Tag Archives: computer

Giving Thanks, Sporadic Service, Timeout for Art…and a List or So

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That’s a long title, so let me jump right in, here. My internet has been awful for more than twenty-four hours, now. I think it’s the internet service, due to the behavior of the little circle of dots that goes around when the computer is working on something: the dots are moving very slowly, and somewhat erratically. Then they disappear, the screen freezes up, the keyboard doesn’t work and – my go-to solution – control/alt/delete does not even function properly. I’ve managed to do a couple restarts, which also didn’t repair the problem, and twice had to just manually turn the machine off. Things I’ve tried, and have  been unable to do:

  • Watch the Thanksgiving episode of This is Us
  • Respond to comments on WordPress
  • Play on-line Scrabble
  • Download photographs from my camera
  • Check the weather
  • Do a Google search
  • Connect with the scanner

That is on top of not being able to switch from a slow or non-working application to any other, not being able to work the keys, etc., etc.

So, my art offering, I’m sorry, is a poor, blurry photograph that happens to be already on the computer. This is actually quite a nice collagraph print, though hard to tell from the photo.

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My post yesterday, about the JFK assassination, brought a few interesting responses that I have been unable to answer. My friend Bob said he had also not seen coverage of the anniversary of the tragedy. Lisa mentioned that the news also didn’t seem to be covering the hurricane currently threatening Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I’ve been frustrated at the lack of national news coverage of the peaceful protests going on at Standing Rock. I started thinking about what I have learned. Now, I don’t have television, but I do go to several news sites on the computer. Without going back to refresh my memory, these are the news items that stuck with me:

  • There was a meeting in Washington D.C. of alt-right conservatives (who, according to some reports, are neo-Nazis with a better name) who ended the meeting by raising their arms in the Nazi salute and shouting “Hail Trump.” Trump later, when asked, denounced their actions. That brought mixed responses, some sounding disgruntled that he had distanced himself, others saying that was to be expected, and others saying that he is still more in line with their beliefs than anyone else at that level.
  • Trump is looking at appointing the young, female governor of South Carolina to a Cabinet-level position.
  • Ellen DeGeneres received a high honor from the president (this was actually news I was pleased to learn).
  • A horrific school bus crash in Tennessee left several children dead.
  • Kanye West, oh, my god. I knew he was a singer, married to Kim Kardashian, with two children named North and Saint, and that he went into some kind of a rant to Taylor Swift at a music awards show several years ago. That, alone, is way more information than I need to have about Kanye West! And yet, in the last couple days, I’ve also learned that he is a rap singer, that he went into another rant, walked off a stage after arriving late for his performance, cancelled a tour, was later brought by ambulance to a hospital where he has been diagnosed with some kind of mental breakdown. Due, I think, to dehydration and stress…possibly due to the robbery of his wife in Paris last month (where she was attending fashion week…does it never stop???).

That’s it; that’s all I can remember of the news I’ve seen. Some things I’d like to know:

  • What is the weather now, off the coast of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and how are they braced for the storm?
  • What is going on with that Keystone Pipeline, and is there hope of stopping it? On a social media site, I’ve seen support for the peaceful protesters – who are trying, merely, to ensure the quality of their water and preserve what little reservation land they have, including ancestral burial grounds –  coming from all corners of the globe. I’ve seen photos of the protesters being arrested, attacked by dogs, placed in cages, shot with rubber bullets and fire hoses…will it ever stop? Is Obama working on this? Is there something that can be done (and then I ask, that cannot be undone by the next administration?)? Is this making the news?
  • And what, dear god, is going on, now, in Aleppo?

In my small world here on Beaver Island, I am thankful. Though it’s a cold and drizzly day, the weather is not life-threatening. I have my heater going and am cozy inside. Though I care deeply about injustice and tragedy, I am able to turn away from it, when it gets too much to bear. For some people in this world, that is their reality, and there is no turning away. My biggest problems, this morning, are the three pounds I’ve gained since the weather turned cold, and my sporadic internet service. I know how lucky I am to be able to say that.

 

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Internet Frustrations and Family Joy

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Well, starting with the joy: My sisters and their families have been arriving on Beaver Island for the last two days. Nearly every single ferry has produced more loved ones coming down the stairs from the upper deck to the dock. I am relishing every single smiling face, each hug, every conversation, each child that has grown too much since I last saw them, all the updates on  family members and friends whether here or not. As an added bonus, Aunt Katie was a guest at our family dinner last night, as well as cousin Bob and his love, Joanne. Though they all live here on Beaver Island, my life is such that I rarely get a chance to visit with any of them for more than a moment in this busy time of year.

