Reboot Roulette

The past week+ has been one of far greater unproductivity than I would have liked.  (Please do not confuse this with my previous post.  Their similarities are completely coincidental.) If I had not made the “job search” a January priority, this lack of productivity would not have been as big a deal. Unfortunately, a job search being conducted on a computer with a bad case of the reboots has forced me to duplicate my efforts nearly every time I have sat at my desk.  As I look back over this time where I was constantly cursing myself for failing to “save” THAT document, I  now believe I can return to my “normal” productive life.  (My productive is not your productive, but my recent productive was really not productive at all!)

What did I try as I sought to remove the roulette from my computer’s life? (Of course, it is my life I am concerned about.   My inclusion of my computer is to make me slightly less selfish than I may appear.  Buying a new computer might fix it, but the problem-solving part of me believed that to be the path of a loser.  My computer is inanimate, but when you stare at its screen login, any failure on its part to meet my needs feels/smells like a betrayal.)

  1. First, I just accepted the first few of reboots as a power thing.  I do have a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply), but I thought, “maybe it isn’t working correctly”.  When the power went off briefly during a recent storm, the UPS kicked on.  This coupled with the ongoing random reboots quickly made me pursue other possibilities.
  2. After 3 or 4 days of 2-3 reboots a day (Most documents were saved as “recovered” documents AND my browser asked me if I wanted it to restore the “tabs” as they were when the trigger landed on the bullet-laden chamber.), I started refamiliarizing myself with the “Event Logs”.  I kept seeing an event error for a program that had been uninstalled.  Being a “doer”, I felt deleting the registry setting was a good idea.  (I had some regrets being the bull in the china shop who might unleash all sorts of possible damage.  As the reboots mounted, my “fixing” instinct became uncontrollable.)  Fortunately, I only deleted one registry setting.  (If not familiar with the registry, this is a place within Windows where you can cause great havoc should you not be careful.)  My recognition of the potential headaches I might unleash allowed me to show restraint.  Fortunately, my one “fix” did take care of the one issue.
  3. As the reboots continued, I experimented with oddball things.  I left my music playing when not sitting at the computer thinking the program might somehow provide a defense against the “reboot roulette”.  While a small amount of hope was created, this method also proved inadequate.
  4. Next, I moved to the “Uninstall” step.  The event logs showed the problems starting on 9/22/16.  Coincidentally, that was the day Microsoft updated my computer with 3 different updates.  In my mind, whether illogical or not, I decided I could uninstall all 6 or so updates from the present back to the date in the past.  In theory, this was an excellent idea.  However, when the uninstalling takes so long it can’t be done in one sitting and the computer does not ask permission to become as current as possible when I am not there, this method only got me more frustrated.  (I uninstalled.  The computer was having a meal sent from Microsoft it did not know how to refuse.  Turning off the network connection was a viable but not a good option.)
  5. Next, I sought after a “recovery point”.  (A time where I told the computer, “Please remember today was a time I liked you.”  If not “like”, at least not “hate”.)  I did go back to a recent recovery point.  And, while this seemed to go okay. It didn’t fix anything.  In fact, I am blaming the “recovery” issue from preventing me from uninstalling all of the “updates” being blamed for making my computer sick.
  6. After copying and pasting a couple of the details from the event log into an internet search, I received pages providing suggestions on how I might solve that problem.  I made changes to the computer based on the recommendations.  Does it matter if the hard drive “never” stops or a couple of other small changes?  It seemed to be a proven way to “maybe” fix one of my computers symptoms.
  7. With thoughts of a new computer and the pain of software loading and constant rebooting in my head until the process was over, I reached out for a couple of pieces of software to fix the problems “magically” I was not able to do in the piecemeal manner I was using.  First, I downloaded “System Mechanic”.  This software made me think I was doing something to improve the health of my computer, but the errors in the event log continued.
  8. Then, I thought, “There has to be a program that fixes a few buggy Windows things.”  Such a program did exist.  I had reservations.  The program was called Reimage Repair.  It seemed to be reviewed okay, but when installing a program with the power to play with all of the boxes in your computers attic and basement, I had to take pause.  The result of the pause was the realization I would not stay sane unless the computer was fixed or replaced.  I installed it and tracked the progress on the computer screen.  (I would pause our partial binge of “Homeland” to confirm the screen said the computer was getting happy.)  After more than 2 hours of allowing the software to play a second time to make sure it didn’t miss anything the first time, I am claiming success…sort of.
  9. A couple types of errors are still showing up in the event log.  I will try and fix them at my leisure.  They don’t seem to have fangs or claws capable of causing my little princess to stumble.  If she does, I will pick her up off the ground.  We will both get on the horse together with the hope the next reboot will be a better ride.

