Is It Just Me…or Is It Just Chaos?

Beer! God’s greatest gift to Personkind…

Amazingly, I slept past my usual 3 a.m. wake-up call. Didn’t roll out of the sack until 7:30 in the morning. That’s a lot of sleep for an old cave woman. If we’d still been living in little tribes on the veldt, the entire clan would have been consumed by a sabre-toothed tiger around 3 :00, while the elder slept through the mayhem.

Fortunately, the only carnivore in evidence was a corgi, who also slept through till sunrise.

This has been one of those days. Nay, one of those weeks. You know: the “whatever can go wrong” variety?

When I came home the ’tother night from the Thanksgiving feast, fed and significantly refreshed, my attention was again drawn to the strange streaks on the bedroom walls I’d noticed before but, having no strength to fart with whatever that was, decided to ignore. About halfway in (I’d guess) to recovery from the present bronchitic episode, I explored.

Yes. Well. Those streaks looked wet because they were wet. As in…you know…water.

And that’s what they were: condensation from the two steamers that have been running in that room just about nonstop for the past six weeks.  The walls were coated with vertical puddles of water! These mixed with the ambient dust to form mud puddles.

Fortunately I have a lifetime supply of those Mr. Clean wall scrubber sponges, purchased from Costco in enough quantity to accommodate the cleaning lady until death do us part.

Equally fortunate: the water had condensed only on the room’s two exterior walls. This, presumably, because of the temperature differential between the outside air and the heated interior.

As it was, it took an hour to pull out the bed and scrub those two walls down from ceiling to floor. Jolly fun! In the middle of the night.

Laptop developed a wackshit quirk late last week, disconnecting it (so we’re told…but maybe not so much???) from iCloud. Now I have to traipse it to Scottsdale tomorrow…oboyoboy, i can hardly wait.

But that’s only part of the problem. It’s also hanging the cursor — totally disabling it so that I have to force-quit the computer and crash all the programs that are open in order to get the machine back to where it will function. This appears to be associated with a Washington Post game I like to play, but why that would be is profoundly unclear.

A-n-n-d Word just hung when I tried to reopen a file that was crashed in the most recent force-quit. So now I have to crash out of that.

The mail program crashes at random, for no discernible reason. And I keep getting a nagging pop-up message demanding that I sign in to iCloud — even though I am signed in to iCloud. And…none of the present and past passwords I have for iCloud seems to work, nor does there seem to be a way to reset the password in any way that makes any kind of sense. Or that works.

Apple’s formerly superb customer service has gone down the sewer. Until just the past few weeks, they’ve had THE most amazing phone techs, who could solve anything and fix anything over the phone. The last three times I’ve called, though, the people on the other end have been, shall we say, dumb as posts. How the Hell they got hired escapes me. They not only don’t identify the problem or come anywhere close to fixing it, the last nitwit actually made it worse.

So…that’s disapppointing. Interestingly, they’ve quit sending “how’d we do?” emails…presumably, then, Apple is fully aware of this.

Now I have to spend half the day Monday schlepping the MacBook to the Apple Geniuses, way to hell and gone in Scottsdale (since Apple kindly closed the central Phoenix store) and probably will end up having to ship the thing off. This will entail the usual endless arguments over my antique Word and Excel system. And of course, yet another endless trip to the recently dystopiified Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Really, I need to download LibreOffice and learn to use its word processor and spreadsheet software. But I cringe: I am SOOOO done with the electronic learning curve.

Speaking of the marvels our Our Technological Age, some strange email purporting to be from FeedBurner came in…go to site, fix this, fix that. WTF? Guru Grayson suspects it’s phishing, but in any event, FeedBurner was installed long before he took over wrangling the site. He advises that I should go over to FeedBurner’s website, sign in, and see if they really are bellyaching at me. Of course, it wants a password.

Well. That thing was installed by a previous web wrangler. If I ever had a password (which I highly doubt), I don’t have it anymore.

Back to Grayson. “The program is junk and no one is using it anymore,” says he. So it goes. One of us will deal with that later. Much later.

Still coughing. It’s s-l-o-w-l-y getting better, but at this rate it’ll be weeks — probably several months — before the hack goes away.

