Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Meeting Up

Although I've met some great folks because of riding the scooter, and gotten drawn often into conversation because of it, today was my first opportunity to meet someone because of writing this blog. I was at K-Mart, having gotten one of those way too expensive flat, lithium batteries for the thermometer I keep in the Neon, and I was just about ready to leave when I saw a gentleman a few rows across the parking lot waving in my general direction. I looked around and behind me, and saw nobody else to whom he might have been waving so I rode over to where he was standing. He asked if I write this blog through a hearty smile and when I told him that I do he introduced himself as the blogger behind the pseudonym D. B. Echo across the street from whose home I once took a picture of the BV and with whom I've interacted a few times in the comments section right here at "Scootin'."

To be honest I was a little stunned that he knew who I was until it dawned on me that I probably put more pictures of my own mug on here as I do of anything else.

"D. B." told me that there's a get-together of local blog penning folks like us coming up this Friday, but I'll be away on one of my weekend jaunts. Hopefully there will be one sometime in the future that will find me here and able to attend. Meanwhile I'll keep wearing this twinkle in my smile from having met such a genial fellow who seemed to be as tickled at meeting up with me as I was in getting to shake his hand and chatting a little.

Drat! I should have taken a picture of us to share here. Next time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week and Stuff

It’s “Holy Week” around the world this week – that stretch between Palm Sunday and Easter during which we who are Christian contemplate and in some sense “relive” that three day stretch in the life and times of Jesus Christ by which we believe the opportunity to get into heaven was made possible. Of course, to us Catholics the guarantee of eternal life doesn't end there; we still have to live relatively decent lives to avoid taking the down elevator when our reckoning is complete. Thus it was that the well dressed scooter this past Sunday was sporting some blessed palms on the way back from church.

I was hungry this past Friday for something other than the usual pizza (on whole wheat crust - yeeeech!) and breaded fish nuggets featured in the school cafeteria and treated myself to some McFish burgers at the local McDonalds. I don't know if it's just my iPod or if McWifi sucks in general, but I always have a difficult time getting the log-in screen at just about any Mickey D's, and then going anywhere online after I do. I tried yet again at getting one of those awesome food on the table shots that Steve Williams can do better with his iPhone than I can do with my DSLR, but once more I didn't quite manage to capture the deliciousness or welcoming ambiance that he always gets into his photos. Then again, consider where I was and what I was eating. Sigh!

I had the chance to roll over the new bridge that spans the Susquehanna River on the day that it officially opened for general use and thought it was cool that I was able to do that. The old green bridge standing alongside it will be taken down. It was one of those places where many of us cut our teeth while learning to drive because I swear the width of the old bridge didn't leave more than an inch of space between one's driver's side mirror and those of the cars coming in the opposite direction. I'm sure there was a little more breathing room than that, but it sure didn't feel like it.

Northeast Pennsylvania is removed enough from tornado alley that we don't usually have to worry about high winds, but there was some damage done here in the past week. This old man, on the way between my house and my parents', got a bit of a hair cut on Saturday. I don't know that I've ever been in a wind that strong when out on the BV because high wind is generally accompanied by rain around here, but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to be!

Wishing everybody a peaceful week and happy rides!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Life is back to being good. The new Dell is up and running. I have a new DSL modem at thrice the speed of my old connection. But the cost?

Initial boot-up!

I had one of the worst experiences with tech support in my life in trying to get my internet connection back. What made it worse than it might have been, was that the flying monkeys apparently working at my ISP's tech support desk speak perfectly fine English and actually sound sincere in attempting to help while after the fact I imagine them poking each other with pencils, flicking blobs of ear wax around the call center, and trying to stifle their laughter in knowing that they're sending the help seeking customer on a one way trip to hell at the doors of which one should simply abandon all hope.

I was nice when the first guy, Corey, came on the line and tried farting around with rebooting my modem, as if I'd not tried that 100 times before calling. I knew he was following the mindless script he was expected to stick with so I played his little game and danced like a chihuahua out of whose reach a burrito was being held aloft. I fell for his eventual promise that someone would be out to the house the following day and braced myself for that evening and night without internet access.

When the expected time of the technician's arrival came and went the following day I called the tech support line to confirm that someone would still be on the way. Casey, (How do they get these Skippy sorts of names?) checked the ticket and had the gall to tell me, "They had to order a part." I was incredulous! How could they need to order a part when they hadn't been here yet? "Oh, they do most of the work outside, he assured me," in spite of my having explained that it was digging through the mess of wires under my PC desk that had caused the problem in the first place. When I started arguing about how stupid what he was telling me sounded he halted, put me on hold, came back and said that he had misread the ticket and that somebody would still be coming. An hour passed. On my next call I got Tammy and she was too adorable sounding to argue with so I asked her to try to make some kind of sense out of the load of crap I'd heard. Now, I don't know if I was just taken in by the sound of her voice, but she candidly admitted that Corey and Casey were both jerks who were taking guesses as to what was happening with my issue. I didn't feel better about waiting for my service to be fixed, but at least Tammy calmed me down a little, and when I later heard that it would be at least another full day before somebody would show up the top of my head didn't blow off.

Day two of Lack of Internet Hell arrived and I went to work confident that the planets would align correctly later on and that I'd be back up and running shortly after school. I kept that hope in my skip till the wife called me at lunch time to tell me that the ISP had called her to tell her that they had come to the house and nobody was there in spite of my having told the tech center and having had them read it back to me from ticket #2 that they were to arrive after 3:00 PM. The part that sent me into partial meltdown mode, though, was when they told her that if we called the tech support center back early enough they might make it back out later the same day.

