The Holding Pattern Hostility.

I am currently on hold with Time Warner Cable. Our internet is down again and has been down since 0600 this morning. The lights are indicating that the modem is not receiving a signal. We have rebooted everything multiple times. I even had Jamie boot random household appliances just to be safe. The dryer is working just fine, by the way.

Time Warner is obsessed with rebooting the modem. I understand the reason for their obsession but their new phone automation system gives you just three simple steps to reboot the modem and then refuses to do anything else until you have hung and called back after rebooting the modem. Oh, quick tip, screaming WHY????? at the drugged out robot woman doesn’t help. And I don’t know what kind of computer she is doing her informational lookups on, but it sounds like she’s banging on an IBM Selectric with her elbows and waiting for the ticker tape to punch an appropriate number of holes. Perhaps that’s why she sounds stoned.

I tried to avoid calling into Time Warner completely by using their chat system on my alternate Internet connection. I did this on two occasions, Matt first told me that my modem was no longer registered. I did it again when John told me that he couldn’t help me and that I would have to call an escalated support level with a case number.

And that’s why I’m on hold.

~~~

I have just finished the call.

“Hi Christopher, I was told to call this number. I have a case number if that will help.”

“The case number doesn’t really do much for us, what’s your home phone number?”

Mind you, the stoned woman looked up my account and determined who I was, where I was and what I wanted using her IBM Selectric all based on my phone number and then automagically transferred me to Christopher, who needed my home phone number to proceed any further.

Oh, he needed the last four digits of my social security number. Not to sound overly hostile, I avoided the “it’s none of your business” standard response that I usually use and opted to append my four digits with, “I look forward to Time Warner supplementing my governmental entitlements since they have my social security number for no reason since it’s not legally an identification number.” My digits are my business.

Christopher took a hit from robo-woman’s bong and said, “Wha?”

Christopher told me to reboot the modem. I blinked my eyes rapidly for five seconds and I said “all done.” He said that I did good (even though I was 56 miles from the modem, sitting in the Jeep near work) and that he did see that I had rebooted the modem but he couldn’t get the modem to respond. I thanked him for the encouragement and worked my blinking eyes into a samba with a twitching nose. It’s all about the magic, apparently.

Christopher then asked if we had done anything with the modem recently. I resisted the urge to say that many kinky things happen in our basement but none of them involved the cable modem and instead I opted to say that no, it’s just been sitting there doing its thing.

He determined that a tech needed to come out to the house. I braced myself for their next available date being in 2014 but was very surprised to learn that they would be out to the house today between 3 and 5 p.m.

Good thing we have people at home today!

I thanked Christopher for his time by offering him a cookie. He politely declined but said that if no one showed up not to panic because they’d be there some time.

While it is very obvious that I am thoroughly a geek, I don’t know how obvious it is that I DESPISE internet connectivity failures. As one of our more expensive luxuries at The Manor (we pay for the “Ultimate Internet Experience” which equates to pr0n without video hesitation), I expect our service to be up and running 99.99999% of the time. If Ma Bell could keep dial tone to the farther reaches of our country in middle of the last century and meet that uptime criteria, there is no reason that 21st Century technology can not follow that precedent. Like Steve Jobs, I expect perfection from my technology and I am vastly disappointed when my expectations are not met.

Let’s hope that the repairman is on time and helpful.

The Bike Ride Anticipation.

It looks like this coming weekend might give me the opportunity to hit the road on my bike for the first time this season. I am really anxious to get out there and go for a ride in the countryside; it’s good for both my physical and mental health. It’s almost meditative; I lose myself in my breathing (as it echoes in my head) and my head quiets down.

My goal is to do a 100 mile ride before Memorial Day. I have a lot of training to do.

The Way to a Good Day.

I have been listening to political radio during my commutes for a while. I figured that as a responsible American, I should be well informed as to what is going on inside the Beltway and find out who is vying for the big chair in the Oval Office during the 2012 presidential elections.

I have decided that this contributed to what I now call “My Winter of Darkness”. Now granted, Earl and I had some stuff going on this past winter with the death of our fathers and I needed time to grieve properly and find my way through all of that. And heaping the chaos of Washington into the mix certainly didn’t help matters. At all.

So this morning I decided to go back to what I used to do, and that’s find a great song on the radio and to crank it up as I drove along the back roads to the office. My father never listened to talk radio. He read the newspaper, he watched news broadcasts, but he wasn’t a talk radio kind of guy. Before we had our first FM radio in the family vehicle, we listened to 62 WHEN, a Top 40 station out of Syracuse. Mom occasionally listened the local pickin’ and grinnin’ country station, but Dad always had WHEN turned on whenever he drove somewhere. It was a good radio station and listening to songs that I remember from that station remind me of sitting in the back seat of the ’71 Heavy Chevy we had. I think listening to radio back and forth to work, and everywhere else we went, contributed to my dad’s seemingly constant happiness.

I need to remember that.

So I listened to 70s on 7 on my way into work this morning and so far it has been a stellar day. I’m smiling, I’m trying to make the smile infectious and quite frankly, it feels much better than worrying about what political idiot is doing something politically asinine today.

