Thursday, February 17, 2011

Elvis has left the building

Every year I treat myself to some new business toy - a new printer or computer or fancy shelving or pricey wall decor. Three years ago I replaced my five year old Dell computer with another Dell. The machine bought in 2003 was having compatibility problems with some of the newer hardware components and software programs and face it, five years is a long time to ride one computer.

Unfortunately, I picked the window of time (early 2008) during which computers only came with the Vista operating system. Blissfully ignorant of the trouble ahead, Ricky assembled my new computer and began moving software and data from old to new. After about fifteen hours of trial and effort, nearly everything worked. We had come "this close" to giving up and paying the restocking fee. But like many things in life, the more time spent getting the computer to work, the harder it was to cut our losses.

There were some programs and a printer that absolutely would not work with Vista. But my tax season was already fast and furious, so I made do. There were constant issues and a steady stream of Vista updates that fixed some problems while creating more.

We were miserable - the "we" being me constantly tearing my hair out over computer induced work stoppages and Ricky having to listen to my wails and be my IT guy while I hovered. I'm not a patient hoverer.

As the year progressed, Microsoft, admitting to its Vista disaster, began re-offering the XP operating system for new computers as they worked on a replacement for Vista. Fat lot of good it did me.

In surrender, I bought another new computer in early 2009 - an Apple laptop I used along with a desktop monitor. It has been much more stable on our home network and with the Intel chip, I could run my Windows based business software successfully.........for a while.

Approaching a critical deadline, the Apple hard drive crashed last summer and had to be replaced. Fortunately, I had my data backed up, but the Windows stuff never worked quite as well from then on. Meanwhile, Windows 7 released with good reviews. I put Windows 7 on the stupid Vista computer and got it back in business.

For the past six months, I've run all my tax software on the Windows 7 computer and my email and Office programs (Word, Excel) on the Apple. The two are networked, so that's all good.

It's kinda' like having two monitors with one computer. eyes are tired of the small laptop screen. I'm constantly shuffling keyboards and mice and could use more space on my desk. And good grief, keeping up with the cords is a job itself.
My little corner of the world
I have decided to put everything I use at work back on the Dell computer, including email and Office so that I will have one computer and one keyboard and will use two desktop size monitors.

Anticipating the laborious process of converting email, loading programs and getting everything working efficiently, I started thinking about this now three year old Dell computer. That's like fifty something human years.

Bottom line - I ordered a new computer, with the features I need and speed I can count on. And in this world of strange marketing, it was actually cheaper to customize a package deal they were offering with a monitor than to buy the same system without a monitor. So I will have two (nearly) new large monitors instead of one large and one medium. (Pizza, anyone?)

Ordered a few days ago, today it shipped!

The strange things that delight me - I can't wait for Elvis to arrive.

The Department of Redundancy Department

I'm trying to work this morning, but concrete saws have been going for hours just outside my office window. I feel like I'm two hours in to a dentist appointment of non-stop drilling. My ears are ringing.

Our house is on a corner. Workers are shaving off the curbs recently installed along the intersecting sidewalks.

A month ago we had neighborhood sidewalks which sloped to the street at every intersection, allowing easy movement for pedestrians, strollers, bikes, skates and the rarely seen wheelchair. Several years earlier, most offending sidewalks, those that required a step-off, had been replaced. So we have had politically correct, ADA approved sidewalks for some time.

A couple of months ago city crews began going through the neighborhood, tearing out corner sidewalks and replacing the concrete, rebar and slope with new concrete, rebar and slope. They added a doormat sized textured section near the street and added about two feet of curbing in each direction. Today they're lowering the curbing.

Essentially our city is spending months of man hours digging holes and filling holes.

Stimulus dollars at work.

My head is about to explode.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 4

At least the dogs enjoy the weather. After three days of ice, with temperatures staying in the teens, a layer of snow arrives to top it all off.

It's another day of school closings. Never in my fifty something years have I had four straight days of school closings. But it's the right call - the school parking lots and drives are still covered in thick sheets of solid ice.

My boys have gone a little stir crazy. Brian actually went to work yesterday, but the office was virtually empty. In desperation, today he entertained himself with the remote control to his new ceiling fan, running around the house to see how far away he can be and still turn his light off and on. His room is designed such that the regular light switch is outside his door. Now he can get in bed or sit at his desk and control the light. Sometimes it's the simple things that mean the most.

Wiley has gone for walks and enjoyed taking his car on short errands. We even let him drive a couple of blocks.

But mostly we're trying to appreciate the change of pace and ignore the endless Super Bowl hype.

A week for the record books, that's for sure.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rolling, rolling, rolling

It's the second day of the ice storm of 2011, the storm that left 2-3 inches of solid ice on all driving surfaces and temperatures in the single digits. It's still not as bad as the Oklahoma blizzard of 2009, the difference being this time I am comfortably at home (except for needing Bob Cratchit gloves.)

And now I have to admit to the downside of working at home. Everybody else had a "snow day" yesterday. For Ricky, Kelly, Brian and Wiley there was no school, no jobs, just pajamas (although Kelly had to dress twice as her delayed start became a more delayed start and finally no start at all). Meanwhile, I completed several tax returns and two loads of laundry and even made it to the local close-out store for its 8:00 am opening (Hunter ceiling fans at half price!) Ricky and I made it to the hockey game last night in downtown Dallas. The highways were fairly clear, unlike all the side streets and parking lots. The friends we went with drove us in their big, comfy, 4-wheel drive SUV. We had our choice of seating in the arena.

Today more businesses are open, but no schools. The temperature is hovering around 10 degrees, with scheduled power outages to keep up with demand. The electric company doesn't like the term "rolling blackout." We've had two outages so far this morning, a little tough on computers and internet, so I'm now getting a bit of a snow day.

I always wonder, in a weather event like this, if the world can get by with delayed starts and temporary closings every now and then, why don't we schedule them more often?

At my daughter's new job, she usually finishes the day's assignment in about three quarters of the allotted time. Most jobs and activities are replete with scheduled breaks and time off and cushions for delays and allowances for the lowest common denominator.

Instead, I suggest we all protest and demand a 30 or 35 hour work week.

Work hard, play hard! My favorite motto.