Predicta-ment

One morning, I heard a text while I was getting ready for work. Usually, texts at 6:00 am are from my sister, who is still at work after her long night shift. So early morning texts do not scare me the way late night phone calls still do*.

I went to see what was up, and it turned out to be my boss, letting me know that the power was out at the clinic. A flurry of texts ensued from other staff members with updates as I applied mascara and lip gloss and headed out the door. Since the power had gone out at about 3:00 am, I figured it would be up and running by the time I got to work around 7:00.

This prediction was correct, but although there were lights and power, the servers were still down, rendering our computers useless plastic boxes, at least temporarily.

While the IT guys worked away at the computer issues, I caught up on my filing and other things that did not require computers. It was a good feeling to get that stuff done. I always wonder why I don’t keep up with it on an ongoing basis. I have the same thoughts after cleaning the house, but with the same (lack of) results.

Speaking of electricity, Jonathan and Rio acquired a fantastic vintage TV set (delightfully) called a Predicta:

predicta

Like the computers at work, the Predicta is temporarily non-operational, but I have faith that my brother can get it back in working order. If he could make a temporarily non-working very vintage telescope into a NASA-worthy contraption, he can do the same for the Predicta.

While he scouts for parts, we are amusing ourselves by thinking of appropriately retro TV shows to watch on it, like The Munsters and Peter Gunn and Perry Mason. And we are always going to refer to it as The Predicta.

A YEAR AGO: Dinner and a movie.

* I still think “Mom” when the phone rings, even though she has been gone for so long. And I always think it will be bad news.

Cut Off

So, yeah. Still no internet at Suzy Manor as of Saturday morning.

The technician did not show up on my blog’s birthday/anniversary last week. I called them three times that day. The first time, they said that the technician would call me back in 15 minutes. He didn’t. The second time, they said they would call me back with an update. They didn’t. The third time, they told me that the appointment had been double booked somehow and the two appointments, like a double negative, had cancelled each other out.

This was despite the fact that I had called them the evening before to confirm the appointment and was told that it was a priority appointment since the internet had then been out for over a week.
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They made another appointment for that Friday. The same evening, I received a call from the local (or possibly local-ish) dispatch guy, who informed me that:

  • There was no technician in my area on Friday, so the Friday appointment was not going to happen.
  • The earliest a technician would/could be there was Tuesday the 26th.
  • The folks who answer the 800 number, which I called three times on the day of Appointment One, do not have the capability of contacting the technicians, so the technician was never going to call me that day. Nor was the Friday appointment ever going to happen. And they knew it.

That’s a lot of lying in a relatively short time frame. By the time service is restored – assuming it actually does happen on Appointment Three (three times the charm?) it will have been out for two weeks.

I will have to call them again at some point and ask that they prorate the bill, but I just can’t deal with it now. Also my faith that they will do so is hovering at about the same level as my belief that they will show up on Tuesday, which is to say, Not At All.

UPDATE: I am pleased to report that as of Tuesday afternoon, the internet is reportedly working at my hippie hovel! Apparently the problem was something to do with a connection problem inside the modem and a faulty cable. Or something. Insert Charlie Brown teacher voice here. It only took two weeks and six phone calls!

A YEAR AGO: A perfect day.

Merry Anniversary

I’m celebrating my blog’s 15th(!) anniversary (birthday?) by hopefully getting internet service restored at my hippie hovel.

It’s been out for about a week – undoubtedly the ever-exorbitant bill will not be prorated, due to the ever-useful small print – and my blog’s birthday was the earliest the technician could get there. I’m hoping that he does in fact show up and is able to find my house. Also that he can both diagnose and correct the problem.

In the meantime, I’ve been taking my laptop to work so I can at least check my email when I’m on a break. My neighbor’s spotty and unsecured wifi has occasionally let me hitch a ride, but mostly it shows up as working while not allowing webpages to go or email to come and go. Cell phone service is so bad at my house that I am forced to have a landline, and needless to say, that also means no using your cell phone as a hot spot or getting email on it.