My trust with computers (and people) is only as solid as the last time they lied or failed me.  We will continue to work together as I gain a little bit more trust (I hope) each day.  She (does this mean I trust women more easily than men or what does it say that my computer is assigned a female pronoun?) has been sick about 50% so far for 2017.  I am hoping she likes her medicine and stops having so much gas!

 

Nothing To See Here

I haven’t posted in awhile.  I am not writing to feed the need of the many “awesome” fans who have demanded it.  I am writing to justify in my own mind the presence of this blog.  If my name is on it, I need to check in and address substantial gaps in my postings.  Since resolutions to “Post More” didn’t work, I am going to run thru my excuses and evaluate what achievable goals are available.

As the fall unfolded last year (Was it just 3 months ago?  Saying “last year” makes it sound like it was over 12 months ago.  The older you get, the more costly the loss of one month let alone a whole year.), the distractions of life made it very difficult to secure the time to write something relevant.  I have continued to write/think/generate ideas.  I consider this a very healthy thing.  The difficulty has been gathering enough related thoughts.  The moments of creative thought have not aligned with the moments where I am parked in my chair with the computer available.

What were those distractions?  Let me list a few…

  1. Employment –  We can probably agree on the need to have an income.  Do to circumstances beyond our control, the long-term clarity of this need was put in jeopardy.  Attempting to steer our way thru this foggy future has pulled time from other pursuits.  So, even when the computer is ready for input, I was often thinking foggy thoughts.
  2. Family – This is not as distracting or as dire as it may sound.  As has been our habit for a number of years, we often find our home serving as a residence to more than those who are related by blood.  We added one last year (this happened in 2015, but it seems too recent to say 2 years ago) and we added his brother to our home this fall.  While we have limited cars available, we now had another person who needs to be taxied to work.  This was less problematic until just after the last post.  Within a week of the last post, one of our vehicles became a pile of metal, and all we received was a small check.
  3. Life* – Everyone has life, but life* must be something different.  And, since the “squared” doesn’t make typing “life2” with a superscript 2 very easy, I will just go forward with the “*”.  Besides driving extra, my daughter is in the middle of robotics season.  I granted permission to being called a “judge” this year.  So, I attend all of her meets and make sure the robots fit into the 18″ x 18″ x 18″ box.  (I also make sure they can connect with the brain of the robot.  And, it is good to see lots of zip ties.)  Also, it seems we are making LOTS of food.  This is not just because we have 7 sitting down for most meals.  We are also trying to help a family down the street who has health problems.  If we are making a big crockpot of something, we might give them half.  Or, we have also been known to make them a meal completely different from what we are eating.  Another part of our present life seems to be an excessive number of trips to the grocery store.  Too many separate lists and too little certainty on what ingredients are needed to be gathered until the morning of the meal.
  4. Mid-life crisis – Maybe it is just me.  I try and tell myself everyone within 5 or 10 years of my age has frequent moments where they ask, “Why am I here and why do my goals seem to need to be adjusted on a yearly or even quarterly basis?”  As I attempt to find the proper stride for this decade of my life, I am still filled with a serious of doubts:  which path is the right one for me?; did I miss the fork in the path I was meant to take?; and, do I want to know how many decades I have left so I can make the best use of my time remaining?  I often reflect on my “resolutions” toward the end of the year.  Even my loosely configured resolutions are often left unfilled when reviewed by the most generous (or should that be “less forgiving”?) of judges–myself.  I don’t want to fail, but I seem to fail to use the tools available to remind me of my goals.  Or, is my lack of success more a criticism of failing to make good goals?  Hmmmm…this free will thing is fraught will peril!!
  5. Holidays – I don’t recall being surprised by the holiday season this year…or any previous year.  I believe I am participating in a bit of “piling on”.  If I have 4 legitimate excuses for failing to maintain a personal commitment, then what is one more.  Between traveling and the other social activities of the season, this “excuse” might be the most accurate of any.

When the whole thing is boiled down, two conclusions are clear:  I either am not committed to writing or I am a poor planner.  Depending on the day, the answer may vary–either conclusion hurts my feelings a little bit. 😦

 

Pushing For Three

This morning was another morning where we had fewer cars than drivers.  I provided the necessary transportation for our stranded driver before going to the supermarket.  (I did need to go to the market, but my stubbornness in not running just ONE errand at a time “forced” me to run the errand then.)

As I walked in, I was struck by the misplacement of the “sani-wipes” for wiping the cart handle.  (Shouldn’t they be between the cart and the groceries rather than between the cart and the outgoing door?  I guess this is a rant better reserved for another topic.)  Once I shook off this temporary annoyance, I pushed the cart forward while pulling out my phone to see what was on my list.  The next thing I remember I was standing idly by my cart looking dubious.  An apparently pregnant mother with a child in her cart needed me to move my cart.  She seemed apologetic.  I moved my cart while commenting, “You are pushing for three. I am sorry I was in your way.”

