Coffee heat rising

Work, Interruptus

Yesterday was incredibly hectic, full of a staggering amount of work, all of which distracted 100% from paying projects. Wow!

Px mountains from iPhoto 2
Click on the image for Bigger & Better…

To start with, though, SDXB showed up here at 9 a.m. to go hiking in the nearby mountain preserve. This seemed OK, because I didn’t yet know how fantastically my little efforts to produce something salable were about to be obstructed. 😀

By the time I got home, the freshly washed and set hair was soaking wet…so there was a job that would have to be done again.

As long as I was already drenched in sweat, I figured I’d better finish the job of cleaning out and refurbishing the storage shed. Started the project several days ago. I knew it would be huge, and it was. By now I’d hauled the junk out, carted a lot to the trash, deconstructed the brick-and-board shelving and reconstituted it in the corner outside (this is all out of sight of the backyard and pool). Found that water had seeped in under the cinderblock supports and corroded the plywood floor Satan had put into the shed.

Why would you put plywood flooring into a construct that sits outside in the rain? Even though he set it on top of some block paving he’d built, of course water is going to seep up out of the ground and get into your finely built floor. What possesses people? Why not use the stuff he build the deck out of: fake wood planks made of some sort of indestructible synthetic? I’ve lived here now for twelve years, perched plants on it, watered them every day throughout the summer, and the thing is as good as it was when I moved in.

Oh well. That was a mess.

So the shed flooring has been drying out for the past couple of days, with all the junk strewn around the yard waiting to be put back.

At Lowe’s, I found some flimsy but serviceable plastic shelving that snaps together like Tinker-Toys — about the limit of my handyperson skills. The bottom-most shelf sits on the ground, but it’s ventilated, and the only part that actually touches the ground is the outside rim of the thing. Air should be able to move through there and allow the plywood to dry out after the next rainstorm. They’re very deep, so they conveniently fit around the rotted spots in the floor.

Meanwhile I used the metal shelving Satan had left behind, which according to Home Depot has a carrying capacity of 250 pounds, to hold the leftover tiles Mike the Tile Dude and Satan himself had left on the floor in there. They groan under the burden, and it remains to be seen whether the weight will eventually break through the weakened plywood floor. If it does, then The Handyman from Heaven can be begged to replace it with something better.

After tapping the big new cheesey plastic shelves together with a rubber mallet, it was time to reload.

The things I actually need — pool gear, mostly — now occupy only a couple of shelves, right in front. The valuable old paint cans, the precious old mortar, the beloved old tile grout: all that went on the metal shelving, pushed all the way to the shed’s back end.

This left plenty of room for the priceless collection of rags to cover plants in wintertime.

Yeah. I’ve now got two gigantic, deep shelves jammed with old sheets and drape panels, lest Phoenix ever get another hard freeze. This hasn’t happened for the past several years. If we’re to believe the climate prophets, it may never happen again. But…it’s a symptom of my cheapskateness, I suppose: I can’t bring myself to throw out anything I just might need again someday. And they do have another use. Many are already spattered with paint: they make fine drop cloths. Just in case I should ever choose to paint the house again… 🙄

This project and its aftermath — scrubbing out the shop-vac, which ended up with mud inside it — consumed most of my energy.

But day was not done…not by a long shot.

Eventually I sit down in front of the MacBook. Go to switch from some program over to Word, aptly nicknamed Wyrd in these parts.

Word hangs on a file that contains data I need to use all the time. It won’t open, apparently because something in that file is awry.

Force-Quit Wyrd.

Try to reload. Wyrd hangs.

Force-Quit. Hangs.

Look up how to keep OSX from auto-reopening files after a crash. The system is already set that way. Look up how to keep Wyrd from reopening files after a crash. You have to get into Word’s Preferences, which means you have to open the program. The program won’t open.

Now I’m beginning to panic. Are the files I’ve been laboring over saved to Time Machine? Check external hard drive: the goddamn thing has somehow disconnected itself! Even though the cable is tightly connected and seems to be operative.