Thanks for your company on this long and bumpy ride. It’s been an adventure!

Update: As of 3:30, the technician hasn’t shown up. Maybe it’s a 420 thing. Or maybe just a Mendo thing.

A YEAR AGO: My blog was 14.

Magic Wand

IMG_1793

For those of you who deciphered the mysterious runes above and are wondering what the piano reference is all about: When Jessica was very young, she visited a friend who had a piano at her house. Jessica was enchanted, and when she got home, asked her mother to make her one. Erica said that she couldn’t make a piano. Jessica was stunned. This was the first time in her life she had asked her mother to make something and she couldn’t. As far as I know, a piano is still just about the only thing Erica can’t make.

A YEAR AGO: Farewell, electric lime green bathroom floor! I think I’ll miss you least of all.

New & Improved

It was obvious for a while that my old MacBook needed to be replaced, but both my resistance to change and innate cheapness meant that I didn’t do anything about it for quite some time. Finally, I decided to ask my boss/partner for the price of a new Pee Cee and pay the remainder to buy a new MacBook. To my surprise, he offered to pay for the whole thing, even when I informed him that the terrifying price tag, including Apple Care and other what nots, was around the dizzying $1,700 mark.

Needless to say, it took me a while to figure out the new operating system, including a couple of calls to Apple to help with questions on email (solved) and iPhoto (it appears I am stuck with the stupid “events” set up, rather than the library format I’m used to). I also hate the super wide tabs in Safari and have so far been unsuccessful in getting rid of them, even after trying Glims, though I have removed the icky Top Sites thing and annoying hot corners. However, the track pad seems to make pages move from side to side from time to time for no particular reason that I can discern.

I have also noticed that the silvery surface shows fingerprints readily, which I always imagined would also be a drawback on the stainless steel appliances that everyone apparently finds so desirable. Still, it’s a big improvement over the old one as far as speed and capacity go.

I was trying to remember when I got the old one, and I’m pretty sure it was about eight years ago, which is antique in computer terms. I got my Product (RED) iPod at the same time. Looking back through my dusty archives, I’m surprised that I didn’t write about buying it at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, which looks like a floating glass box:

It’s right across from the Plaza Hotel, Eloise’s fictional home and my spiritual one, and near Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture:

I love(d) it, even though it only has 8GB of memory. Despite a lot of use, it remains a shiny metallic red. But it began to sound like the singing was underwater, and it didn’t hold a charge very long, so it was time for a new one, which, as you can see, is fuchsia and shiny. Almost as good as red. And it has 16 GB of memory. That’s a lot of music for those long drives!

Presently Past

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to stay at a different hotel this time, mostly due to the internet access issues at the usual place. As so often happens, I was wrong about everything.

My knowledge of San Francisco’s neighborhoods has clearly deteriorated since becoming a bumpkin. I thought Hotel B was in North Beach, which it might technically be, but it was much closer to the Wharf than what I think of as North Beach, where City Lights books, Vesuvio’s, and Molinari’s deli are, not to mention the Condor Club, the city’s oldest strip club. When I first moved to San Francisco, the Condor featured a neon sign of its famous topless dancer and early implants enthusiast Carol Doda, with her nipples flashing through the fog. I still miss that sign.

On my last day in the city, I headed out in search of bath salts so I could enjoy the bathtub in the hotel room. This proved more difficult than you’d think. I first went to Walgreen’s, which is in the old Tower Records building, but no luck. Then I headed toward Pier 39, where my brother and sister lived for so long. I discovered that Cost Plus World Market is still there, and the cash registers seem to be manned by the same ancient Asian guys who were there 20 years ago.

I scored heart-shaped, verbena-scented bath fizzes and a pomegranate face mask. I headed for Safeway on autopilot, passing what used to be a book store but is now a discount clothing place. Before I realized it, I was there, and picked up a few things including a bottle of wine to go with the bath fizzes and face mask. Back at the hotel, I cracked open the wine and had a relaxing bath with fizzes and mask.