The First Sweet Sixteen.

Sixteen years ago today I went on my first date with a very handsome man named Earl. Now I know that I sound like Gloria from “Modern Family” because I am mentioning the anniversary of our first date. And even though it has been 16 years since that first date, which included a very long ride through the mountains of Vermont, chatting as we got to know each other, I still smile when I think about getting to know what love was all about as we talked and laughed and cried in my little 1994 Hyundai Excel. His hand on my knee was a natural right from the very start. And while I have love for several in our life, there’s no one that can make me see fireworks or make my heart flutter like my husband can.

The journey feels like it started just yesterday and I’m still smiling because of that day on 4/13/1996.

I am such a hopeless romantic. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Increased Sanity Approach.

A couple of days ago, my internet friend Séan tweeted about an article that talked about 15 things you should do to make your life happier (or something like that). Here’s a link to the article.

The basic gist of the article is that we should stop worrying about what others think about us. Much of what we do that results in stressing ourselves out involves doing something that doesn’t resonate quite right because we are doing whatever we’re doing in order to make someone else happy because we are worried about what they think about us. (As a quick aside, I apologize to all of my English teachers in high school for the hideous syntax I just used to construct that sentence. I don’t think I left anything dangling but sometimes I write the way my brain processes something and we all know about the organized chaos I have up there).

Anyways, since reading that article, thinking about it and having a good discussion about it with Earl, I have come to the realization that it’s absolutely on target. I have made a conscious effort to not worry about what others may think about me in a variety of situations and it has markedly lowered my stress level. So I got a little more ‘ranty’ than usual on a conference call yesterday. I got my point across (using sentence construction much like that paragraph that precedes this one) and things are happening that need to be happening now on one of my work projects.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t be walking around with a mustache the size of a small country if I truly cared what people think about me, but there are some things here and there that I am self-conscious about and this has slowed me down and deterred my original path in the past. Dropping the charade of trying to impress and just doing my thing because it’s true to me has lowered my blood pressure and put a bigger smile on my face.

And if people notice a bigger smile, then they can share the happiness I’m feeling. And that’s always a good thing.

The Smiling Response.

So in an email exchange with Earl today I mentioned that the world feels like a better place when you smile and deliberately seek out a positive attitude. This has been my approach to the chaos littering my day today and so far it has been working brilliantly. Let’s hope this trend continues.

At work we have basically replaced all the tools that the technicians need to do their job. New phones, new monitoring systems, new ticketing system, all of it is new. It’s as if you picked up a 30 year veteran that ran the same cash register system at Ames for all those years and plopped behind a completely different cash register at Sears and told them to do their job. People are feeling disoriented and this makes them a little cranky.

Smile and the world smiles with you. Take it with a grain of salt. Frustration leads to folks saying things in the heat of the moment. Once you remember that, you can continue with your day and find a way to solve the problem at hand. This approach has been working for me.

I just keep smiling.

The Pocket Lining Manifestation.

So it’s been all over the news outlets since yesterday afternoon, Facebook bought the photo sharing app Instagram for ONE BILLION dollars. Notice I did not say the Instagram “website”. Instagram has relatively little presence on the web; the only way to share photos is via the Instagram app on an iPhone and since last week, an Android device. Instagram had no revenue stream. Users don’t pay to use the service, ads do not appear in the apps. Users simply snap a photo or choose a photo that’s already on their phone, Instagram crops it to a square size, users can apply an artsy or nifty filter if they want and then they post their photo to the Instagram service. Anyone can comment on it or indicate that they like the photo. Users can include hashtag keywords (#keyword) for searching purposes. Instagram also gives the user the option of sending the photo to other services such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

The creator of Instagram had no formal programming training; he’s a marketer that figured out how to build the apps during his off hours. The app has been a hit with iPhone users since it’s inception. I have a ton of photos on their myself.

No revenue stream + very successful app with a large userbase = one billion dollars. It’s 21st century economics! It kind of reminds me of the dot com bubble of the late 90s.

Now first of all, I have to congratulate the folks behind Instagram for making such a fantastic deal. Selling something that was created in this fashion for one billion dollars is a transaction for the history books. Well done.

The folks at Facebook say that they’re going to keep the app separate from Facebook and let it continue to do its thing. However, I have a hunch that there will be some serious data mining going on in regards to the user base; that’s how the folks at Facebook make money, data mining user activities for advertising purposes. Targeted advertising is all the rage and to recoup one BILLION dollars and make a profit one has to do a lot of targeted advertising.

Can’t say that I’m a fan of the motivation, but I am impressed by the transaction. The Facebook acquisition of Instagram will probably affect my use of Instagram. I get creeped out when Facebook offers to sell me a product based on the fact that I searched for a similar product well outside the confines of the Facebook garden. I don’t mind it as much from Google because Google is in the search business and 98% of the time, I’m using Google to search for something on the internet. It makes sense to me when Google offers me a product similar to something I was looking for because I used their product to do my search. But I have never searched for mustache wax on Facebook, yet Zuck and friends are now suggesting to me (through advertising) mustache wax, a bikini wax, shaving soap and a free skin care consultation at a high end department store. With all the photos I have taken over the years and shared on the Instagram, I’m expecting advertising suggestions for cat food, copper to make powerlines and a smattering of random products simply because of the random nature of my photos. I have to say, I’m not a fan.