After I made my comment, I wondered if I somehow had put my foot in my mouth again.  Did I choose to make a comment and make the comment in one of the “dimensions” where it was viewed as offensive?  (This is assuming  there are parallel dimensions.  This approach is sometimes necessary to soften the blow when I am convinced I said nothing wrong but one of the hearers seems to disagree.  Usually, my intentions are truly pure.) I kept shopping as I continued to use my “Wunderlist” to track down what I needed to purchase.

In the Mexican food section, I stumbled across my pregnant fellow shopper again.  She was friendly.  Of course, this implies I did not upset her before.  She mentioned how people are often so uptight and worried they will offend other people.  She let me know she was due in mid-November–if the country survives the election.  There will be  almost 2.5 years between her kids.  And, strangely, her dogs gave her extra love during her first pregnancy.  Before she knew officially and about 3 weeks into this pregnancy,  the dogs were more loving again.

For some reason, I chose this point to relay to her my two “Why did you bring up pregnancy?” faux pas.  First, when I was late single digits, we had a family who had children approximately the age of my siblings and I.  One afternoon when our friend’s mother was picking up her children, I made an observation.  I shared this observation with my mother later.  “I think Mike’s mom is pregnant.”  When my mother’s curiosity is up, she needed to find out.  When she asked, she found out Mike’s mom was pregnant.  Since they were not telling people yet, it seemed to upset Mike’s mom.  Although my mom did not blame me directly, she pointed to this issue as the reason the friendship starting to slowly crumble.

The second “pregnant” question was much more unnecessary.  After our kids were no longer using some of the baby items, we had a garage sale.  The sales were steady, but not as brisk as we would have liked.  To try and generate some additional sales, I pulled out my sales wit.  As one shopper who was a little heavy in the middle looked at baby items, I innocently asked, “When are you due?” In some dimension, the “due” may not have implied pregnancy, but circumstantially, her assumption was not a huge stretch.  Her reply of, “I’m not.” quickly accounted for one less shopper at our garage sale.

My new pregnant friend listened patiently and sympathetically to my tales.  She seemed glad to have a little distraction from her day.  And, unsurprisingly, so did I.  I was grateful to get something more than enchilada sauce today.  Hopefully, everything I said was certified safe in my present dimension.

Ticket Quota

A friend informed me they were pulled over today and given a ticket for going 20 miles over the limit.  On my evening walk, I had a sighting of a policeman pulling another someone over.  Is it a coincidence today is the end of the month and the end of the first half of the year?  I am guessing some men in blue were told to hit some numbers and reach their quota.  And, no, I was not one of the someone’s who played a part in forming this theory….

Package Pranks

As I pondering writing this post, I was not sure how to title it OR what stories could be cobbled together to make it work.  While they may not all be pranks, it may be better stated as being outside of the norm OR, in one case, the new norm.

Magazine defiling:  When I was growing up a few to many decades ago, I used to subscribe to a magazine that attempted to appeal to my teenage mind.  This magazine had comic strips, posters, and other things targeting my pubescent mind.  As my hand reached into my mailbox on that ancient day, I was excited to pull out a new edition of my magazine.  At the mailbox, I glanced over the magazine.  A couple of the pages seemed anxious to show me their offerings.  Unfortunately, the comics on the back were what my eyes lingered on.

I forget the exact setup of the comic strip.  I believe it has two brothers interacting.  In this particular one, the younger brother was getting the best of his older brother.  (In real life, I have a younger brother.)  Amazingly, written under the younger brother in the comic strip was my brother’s name, and under the older brother, my name was written.  It was handwritten.  I was bewildered how this might have occurred.

Fortunately, the post office employee who attended our church was so proud of himself he could not keep his mouth shut.  He admitted to seeing the magazine come through the post office.  Apparently, he could not control his mischievous side.  I don’t recall whether his desire to be ornery existed when the magazine was picked up OR if the cartoon made his Mr. Hyde emerge.  Regardless, he was quite proud of his prank.  If only “going postal” was as innocent as his little prank.

Package Delivery:  My son works at a popular fast food restaurant.  It is literally only a 15 minute walk from the house.  It appears this place is quite popular with the local delivery people as well.  As a package needed to be signed for the other day, I was working on scribbling out the scratches that constitute my signature.  The delivery guy then comments, “Your son told me he would not be home tonight.”  I must have given him quite an odd look because he felt compelled to explain. (My son backed up his claims as well.)

“I talk to your son almost every day.  When I was going through the drive thru today, I told your son I had a package for you.  Your son told me to tease you a little bit.  So, that is what I tried to do.”, he said.

