Oh my. Frustration is SO exhausting. For at least a week now NJ has known we were in the path of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Big Messy Storm Isaias. NJ has weathered (hah hah) several storms – sometimes well, sometimes not as well, but I *THOUGHT* we’d been learning with each one. Maybe the individual people are, but apparently our utilities still can’t seem to grasp the concept of “Be Prepared”. There’s a HUGE storm coming. Wires will come down. Power will go out. Things will break.
I no longer remember the big storm that came after Hurricane Sandy. Sandy was one of those events where everyone remembers where they were, what happened, and how many days they were without power. After Sandy, whenever we had warning of an impending storm, the utility companies would assure us that they were prepared, had their crews positioned all over the state, ready to ride and restore once the storm had passed.
Apparently my internet provider forgot the lessons. We lost the internet & cable just before 3 pm. It is now 24.5 hours later and we have no internet & cable, no estimate on when it might be restored. My neighbor actually received a call from a human being (I had NO faith in the automated voice mail system myself, or I, too, could have gotten a callback.). My neighbor was assured that “it is out all over and they will get to it as soon as they can”. I wasn’t upset with that attitude yesterday. I get it – a storm, damage, things broke. BUT. You KNEW it was coming. You KNOW that all of your customers are working from home because of COVID19. You KNOW connectivity is a true necessity these days. I’m disgusted, truly disgusted.
My son was living in Florida in 2017 when Hurricane Irma roared ashore. Of course they lost power, might have been as long as a week. I was impressed with their power company, however. THEY posted estimated dates by when they hoped to get different localities up and running. It didn’t change anything – my son still had no power. But at least he (and I) knew there was some hope that the utility WOULD restore it, and how long he needed to manage without. Optimum either has no clue when things will work or can’t be bothered telling its clientele when the service might be restored.
How am I posting this blog? It is MY good fortune that my next-door neighbors use a DIFFERENT internet provider. Back in the spring, after the lock-downs, Optimum went out of service. Again, I wasn’t angry because it was around the time when EVERYONE in the surrounding metropolitan area all stayed home and hit the internet at the same time. I had a very important meeting, however, and I freaked that I’d miss it. I ran next door and discovered they were up and running AND I could see their wifi from my house. They gave me the password and saved my sorry self. I contacted them again today and they graciously allowed me on again. All of my work apps are running off of my neighbor’s wifi. My brother-in-law brought me his – okay – I’m going to get this wrong – Google WiFi. I think that is what it is. It looks like a cell phone, it’s something Google, and it finds whatever service is closest and strongest. I guess there is some app and a fee but wherever you are in the country, you can find a service provider and hook up and have the internet. My personal computer and all apps that are NOT behind the company firewall are running off of this thing. My phone is using that now too. Sigh.
I was supposed to run a training session today. We rescheduled it to Friday. I’m supposed to run a training session tomorrow. As I was proof-reading this, my OTHER next-door neighbor called – the one who also had no internet. He says it was UP! But as we talked it went down. Another neighbor texted to say she was back UP! “It’s like Christmas in August!!!:)” She lives 3 blocks away, but I went down to reboot my modem and reboot my router anyway. Nope – still no internet here. I guess there is hope. Maybe. It does look as if the storm passed/is passing far west of Honour. That’s good – it means I can’win’ when we compare complaining! 🙂
Although I absolutely LOVED my time at The Boulders in June, when I headed to Phoenix in September I wanted to stay a bit closer to my son’s house. Remembering the tips I got from my SuperShuttle drivers, I checked to see if I could get a room at the Arizona Biltmore. I remembered them telling me that the Biltmore had Marilyn Monroe’s FAVORITE pool. It is a historical site as well, with the architecture and grounds designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright (who consulted on the design). I could indeed, and there was even a “special” rate. Keep in mind that this ‘special’ rate was more than half again as much as I paid per night for The Boulders. That fact will become important in the telling. Although it was a bit more than I’d hoped, it was for fewer nights so I figured it would all be fine.
