Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is This Blog Dormant?

Maybe this blog is on its last legs. The post below this one is dated two months ago. I couldn't begin to catch you up on the (in)Visible Woman because I barely remember where I've been or what I've done. But maybe I can sort of revive the thing somehow.

I wouldn't like this blogging thing to end up being threatened with extinction. I don't want to be reduced to tweets and facebook comments. So here I am, trying to put together just the kind of recap of life I should avoid and decorating it with (yet another) shop window reflection. [Sur La Table at the Domain with, mirrored, myself and a much larger than life representation of the rare and threatened whooping crane. I wasn't shopping at this store but rather going to, ugh, the Apple Store.]

So...what have I been doing?

Cursing Computers. Yep and all the makers of hardware and software. My vision of sleek systems in my modern apartment has been shattered once and for all. I had outfitted the place with two iMacs, wireless printers and a Time Capsule from Apple, hidden in a cabinet. I was running boot camp on one iMac and FFP was running that with XP. He didn't take to a change to Mac, even for a few moments. We did daily backups wirelessly to the Time Capsule which was also a router. I am running VMWare and XP and Mac OS X. So. Right before we were going on vacation and in the middle of a health crisis for my dad, FFP's iMac started getting errors that looked suspiciously like a hard drive going bad. I made extra backups and tried various things to diagnose it. This computer was purchased eighteen months ago and was initially delivered with a bad hard drive which Apple replaced, taking about ten days to do it. Fortunately we hadn't put it into service at that point but had spent a lot of time configuring it only to get weird errors and finally do a surface scan that showed the hard drive had lots of bad sectors. When I got back from vacation and found a guru to help me deal with this, another problem cropped up before I could get an appointment. The Time Capsule power supply failed. One day it just stopped having a light. I found scores of people on the Web with the same problem with units bought around this time. Desperate to replace the router and backup functions this piece of equipment served to provide, I bought a router and resurrected some ancient USB external drives. Meanwhile I returned the Time Capsule to the Apple Store where they took it in to have their geniuses examine it for life.

My newly-engaged guru came over. Initially I think he thought it was just a matter of a WIN XP installation corruption on the iMac. He put a lot of effort into cleaning things up and we ran a few CHKDSKs which ran forever, finding errors. Finally, on the second visit, it became too sick to boot. At this point I'd put everything on a laptop for FFP to work. This wasn't going to be a great solution for long term not the least because I didn't have good backups in place and the laptop, years and years old, might give up the ghost itself at some point. So we decided, even though the iMac was under warranty, to replace the hard drive ourselves. (That would be the guru doing it. It is at this point that you have to understand that my guru really is an expert and that the Apple Geniuses are so-called to hide the fact that they are pimply-faced nerds with no concept of running a business.)

Apple said they were replacing the Time Capsule. Only they gave me one that was obviously used. Indeed, when I brought it home it also did not work! To receive this non-working product I'd had to sign that they took no responsibility for the loss or breach of my data on the broken one they wouldn't return to me! The 'genius' said breach just meant loss, not that someone might obtain my data. I not so patiently explained that, no, it meant breach and was on a separate line from loss in the lawyerese I was asked to initial. I almost made the kid cry. I didn't feel as bad about that as I should have, probably, him not knowing the meaning of the word breach and all.

So we (my guru actually) swapped the bad Apple (ha!) hard drive with one from Fry's, getting Vista installed (learning curve for moi!) and I bought a new Firewire backup drive for that machine so I could have local backup I trusted more and that would be fast. (I reinstalled my remote backup solutions, got FFP's data on it, etc. after the guru efficiently reinstalled most software.) I finally got a new Time Capsule from Apple but have only put it into service as a LAN drive. Can't trust all backups from all machines to something that the geniuses consider so cavalierly. Indeed, when I was giving them the thing they said "It's OK because you still have the data on your machine!" Well, of course, I had one of their machines failing. And I had generations of backup on it, too, which you don't have on your machine. So, yeah, not impressed.