In a word, f-u-c-k.

Get into the iMac. The suspect file, which resides on DropBox, is functional there. Apparently the problem is not a corrupt Wyrd file.

Having force-quit Wyrd yet again, I now manually closed all the rest of the open programs, shut down the computer, and let it sit for a few minutes.

When the computer rebooted, Wyrd loaded normally.

All of which is to say, I suppose, that any file that’s under construction at any given time should be on DropBox, where Time Machine on the iMac will back it up…just in case the MacBook’s external drive mysteriously disconnects itself.


Ah. But that was but the beginning.

The Wyrd file for the book I’ve been working on for the past several days has developed a strange little quirk: on every recto (odd-numbered) page, a little symbol that looks like a dwarfed, compressed paragraph (hard return) mark appears in the upper left-hand corner. The first two lines of copy wrap around this thing, creating an indent.

Weird code 3The book can’t go to print with the first two lines of every other page indented about 1/8 of an inch.

I did not put this character there. I cannot make it go away. It will not delete. There seems to be no way to insert such a thing and no way to get rid of such a thing. A search of the Web with several keyword strings brings up two (2) references to the issue, with no explanation as to what it is and, most to the point, no clue as to how to get rid of it.

Friedman’s Word guru suggests it indicates an anchored image or object in the line above it. I think not: there are no objects or images in the text.

I have done a phenomenal amount of work on this damn thing, and it now appears that if it is to be prepared for print, I’m going to have to type all 325 pages over, from beginning to end!

Along about 10 p.m. last night, it dawned on me that if Wyrd can’t highlight the thing, Word probably can’t copy the thing. So I created a new file in the desired template, highlighted a copied a chapter, and pasted it into the new template.

Hallelujah! It worked.

After a fashion.

This strategy lost a lot of the formatting I spent hours fixing: now I have to go through the whole damn thing and fix a whole new raft of widows, orphans, and loose lines. The small cap formatting reverted to all caps or lc/roman, only Word doesn’t recognize that. Where in the other file I could search all caps and replace with small caps, in this file it thinks the all caps are small caps. So I have to plod through 302 pages again and reapply the small-caps style. The pagination all has to be readjusted to  make chapters appear on recto pages. Running headers/footers have to be redone. Word can no longer read the chapter title styles, so EVERY CHAPTER TITLE has to be restyled!

To wit: most of the three days’ worth of mind-numbing work I did on this thing now has to be done all over again. And then some. But at least I don’t have to retype it from beginning to end. I guess.

I. hate. Word.

5 thoughts on “Work, Interruptus”

  1. Hard to know. Keyboard commands on the Mac are different. The Command key is roughly equivalent to the Ctrl key, but not consistently so. The Ctrl key seems to work most often in conjunction w/ other command keys, including fn, shift, and option. The standard Word commands turn out to be system commands for the Mac, so they don’t work in Wyrd for Mac and you create macros to replicate them at your own risk.

    Command-option-escape will force-quit an application, but that wasn’t the issue. What was needed was a way to force-quit a process within the application, and that wasn’t apparent.

  2. It blows my mind that products that have now been out for decades seemingly still suffer from many of the same pitfalls that they did when they were first out. Gotta love Microsoft!

  3. Every time I read a post where you’re punished by Word I wonder why you keep using it. There are other options. I’m forced to use Word on my work-issued Windows laptop, but on my personal Macbook I use either Open Office or GoogleDocs. Both are free programs, too.

    • Because most of my clients use Word, and because as far as I can tell, none of the alternatives have a redlining system that’s as sophisticated as Wyrd’s.

      And really, I _shouldn’t_ be trying to use it for page layout. Word is not a page layout program. Under the best of circumstances, it doesn’t do a very good job at that.

      I should be using InDesign…except that I’ve taken three courses in InDesign and never mastered it in even the most elementary way.

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