Coffee heat rising

The Chaos Hangover

The older you get, I think, the harder it is to deal with stress. And this past two weeks of unending techno-chaos have been nothing if not hideously stressful. Last night I enjoyed a fine hangover from that stress-storm…again, I think.

Along about 2:30 in the morning, a bright flare of pain and sweat woke me up. Gut pain, chest pain, shoulder ache…hard-to-tell pain.

Heart attack? Certainly could be. Chest pain and sweating are classic heart attack signs.

On the other hand(s):

  • It was 80 degrees in the house and I was under three layers of blankets.
  • The pain seemed to be on the outside of the ribs, not inside, not under the ribs, not under the sternum, not under the clavicle. Earlier this week I wrenched that shoulder again, wrestling the dog around the ’hood — the same shoulder I dislocated a couple years ago. Damn thing has been hurting for a couple weeks, every time I wake up.
  • The mastectomy scars hurt, in a low-key way. All the time. On the outside of the ribs. Press anyplace around that area, three or four inches to the north or south of the elegantly disguised scar, and it hurts. So if I’m sleeping in some kind of odd position, likely I’m going to wake up with my chest hurting. On the outside of the ribs, not inside, not under the ribs, not under the sternum, not under the clavicle….
  • Stress invariably creates some sort of malign hangover, usually of an unpredictable nature. And stress, frustration, time suck, and anguish have haunted every waking and sleeping moment of my existence for the past two or three weeks. I’ve lost 2/3 of my business base, my computers are a jumble, I can’t figure out how to use iCloud effectively (and don’t believe it can be used the way I need to have it work), and I feel generally f*cked over. In a big way. No wonder I’m having some kind of little tizzy…
  • Interestingly, sitting up eventually elicited a fine burp: gas! Maybe…ya think?…just maybe I shouldn’t have swiggled down that half-a-cup of cheap red wine right before turning off the light and pulling the pillow over my head.

Yes, I could call 911. They would not take me to the Mayo, where my doctor practices and which is the only local hospital in which I have anything resembling confidence. They would take me to the hospital of their convenience, where I decidedly do not want to go. And want or no want, I have soooo HAD it with doctors and doctoring, I would rather die right now today than go through any more of that. And no, my friends, I do not exaggerate.

Get up; repair to the hall closet. Chew a couple of vile Gaviscon tablets. As usual, this stuff has no effect other than to make me hate my taste buds. Remember the ranitidine stashed in the closet. That’s Zantac. Drop one of those. After about 30 or 45 minutes, this stuff seems to work.

Evidently not about to die, climb back into bed around the sleeping dog.


a) Quit drinking as a stress control strategy.
b) Test blood pressure sometime after sunrise; if systolic is over 140, call the quack on Monday. Maybe.

Well, come the dawn, the BP numbers are a little high: average 137/86.

On the other hand:

  • It’s hot.
  • I drank half a bottle of wine yesterday afternoon.
  • And then I spent half the night wrestling with the question of how to copy data from DropBox and from iCloud to Documents, whence we know for sure that Time Machine will copy it. It appears very likely that TM does not copy iCloud. Wouldncha know it. There is a LOT of data stored to these two fine thunderclouds…so much, in fact, that the MacBook just informed me that it doesn’t have enough space to absorb another gulp of this trash.
  • I hate loathe and despise taking my blood pressure, almost as much as I hate loathe and despise watching some underling in a doctor’s office do it wrong. That sentiment alone is enough to drive up one’s numbers.


At any rate, planning a strategy for organizing and transferring all this data was quite the little project…as in “took two hours to figure it out in any rational way.”

Most of my stuff is now deleted from DropBox. It took two full days and then some to transfer this data over to iCloud, an apparent exercise in futility. Copying from iCloud to the MacBook’s hard disk only took a couple of hours this morning…but of course I can’t get it ALL on the hard disk, because the MacBook is now chuckablock full.