I ended up getting only one wireless printer to work and the communication among machines isn't working entirely. The guru must come back and give more help. I have more gadgets strewn out where they are visible than I did before. The condo is becoming as messy as my old office. I had to deal with Vista trying to hide things from me about installing external drives and scheduling tasks and endlessly asking me if I started programs, too.

And my love/hate relationship with computers just keeps on. There are more decisions and issues coming. I just can't think about it all now! There's Snow Leopard and how it works with VMWare and whether to upgrade to WIN 7 in October. And then there is replacing software that just barely limps along with XP and will not be tolerated by Vista or WIN 7. I love computers but only when I'm doing something I love. This includes the accounting tasks I do, I love having them automated. It includes writing this blog, surfing for info, using social media. It does not include upgrading, debugging, backing up, diagnosing, buying, returning. Which for the last few weeks was ALL I DID. Or so it seemed. Which may explain why I got surly when I had to change the ink cartridges in the ink jet printer today. I feel like an IT employee who never gets to use computers, only gets abused by them. This long-winded blog entry may stand as evidence to the contrary, of course. Also I tweeted my dissatisfaction with Apple (with a hash tag I made up: #applekoolaid) which caused a lot of strange followers. I must admit that ever time I saw an Apple commercial, it made me mad. And there were a lot of them in the U.S. Open Tennis coverage. (Yeah, I wasted some time watching TV. So sue me!)

Editing Cogent (?) Blog Entries and Stuff that Will Never Be Published. Ideas, nicely expressed and crafted. Written and rewritten. Publish button never pushed. Oh, I haven't done that much of it, but still. I did have some ideas and start blog entries I couldn't wrap up while you've been missing me. (Haven't you?) I have published Austin, Texas Daily Photo daily. Even left a stack to be published while I was on vacation. But this quotidian task is hardly writing or publishing. It is surprisingly hard to find a picture every day, though. And I do try for a paragraph of accurate drivel. Not enough writing has been done in any case although I've started a few things. It would take dedicated time and I'm all interruption these days. Still, the starting to write has taken time.

Paying Too Much Attention to Social Media. Facebook, twitter, news on the WEB, other people's blogs. It's random like a collage. I like collages and I like scanning that stuff. But. Too. Much. Time. And sometimes I respond when someone says something I find stupid or sanctimonious. And that is really a mistake. I craft a comment no one wants to hear. Stupid.

Taking an Idyllic Trip. Portland, OR. August. It's a perfect idea. We've done this several years and the weather has been pretty wonderful. Especially the comparison with Austin and especially this year. When we were gearing up to go, however, Dad started fainting or threatening to faint. So the whole idea and actuality of going was fraught because of Dad's problem which turned out to be critical anemia. Finally, I got him started on iron infusions, lined up a variety of help and support and we went anyway. We did check e-mail but mostly we read books and papers, talked and ate and drank with our friends. We walked among straight fragrant trees and on the beach. And actually saw two movies. Loved them both: "Whatever Works" and "Julie & Julia." It was nice weather and lots of low-key fun.

Buying Gadgets (and not). For months I thought I might get a Smart Phone. My carrier is Sprint. I have a nine-year-old phone. I'm not kidding. It works, though. I thought of getting it replaced with a Blackberry or something. Then, around my birthday I had the idea of trying an iPhone. This wasn't as hard as it could have been since FFP has an AT&T contract. So we got an extra number on his account and got one. Took it on our trip and used it to look at e-mail and such. It was pretty cool really although the battery doesn't last long. FFP liked it enough that he got one for his AT&T phone. I'm still carrying around my Sprint phone, though, because it holds juice longer for just phoning. I've liked the iPhone though, truthfully, although I'd have burned it in longer before getting FFP one, but he wanted one and there you go.

For the longest, I wanted to buy a vacuum and a toaster oven. We'd given up some old ones and promised ourselves new ones in the condo. I kept borrowing a vacuum from a friend who is a condo neighbor and we got by with just the pop-up toaster and the microwave. Today, though, I bought these things. You know what? I hate having to unpack and figure out this stuff. But I did.