The internet, however, was anything but relaxing. I called tech support every day, and every day there were problems. Even though they provided wired ethernet access, the internet still stopped working several times a day and most of the night. The fact that the tech support number is included on the same slip of paper with the user name and password should have given me a clue. It was pretty frustrating, and Hotel B actually cost more than Hotel A, so I think I’ll go back to the old place the next time I’m in town.

Birthday Baseball

My birthday dawned foggy, but the sun began to shine as I stepped out of my taxi in front of the Four Seasons. The doorman said, “Nice to see you, miss,” which he probably says to everyone but which made me feel special. I have loved doormen since the one at the Huntington Hotel rescued me from an early morning butt grab several years ago.

I was there to attend a seminar. The seminar itself was preceded by lunch, which was quite nice: spring greens with strawberries, marcona almonds, and balsamic vinaigrette; salmon and beef tenderloin for those who like such things, and a tray of fruit kabobs and cupcake pops, surely one of the greatest of modern inventions. I soon learned that it’s a little awkward to make polite, work-related conversation with total strangers while attempting to eat a salad in a semi-graceful manner.

The seminar itself was interesting and I learned a lot. After the seminar, we piled into a Mercedes mini van that drove us to the ballpark in plush style. The company hosting the seminar had reserved a luxury box for that evening’s game, which was the Toronto Blue Jays versus the Giants.

I highly recommend the luxury box experience. You get ushered in past the lines of peons and into an elevator. Once you reach the box floor, you can look down on the little people:

The suite had comfortable leather sofas and chairs, a buffet, and was literally draped with bags of Cracker Jacks and plastic-wrapped candy. There was beer and wine and big bowls of popcorn and peanuts. Here’s a blurry shot of it:

You can watch the game from inside or outside, where the chairs are cushioned and there’s a ledge for your plate and/or glass. So civilized!

Here’s the view from the box. Note the Canadian flag. You will be glad to hear that I sang BOTH anthems.

Getting the field ready for the game:

That’s my favorite Giant on the right, the wonderful and wonderfully named Buster Posey. I love my Giants, but I hoped the Jays would win. I’m a Gemini, after all. I was thrilled to see Tim Lincecum, “The Freak”, in real life. Even though he’s been in a slump lately, I have always liked him. His pitching style is so unusual and balletic that it was a real pleasure to watch him. I’m glad for his sake that he got a win. I miss his hair, though. The long hair suited The Freak in my opinion. Those crazy, misfit, World-Series winning Giants.

Mid-game maintenance:

The Jays lost to the Giants 2-1, but on the following day, they got revenge on their hosts by beating them 4-0.

It was so great to be back at the ballpark after so many years and just revel in the experience.

The Fly in the Ointment…the Monkey in the Wrench

The trip to the city – well, the preparations for the trip – were not exactly snagless.

I went to check the car fluids, and on propping the hood open on a stick in the usual way, discovered that the oil cap was missing. A look around Miss Scarlett’s interior revealed nothing. Since I only ever check the oil and fluids in the driveway, I must have dropped it there at some point. Maybe it blew away or the kitties played with it into oblivion in the way cats do. Who knows?

I called my brother, who was getting ready for work, and he told me to come over. He took the oil cap off his non-operational (for now) car and tried it on mine, and voila! It fitted. While I’m in the city I will get a replacement part. I hope.

Rescued by the rescuer, I went home and washed the dishes. In the process, I managed to drop and break the last of the hand-made Mexican glasses I bought many years ago from the artist who made it. Brooming and vacuuming ensued, and some grumpiness, too. I began to feel that this trip was not meant to be.

Arriving at the motel, I leaned over to pick up something from the back seat of the car and the contents of my bag spilled to the garage floor. I could find everything but my phone, a cause for panic. I called Megan, who said she’d call my phone and I’d see if I could hear it. I didn’t hear it, but I did see it flashing. It was caught in the door handle of the back seat. Even when I’m more than a hundred miles away, my sister still came to my rescue, just as my brother did earlier. What would I do without them?

