Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ending on a High Note

In the south, I grew up with the art of the "Sunday Ride".  This is not to be confused with Sunday Drivers, who obliviously meander at 12 miles per hour while other drivers develop road rage or migraines. No, a Sunday Ride was Granddaddy's secret way of spoiling us with a lesson in patience thrown in for good measure.

We lived next door to my Dad's parents until I was 8.  On countless Sundays, Granddaddy would feel the need to load up his wife, Dad's unmarried sister, my parents and siblings.  There was always some "excuse" about needing to go look at something, or to get Grandma out of the house so she could see the home of the lady with the prettiest flowers in town.  And if we children (only 2 of us at the time) could be patient, Granddaddy would develop a sudden taste for ice cream on the way home.   Until the day they tore it down to build something else, my little heart would beat faster every time we neared that neighborhood drug store.

Some of you might remember them.  "Business" in the back, where all prescriptions were filled promptly, and "Fun" on the side, where the counter holding stools and ice cream lived.  Sealtest Ice Cream.  The best in my world.

For a kid who was born a chocoholic, my favorite flavor was Strawberry.  There were big chunks of REAL strawberries in it and I swear, next to Grandma's home churned stuff, it was the best ice cream on the planet. One scoop, a HUGE scoop at that, on a cone would keep me content for a week.  In the meantime, I learned that patience is a virtue...and often came with a creamy, cold treat for which Granddaddy would get thanked with the wholehearted gratitude that only children seem to show.

Those treat afternoons stopped when Granddaddy had his second stroke and became bedridden.  He died when I was 14 and ice cream never tasted as good again.  The Sealtest brand was sold, and it became a conglomerate of Good Humor/Byers.  Modern technology has never matched the texture or joy I remember as a kid.

And yet, growing up didn't completely keep me away from Sunday Rides.  Hubby and I, plus Bou (and Smokey when he was alive) have been known to pile in a car for a ride away from the humdrum of every day.  A mini vacation from reality, as I think of it.  Sure, with gas prices we don't go far but in the summer, those rides include the occasional ice cream cone.  And Bou has learned that if he's patient, I can never finish my cone, so he helps.

Riding is Bou's favorite activity, with Eating and Sleeping ranking a close 2nd and 3rd.  But today's ride will be his favorite of all.  For while I've been on a Staycation (by choice), Hubby has been on the adventure of a lifetime that will be shared in weeks to come.  In the meantime, Bou is ready to load up and head for the drop zone just beyond the airport...Hubby traveled with a group and didn't want me to have to go all the way to the airport.

And if they're both good on the ride home, 
                   I might just have to stop and get them some ice cream.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Vacation Update

Let's review.

So I began with a computer crash. 
(I didn't do it, but don't think I didn't consider it!)

Followed by a tree crash.

You can't tell from this angle, 
but the tree is not only against the kitchen window, 
it's resting on top of the propane tank.
Poor tree got so scared of the storm 
it tried to run right out of the ground.

On the third day, the vacuum and I had an argument.
I thought it should actually suck up dirt. 
 It decided to go into a coma.

Frustrated, I gave up and went to sleep.
The next morning I performed the Heimlich Maneuver on the vacuum 
and it came back to life.

Next I discovered my computer has developed a new problem.

Not a virus...but an attitude.  
I don't know how many versions of Windows 7 there might be, 
but it's not the one I started with...
some of the functions have evaporated.  
Thanks to Ponita, Kim and my sis-in-law, 
I can finally edit photos again.  
Ironically the first ones were of the storm damage.

Just when I thought everything was almost under control with the computer
my 14 year old nephew who I love 
(and less face it, he's already 5'11" so I need to be his favorite aunt)
wanted to come and just hang.

That's cool.
We ate pizza and watched a comedy.  
It was nice not to have football practice, he said.
Then he added, 
"I've been learning Origami and need your help with a project."
I was surprised when the YouTube video he pulled up 
was for making a paper gun.
Yes, I provided paper and tape and he made it.
I look at it this way: it was harmless, I witnessed a teenager actually following instructions and honestly, 
it was payback for all the crap my little brother, HIS father, 
had ever thrown my way during our childhood.

But before nephew left, I did penance for my part in Origami Art.