On to frustration: Unable to fall back asleep after waking up to let the big dog out at 2AM, I decided to work on the computer. Sometimes a little work and a cup of tea is all I need to put me back in sleeping mode. No internet connection! I tried first one computer, then the other. I tried all the things I know to do to troubleshoot the problem: reset the wireless modem, run through all the computer connections, retype the connection and key codes, restart, then start over…Nothing. I went back to bed. I lay there, stewing about it.

“Too much money for an internet connection that fails too often,” I thought. “I should keep track of all the outages and bill them for time lost!”

Too angry to fall asleep, I got up and tried again…and then again. By the time morning was actually here, I’d clocked maybe a total of four hours sleep. As soon as I had coffee in hand, I dialed up the service provider, pushed the correct buttons for yes, technical support, yes, wireless connection, no, thank you, to Spanish language and finally got a human on the line. She led me through all the things I had already tried, plus a couple others.

“Your modem has failed,” she told me, “we will send you a new modem.”

Then followed a question and answer period about my physical address, and whether I wanted to pay for second-day air or settle for free 3 to 5 day delivery. Followed by my meager attempts to have them ship it quickly for free, as I need the internet and pay well for it. She explained the difference between a server problem and a software problem, and kindly refused to consider it. I opted for free delivery, thinking I was going to have to make good use of the library’s computers for my business and my blog over the next several days.

Then, once off the telephone, I turned the other computer back on…and it connected, no problem. Well!  I’m letting them send the new modem. I’m keeping it, as a back-up, in case this ever happens again. Meanwhile, without the other computer, I do not have access to my photographs, which explains the picture that has absolutely nothing to do with the post. That’s less of an issue than I thought I was faced with today!

This Tuesday

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This Tuesday, being fairly certain that I have worn thin the kindness of readers who have endured recitals of my moment-to-moment activities combined with editorial grumblings, I am going back to Writing Exercises.

For this purpose, I signed up for a newsletter that promised me 31 Writing Prompts. In order to retrieve the free download, one must only click on a link to confirm the Email address. Doing that, I am beamed over to an infomercial that wants money to improve my writing career, signed up for the daily newsletter, and presented with a PDF file of 31 Writing Prompts, as promised. I “X” my way out of the infomercial and open the file.

The prompts are long. They start with a little dialog, an inspiring quote or two, a few examples and then a suggestion for what to write about. I feel like I’d do better with some of that direction right in front of me. I cannot “copy” and “paste” from a PDF file. By the time I save and close the file, and get to this page, I feel like I have lost the gist of the suggestion.

I try to go back, for a more thorough reading. I can’t find it! This new computer is wonderful, but it is also mysterious. It does not have a “start” button that would – on my old computer – lead to choices like “documents,” “downloads,” “pictures” and “shut down.” I’d had this computer a month before I figured out how to properly turn it off! I can’t find and retrieve things that I’ve downloaded. Of course, I always believe that if I sit here trying for long enough, I will figure it out. So far, that has not proved to be true.

I go back to the inbox in my Email. I reopen the message with the special offer. I click on the link to verify my Email address. I am again transported to the infomercial, signed up for the daily mailing and given the PDF file. I still can’t seem to retain the information. I still can’t copy and paste, or even toggle back and forth from that file to my empty page. I try again.

I have now gone through these activities three times. Perhaps you can guess the results. I am now receiving three identical newsletters each day, with tiny helpful hints, but mostly encouraging me to watch and listen to that infomercial, and to purchase other writing aids. Somewhere, in this mysterious computer, I have three identical PDF files of writing prompts, which may or may not be of value. I don’t know; I only read the first one. If I want to see more, I’ll have to download it again.

In the future, I’m going to be doing some form of writing exercises on Tuesdays. Maybe I’ll get ideas from What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. That’s where the ideas for writing about my addresses came from. Maybe from another of the many books I have on the shelf with direction for writers. It is very doubtful that any ideas will come from that missing PDF file of 31 Writing Prompts. Life is too short.

 

Traveling

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Yesterday was crazy.

My list was long and diverse.

I had to “copy and paste” several blog entries to Wordpad, and mail them to myself so that I could print them out when I was in town (I no longer have a printer). Then I had to take them to the Community Center to read them into a microphone, to be broadcast on our little radio station (WVBI…”the voice of Beaver Island,” found on Beaver Island at 100.1 FM, and worldwide at http://www.wvbi.net). My appointment was at noon.