Let me say that the grounds are GORGEOUS! The architecture is stunning. All the people working there (with one exception) were lovely, friendly and helpful. The pools are stunning. The views are sensational. Every grouping of rooms has its own pool and gardens and signature. I was staying in the Terrace Court section of the resort. There are many maps out there on the internet showing the grounds of the resort. I was given one when I checked in as well. It would have been helpful to have familiarized myself very carefully with the aerial view right from the start. I didn’t and maybe it would have helped, but maybe nothing would have helped. Anyway, the Terrace Court was pretty much as far from the check-in desk as you could be and still be on the grounds. 🙂 (That is a slight exaggeration but not a complete fabrication.) Even so – it wasn’t far. Once I understood the layout, and once I found my shortcut, it looks farther from things than it is.
I got in around 1pm Arizona time, 4pm ET. I wanted to get to my room, have something cold to drink, maybe a small nosh to eat, and relax. I was only carrying my bag and my rolling carry-on luggage – not too much to handle on my own. The sweet young thing at the check-in desk gave me a map and told me to head to the right once I was outside, and then continue bearing left to get to the Terrace Court. That would have worked. But unbeknownst to the check-in clerk, the grounds on Friday afternoon no longer resembled the grounds on Thursday night. They have begun digging up the gardens in the center of the grounds. At the point where I should have headed left, there was a construction wall up. I kept heading straight. I ended up in Ocatilla. I knew I was not in the right place but I really didn’t know how to get to where I needed to be. The ground crew and room staff were very concerned, and wanted to help but, alas, they did not speak English and my Spanish was not up to this task. (Hola Paco, Como esta usted? really doesn’t get you very far in most day-to-day conversations.) I could tell by their reactions that I was nowhere near where I should be. I backtracked and found a walkway that led left but it appeared to end at a wall. I figured I had nothing left to lose so I walked that way. Lo and behold – there was a walkway to the right, along the construction wall. I followed that and made it to my room. I was hot and cranky at this point. All I wanted was to relax.
I always check out my room before I unpack – bathroom, safe, doors, locks. I couldn’t lock the balcony door. I’m not stupid nor am I incompetent. I was pretty sure the door was broken. I called to the front desk. They assured me they would send someone to help me with the door. Indeed, it was probably only about 10 minutes or so before 2 men came to help me with the door. It took them only 5 minutes to realize they could not help me – the door was indeed broken and they’d need to drill out the entire lock mechanism. They called down to the front desk and explained that I should be given a new room. So I sat and waited for the next person to come help me.
This was Pete from the bell staff. Pete is a star. He alone made up for all that happened so far and that would happen after. He was upbeat, funny, helpful. We walked down the hall to another room. We went in, checked the balcony door. He headed out and I walked into the bathroom. Where there was water running. Loudly. Except – there was no water running. Just the sound of water gushing down. I ran to the door and shouted down the hallway to Pete, who was still in sight. He came back. He heard the water. He suggested that it was the people above me taking a shower. I said, possibly, except we are on the top floor and there is no one above me. He acknowledged this and we both looked around trying to figure out where the water might be. I said “this is not going to work for me.” He said, not a problem, we’ll get you another room. I’ll be right back.
Ooooookay. So much for kicking off my shoes and making a cold drink and eating a nosh. Another 10-15 minutes and Pete returned. He led me to a room on the other side of the building. The first 2 rooms had views of the interior grounds, which are lovely, but under construction, whereas this third room had a view of Piestewa Peak. It also had a view of roofs and roads but Piestewa is a magnificent sight, and exactly the kind of thing I WANT on my vacation balcony. Pete and I checked every door. We turned on the shower, we turned on the bath. We turned off the bath and the shower. We flushed the toilet. We hardly dared to look at each other. I went to try the room safe. It was locked. A room safe should be left open when the previous occupants leave. Pete called for security, because locked room safes were beyond his authority. At this point we could do nothing but laugh. I mean really??? For what I’m paying per night for this fabled hotel and nothing in the plant is maintained properly??? I told Pete he owed me a drink and that if I had to change rooms AGAIN he was going to owe me chocolate and flowers. He smiled triumphantly and said “I’m on top of this” and handed me two drink vouchers.