Next: run Time Machine to back up the MacBook, thereby saving this data in perpetuity. In fact, do a TM back up to not one but two external hard drives…hope to God the hard drives are large enough. Once this stuff is saved, delete all the really old, “archived” debris that no one, myself included, cares ever to see again. This should free up some space on the MacBook.

Then get into iCloud and delete sh!tloads of data, which has about maxed the space I’m paying for. A lot of this stuff is archived business and financial documents, which really need only to be saved in a couple of places — a backup drive and the MacBook. But other than that material, much of the remaining detritus can be deleted without much risk.

How do I hate this sh!t? Let me count the ways.

I am soooo sick of technohassles! Once again, another entire day is going to be spent watching machines grinding away. No work, paying or otherwise, is going to get done. I am going to be frustrated and angry by the time the day ends, and once again I will go to bed frustrated and angry. Which no doubt contributes to things like waking up at 2:30 in the morning with a hair-raising bellyache.

Please, God: send me a patient little quarterhorse, about 50 head of cattle, and 2000 acres of upland grass country.

And now i want…

a beer…

Just a beer. And a plate of pasta: comfort drink, comfort food.

Finally finished shoveling away the layers and layers of paper that have floated in the door and come to rest atop my desk. Interestingly, the desktop seems to be made of wood…huh! I’d forgotten that.

So gawdawful much paper comes flying in the door or gets dragged into the house in a purse or stuck on the bottoms of my shoes…God only knows how it all it all makes it way in here. I tend to drop it where it arrives: on the dining room table, on a kitchen counter, on the passenger seat of the car, on my desk…on my desk…on my desk….

It took the entire morning to dig the desk out from its current burden of paper, some of it dating back to 2018. About 90% of it is stuff that either needs to be kept or needs to be shredded, so less than a trash-basketful goes to the recycling. {sigh}. Well, except for the stuff you run through the shredder…that, actually, can be composted, if you’re careful to avoid grinding up any of the plastic “envelope windows” that come with some mail.

At any rate, after several hours of sorting, file-folder stuffing, and shredding, boyoboy does that desk look CLEAN. Who’d’ve thunk it was possible?

That notwithstanding, the overall hassle never, ever stops.

This morning the DropBox hassle developed a new twist and turn. I called to tell them I don’t want them to renew my annual subscription for extra space and was horrified to discover that despite my having spent two and a half days transferring 87 berjillion kilobytes to iCloud and deleting said kilobytes from DropBox, the damn stuff is still on DropBox!

That’s right. They keep it as a “back-up” stashed away where you can’t get at it to kill it off.


Getting rid of it takes an elaborate techno-hoop jump, following instructions that might as well be in Martian. I tried to reach a techie friend to see if I could hire him (please!) to help, but he’s not answering.

So…what alternative?

American Express, I guess. This is why I persist in using AMEX: like Costco, like Apple, they have superlative customer service. I call and reach a patient CSR. Explain the situation: DropBox is not about to let me off the hook, and I do not want to pay for the extra server space to accommodate data that they will not simply reach out and delete or explain to me in simple terms how to erase.

N-o-o-o-o-o problem, quoth the AMEX dude. He put a block on the next bill from DropBox.

DropBox charges $9.99 per month(!) for a terabyte of storage. Apple is now charging the same, for the same amount of storage — having dropped its price by 10 bucks a month. However, I do not need a terabyte of cloud space: for $2.99 I can get 200 gigabytes. Well, even unedited and un-shoveled out, my DropBox files add up to a mere(!) 160GB. A-n-n-d there’s a LOT of stuff in there that could go away. When I get around to it, I’ll move a pile of superannuated debris off of iCloud, which will free up enough space to last for all of posterity.

Weather is starting to warm up a bit. If I felt like jumping into slightly chilly water, I could plunge into the newly resurfaced pool. But I’m too lazy to get cold just now: bad human.