Still glad I never bought a GPS gadget or a Netbook. The iPhone serves pretty well for these needs. I guess I should have waited for the vacuum and toaster oven apps! And I wish I hadn't had to go buy a new router and backup drive thanks to Apple's gadget failure.

Being a Child. No really the child of the parent who has no one else. And assisting occasionally with FFP's, too. It's never enough.

No matter how much time I spend with my dad or working on his affairs I feel like it's not enough or I feel incompetent at it. I feel guilty about not helping FFP's parents more, too.

The whole situation of being their support system also gives us pause vis-a-vis our desire to travel more, too. In the last year and a half, my dad has had a crisis before or during our three trips. Fortunately we were here for the latest crisis at my in-laws when a tree limb took out their electric meter and left them without electricity for over two days while electricians worked and the city took their sweet time to inspect the results. It was interesting how deftly they lived without electricity (they refused to leave). It was maddening that the city took them to task on other improvement paperwork that was incomplete...from decades ago! Would that the city did their own work so carefully.

Reading. Read Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs. Mostly on the trip. Excellent book spanning generations, continents and characters and yet seeming intimate at every moment. I was reading, when I last reported to Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. In an amusing cosmic twist I lost track of this book and spent a couple of days puzzling over where it was until I remembered putting it in a briefcase to take when I took Dad to an appointment. Probably should read that soon. I am hopelessly behind on my newspapers. Still I spend lots of time reading them.

Cleaning. It's never enough. Himself does certain things. I feel guilty about when and how I clean. By the time I've made it through what would be the 'last' task (say cleaning the kitchen) the 'first' task (say cleaning the master bath) needs doing again. Will it help that I no longer have to go borrow a vacuum?

Puzzling Over life and, well, crosswords and Ken-Ken. I find crosswords irresistible. I tackle the NY Times on Sunday through Wednesday and sometimes Thursday. I'll do the one in the local rag most any day. Their difficulty doesn't vary by day. The Times has started running Ken-Ken and I find myself drawn to these as well. I know I waste time on these. I can't help myself, though. Maybe there is a Twelve (Across/Down) Step program for it.

Tennis. It's one constant. Well, when I'm not traveling. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I get out there in the morning with one stalwart 75-plus-year-old woman and various otherladies to play round robin doubles. It isn't exercise really (which I desperately need more of) but it's fun. And a constant. For the last few weeks the added morning activity of taking my dad for iron infusions on Fridays has meant getting up and at it four days a week. Almost like a real person with a job.

Fretting over what I'm not Doing. I need to get rid of more stuff. I need to organize stuff at my dad's. It was good to see my nieces leave with a few things. I need to get control of everything. I don't work and how hard can it be? Well, it takes time to fret about that, it does.

Socializing. We had the first black tie event of the year. The Ballet Austin Fete was held in the still-under-construction Austonian. We are always going to other little events, eating out. We celebrated my birthday with a nice gathering with music. It's the rare evening that is empty on our calendar and then we seem to find a bar or restaurant to spend it in. This was what we envisioned, I think, for retirement and downtown. But sometimes I think I should stay home more. And, you know, write, create, clean, organize.

Watching People Work and Play. This is an easy thing to fall into from a tenth-floor perch. I find myself out on the balcony or in my chair, watching earth movers (at the court house site), cranes moving (at Austonian and the W) and destruction (at the decommissioned Green Water treatment plant). Also sometimes just watch people coming and going from the nearby venues, out on the town, gong to dance class at the Butler Dance Ed. Center, just wandering in my neighborhood. Like Chance in "Being There": I like to watch. It almost seems like I'm getting work done or going out myself. Only I'm not watching it on TV.

Yeah, that's been me...and I hope you were doing something momentous yourself whilst I was gone!


Louis said...

It's good to have you back, Visible Woman!

Linda Ball said...

It's good to have a reader.

jerry of dallas said...

Same here.

deb said...

Just when I'd almost given up!

And you had to add that last line, huh? Momentous? Here? You are joking, right?

Linda Ball said...

Dog (or is it God?) is in the small things. In other words, momentous is in the eye of the beholder.

deb said...

Guess I'm not beholding much, lol.