By two o’clock, I had to be at the County garage, to catch up with the head of our road crew. I interviewed him for the news magazine, and wanted to give him the chance to correct any fallacies in the article before we go to press.

I had laundry to finish: dark clothes in the dryer to be folded; towels to be dried.

Clean house, keeping in mind that whatever I neglect will be there, a black mark on my happy homecoming, when I get back next week.

Because, yes, I am traveling. I’m going to Connecticut, to introduce myself to my tiny new great-grandson, Lincoln, to see the parents: my oldest grandson, Michael, and his love, Samantha. Grandchildren Madeline and Tommy will be there for good company on the long drive. My daughter Kate and her husband Jeremy will share the driving, so I don’t have to worry about that.

Good thing, as I had enough to worry about!

I had to pack – secretly, so the little dog wouldn’t notice – clothes for this variable weather (which means layers!) that would be suitable for out to dinner or other excursions, comfortable for travel, plentiful enough so I won’t have to consider laundry and compact enough to fit into one small suitcase. Then, of course, there are the other rules for clothing: nothing binding; doesn’t make me look fat, or short; doesn’t make me look old trying to look youthful…but doesn’t look like grandmother clothes. Finally, everything must match, or at least coordinate, so that I can make last minute variations to planned outfits.

Then there is everything else that needs to come with me. Credit cards (check balances beforehand!), books, notebook, camera, sketchpad. Appropriate writing instruments. Yarn and crochet hooks, because I am at the last possible moment finishing a gift for the new baby. Medicine. Make-up. A special reminder to remember tweezers and the small magnifying mirror, as it is discouraging to have that annoying chin whisker make an appearance when I am hundreds of miles from home.

I had to spend time with sweet Rosa Parks, who will (my heart breaks) spend the next seven days in the doggie kennel. I had to give her lots of loving attention, without being so over-the-top that she’d know something was going on. Because I cannot tolerate those sad eyes, that reproachful stare…

I had to schedule my flight and call my sister with an approximate time of arrival. I’ll have an overnight at her house before we head out.

I had to take time to see Aunt Katie, to bring her up to date on my travel itinerary, get the car keys and last minute instructions.

I had to figure out my blog. At this time, I am toggling between two computers. The archaic one, that is about to become obsolete, is the one I understand. I can easily download pictures onto it, I know how to hook the scanner to it, and I can predict it’s behavior. The new one, which I’m sure is capable of doing everything the other one does, is still alien to me. I don’t know how to download photos from my camera; I’m not sure how it works with the scanner; the keys often seem to be a little bit off to the left. Foolish to pack two computers, when even one may not fit in the car for the trip.

I worried I wouldn’t find opportunity to write.  Do I want to pull away from rare enough time with loved ones to get my daily blog published? Do I want to shelve it for a week? The answer to both is NO! One solution I thought of was writing a weeks worth of blogs before I left. That might have been workable if I’d thought of it before my last – too busy already – day at home. So, I’m going to compromise.

First, I am putting the address series on hold until I get back. We’ll just pause, at Corner #16, with no great drama, until I’m back home. I loaded a bunch of photos to the WordPress site, so I’ll have access to them when I’m away. I am cutting corners: while I’m traveling, these 500-words-a-day are not going to happen. But I’ll still check in with a daily post.

So, that’s how yesterday went, full of worry and preparation.

Today, I’m off!

 

This Night…

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I was up this morning and ready to write.

My computer was not cooperating.

I’m having technology issues.

Last week, my good computer – the newer one, that had been my sister Nita’s, and that has the design software loaded onto it – started beeping at me whenever I turned it on. It beeped rather than turn on. It continued to do it no matter how many times I turned it off and on.

“Count the beeps,” a friend told me, “That is part of Dell’s self-diagnostics. Then google it to find out what that number of beeps means. Could be something simple.”

Well! My emotions were all over the place, at hearing that! I was upset, of course, that something was wrong; I was hopeful that it would be something simple. I was relieved at having a second computer – the old one that had been my sister Amy’s – with which to google anything. Finally, I was pretty proud of having a computer that could diagnose its own problems!

I turned the computer on again, counted the beeps (7), and googled it. Yikes! Probably a motherboard issue…possibly could be repaired by carefully removing the back panel of the computer…I was getting woozy. Changing the batteries in my camera makes me nervous. Anything to do with a computer is a thousand times worse. I’m going to the mainland next week, with my aunt. It can wait until then. I’ll let a trained professional deal with the problem.