That was when I called tech support and went ballistic on the flying monkey who happened to be next up in the queue. "Ripped him a new one," would put pleasantly what I did in response to the incompetence of the system.

Then my luck changed. On the way home I decided that I was going to call again, but to chew up and spit out a supervisor just for the heck of it. I keyed the 800 number and then went through what I thought was the right sequence in the voice-mail options. I accidentally hit an incorrect digit and got a guy in networking rather than the usual jerks at the tech desk. I quickly explained my predicament when he asked if he might be able to help and as soon as I finished, he said he'd put me in touch with the local technician dispatch center. A minute or so later I was actually talking to a real live person (who doesn't take to the air with a banana in each hand) who was sitting at a desk only a few miles away. She assured me that a guy would be out shortly, and indeed, he was. After a quick check of my wiring he went to the truck, brought in a new modem, and all was well with the line.

I quickly built a new shelf for the new modem because it was bigger and bulkier than the one it replaced, then set to getting the Dell out of the carton and up and running. By the time I went to bed last night I had about 95% of what I use on a daily and usual basis installed and working on the new machine, in part because after having learned a horrid lesson the last time a computer fritzed out on me I'd been keeping all of my data on external drives along with most of the installation programs for my typical software.

I haven't seen this big a section of the rug under my PC desk
since the early 90's. One of the things I dug out of there was
a long, thick parallel port cable. Can't remember the last time
I used one of them!

So, for better or worse, I'm back, and summer vacation is so close I can almost smell it. Now if I can get my blood pressure back down to a normal level by then to do some serious scooter riding and writing, I'll be okay!

Monday, April 11, 2011


I was supposed to have been away this weekend on one of my long, weekend jaunts out west, but plans that had been made before that, but not written on the big calendar on the freezer door, pretty much forced me to stay put.   It's funny how things happen, because on Saturday morning I awoke to some kind of odd Windows warning on my screen.  You know - one of those, "Sorry for the inconvenience, but we're going to shut you down now," kinds of windows.  After that, every computer gremlin in hell was released into my PC.  Programs wouldn't start, but they said they were running in the task bar in spite of never appearing on the monitor.  Programs that did open seemed to have minds of their own, working, or more accurately not working, in unpredictable fashion.

It's a sickening feeling to me when I have computer woes, as if some part of my very body is out of kilter.  I tried restoring the system to a previous working state, but after numerous tries, the problems persisted.  I kept rebooting, somehow thinking that eventually all would miraculously somehow be well, but the day went on with more heavy sighs than words coming out of me.  The Mrs. simply told me to go out and get a new machine.  Tempting, but the thought of reinstalling everything I use often was too daunting to consider it.  All I wanted was for the problems to disappear and for all to go on as usual.

It's now Sunday evening as I key this post on the netbook - in Microsoft Word...

I gave in this morning when I got up after a fitful sleep, once again idiotically imagining that maybe a good night's sitting would fix the PC but discovering to my disappointment (surprise, even) that the devil and his minions had taken over my computer for good.  I waited for Best Buy to open and picked out the Dell that had been advertised in their weekend circular that would best fit my needs.  I got it home, set the carton aside, and then set out to face the intimidating job of untangling the absolute nest of wires that had accumulated under my computer desk over the course of the last ten years or so.  A big thick parallel printer cable was among the tangled snakes and worms of wires.  I hadn't used a parallel port in ages!   I figured it would take a good hour under there.  Guess again.  

Where the PC should be
After unplugging the DSL modem, sorting out its cables and then powering it back up, it became apparent that something was terribly, horribly, awfully wrong.  The familiar sequence of blinking lights didn't do its usual thing and hasn't since in spite of having tried everything I can possibly think of to restore the modem to working order.  Yes, there's a dial tone on the line.  No, the back-up modem won't boot up to DSL service either.  I even took the bloody thing to the basement and attached it physically to where the cable coming upstairs originates.  I swapped out each of the cables.  And with every failure I just felt more beaten than I had before I tried it.  I threw in the towel around 3 when I called the ISP and scheduled a service call for tomorrow afternoon.  I paced the house aimlessly.  I tried reading and watching TV.  And every time I walked past the stinking modem I power cycled it yet again hoping for the best.  Around 5 I took off on the scooter to try to clear my head.

It was a nice ride even though my thoughts didn't stray far from the fact that my brand new computer is still in its box.  I figured there isn't much sense in hooking it up because as soon as it boots I'll probably be asked to register it online.

A bright part of the day - the county park
is now open for the (riding) season!

I rode to the county park that's locked from when it gets cold in late autumn till the powers that be deem it warm enough to open the gates again in the spring and was thrilled to find the gates wide open!  I paused to get some pictures and to make a phone call and then headed back because the chill was creeping into me.  Of course once I got back indoors I tried power cycling the modem again, just in case.  Yeah, right!  I fired up the netbook instead and started typing these words thinking that writing this post offline would take up a good portion of the evening.  

It's only 7:30 and I have a newfound appreciation for the lifestyle of those poor folks who lived around the time that "Little House on the Prairie" was set.  What did they do to stop from going stir crazy?  Oh, Pa played some hymns on the fiddle while the wife and daughters quilted or something, but really?  Night after night without the internet?  How did they manage to survive?

So, the game plan here is to finish this up and then post it when I'm connected to the 'net tomorrow at work when I'm on a break.  That's if I make it through the night.  I have a book somewhere, I think, and maybe if I'm really lucky there will be something on The Discovery Channel that isn't a bunch of surly sailors chasing after crabs.  If it works out, you'll possibly be reading this before my 'net service here at the house is restored.  Send up a prayer or two, please - that I might preserve my sanity till all is back in working order.