I really liked Instagram and I have enjoyed chatting with folks on there and admiring the photography of others through the site. It’s kind of sad that I feel like I have to reevaluate my use of the service now because of the new overlords.

As I said on my Twitter feed this morning

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The Conversation Spin Agitation.

“The washer isn’t spinning!” Some would claim that I sounded hysterical, I but was just yelling over the sound of the washing machine endlessly tumbling our bed linens (doesn’t the song go, “I’m not talking about the linens and I don’t want to change your life”) while the display had showed 0:08 remaining for the past 35 minutes.

Our new washing machine has a bit of a feisty streak. In order to show off his full 1200 RPMs when he’s doing his spinning thing, things have to be perfectly aligned and balanced. And in this world of chaos, this last year of the Mayan calendar, apparently finding the perfect alignment and balance of two sheets, two pillow cases and a blanket is a very difficult thing to do. So instead of tweeting, beeping or sending a smoke signal (we didn’t go with the high end model of the washer), the washer just sits there tumbling at random speeds trying to shuffle the contents of the tub around until balance perfection can be achieved.

Perhaps we need to shove all of the politicians into a Speed Queen and push a button to restore balance inside the Beltway.

I digress.

Ok, perhaps I was slightly hysterical when I loudly declared (I don’t have all the options either) that the washer was stuck on 0:08 again. But the thing is, it’s my bed time. And in order for the bed sheets to be dry at a reasonable time, the washer has to fling them around at its full 1200 RPM in order for them to dry in the dryer at a reasonable speed. You see, I refuse to sleep in the cat’s discarded cat bed again. And we don’t talk about the litter box incident in our house.

After hauling the wet clothes out of the washer, rearranging them, waving some crystals in the direction of this tower of laundry apparatus and then doing a rapid hula dance as I pushed some buttons and made some encouraging whirring noises, I begged the washer to spin at high speed so Daddy could get some sleep. Because I can speak “washer”, the door locked, unlocked, locked, unlocked and then locked again before the tub spun counter clockwise, clockwise and then ramped up to 500 RPM. This showed encouragement. The counter finally dropped itself down to 0:07 and we hit medium speed 800 RPM. If there was a clutch pedal I would have popped it into sixth because it was less than a minute later that we reached high speed goodness and the washer kicked into high. We had full 1200 RPM, baby, and to prove this the dryer that is perched on top of the washer wagged a little dance back and forth and the cat shot into his litter box, flung some litter around and then went tearing down the hallway to tell the Papa Bear.

Life is good when your sheets are clean. They’re not only good, they’re hysterically good.

The Back Way Home.

So Earl and I spent the weekend visiting my in-laws. It was a very nice visit as we had the opportunity to just sit down and talk with your relatives, which is something we haven’t done in a while. It was a nice change of pace. A bonus feature was that we went and checked out the new casino in Bensalem, Pa. At the old Philadelphia Park, the new casino is called Parx. I lost some money on slots but Earl made up for it and then some. He’s definitely the skilled gambler of the family.

Normally for Easter Earl and I made the occasion our first picnic of the year, but because we were on the road headed home from our visit, we didn’t have a picnic basket or any of the items necessary to make it a fun picnicking experience. So instead of bolting straight home via interstate, we came up through the Catskills and took the back roads to get home. The weather was rather enjoyable (though not as warm as it was a month ago). We talked and laughed as we made our way up and down the hills and through the valleys. We ended up stopping at a diner that we enjoy in the small city of Oneonta, The Neptune Diner. They were open for Easter and did not have a need for reservations. Earl had turkey, I had chicken marsala. Both were enjoyable.

It was a good way to celebrate this springtime holiday and to get ourselves grounded for the work week. Thinking about the day together makes me smile. And that’s what’s important.

Smiling.

The Debate Discussion Revelation.

So last night Earl and I talked about my feelings on the Affordable Health Care Act, and after much ranting, glaring, yelling and steaming, there was education on my behalf.

I am married to one smart cookie. I should know better than to try and debate a man that went to school for political science. I barely made it through Mrs. Catella’s social studies class in high school.

I’m still not a fan of the government telling me what to do. The problem is society. I strongly believe in personal responsibility and lazy people that think that the world owes them something make me angry. But just because they’re lazy and unproductive doesn’t mean that they’re not worthy of health care. Everyone deserves health care, even if it’s because that have sat on their ass drinking gin at noon and staring at Facebook all day playing “Jewels Be Woo Woo” or something other abuse of technology. And, as a quick aside, let’s not confuse “lazy and unproductive” with “unable to be productive”.

Even though I’m not a fan of the government telling me that I must have some sort of health insurance or be penalized, I now realize that this may be the best solution for an all around crappy scenario. I get that now. And I have my husband to thank for that.

I don’t have a better answer to this problem so who am I to judge? Just do good, live a good life and love one another. That’s all I got.