The watering system is on the fritz. I need to call an irrigation guy to fix it, since all Gerardo seems to do is shut off the valves for the parts that spring a leak, leaving my plants to die. He doesn’t seem to understand — or to care — that a potted plant will die in one day flat if it’s not watered daily once the temps are over about 90 or 95 degrees. So that’s yet another hassle to deal with.

And I do need to find a tree guy to remove the devil-pod tree on the west side, which has become a bit menacing. The US weather service expects this winter’s El Niño to linger over the Pacific through the summer. What meant nice rains in the winter, then, will mean heavy winds and violent monsoons this summer, hiking the risk of that tree breaking and falling on my neighbor’s house or mine. Again, Gerardo said he’d do it…but…no action there. Dayum….just what I need to kill some more time on.

The winter’s rain, though, produced some very gorgeous flowers this spring…


Unfortunately these look awful. Somehow the new iCloud thing has f**cked up my photo function. Dammit! Am I ever SICK of this computer bullshit! It just simply never stops!


Live-Blogging (sorta…) from Bureaucracy Hell

So…I’ve lost my Social Security card and my Medicare card was stolen. Getting these back, as you can imagine, entails an unholy amount of hassle. Which do you suppose would entail less pain?

  • Call Social Security on its 800 number; jump through a thousand robotic hoops, and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait… Finally reach a person who has no clue what she’s doing. (As you might guess: been there, done that!)
  • Drive in person to the Social Security office in Scottsdale, the bureaucracy’s nearest brick-&-mortar venue. Take a number and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait… Sometime today (maybe) get to speak with a human who knows how to solve the problem.
  • Go to the Social Security Website, create a “My Social Security” account (or, if I stupidly did this some time in the past, find it and figure out how to break into it), dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and MAYBE get the new cards ordered. Or not.

Any of those involves time-sucking frustration of the first order.

Experience shows that physically going to a Social Security office is less time-consuming (despite the drive time), less frustrating, and less outright enraging than either of the other two options. So early this afternoon, after finishing the minimum amount of work needed to make progress on the client’s huge project, I climbed in the car and started driving.

Arrived at the SS office right at 1:44 in the afternoon. They close at 4 p.m.. That left two hours and 15 minutes, sooo…there was at least a shot of getting to speak to a functionary before they threw us all out.

Drew “Welcome to Social Security” coupon number Z140. Sat and waited for them to call that number







And on. And on. And fuckin’ ON.

Meanwhile, I’d learned that to get a new Social Security card I had to apply at this office. But to get a new Medicare card, I had to go around the corner and stand in ANOTHER line to beg for that.

Finally, after about half an hour or 45 minutes of this futility, I think oh fukkit and get up and leave.

I walk around the corner to see if maybe I could at least get the Medicare card with a slightly more reasonable wait. Pass through the security guard — this one a lot more hostile than the guy in the Social Security office. Yeah: a WHOLE lot more hostile. Help a couple of terrorists in their early nineties figure out how to use the punch-a-button nuisance to generate a ticket to wait. Generate my own. Sit down.

Many fewer victims here. I figure out that actually there are only about five people ahead of me. Take a seat and…well, yeah. About ten or twelve minutes later, my number is called.

I claim that both my cards were “lost.” If you define “thieving” as a variety of “losing,” that’s probably accurate. Why do I resist admitting that the Medicare card was stolen? Because the gummint’s web page says you have to file a police report before asking for a replacement. And THAT will cause still more trouble and headaches that I DO. NOT. NEED.

To my astonishment, the doughty bureaucrat behind the desk asks me a series of rote questions, goes CLICKETY CLICKETY CLICKETY on his keyboard, and announces blithely, “The Medicare card should arrive in two weeks; the Social Security card will take about three months to show up.”


“But…,” say I, “they said I have to go to two different offices and apply for each one separately.”

“I just ordered them both.”