To frost the cake, I screwed up the Call-Blocker. Accidentally blocked the dermatologist’s number — is there a reason their robocall nuisance called on a Saturday night(!!!!!!!) to pester-remind me about next Tuesday’s appointment? Can’t unblock it following their instruction booklet. Now I have to get their techs on the phone — they’re not in on Sundays — and figure out how to undo that mess.

Amazon Prime video has hung up. So I guess not only may I not play an idle video game, neither can I watch one of the very view videos there that appear to be worth wasting one’s idle moments on. End up with an old John Wayne clunker. Thrill-a-minute… 😀

Oh, god. I’ve seen this thing. Soooooo long ago it was, and yet I still remember the opening scene.

A Touch of Heaven in a Day from Hell

OKAY, this one is as amazing as it gets…

So Apple shipped off my MacBook to its repair shop in Tennessee, where the thing has been for the better part of a week. But before very long, they finish and ship it back. Supposed to arrive between 8 and 10 a.m. today.

Sent off a chapter to one client. Read another client’s chapter and sent that off to him.

Come 11 a.m., no sign of it. I call Apple. Their rep gets ahold of Fedex, who say their guy tried to deliver it but no one was home. Of course I was home. And Gerardo was here with four of his guys, too! I expect the guy delivered it to Josie’s house: same number as my house, same street name except “Lane,” not “Way.” Apple CSR  gets the various numbers for me to try to track this down.  I call FedEx and get a robo-phone runaround, so I figure I’ll drive up to the Fedex office on Meth Lover’s Lane in person.

I’m cruising across SubFeeder Street headed for Conduit of Blight — NOT my usual route, because I hate turning left at the signal at CofB and GangBanger’s Way (because of the Fucking Train), so I normally backtrack around Robin Hood’s Barn to avoid it. The intersection of CofB & Meth Lover’s is impassible with construction, so you have to drive to 23rd on Gangbanger’s Way, go north to Meth Lover’s, then right on Meth Lover’s and left on 21st. And 21st is jammed with frustrated drivers trying to get around the roadblock at CofB and Meth Lover’s. Wheeeee!

As I cross Local Lane West, I see a Fedex Truck headed in my direction. Hot DAYUM!

I lay on the horn, jump out of the car, and flag him down.

And believe it or not, HE HAS THE COMPUTER and…another believe-it-or-not… he FORKS IT OVER.

Holy mackerel. He swears he’s been here and left a notice.

Check when I get home, and by golly, he’s right: the doorbell button on the gate doesn’t ring. Must have run out of battery juice or gotten wet in the rain and ruint.

But…can you imagine? Actually encountering the guy on the way out of the ‘hood?????? Wow!

As expected, I spent the entire afternoon wrestling with the computer, trying to get it back online. It goes, but it goes slow.

Tomorrow I’ll have to spend half a day wrestling with DropBox, which seemed to be cooperating up to the point where it supposedly synced itself with the newly refurbished (i.e., key tools erased or up-gefucked) machine. After making me jump through a thousand hoops and forcing me to dream up a new goddamn password and seemingly starting the 24-hour process to sync the zillions of gigabytes worth of files I have stored in DropBox’s precincts, hours after the process has started they send me an email with some new numeric code, which they demand that I enter to “finish signing in to DropBox.” But…they don’t tell me WHERE to enter it.

So that process, which should have been about 2/3 done by tomorrow morning, is now stopped, and now I’ll have the pleasure of trying to roust a human at DB (good luck with that!) and trying to get him to explain WTF and where the hell I’m supposed to enter this magical number, and then…yes…it will be another 24 hours before my files are synced.

Yeah.

Y’know what?

I. want. my. Smith-Corona. back.

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

Z135.

Z132.

Z134.

Z168.

Z136

Z143….

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.”

uhhhhh…HUH!

“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:

https://www.dropbox.com/event_details/87657979/123465432/713437281

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!

HOLY SHIT!!!!

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…

Life in Outer Dystopia

So yesterday (is it today already?) I spent OVER FIVE HOURS traipsing miserably from pillar to post, accomplishing…what?

No WAY can you get there from here…

The MacBook, upon which I depend for almost all things computerese, croaked over. So, Apple having closed its store within reasonable driving distance of my house, I had to drive way to Hell and Gone to a tony shopping center called Scottsdale Quarter: 14.5 miles. Add to that the 3+ miles in the other direction, over to the north side of the Metrocenter ghost mall, and you get about 30 miles round trip through the city’s wacksh!t traffic, in which approximately one in every ten drivers is crazy as a loon or dumb as a post.