Two security men arrived, one of whom it turned out was the head of security. They fiddled with the safe. Nothing. They fiddled more. And again. Finally AHAH!!! The safe OPENED!! It was, of course, empty. So with all 3 men watching me, I locked the safe, and then reopened the safe successfully. Finally!!! It only took 3 hours to get me a room where everything worked. I waved goodbye to my entourage and finally unpacked. I locked the door with a do-not-disturb on the knob, changed my cloths, grabbed my snack and went out onto the balcony to stare at Piestewa and read my book.
My son was joining me after work. I told him I would meet him in the lobby because I didn’t think he would EVER find his way to the room, given all the wrong turns I took, especially because it would be after dark by the time he came. He called to tell me he’d arrived and that he’d just given the car to the valet to park, because he didn’t feel like dealing with finding the self-park garage. I met him in the lobby and escorted him back to the room with only one wrong turn on the way. It was dark, and that walkway that appeared to end in a wall was tricky to see.
We were both very tired. We knew we wanted to head out hiking the next day, and we had plans for eating out to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, so we thought we’d simply take advantage of our free drink vouchers and eat in the hotel, although neither of us found the menu all that appetizing. We found our way to the outdoor restaurant with no problems. We had a pick of tables. We sat. And waited. A hostess came by and apologized and said things were busy and gave us menus and took our drink orders. That was the point when we noticed our drink vouchers were for “up to $15/drink” and most of the drinks were over $20. Seriously? I no longer remember every single detail (thank goodness for that) but dinner was a flop. Our waiter, when he finally showed, was terrible. Service was worse. We needed water desperately and I got up to try to tackle someone somewhere to give us water. On my search I ran into one of the security men from the safe episode. He promised to get us water. When our check finally showed up, I had my son figure the tip and bill it to the room. We were both disgusted with the whole meal and with everything up to that point. As we started away I asked if the drink vouchers had been applied. No, they had not. We turned and went back and I cornered the waiter. I explained about our drink vouchers, that the hostess had taken them, but that they should be applied. He not only applied the vouchers but he comp’d us the drinks completely. Honestly – at that point it had reached the point for us of ‘well yeah you’d better comp us’.
We headed back to the room. I HAD laid down a trail of breadcrumbs so we could find our way back but it was very dark at this point and there were NO LIGHTS along the construction wall. We took that misleading walk to the wall and turned right into the dark and were nearly run over by the room service bicycle. Thank goodness he saw us because we weren’t expecting him. We got back to the room totally astounded at the terrible grounds conditions and the crummy meal. The room was nice but we were both a bit disgruntled when we went to sleep.
The next morning we wanted to get a relatively early start so we could have breakfast before we headed out for a hike. I picked up the phone to call the valet to have the car readied. No dial tone. I switched to another line. No dial tone. THE PHONE DIDN’T WORK!!!! Pete and I had not thought to check THAT! At that point I thought this is simply the pits. I’m paying nearly twice for this room for what I paid in The Boulders, where everything was exquisite. This is a fabled historic ballyhooed hotel and NOTHING WORKS. We headed to the front desk. My son went to get his car and I headed for the concierge. I went through the entire litany of misery. I figured they owed me something at this point. Indeed, they did end up comp’ing me an entire night stay. Part of me feels they should have been sending fruit trays and flowers to us as well but I suppose I shouldn’t be greedy.
As I was talking to the concierge my son came up. Pete had guessed that he was my son and asked him if I had gotten the chocolates that Pete had sent me. My son, who had seen a candy bar I’d brought with me, said yes. When my son relayed this whole story I went out to Pete and said “Chocolates? You sent me chocolates? I never got them.” He said “Not only did I send you chocolates but I sent you a cupcake as well!” Jumping to the end of THAT story, because I had a do not disturb on my door and because my phone was out of order, room service had no way to tell me that they wanted to make a delivery. For the want of a phone the cupcake was lost. Needless to say, when we returned later that day we had both chocolates and cupcake in the room. AND a working phone.
