another fusillade on the keyboard and say, “Okay, now I’ve changed the welcome page to the homepage and set up your analytics,” and the office ladies would look as though all their worst fears were being realized.

Following this adventure, I came home and did some more unbillable stuff. The training was unbillable, but it was a training for a program I didn’t previously know, and I didn’t have to pay for it. I haven’t had time to do any of the needed unbillable stuff for a while — I missed doing the midmonth invoices, in fact. So it was good to have a bit of time to catch up on things.

As I was finishing up the Northerners, Arkenboy came to the door. While I invited him to come in and sit down, he said he didn’t have time and instead stood in the doorway for a couple of hours discussing economics and new streaming video technology and web people.

Web people, he said, are all crazy. They ask clients what they want. Clients don’t know what they want.

This is true.

However, as a hardware and network guy, Arkenboy has a different relationship with clients than we web people have. They are all really afraid of him. They’ll do whatever he says, in hopes of mollifying the little green lights on their machinery that can lead to the end of all their hopes and dreams. A small business that is offline for ten days, I recently learned (it was during my IT support writing stint), has a 50% chance of going bankrupt immediately, and a 96% chance of going under within the next year.

I think that small businesses have pretty poor chances anyway — 25% fail in their first year and 50% by year five,with a mere 20% of startups living for a decade — so those figures shouldn’t scare people too much, but they do. So hardware guys, like mechanics and doctors, have people’s lives in their hands.

Web people have clients who may be scared at some points in the process, but who may very well have quite strong feelings when it comes to the colors of their websites and how they want their pages written, even if they’re wrong.

Once Arkenboy and I had solved all the world’s problems (he’s in favor of piracy, unless I misunderstood him),I had a walk in the amazing spring weather. All our trees blossom at once, and they did so a couple of days ago. it’s a bit sad, since so many of them are deformed and crippled-looking from the ice storm, but it smells wonderful.