A neighbor brought by fresh corn from his farm.
A bushel of fresh corn.  
I sent a dozen ears home with nephew, took a small bag to Mom & Mom-in-law and shared with a friend.
Then I shucked and processed 49 ears for the freezer, with a couple of pints cut off the cob.  

 And the next day, 
as I decided to stop housework and food preparation for some ME time,
my neighbor came by with another bag of corn.

Actually he had 4, which would've been another bushel plus.
I tried to talk my way out of it.
He guilted me into one more bag.
Now there are 6 more pints of corn off the cob in the freezer. 

But hey, Bou is having a great time.
 Thanks to his constant need to for a R-I-D-E,
the house is really clean as we've been recycling.
More than once.
And it was interesting to discover our dog either has radar
 or is a fine actor.

As we went to make the bank deposit, 
he was snoozing on the back seat.
Until he heard me say, "Hello" to the bank teller.
Then that head popped up 
and he nudged my neck so I'd roll his window down
and he put on the best performance ever of
"Hey, look at me!  Aren't I something?"

And the bank teller fell for it.

You see, the fun part of living in a small town 
is that so many of us have dogs, 
the bank tellers hand out dog biscuits.
And they always take one look at Bou and say,
"Wow, you're a big get TWO biscuits!"

He wags his tail, grins like Elvis and I say thank you for him.
Then as we drive off, I swear I see him smirking in the mirror,
ecstatic about his successful double dipping.

I think tomorrow, 
HE gets to decide what we do for the day.
At the worse, 
we'll be riding in the car and taking several naps.

Sounds like a plan.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Beware: Woman at Work

Got the computer back in just over a day but sadly, some of the "pre-loaded" programs did not want to be part of my Back up Disks.  So I have a lot to do and will probably spend the next couple of days trying to get back as to close to normal as I ever am.  :)

One of the things that disappeared was my ability to edit photos.  While I have Print Shop and can do some editing, it can't create jpeg files I can share.  So I'm taking suggestions.  I don't need anything fancy, but I do like having the ability to "clean up" a photo, crop and share.

So while you're making suggestions, I'm wading through the kindness of my country neighbors, who dropped off about a bushel of fresh sweet corn yesterday.  Usually the two of us can knock it out in an hour, but Hubby is not here today.  So I shared with our Moms, my nephew and a family friend.  I've shucked 50 ears of corn, now I have to either to seal them in packages or cut some off the cob.  Either way, it'll take a little while.

Interesting vacation I'm having. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Computer -1 Me-0

It crashed last night, one system at a time.  You know it's bad when the System Recovery fails, complete with error message of no hope.  So off to the Computer Doc we go...yee haw.  Maybe they can exorcise it.  To be honest, it's the weirdest computer I've ever owned.  Quirky would be kind.

I'll try to keep up with y'all on the laptop, but right now I'm not a happy camper.  Some vacation.  Sigh. Oh well, at least I CAN do the Family Tree stuff on the laptop.

Oh I'll be fine once they tell me it's fixable.  If not, you may be able to hear me scream all the way to where you live.  And off we go.............

Monday, June 16, 2014

Just Plain Weird

No.  Not me.  Well, not this time.  No, it's the end of the computer saga. Let's just say we've reached the Good News/Weird News point, which is just shy of surrender and murdering the computer.

First though, thanks to Ponita for graciously suggesting every way possible for me to get out of a System Recovery.  Although nothing worked, at least I know she has a good heart and feels my pain.  I was able to download Fix It Tool onto a flash drive on my laptop, then apply to my sick Computer.   Ironically it fixed my ability to download everything but Windows Updates... which it was suppose to fix.  But hey, at least I can update all the stuff I truly care about.

Which brings us to caring, listening and giving a damn.

I decided this morning to try "Chat" with a certain Large Computer Company With A Monopoly. What I learned is their employees don't "listen".  I gave the shortest possible version of the problem, along with the error code fix I'd tried.  Mr. Wizard then told me if I'd like to try troubleshooting on my own, to use his provided link.  Yep, it was the error code I JUST told him didn't work.  So I mentioned it again.  He took a vow of silence and refused to communicate with me, so I ended chat.  I then gave the only scathing review on a survey that I've ever given, which boiled down to one thing:

If you own a company, you might want to LISTEN to your customers' problems, not read to them out of a manual.