I am staying at a different modest motel this time, ironically because the internet works so poorly at the old place, a real problem when your database is online only and your chief communication with your boss is by email. Ironically because it’s even worse here and I was on the phone for half an hour with tech support, who admitted it was an issue at their end and said they’d call me back when it was resolved, which hasn’t happened.

Happy birthday to me?

New Year, New Look

Evening on Market Street

What else would a girl with freshly manicured nails do but take her car to the salon?

I know that cars don’t get as excited about primping as certain girls do, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to take Miss Scarlett to the car wash which used to take care of my Mustang, Josephine. This is the only picture I could find of Josephine, and it’s teeny:

When I upgraded to WordPress I lost most of the picture links in old entries. You win some, you lose some.

The car wash was super busy as always, despite it being the middle of the day and the middle of the week:

I could have gone to the barber shop while I waited:

When they were finished, the car looked as new as a 16 year old car with 118,000 miles on it can look. All the gravel, pine needles, and puff dust were magically gone, and they had even shampooed the seats. They put what looked like plastic dry cleaning bags on the seats just in case they weren’t dry enough.

I know the dazzling shine and clean wheels won’t last long once I get home to Hooterville, but hopefully I can maintain the interior. At least until my next trip to Civilization.

I drove the shiny car to the East Bay, where I met up with our IT person to get…a brand new iPhone!

It was a free upgrade and is the version 4, not the latest 5, but free is free. Now I just have to learn how to use it. One thing that will be great is that texting will be a lot easier. I am terrible at texting on flip phones. It takes me so long that I can usually call the person 5 times in the time it takes me to enter one text.

It will be much better to just type in the texts, especially since you can send texts where there is no cell service, and there are a lot of places in the Hooterville environs where there is no cell service. For example, there is none for the 65 miles between Cloverdale and Hooterville, so if the car breaks down or something, I could at least text my sibs for help, since I can’t call for it.

On my way back to the modest motel, I stopped off to do some shopping, and ended up not buying anything, but I did take the time to admire a festive cable car:

I was really surprised by how long the line was for cable cars, even now the holidays are over, and remembered all over again why I so rarely took them when I lived here.

My plans for today are: breakfast at Polker’s; a trip to the Legion of Honor to admire the Treasures of the Louvre; and home again in the bright sunshine.

Out & In

Sorry, poodles, I was swept away in a tsunami of work, rain, and power outages. But I’m back!

I missed you, too.

Since we last saw our heroine, she has both recovered her beloved MacBook and acquired a brand-new Pee Cee. This seems very appropriate for a Gemini, and in fact it is completely in keeping with the way things have always been with me computer-wise: PC for work, Mac at home (or Real Life).

Why the Pee Cee, you ask? Are you mad?! It’s like having a small Egyptian curse in the house! This is true, but here’s the problem. The Powers That Be at the firm who maintain our database on line from the traffic wilds of Atlanta saw fit to “upgrade” the system so it only runs on Explorer, which does not run on Mac.

Has upgrading ever made things better?

So my hands were tied with respect to work until I got the Pee Cee. The delivery was complicated by the fact that the FedEx truck broke down on the Ridge about three miles from my house. Since I had already observed the only tow truck going the other way with a trashed white car on my way home, I knew the delivery would be late.

Fortunately, I had already put a note on the door of the shed where FedEx and UPS deliver to our property, so even though I was supposed to sign for it, I didn’t have to, which was good, since it was about 9:00 pm by the time it got here.

Now all I have to do is transfer the files from the Mac and catch up on all the work I have not been able to do over the past week due to technical difficulties.

As for the Mac, I picked it up from the nice local computer fixers embarrassingly cleaned up and working just fine. We bonded over our shared affection for Buffalo, with its splendid Victorians, Frederick Law Olmstead-designed parks, and actual record stores.