Before heading east for Scottsdale, I had to drop by the FedEx store at Metrocenter — on the far side of the I-17 — by way of sending a paper(!) manuscript back to a client. This annoyance, because the lines at the post office are so long you’ll stand there for 20 or 30 minutes to get a package weighed, buy stamps, and drop it in the outgoing mail. You actually save time by driving out of your way to go to a store that will sell you the postage. This junket, then, took me six miles out of my way.

Wherever you’re going in the dystopic Valley of the Sun, you can’t get there from here. During this endless junket, I ran into eight roadblocks. If the drive weren’t long enough, it stretches toward eternity while you grind your way through traffic jam after traffic jam. The roads, thanks to all these afterthought asphalt-digging programs and lowest-bidder asphalt-laying, are potholed and ridged every inch of the way. To any drive you choose to make — near or far — you have to add about 10 minutes to your projected driving time, because somewhere along the way you will come to a stop and sit. And sit. And sit.

This time I had enough sense not to park my car in Scottsdale Quarter’s underground labyrinth. Instead left the car across the street in Kierland Commons’ parking lot.

Scottsdale Quarter — to say nothing of the glass box that is the Apple store there, with its ear-splitting ambient noise echoing off the glass and metal walls — is not a pleasant place to spend your time. It is crowded, and not crowded with nice people: the inhabitants by and large are snobbish parvenus, rude and obnoxious. Even outside, the noise level is headache-inducing. Lest any of the customers be disturbed by a moment of introspection, SQ’s designers have kindly lined the sidewalks with fake rocks from which blare a peculiarly annoying type of faceless Muzak. Everywhere you turn, the racket is brain-banging.

Finally, though, I reach the Apple store. And yeah: naturally, they had done exactly what I told them NOT to do: erased the operating system and updated it with the latest and greatest. And by the way deleted the connection to DropBox, which they refuse to deal with because they want you to store your data to iCloud, not to their competition.

My resident Word program will not run on an OS later than Sierra. I went around and around and around with the tech explaining this to him, and explaining that because I am a crazy old lady I do not want my clients’ work in Microsoft’s Cloud, nor am I going to pay Microsoft an expensive subscription for the privilege of having to work in their Cloud. So, when I showed up there after a second nightmarish drive and found they had done exactly what I had asked them not to do, I threw one of my more colorful shitfits, a phenomenon that I am capable of generating with élan.

They agreed to restore the system, but…but…did I have a backup? Of course, they thought I did not. But luckily, I hadn’t taken the external drive that contained the most recent Macbook back-up out of my car, and so yes, it was sitting in the parking lot across the street, in the Kierland Commons shopping center.

Retrieving it required me to walk a quarter mile and cross Scottsdale Road, a huge and hectic thoroughfare, at signals that do not stay green long enough for a rabbit to get from one side to the other at a dead run. But to their amazement I traipsed out, snabbed the thing from the car, and resurfaced in their glass box bearing a two-day-old back up.

So supposedly they have now recovered my system. Tomorrow I have to traipse out there again and pick it up. And you may be sure — because it never fails — that the thing will be totally, utterly, irretrievably fucked up. And you may be sure I will have to spend at least an hour, possibly much longer, trying to get reconnected to DropBox, a chore that is likely to be a horror show of the first water.

Because I still have an antique iMac running, a device I use as a TV substitute, Time Machine has made current backups of all my data. And I can reach DropBox from the iMac. But I don’t do my work on the iMac: my old bones ache so much that it hurts to sit in an office chair in front of a desk for hour on hour. Or, come to think of it, for minute on minute. I have the MacBook so that I can sit in a chair that doesn’t cripple me while I perform the endless work I do for my clients.

Okay, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, when I fell face-first on the concrete pavement the other night, I scratched my expensive pair of glasses. So…oh goodie! Now I get to buy a new lens.

I had gone to Costco a few days ago to pick up a copy of the new prescription I had made there last November. Meanwhile, the fancy optometry shop that dispensed these fancy glasses was priced out of the AJ’s shopping center where it resided for many years and has moved around the corner on Camelback, where you have to navigate around the damned train tracks and where a restaurant reserves most of the parking spaces with posted threats to tow your car if you leave it there.