So Ponita, I owe you.  I haven't figured out what yet, but I will.  As long as everything else is working and the anti-virus shows all is well, I will now back away from System Recovery and get back to having a vacation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Computer Update...sort of

Okay, turned the computer off for a while, took a deep breath, (so I wouldn't push it off the desk), did a System Restore and 95% of my problems were resolved...even my anti-virus program remembered who I was.  HOWEVER, I still have to deal with the inability to download files off the Internet.  Let's just say I'm not up-to-date on a few things. Ironically, the anti-virus program is able to update and a scan shows no viruses present.  Weird.

I only wish System Restore worked on Big Name Computer Company employees. 

Silly me, trying to use common sense and logic. I figured if following THEIR instructions caused the problem, THEY should be able to advise what to do next.  I will take responsibility for the fact I can't remember the danged error number.  After all, I didn't discover there was a "problem" for over a week, at which point System Restore had created new helpful points past that date.  But hey, those employees all seem to read out of the same manual when you want help so telling them WHAT I'd done (and why) should work.

Only in "real people" world.  Not in Tech World.

I decided online chat was the easiest.  No stereotyping.  No condescending sneer in the tone of the Great One who was trying to aid me, She Who Messed Things Up.  I'm not stupid.  Hand me simple directions and I'm a do-it-yourself kind of gal.  But they need to be in my language.

Chat started simple enough.  I was advised "Joy" would be with me in just one moment as a photo of a smiling, confident woman appeared on my screen.  I grinned back in irony.  I could use some joy, considering I'd contemplated murdering my computer.  And then, like an unfulfilled promise, she disappeared as I was politely advised she was currently busy with another customer.

Little did I know that a glimpse of joy was all that would come of this conversation.

Waiting for the next representative, I read that I "might" have to pay for this advice.  Hmmm. Your updates created the problem, I followed your directions and I might have to pay you to fix it?  I decided my first question would concern what problems involved payment.  After all, worse comes to worse I can do a System Recovery.  Yes, I'd have to load everything as if the computer just came out of the box, but it'd be nice to know my options.

Another face appeared on my screen.  "Angelique".  Hmm, from joy to angels.  Maybe this would work.  And then I glanced at her photo.  She looked less certain about computers than I did.  I hoped her expression of terror mixed with doubt just meant she didn't like having her picture taken.  

Sadly, it did not.

Oh we started out good.  Introductory welcome followed by mandatory, "How may I help you?"  

I said hello, then inquired what types of issues warranted payment.  The screen assured me she was typing a reply, so I waited.

....and waited.  And waited.  I prepared for a lengthy answer.  It was 2 sentences.

At first I thought she was an attorney, because the answer was crouched in double talk.  It "depended" on how much was done on their end.  We would discuss it prior to payment being made.

Fair enough I thought.  So I explained my problem.  Succinctly.  To the point.  Windows update kept failing.  Error message gave instructions to delete that Temporary Downloads folder.  I did as instructed.  Now I couldn't download anything.  I sat back and waited for the magical words of wisdom which would put me back on track.  My screen advised that she was typing....

After five minutes of nothing, I wondered if this was her first day, envisioning her thumbing through the manual in panic for an answer.  Maybe she'd wandered off to aid another customer because she was just that good. 
Or maybe she'd gone to the bathroom. 

While I waited, I re-read her original answer.  That's when I realized we had a communications problem. English wasn't her first language.  It wasn't the misspelled words or wrong verb tense, it was gaps of missing words.  My brain had filled them in as I skimmed, but re-reading made me cringe.  I felt bad for her.  Why would someone put this woman in the position to be helpful when she didn't have the basic tools to do the job?  I took Spanish in high school (many moons ago) and while I can ask if you speak English and where's the bathroom, I certainly couldn't give helpful instructions in Spanish.  This company had basically set her up to fail and become the punchline for yet another comedian.  Oddly enough, it made me even angrier.  For her. 

At minute 6 when the screen indicated she was STILL typing, I typed 2 words:  "Never mind".  It felt the kindest way out for both of us.  She would have her dignity and think I was a cheapskate and I wouldn't lose my temper and become another type of female stereotype.

As I reached for the key to end our chat, I found 3 sentences.  Same garble of words asking for the error number which I couldn't give her.  I put both of us out of misery by hitting the "End" button.