So, life went on. My old computer is not the best for watching Netflix: the screen seizes up every now and then, leaving all of the actors frozen in place for several minutes at a time. Even when the action is moving along, the movement of the mouths, the expressions and body language are several paces behind the sound. It’s okay, though. I’m not profoundly attached to Netflix. The old computer keeps me up to date with my writing and my Scrabble playing, so I’m good.

Or I was…until this morning.

When my wireless modem quit working.

I didn’t panic. This has happened before. I, in fact, have a spare modem that was sent to me the last time it happened. The original – after being unhooked from all of its connection and then hooked up again, miraculously started working again, so I just saved the new one. The question was, WHERE? No time to try to find it before work. It would have to wait.

I was thinking, on the way home, that I’d change clothes and spend some time in the studio…maybe bring a sandwich upstairs, put a movie in the old VHS player and work on some small things.

My blog! I’d forgotten all about it!

And, in order to post a blog, I had to fix the computer modem.

First, try everything one more time, just to make sure it hasn’t fixed itself while I was at work.

No luck there so, second, I had to find that modem. What followed was a search of one file drawer, two wicker totes, a cubby over the washing machine, the entry closet, one set of shelves and the old army trunk. Then it dawned on me – with a clarity that I wish had happened sooner – that of course it was on the cabinet that sits behind a sheer curtain in the hollow under the stairs.

And there it was.

Third, I had to hook it up. I was tempted to call my daughter, Jen. I called her yesterday, to help me do some terrifying copy and paste work with files that had to be forwarded. She laughs at me and says, “I love you, Mom,” and shows extreme patience at my ignorance, but…she is trying to move, and is sick with bronchitis, and I just took two hours of her time yesterday over that stupid file…I would manage alone.

I pulled out the desk and the the bookcase, so that I’d have access to all the wires and plugs. I laid out the old modem to use as an example. The yellow telephone line plugs in to this receptacle…now follow that line from the old modem…unplug the old one, plug in the new. Repeat that process with the line that plugs into the wall outlet. Now…turn it on.

A flash of lights, then nothing. Try again. And again. And again.

After several (maybe twenty-five) attempts at turning the modem on, I turned to the instruction pamphlet:

“While it’s updating, your modem may appear to be unresponsive for a few minutes. Do not turn it off or unplug it.”

Oh.

Okay, so I’ll just turn it on and leave it alone.

Which I did and which – another miracle! – worked.

I fixed the problem! I tell you, I feel like Benjamin Franklin, out in the storm with his kite…like Thomas Edison when his light bulb lit…like Jewell Gillespie, bringing electrical service house by house to Beaver Island!

I did it!

Waking Up Slowly

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Usually, I wake up fast.

I have to.

After hitting the “snooze” button several times (which gives me, each time, an unsatisfying extra five minutes of rest), i have to rush out of bed. I drink a big glass of water with a couple small pills, while coffee is brewing. I slip into shoes and take the little dog for a quick stroll around the yard, in whatever combination of sleep clothes I am wearing. I check my Email over my first cup of coffee. I pour a second cup, fill the thermos and sometimes pack a lunch for work, crush the dog’s medicine onto a tablespoon of soft food in her tiny dish (which makes her start anticipating my departure), shower, dress, put the dog’s dish down (“Take good care of things, Rosa Parks,” I tell her) grab up purse, thermos and lunch bag, and head out the door.

Still, I’m always late.

When Denni used to write up the schedule, she’d add “ish” to whatever time I was supposed to be at work. God, I loved her for that! When scheduled for eight-ish, being on time is easy! Now, it states an unwavering eight o’clock…and I almost never make it.

I get right to work, though, when I get there, and that continues through the long day. Yesterday, after my work day at the hardware store, I went to my aunt’s house to get the upstairs ready for company, and do the rugs and floors. I came home and – after walking the dog and making dinner – worked at the computer until ten.

This day, though, is my day off.

No alarm clock! The sun coming through the window roused the little dog this morning, and she roused me. Ear scratches, belly rubs and cuddles for Rosa Parks, then I lay there, with the sun streaming in, to plan my day.

It will be a full day. I have household chores and baking to do. I have to get to the grocery store and the bank. I have writing and editing and at least one interview on the agenda. I will meet the boat this afternoon, as my friend Donna is arriving for a visit. She and I plan to fit lots of walking, reminiscing and catching up into the next couple days. I have a seven PM meeting to attend.

We’ve had a nice little walk, the dog and I, and I just poured my third cup of coffee.

Today, I’m waking up SLOWLY.