Oh. My. GOD! You beautiful, spectacular ebony saint of a man! Can I take you out to Ruth’s Chris Steak House and buy you a T-bone? How about an orange soufflé swimming in heavy cream for dessert? A bottle of Domaine Loubejac Pinot Noir to go with?

Stop by the Fry’s on the way home to stock up on veggies and miscellaneous junk. Stumble in the house, bolt down a box of sushi and a couple bottles of beer.

Having finished the day’s ration of the client’s index before heading off for the Adventure in American Bureaucracy, I now sit down to write this post, and….

In comes this fine message from DropBox:

Hi Victoria,

We really appreciate taking the time to write in.

For security reasons could you please confirm the restoration?

Just to summarize, we are going to undo the following event link in order to remove the selective sync conflicts from your account:

I just want to confirm that you want these events reverted in their entirety, and there are no other actions you’d like me to take on your account at this time.

Once you’ve written me back to confirm that’s the case, I’ll pass this along to our Restorations team to perform the requested operation on your account. If there are other things you’d like done, please write back with additional event links or a description of the circumstances surrounding your situation.

I look forward to hearing back from you!


I have not asked Dropbox to do anything in the past week. The last I looked — about three hours ago — all is well. I do not know what this means, but “remove” or “revert” sounds a whole lot like DELETE stuff. Random fuckin’ stuff.

This causes a complete, total, exhausted-old-lady can’t-stand-another-minute-of-bullshit-hassle MELT-DOWN!

I have NO idea what this worthy is talking about, but I can NOT afford to have some good soul delete the project that I’ve spent the last gawdAWFUL number of torturous, tedious, brain-banging, mind-numbing hours on!!!!!!! GAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

E-mail back, also having no idea whether a reply will reach a human being, DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING DO NOT DELETE ANYTHING and frantically start copying key folders to the iMac’s desktop, not knowing whether the machine has anything like enough memory to hold that much data.

Meanwhile… The MacBook, the one whose repairs absorbed some six hours of driving time, days of down time, and hour after hour of fuckup-recovery time, is NOT fixed. Last night it started shutting down again. Same story: PLINK, out of the blue. Reboot, find there’s plenty of power on the battery, data has been lost, pages have disappeared, fuckups have been fucked up. Last night I call Apple’s 24-hour service and reach a tech in Australia. Explain that this saga is beginning to wear on me. She says with AppleCare I have two or three in-house visits coming. She tries to set this up but because of course Apple has gone to bed in this country, she can’t get through. Gives me a phone number to call.

Reach one of Apple’s accelerated AppleCare dudes here. He says well, that would be true if we were in Australia, but it doesn’t apply in the US. I complain about the interminable drive to Scottsdale, now that the bastards have closed down the central Phoenix store. He says they have a deal where they will send me a shipping box and cover the cost of FedExing it to the repair dudes and FedExing it back to me.

Well. That’s better than a hit on the head, anyway. Best of all would be if you could FIX the damn thing.

Finish copying stuff to the iMac’s desktop, including all The Copyeditor’s Desk’s present and past client data.

By now it’s getting dark.

Take the dog for a doggy walk. She lunges onto a neighbor’s lawn to have a good grass-wallow and then launches into one of the worst episodes of reverse-sneezing she’s ever had. If you’ve never seen a dog doing the reverse-sneeze thing: it’s much like a kind of seizure. Even if you know the dog will get over it, the dog doesn’t know that. And the dog tends to panic. Now Ruby is wheezing and gasping for air and shaking all over her little body in terror.

Whenever she gets to the point where she can more or less breathe again, I have to pick her up and carry her the quarter-mile back to the house. Jolly fun.

Day from Hell…

Wining Time

Time to sit down and swill a nice glass of Kirkland’s best.

The days swirl past like water flowing down the drain. And at this age…well, that’s a pretty apt metaphor. It’s been a very busy few hundred hours of late, some of them fun and some of them not so much.