From Saturday night on I have no complaints about the hotel. Things worked as expected. They FINALLY put up signs directing people around the construction so that you could find Terrace Courts without having to use a GPS. They also mounted lights all along the construction walls so that you could see oncoming traffic in the narrow walkway. What we also realized in the daylight was that had we turned LEFT once we were outside and bore to the RIGHT around the gardens, we’d have gotten to Terrace Court with no problem. They like to send you to the RIGHT because all of the stores are on that side. 🙂 We ended up using the left walk for the rest of our stay.
On Sunday I rented us a cabana for the day. We made a run to the local Walgreens after breakfast and I made sure we had extension cords so we could power all of our electronics while we were at the pool. (My son wasn’t really on vacation – he had work he had to be doing. While I was lounging in the refreshing water and napping on the chaise, he was working away at the table.) The pool food and service was wonderful – as far from our Friday night experience as possible. The cabanas at the Orlando Hilton give you more food and drink, but the Arizona Biltmore cabana has its own bathroom. 🙂 That IS a plus.
By the end of my stay I could see why Marilyn liked the Biltmore so much. I didn’t swim in HER pool – I was quite happy with the Paradise pool and the Terrace Court pool. I’d like to see what they end up doing in the middle court. It had beautiful gardens. I saw the broken up walls and churned up clods of dirt. Pete assured me that he had seen the plans and it would be spectacular. He told me I would have to come back when it was completed. It’s a possibility, Pete, it’s a possibility. 🙂
It’s been 3 months now that I’ve been trying to get permission from my neighbors to remove the tree behind my garage. Half of the tree is dead. There are still some live branches on parts of it. When I got estimates back in JUNE all the experts suggested removing the entire tree. To do THAT I need a permit from the township and THEY required permission from my neighbors. I couldn’t get permission from my neighbor because she was selling the house at the end of July and didn’t want to risk any damage. She told me to take it up with the new owners. August came and there was no sign of new owners. FINALLY last week, August 28, I saw a moving van.
I went over to say hello and mention the tree. I know my timing was terrible, but hurricane season is coming and I want those branches GONE. I wasn’t completely awful. *smile* I brought a hanging plant (red begonias) and I had written down on paper my name, my husband’s name, our address and our home phone. I went to say hello and welcome to the neighborhood and please look at the dead tree and come by for a cocktail or coffee. My new neighbor, Mary Lou, seemed to be completely frazzled. I suspected my effort had just failed. It’s now a week later. I’d hoped that maybe we’d see signs of life there again Labor Day weekend but no, no one anywhere in sight.
Enough is enough. The heck with them and the township. I called Paul the tree man back. I said – we don’t need a permit to take branches overhanging my property, correct? He said that was correct. I said – come and get them. I am sure you are correct and the whole tree should come down but that’s not happening any time soon, and the wind and rain season IS soon. At one point it appeared we’d get a larger part of Hurricane Dorian but thank goodness that is NOT happening. It now looks as if we’ll get rain and tropical force winds at the most. That can still cause a bit of damage, especially if things get caught in the power lines. Our town dates back to pre-Revolutionary war times so our power lines are all ABOVE ground. I told Paul that besides the “dead” tree I’d also like the cantilevered branch removed from my garage. He made some comment about little overhanging branches won’t damage the roof. I said, noooooo, this branch is easily 20 feet long and balanced on the point of the garage. He agreed to include that. 🙂 Next week. He’s due next week. YAY!!!!!