So on Sunday, if the other "answer" I found doing research doesn't work, I'll have to take a deep breath and return my computer to Factory Condition.  I won't like it because it has so much info on it.  But as someone who likes Do-It-Yourself projects, I'll just think of it as that, rather than The Big Company Won.  Besides I'll be on vacation for 2 weeks.. I might get it done by the end of that.

Y'all have a good weekend!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

If I appear to disappear....'s because I followed the Windows Update Download error message instructions.  Seems instead of deleting the temporary download file for updates, the computer ate that file, plus my ability to download ANYTHING!

System Restore then caused my anti-virus program to demand my license number and no matter how many times (or reboots) after being fed that info, it doesn't know me either.

So as I mull the horrors of a System Recovery, I'm backing up all my files.  At least I know the password for here by heart.

Hope to check in soon.  Have a great weekend...just in case I can't tell you that later.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Too Many Numbers

I've always said one day my head was going to implode with all the numbers and passwords it has to hold.  I once heard a comedian say he envisioned losing such information every time he sneezed.

                         "A-choo!  There goes my date of birth."

                         "A-choo!  There goes grandma's phone number."

                         "A-choo!  There goes my debit card code."

                         "A-choo!  And there goes my street address."

Today was my day.  And I never even sneezed.

I was running a last minute errand of Stuff-to-get-Hubby-before-his-big-trip during Lunch.  I'd gone to Lunch late because one of the senior citizens wanted to talk to me about another one we fear is getting Alzheimer's.  She then segued to how forgetful she's getting and I politely reassured her it happens to all of us.  I even jokingly added, "It's this building you know.  I'm fine at home but it's easy to forget here."  She laughed and left happy.

Finding the item necessitated a call to Hubby, who was having telephone problems at work.  Seems he answered one phone, no one spoke, yet his "back up" phone kept ringing.  When he answered it, there I was, talking a mile a minute about his shopping request.  Question answered, I headed to check out.  But the cashier had disappeared.  I often joke about feeling the need to carry a large red flag to wave at the register because there's so much junk stacked next to them, vertically challenged me sometimes gets lost.  A young woman literally yelled from the other side of the store, "Be right there!"   I nodded.  Whether she saw that or not, I have no idea.  

She signed in to her register and I gave her my shopper's card, which honestly I have come to hate.  It's suppose to save money, but cashiers no longer tell you, "Hey, you have points that will take $$ off today's purchase."   So I asked...because I'd gotten an e-mail last week wondering why I hadn't used my points.  Sigh.  

It was one task too many for my young cashier.  She finally answered me, but by then had started beating on the computerized register because the screen had frozen.  She tried to restart it and failed.  The man behind me, about six foot 12 if he was an inch, sighed loudly.  The girl called for help and that cashier literally grabbed my stuff up and directed me to the next register, telling the girl to just wait a moment.  As Tall Man stood there, looking confused, I invited him and his one item to go ahead of me.  He was shocked.  Grateful, but shocked.  He even declined getting his own shopper card so as not to hold me up.  I wanted to tell him to just run and not even contemplate it.

So we tried again, this new cashier and I, with me nodding about the points question because the young girl was yelling that I had points to use.  I'm sure everyone in the store wondered if I was just cheap or I had THAT many points.  I then had to remember to type in the zip code for the street the store was on, not my home address, because the original cashier who'd given me this stupid shopping card had plugged in the wrong info.  The kind lady asked if I'd like to change it and I assured her it wasn't a priority.  Truth is, I was glancing at my watch to see how much lunch hour was left.

I swiped my Debit card and typed in the code.  She gave me a frozen smile and asked me to enter it again.  I did.  She frowned...politely.  My second take wasn't any better.  As I was about to dig into my purse for, heaven help me CASH, she said, "I'll just run it as credit, same thing.  Just hit that button."  I did, it worked and everything was fine.

Except me.

Walking out the door, I kept wondering what went wrong.  With all those little **** covering the numbers I had no idea what had gone wrong.  Was all this Alzheimer's talk getting to me?  Was Alzheimer's reaching for me?

I placed my purchase on my desk and looked down at the number keypad on my computer.  I allowed my fingers to press what I thought was the same numbers I'd used in the store.  And then I figured it out.

I'd tried to enter our alarm code.


And then I giggled.  Diagnosis: overloaded brain, not disease addled one.

My vacation mid-month cannot get here fast enough.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Passing Thought

And I hope to keep it that way.
Off to cook for the senior citizens....y'all have a good day!