Today started out pretty fun: A special choir session in the morning, in which we got some extra-special coaching from our professional musicians, met some new choir members, and had ourselves sorted out by timbre and reseated here, there and yon.

Even though one must yodel all by oneself, in public before an audience that does include the aforementioned professional musicians, I always get a kick out this process. It usually results in a set of new seating companions, which is cool because it allows me to get to know more choir members…otherwise, being the recluse that I am, I would cling to the few friends I’ve made and never get to know anyone else. So this is good. One of my favorite Chamber Choir singers is now seated to my right, a lovely singer with a wonderful, effervescent personality who seems, unlike moi, to be afraid of nothing and no one. To the left, a quiet woman who has been around for awhile but whom I’ve never had (or made…) an opportunity to come to know. AND we’re right down in front, meaning no climbing up and down and balancing on bleacher-like things. It’ll be a little harder to see the director from the new vantage point — and that is something I rely on simply because I’m just not that experienced, as singers go. But I think as long as we’re standing, it’ll be OK.

Yesterday was a bitch, as it developed.

Last night we finally moved the current wave of copy back to our journal editor. But not without a fiasco of the first water.

Working on revamping the Plain & Simple Press website and not making much headway, I’m figuring it’s about time to knock off and go do the day’s required fucking blood pressure test. This is the best time of day, when the numbers are at their lowest ebb…and that is a desideratum, because we wish to keep Cardiodoc at bay. I’ve not yet taken a pill, but it’s about time because part of the gaming of the system entails dropping one of these minuscule doses, waiting about an hour, and then running the hated gadget. This results — well, unless the ambient temperature is in the low 60s, as it can be — in a fine set of numbers in the mid- to low 110s.

Impressive. Very impressive. If that doesn’t get the guy off my neck, nothing will. 😀

Just as I’m thinking Get up, lady, and drop a pill, in comes a message from The Kid: where is Essay 4?

Essay 4? It’s on DropBox, in the Essay 4 folder. Of course (just unwittingly typed that “of curse”). Where we put it several days ago, and happy we were, indeed, to see the end of that fine document.

You understand: some of these authors are using their gilded efforts for P&T (promotion and tenure reviews). In its current incarnation, the journal seems to be absent anyone who even vaguely resembles a peer reviewer, nor does the copy seem to have benefited from the advice of an editor who is, shall we say, gifted with a jaundiced eye. The new editor appears to be inexperienced with wrangling creatives or unwilling to ride herd on the livestock. Articles are difficult to read primarily because they’re far from ready to go to press.

That is about the mildest I can get on this subject. And yes. I do remember my mother inveighing about “if you can’t say anything nice…” You can’t.

No, says The Kid. It is not on DropBox. Where is it?

Where, indeed? WhereTF? I search DropBox: and I know that is where I stored it because I no longer stash this stuff on my local disk. DropBox has a back-up/restore function, and supposedly Time Machine is also backing up DropBox.

She’s right. It’s gone. I search “All Documents” on my MacBook.

Not there.


I fly to the big computer, fire up Time Machine, and search directories going back a week.

Not there.

By now, I am seriously freaking out.

I break into DropBox’s website, parse my way through the nightmarish techno-instructions, and search DB’s back-ups.

Not there.

Holy CRAP! This file, which was utter diabolical torture to read, is flat-out fucking GONE.

I email The Kid and tell her I’ll have to plow through the whole.god.AWFUL.thirty.god.DAMNED.pages again, which will take another full (agonizing) day.

So I go to open the hideous unedited original in Wyrd. Of course, when you open Word it proposes to “Open Recent.”

Hmmm….  No sign of the missing files in “Open Recent.” But what do we have at the bottom of the “Recent” list but a MORE tag….ah, yes.

Click on that. Select “this week.” Wait for some unholy number of files to register in Wyrd’s memory.

And lo!

There the little bastards are!