The next day, the rain started in earnest, and I do mean earnest. We have received four inches (or more than 10 centimeters) in the past two days, and are slated to get more over the weekend. Don’t get me wrong: we need it, but does it have to be so hard and heavy? It’s so loud in my wood and tarpaper shack that I can barely hear the cats complaining about being stuck inside. There’s something about the curved shape of the roof/walls that seems to enhance the sound. It’s kind of like being assaulted, with the wind howling and the rain smashing and battering against the house.

Needless to say, the power went out, and of course it went out when I was finally done with a long series of conference calls that had started at 6 am. I speed dialed PG&E, only to be greeted with a gloomy recording saying that there were widespread power outages and power could be out for extended periods of time.

Fortunately, it wasn’t out that long, though the house was instantly cold and dark. My brother called a few hours later to ask if the power was still out – his never goes out, since he has solar and wind power – so he could walk me through getting the generator he gave me going. I thought that was really nice of him. It also reminded me that I should get a big can of gas and gas stabilizer, just in case.

I’m pretty sure there are more outages in my future.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Diagnosis: my iBook (or MacBook) needs a new inverter cable. Apparently years of opening and closing the lid have worn the cable, so a new one is required. The good news is that this was the cheaper of the two repair scenarios. The bad news is that it will take three to five days to get said part. However, once it arrives, it will take about half an hour to install, so that’s good.

I repo’d my computer so I can use it at a bizarre angle with accompanying screen blackouts. Better than nothing, right?

When I got home yesterday, I found that the new router had arrived. I also found that there were three missed calls from Megan, so I called her back right away, knowing that she only had a few minutes before taking off for work. “Come over,” she said, and hung up.

I went over there, and she handed me a letter. The letter said that Rob finally has a hearing date for his disability claim. It’s February 17. We are excited, but scared. If they deny the claim, I think we can appeal it, but it kind of feels like the end of the line.

I can’t believe that anyone could look at him and think he could work, but you never know. As with most things, there are so many dishonest people ruining it for the honest ones. I’m actually thinking of password protecting my blog, in case the powers that be read it and think he’s fine, even though it’s unlikely that they have time to surf the web or would know who he is in relation to me.

Back at home, I installed the router without incident (!), and sure enough, the Kindle connected right away. So once the computer is up and running again, it will be all systems go at Chez Suzy.

Things are looking up!

Wait & See

Also in the Not Working department is the Kindle Fire I received for Christmas. Sort of.

The device itself, as you can see, works fine. The problem is that my router is incapable of getting along with it. I tried to persuade it to see the error of its selfish ways, but to no avail.

A call to the Kindle customer service people revealed that this is a common problem with Kndles, even for people who live in civilization. As Meryl Streep said after swallowing the magic potion in “Death Becomes Her” – “NOW a warning?!”

I tried it out at Mark’s place and it connected instantly. Same goes for a cafe in the Hooterville Flats. So I gave in and ordered the router. Now to wait for it to be delivered…

But since waiting and patience are not in my nature, I took the Kindle to the jobette yesterday (where, yes, it felt an immediate connection to our router), and downloaded both of the Michael Connelly ebooks (well, estories) that are not available in any other form.

Once I get the new and hopefully improved router and get it set up, the hard part will begin: learning how to use it. Wish me luck!

Blackout

And not the good kind…

Recently, my little iBook (or maybe MacBook, I was unable to answer that question and a host of others) has acquired the bad habit of blacking out suddenly, preferably when I’m in the middle of working or typing. Then I have to close the lid and reopen it, trying increasingly awkward angles until the screen appears.

For example, I can’t really see what I’m writing now.

On Saturday, it appeared to black out for good (or bad, because I had work due today), so I took it to the one repair place in the Big Town. They had a look and said it was one of two things, but they’d have to open it up and look around. Unfortunately, they were about to close, and today they already had five patients booked, so I will have to bring it in tomorrow and hope that it won’t require an expensive part being shipped here from civilization, or an overnight hospital stay.

So far, the theme of the new year seems to be “nothing works”. Let’s hope it makes some new ones and mends its wayward ways soon.