Saturday, January 26, 2008

So much for "if time permits"

It's been a busy week. Been a busy month, come to think of it. So far this month I have:

1) Gone back on the wagon. I saw a picture taken of myself with baby Austin and I swear, it looked like I was the one who'd just been pregnant. Back to Weight Watchers I go. I'm doing it online this time around, because the leader of the meeting I used to go to stopped leading a while back -- her life got far too difficult, and she decided she needed to step down and pay more attention to her own weight loss issues. I applaud that, it was a lesson in itself: know your limits. I usually recognize mine only when I whiz past them. I didn't really get much out of the meeting after she left, so I started going to the storefront downtown (the sessions I attended were through the university's wellness program). The woman running the only session that fit my schedule was irritatingly perky ("Tee-hee!" Squeak. Hairflip). I'm thinking that wanting to slap her is probably not a good reaction, and will do horrible things to my attitude. So I've decided to join up online. So far I've lost two pounds (only started in earnest about a week and a half ago).

2) Joined another program (again, through the university wellness thingie) called "10,000 Steps." Apparently the average person is supposed to take about 10,000 steps a day. This is a program that challenges you to do that. You get a pedometer, a log book, and directions for their use. You spend three days counting your steps and logging the numbers, then you take the average step count. Using this as a baseline, you go to a chart which tells you how many steps to take each day that week. My number right now is 4500. You aim for slightly higher step counts every week until eventually you wind up at 10,000. I'm doing this partly in conjunction with #1 on my list, and partly for training. Training for what, you ask? See #3.

3) I have decided to be part of the team my sister wants to form for the Breast Cancer Walk next October. 60 miles in three days. This is a nation-wide event,with walks happening in major cities like San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul...the one we're walking in is the one in Philadelphia. I figure if I start training now, I'll be ready by October. My Ditter has been busy selling houses (yay!) so she hasn't gotten the team registered yet. But I keep prodding her, sure in the knowledge that she'll do it eventually. Either that or she'll bite my head off.

4) I've finished two embroidery projects that I started a very long time ago and felt ambitious enough to start a new one. I had the time to do this because the laptop was at the shop and I found myself with l-o-o-o-o-n-g stretches of time and nothing to do. Hey, what did I do before the laptop? Oh, that's right. I made stuff!

5) And speaking of the laptop, it's home. I'm typing on it right now. The nice man at Firedog managed to make a recovery disc (though from the sound of things, Laptop threw fits before it settled down and did what he wanted), and then he ran some diagnostic tests. Problem was most definitely the hard drive. He called me Sunday afternoon to tell me that, and said that there was one thing he'd like to try before he gave up and ordered me a new hard drive. He wanted to use his shiny new recovery disc to restore the system and see if maybe that fixed the hard drive problem. He said he thought that maybe Windows "was just getting confused about where it had stored things." Kind of like someone who's put his glasses on top of his head and is looking all over his desk for them. I'd love to take credit for that simile but I can't. That's the Chief Loon's. She also called The Walk for the Cure "Save the Tahtahs."

So anyway, I told Firedog Man (hey, why did they name their group of techies after fireplace equipment? I don't get that) to go ahead and try it. He called me an hour later, triumphant. I fetched Laptop home Monday evening after work, and have been trying to get it back to the way I had it before it left. It's been a slow process. It came back to me only knowing my name. Other than that, it was the same laptop I bought two years ago--completely devoid of any personality. I've taken the opportunity to evaluate all the crap--er, um, software I had on it before its little nervous break-down. There are a number of things I'm just not going to reinstall. Mostly games, really. If I want games, I'll go to Pogo.

6) Oh! One more thing. I went back to dance class after about a six month absence. My hip flexors really hated me the following Monday, but I was back to normal by Tuesday. Remembering back to my very first class, my rear end and thigh muscles were killing me for days afterward. I guess I'm not as out of shape as I thought.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Juggling Scarves is two years old. Does this mean it's going to have temper tantrums and start telling me "no" all the time?

I hope not.

More later, if time permits

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ain't that the truth

I've just spent two and a half hours struggling to find some way to catalog a particularly obscure title from the International Society for Education through Art. I dragged one of my teammates into this mess with me, and when she gave up after about 45 minutes I went to the cataloging librarian. After finally figuring out what to do, he introduced me to Charbonneau's Law of Cataloging: the difficulty of cataloging an item will be inversely proportional to either the size or the intrinsic worth of said item. In other words, it's the unimportant or tiny buggers that give you the most grief.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Drive-by thinking...