My son got a kick out of it when next I talked to him.  While he and my relationship is not always perfect, it is a relief to know he puts into practice nearly everything Dale Carnegie taught in his book.

Amazon Delivery:  As I sat in my den with a window facing toward the front of the house, I was surprised to hear a car stop in front of our mailbox.  As a reluctantly unrepentant nosey person, I observed what was occurring.  A very casually dressed female emerged from the car and opened the trunk.  She grabbed a package from the trunk before setting back in her car.  She did something to the package before walking up the sidewalk and doing the knock/doorbell combo. I opened the door to find my package.  It was in one of those really flexible mail bags.

These particular items were ordered two days ago–I believe they were only stocked in Kentucky.  Previously, I ordered a computer cable in the morning, and it was delivered in the afternoon.  Having received items from Amazon from non-UPS or USPS sources, I became curious how they are doing this.  And, a little browsing did make it clear.  They have started an “Uber” for package delivery.  They call it Amazon Flex.    Here are what you can expect and need to work for them:

Why Amazon Flex?
– Flexible hours — Schedule ahead or pick up any available delivery block of time
– Great pay — Make $18/hr
– Available work — Delivery opportunities available 7 days a week

To get started you must be:
– 21 years old
– Have a car and a valid driver’s license
– Have an Android phone

I don’t see myself applying for this or any similar job soon.  (My phone is not an Android.)  But, it does give options to a variety of people who might not otherwise generate a reliable income.  Having watched both of the Amazon Flex deliveries come to my house,  I can safely say the individuals did not look like they gave up their business casual jobs just the other day.  Their dress indicated they had been building their casual wardrobe for possibly a number of years.

**********

Okay, I admit the three stories got worse as you read through them.  I probably could have organized them better or thrown in a couple of completely fictitious stories.  This blog has not graduated to heavy fiction yet.  With strong encouragement, dementia, or some other activity that either degrades mental capacity OR releases ideas that have been sent via extra-dimensional brain transfer, I hope to achieve a level of reading pleasure far exceeding what is presently produced by my unpredictable finger spasms.  If this goal goes unrealized, it is better to set a goal and fail to meet it then to never set a goal at all, right?

 

Interview With A Vampire

Okay, suggestive titles aside, there really is some truth here–just let me explain!  If you can’t stand the wait, she would be an “associate of vampires”, but that is  all you are getting from me.  You have to read for the rest.

As I was completing my walk today, I walked thru a park that has ball fields, a playground, a dog park, and lots of trees along the edges.  As I noted a “new” city vehicle at the park near the trail, I noticed its likely owner emerging from the foliage rolling a grocery cart type thing.  I was prepared to pass her without putting my deductive reasoning to the test.  Fortunately, I was willing to break my train of thought and begin the interview.

“Collecting this weeks mosquitoes?”, I asked after observing her cart with some netting and articles that seemed to be allowing people to check in but NOT check out.

She seemed to enjoy the interested and lit up.  And, then she went into a bit of an explanation.  “I drop the traps on Thursday and pick them up on Friday.  I don’t know what kind of mosquitoes I have in the basket.  I take them to the health department for them to determine that.  I do this from the end of March until about Thanksgiving.”

As you are now clearly aware, I was interviewing a vampire handler and NOT the vampire, but if we pretend she is a mosquito whisperer, I am not completely crazy for going down this pathway.

Knowing mosquitoes were being collected in a little white net “basket” within a 1/2 mile of my home, did cause the next few questions.  (I did ask in a conversational way, but a summary seems to make the whole thing more concise and readable.  She was not a quick talker…)

  • Have they found any Zika? No
  • What about West Nile?  Just last week they found some West Nile in a stagnant creek behind a trailer park.  It was a couple miles south of here.
  • Do you get bit often?

The biting issue is where I was most intrigued by the conversation.  To my question, she answered, “Not to much, but I go through quite a bit of OFF. And, I often use the cheap baby oil/creme from the Dollar Store.”

Knowing there is something that is cheap AND smells better than garlic (trying to keep the vampire theme relevant), did get my attention.  I asked, “Do you always use them both OR do you believe the baby creme can work by itself?”

Although her answer took longer to sort out then I had the patience to recapture here, her boiled down reply was, “I have used them both separately and together.  Sometimes I forget one of the other.  Either one seems to work pretty well by itself.”

So, if you have a fear of mosquitoes and don’t like the smell of OFF or have any tastier humans nearby, consider spending a dollar at the Dollar Store and getting yourself some of this bane to vampire everywhere.  I “think” this is the anti-vampire product, but she didn’t have it to show to me.  It fits the price point she told me and the packaging description.  Good Luck!!

This is what the mosquito gathering apparatus looks like when collecting.

This is what the mosquito gathering apparatus looks like when collecting.