The things are stored in a folder — that would be a “directory” for grown-ups who use Microsoft Windows — with a title that is a long, arcane number: D123455432211 or some damfool thing. Both of them: the clean edited copy and the marked-up copy.

WTF is D123455432211????

Not caring much until I can contrive to open the things and then save up to DropBox, I stash the files, open them, and confirm that yes, they are the edited and clean versions. These, I mail to The Kid and to myself, by way of ensuring that they will not get “disappeared” again.

Whatever a D123455432211 is, I’ve never seen anything like it. Search the Internet. Whatever terms I dreamed up, at this moment I do not recall…but something that I typed into Google called up the answer. As it develops, when someone sends you a MacMail attachment and you open the damn thing, MacMail will save it into a “Downloads” folder. It does not prompt you to save the file where you want it to go. It just quietly saves in some un-findable location where Apple wants it to go. To make it even more un-findable, MacMail will designate this folder with a zillion-character numeric title.

By the time our author’s fine piece of literature has resurfaced, I am simply beside myself with rage, frustration, and horror.

Not only have I neglected to run the damn blood pressure machine, by now I’m about 5 hours late in taking the hated anti-hypertension pill. Along about 11 p.m. I gulp down the drug and test the BP. Really, it’s not that high: in the 130s. One figure is in the dramatically high 130s; the rest are in the middle range. The last time I flew into a state of Extreme High Dudgeon, the gauge reached 165/105, presumably in the bust a blood-vein category.

Unfortunately, in the brave new world of the American Heart Association, anything above 129 is now regarded as “high blood pressure.”

Questionable though I suspect that to be, nevertheless Cardiodoc takes it as received wisdom from Rome. So sticking those numbers in the record is contraindicated.

This evening they’re back down into the 110s. Those, we keep.

I hate computers.

That notwithstanding, I’ve spent a fair amount of today rebuilding the Plain & Simple Press site so that I can offer content from two completed books and one work in progress for free to readers.

This required a refresher course in rudimentary coding. Needed to figure out how to build an internal link in a web page. You understand: once, back in the dark ages, I knew how to do this. That was when my mind was young and elastic. Today: phbphphbhphphbbbt! I do not want to know it and so I have forgotten all that arcana.

Okay. I now know how to do it. Again. Probably will not remember until tomorrow. But for the nonce, code that can be self-plagiarized is installed in one of the new pages under construction.

I should take the dogs for a walk, it being not even 8 p.m. Exercise is needed for dogs and for human. But…

One is given pause.

An admired friend of mine, one of the most elegant European women I have ever met, lives within walking distance, in a tiny development of patio homes that fronts right on Central Avenue. This is within easy walking distance of the Funny Farm.

She reports that a couple nights ago someone came to her door about 9:00 p.m., rousting her from whatever she was doing and alerting her German shepherd. Fortunately she has a steel security door.

When she opened her front door, she found a guy on the other side of that security door foaming obscenities at the mouth and waving a gun around. He was in some kind of rage, he was trying to get in, and he threatened to shoot her.

She being a woman of some self-possession kept her cool, closed the door on him, and called the cops. He was gone by the time the gendarmes showed up. But as you can imagine, she was somewhat alarmed.

She speculated that he was a transient, as he was dirty and probably high on the usual drug of choice in our parts — meth.

Mmm hmm.

Well, I walk these dogs at night all the time, partly because in the summer it’s the only time they can walk on the hot pavement and partly because I’m busy from dawn to well after dusk. I never see anyone — sketchy or otherwise — wandering around after dark here. The bums are sleeping in the alleys, and the residents are nailed to their TV sets.

But just now I think…maybe not.

If there’s some drug-addled animal out there waving his gun around and threatening elderly women, I really do not want to meet him at night. Not in the daytime, either, but especially not at night. My gun is heavy and I do not even know where my father’s holster is stashed. Nor do I especially fancy the prospect of keeping two wackshit dogs under control while I try to defend myself against a wackshit human.

And so, to pour another glass of wine.