So I decided to go to the expensive store La Maya frequents for her glasses, which lies tangentially on my homeward-bound way.

Drive and drive and drive and drive and drive and dodge construction and dodge homicidal drivers and jerk left across freeway-sized thoroughfares and finally arrive at this glasses place. Get into the cramped parking lot, find several empty parking spaces in front, park, jump out, prance up to the front door…which is LOCKED. They’re closed. On Monday, at midday.

So I and drive and drive and drive and drive some more and dodge construction and dodge homicidal drivers some more and jerk left across freeway-sized thoroughfares some more and finally arrive at the new venue of my old glasses place. Trot in, show the scratched lens and the prescription to the guy, and ask if they’ll replace the lenses.

Sure, says he. That’ll be $395.

Got that? Three hundred and ninety-five dollars for a pair of plastic lenses. No, that doesn’t include the frames.

Holy sh!t, said I. So it’s back to Costco!

By then I was too tired to make the 11-mile return trip to Costco to order up a pair of dowdy glasses from their optometry department. But I will have to stop there on the way home, tomorrow, from what I expect will be an upsetting trip to pick up the MacBook, which we are told is ready to go.

Right.

Imagine. $395 for a pair of fuckin’ plastic lenses, and they don’t even have to write the prescription.

I may stop by Sassy Glasses — La Maya’s favorite joint — to see if they’ll make the lenses for something within reason. The frames were wildly expensive and they’re my favorite glasses of all time. I really, really don’t want to have to throw them away. But obviously I can’t afford four hundred bucks to replace the lenses. Costco does not make lenses for this kind of specialty glasses, and so if Sassy Glasses can’t do the job for a reasonable price, then it’s back to the ugly old, clunky old plastic glasses from Costco.

Life in beautiful uptown Phoenix. Life in Dystopia.

Macquisition

So! Yesterday I scored a new 15-inch MacBook from the Apple store, at an educator’s discount slightly lower than the one offered at GDU’s computer store. Not only that, but they threw in a wireless Epson printer, free!

Actually, I upgraded the freebie to a printer/scanner. I’m interested to see how the Epson does: it appears to be much better made than the HP, less flimsy and far more elegant in design. It was only $50 more; I figure I can resell my hulking HP on Craig’s List for that much.

They also threw in a 50% discount on next year’s Mobile Me subscription, a little extravagance that I figure The Copyeditor’s Desk will have to pay for, assuming it earns that much in the future.

In addition, I got a year’s worth of one-on-one coaching. First thing they’ll do for me, they said, is synch up my iMac with the laptop and, if I wish (for a slight extra fee), they will upgrade the iMac to Snow Leopard. The salesman claimed they also would load the $65(!) MS Office for Mac I bought at the GDU bookstore, though I doubt that: normally anything with the letters MS attached to it is as water to oil for the Apple Genius crew.

Snow Leopard is really inexpensive, especially compared to other operating systems. It’s supposed to be the wave of the future, so I think I may spring for the modest cost to do that.

What a beautiful and elegant machine it is! Smooth, rounded, pretty…just like its operating system.

The Mac is such a creature of the Internet! The instant an infant Mac breaks out of the egg, it wants to get online. It’s chirping to be connected to the cable router, but since I don’t know how to accomplish that, it’ll have to wait till M’hijito can come over and set it up. {sigh} Much as I want to play with it, I have no idea which of the half-dozen potential connections that come up is mine. It “sees” all the neighbors’ wireless stuff, but without a little encouragement, it doesn’t see the router. At least, I don’t think it does. If it does, I don’t recognize it.

For $150, I can get an AirPort Extreme, which is said to be superior to the cheapie we bought at Fry’s Electronics. I suppose I can afford it, although we’re pushing the limits of what CE Desk can pay. And anything that’s not sitting in the corporate account is money I’ll have to use for groceries and running the house.

However, it looks like I’m going to spring free of Quicken, whose onerous requirements for upgrades are past due for me. So that will save seventy or eighty bucks.

Uh-oh! La Maya on the phone with an intelligence alert: Estate sale in Richistan! w00t!

Gotta go: we hit the road in 20 minutes.

Later!