...that's what I call it when a random thought pops in from nowhere. Here's today's:

I just thought of a really good name for an organic dairy--Wholly Cow.

[Sound cue: Rim shot]

Monday, January 14, 2008


Backing up the hard drive is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I assume that I can just back the system up on a series of DVDs, but that turns out to be wrong. It won't write to the DVD-ROM drive. I don't know why. I don't get an explanation. It just folds its little arms and says, "Nope."

Allrightythen. So I try backing the C: drive up onto the D: drive (my hard drive is partitioned), and that seems to work until we are about halfway through. Then my computer says, "Uh-oh! File's too big. I won't write anything more than 4 gigs." Fanfreakingtastic. You could have told me that 4 hours ago. And why not, anyway? There's plenty of room!

Saturday, I go out to Circuit City and buy myself an external hard drive (let's hear it for credit cards!) with 200 gigs of space on it (anybody else remember when one gigabyte seemed like a ridiculous amount of memory?). Included in the package is a program designed to backup your hard drive. Yay!

Once I'm back home I install that, get about 75% through the back-up procedure when the program experiences some unexplained error and can't continue.


In frustration, I open up the C: drive and the F: drive (the extension for the external hard drive), and do a file-by-file comparison of what is in them. I move over everything I can. Some things won't go because the machine is using them right now, and one file has a name that is too long -- the system wants me to rename it. What? I didn't name it in the first place, I don't know what it does or what's attached to it. I'm not renaming anything. I wonder if that was what made the back-up software choke. I decide to skip that and hope it isn't important. I am not done the compare/copy process (which I also apply to the D: drive) until 2:30 Sunday morning.

Around noon, I take my poor sick laptop to the Firedog people, reintroduce myself to the guy at the desk (it is the same fellow who was there last week. He vaguely remembers me but not my problem), give him my laptop, the cables and adaptor, my name, address, phone numbers, password for the laptop. He says he'll run some diagnostic tests on it, but he is pretty sure it's the hard drive. He wants to know whether I have some system restore discs (I don't) -- sometimes they give you that with your laptop, sometimes they put the files right on the computer in a partitioned drive. Which is fine, unless the hard drive goes kaflooey, then you have nothing. He says not to worry, he can probably make them, and I tell him that in case he can't I authorize him to buy some for me from the company that made my laptop.

Walking into the apartment with an empty computer bag, I feel rather like the I did when I had to leave my first cat with the vet overnight. That situation did not end well. I hope this one goes better.

On a completely unrelated note, I went back to bellydance class yesterday after a six-month absence. I have one word to describe how I feel today: "Ow."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dad's eye

I called him Tuesday evening to see how he was. He sounded fine. He said it wasn't hurting him at all. It just felt like he had a piece of grit or something in there. He had a patch over the eye, but the doctor was going to take that off the next day. He thought he was going to have to put drops in, but the doctor said he'd put enough medication in the eye to last until his visit the next morning.

He was awake for all of the operation, and went on to describe it (with me on the other end of the phone squealing and squirming). They sedated him, strapped him down, did something to numb the eye, covered the other one (why? To keep from doing the wrong one?), took out the lens in the uncovered eye and replaced it with a new one. He thinks there are prongs holding it to the eye, but that's just an educated guess. He's not sure what's holding it in place. He said it looked like a light show.

All I have to say is if I ever need to have this done to me, they'd better do more than sedate me. Put. Me. Out. Seriously. I'd started screaming when I saw the knife coming at me, I'm sure.

He's going to have to wear sunglasses for a while, and he's put off the operation on the other eye until there's no chance of a snowstorm. Mom doesn't do well driving down the mountain in the snow -- which is to say that she refuses to do it. So he's going to wait until spring. I asked him when he could start driving again, and he said Thursday (today).

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

One in the eye

Called my Mom last night on a whim, just to say howdy.

"I can't stay on long," she said. "I have to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning, you know."

Did I know? No I did not.

"How come?" I asked.

"Dad's eye surgery. You knew he was getting a cataract removed, didn't you?"

Not being a psychic, I did not know that either. I knew he had cataracts. He told me that in the truck when he came to pick me up for Thanksgiving vacation. Very casual about it too. Hope he didn't notice that I double-checked my seatbelt and clung to my door's Hail-Mary handle until we came to a stop outside the house.

So anyway. Dad was already in bed when I called (and probably already asleep), so I didn't get to wish him luck. Mom said she'd give him the message today. He had outpatient surgery this morning to get one cataract removed, and they're going to do the other eye next month. I've been wanting to call all day to see how he is, but my cell's battery just ran out of juice. Guess I'll wait 'til I get home.

Glad I decided to call.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

iPod off-switch

The iPod didn't come with a manual. All there was a little folded piece of paper giving me the basics: how to charge it, where to get the iTunes software, how to download stuff to the iPod, and where to go online for the full manual. And since the dial-up modem is being tetchy, I never got to the manual until just now. There is a way to turn the blasted thing off. I have to press and hold the "Play/Pause" button.

Hey, Mr. Jobs? Steve? That'd be a nice piece of info to put on the little leaflet. Been losing battery charge for days 'cause I couldn't find an off-switch.

Technical difficulties

Happy 2008!

It's been an eventful week. On the second of January, I bought myself the present I really wanted but wouldn't ever have asked anyone to give me: an iPod. More specifically, I bought a black iPod Classic, with 80 gigs of memory. Rather amusing, really, since the laptop has 120 gigs, divided into two hard drives. This means I can hold more in my hand than I can on my C: drive.

I spent most of Wednesday downloading the iTunes software and then converting my music into the Apple format. Not all of my music would convert, though. The "protected" stuff wouldn't go, which means I had to dig out the CDs and have the program import them straight off of the discs. That's what I did the first half of Thursday. The second half of Thursday, as well as Friday, was spent trying to figure out what's the matter with the laptop. Things were going fine, then suddenly I lost my internet connection. It wouldn't reconnect. Nor would it stop redialing, even after I told it to. Wunderbar.

My first thought was to blame the software I downloaded, but upon reflection I don't think iTunes is to blame. This stuff was designed specifically to work with Windows, and it's from Apple, not some fly-by-night company. And if it was going to cause problems, it would have done it right away, right? It wouldn't have waited a day and a half to give me grief. Or it would have slowed things down incrementally, eventually grinding to a halt. That's not what happened. One moment things were fine, the next moment they weren't.

Next thing I thought was that I needed to defragment the hard drive. I'd been doing a lot of downloading, importing, and deleting, maybe the machine was starting to have trouble finding things quickly. So I defragged it.

Friday morning, when the defrag was finally done, booting up and logging in still took a lot longer than usual. The modem was still having trouble staying connected, and would stubbornly keep trying to reconnect after I'd hit the "cancel" button. Next up: scanning the C:drive for errors and bad sectors. I started that at approximately 11 in the morning. Fast forward to 11 pm (yes, twelve hours later) when scandisk was finally finished, and told me everything was fine. Liar. For one thing, scandisk has never taken that long to get through everything.

So I'm still trying to sort out what's wrong. Right now I'm in Wegman's grocery store, which also has an Internet café with WiFi. The laptop has passed the next test, which was to see whether my wireless modem still works. I've downloaded the most recent set of virus definitions from Symantec AntiVirus, and once I go home I'll run that. I'm hoping I didn't get a virus. I'm also hoping the antivirus program doesn't take another 12 hours to run.

I know that sooner or later I'm going to have to call the Protection Plan people. (I still get the mental image of computer techs in sharkskin suits and mirrored sunglasses. "Nice laptop. Be shame is something happened to it."). I wonder if I'll have to send this machine away, or whether someone is going to show up at my doorstep to work on it. It'd be nice if I had the option to take this over to Circuit City to get fixed, but I don't think I do. Even though I'm pretty sure it's going to be one of those guys who comes over to fix my poor sick machine.

The iPod works just fine, by the way. One little annoying thing, and I think it's something I'm just going to have to get used to: there is no "off" switch. You can stop the music, and eventually the readout fades to black, but the thing is always on. What's that all about? I can't be the first person who ever wanted to turn the thing off to save the batteries. Or can I?

You know, I always assumed that as I got older, I'd turn into my mother. It seems that I'm turning into my father, too. The battery-life thing is just one symptom. Here's another one, and it made me both laugh and shudder when I recognized what I was doing:

I spent about a week at my sister's house for Christmas. I spent a lot of time going around the place turning off lights, TVs, radios, etc. in rooms devoid of people. Muttering the whole time, of course. Things like, "trying to light the whole neighborhood," and "so much for shrinking one's carbon footprint." Good lord! Daddy? Was that you? How did you throw your voice like that?

I sure hope this little wrestling match with my gadgets isn't a sign about how the rest of the year is going to go.