To be fair, the tree is not 100% dead. It is bifurcated, and one trunk is mostly healthy. The other trunk is mostly dead. I suspect that the tree people are correct and ultimately the whole tree will need to come down. In the meantime, I am becoming quite content with my approach. Some of those live branches are still giving us privacy from the neighbors behind us. I like that privacy. I know that taking it down a branch or 3 at a time is the most expensive way to deal with it. I suspect the cost effective approach is to either leave it be until it comes down on its own (would that really be cost effective????) or get the various permissions to remove it entirely. I keep imagining large branches being whipped off and crashing into either my deck or my breakfast room bay window. Or large branches coated with ice and snow breaking away with enough of a drop to damage the garage roof. Since Paul agreed to come and remove all the branches I want removed, I’m going to convince myself that I have selected the over-all best approach. *grin* I’m there. That was easy! In the meantime, I continue to collect the dead branches that reach the ground. I’m hoping Paul will take them, too.
Subtitle: How many Ahuva’s does it take to change a light bulb?
Sub-subtitle: It pays to blog
If you own a house, or rent a home, or spend any part of your life existing under a roof within 4 walls that is somewhat your responsibility, you know the Homeowners’ Motto:
IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING.
The halogen light on my new range hood burned out. It’s a light bulb, right? No biggie. I get out the instruction manual, look up the maintenance guide, find the information I need. It’s a specific halogen lightbulb: 120 volt 50 watt halogen bulb. I go online to see where I can buy this. Great – the big box store near my office carries them. This week I picked up a package.
I’m working from home today because it is brutally hot and disgustingly humid. In the old days, when my cats were young, and I had a dog, and I was more thrifty than I am currently, this weather would have sent me straight to the office! Let THEM pay for air conditioning!!! I’d leave all the shades drawn, and the wall a/c unit on in the dog’s room, and know that the cats could either hang with the dog or go down into the basement which is much cooler.
But time moves on and my cats move less. WC in particular has been having major issues and seems to need to stay on the first floor. GC is also looking a bit wobbly. I could turn on the a/c in what used to be the dog’s area but none of the cats hang out there. I don’t think the cooler air would be sufficient lure.
So I’m working from home so that I can keep the house air conditioned for the cats. Why do I have to be here you might ask? Because I do not have central air and I don’t like leaving so many wall/window units going with no one here to monitor. As long as I’m here, I can change that light bulb. I have some time between meetings – should be no big deal.
First, trying to get the old bulb out took more elbow grease than expected. I did manage to get it out. Thank goodness it looked exactly like the new ones I bought. Still following directions (Don’t touch the bulb!!!) I climb the step stool to insert the new bulb. It doesn’t go in. I have spent over 20 minutes trying to get that blankety blank bulb’s prongs into the blankety blank base. I shined a light up there but of course once you start inserting the bulb, you can’t see the base. I decide I’m blogging this activity. I start taking photos. And I LOOK at the pictures. And I realize that I’m mistaking the screws of the base for the place to insert. It’s much clearer when I can look straight at the base and not have my neck twisted about peering into darkness, while I balance on a step stool.
Once I figured out WHERE I needed to aim the bulb, it only took another five full minutes to get it engaged and set. Nope, I’m NOT handy. But I DID change a lightbulb. One Ahuva. 🙂
I may give up on computers and electronics all together.
Supposedly my Alienware is on its way back to me. Not that @DellCares told me this. Not that Dell called the correct phone number to tell me this. Dell called and left the message on my home phone DESPITE my having called the day before to explicitly ask to have all communication come to my cell phone. Just one more example in this total farce of how one hand of Dell has no clue what the other is doing.
There was a very cool presentation scheduled for SL on Friday Feb 24th. I have it on my calendar. I arranged to work from home that day so I can make it inworld. The original email was sent Jan 25, 2012 and listed 4 events for their Thursday “Train for Success” speaking series and listed the dates. I copied the dates into my calendar, focusing on the DATES not the other text. Then on Feb 22 I got a reminder email. I saw it was the same 2 events, ignored the email. Unfortunately this was in the email: this Thursday, February 23, noon ET (please note that we had the date wrong in our previous email). No highlighting, no alert in the subject, nothing to catch my eye and make me realize that I had the wrong date. Yep, I missed it.
Got home today, booted up my work machine, opened my browsers. I use Firefox with great reluctance. I keep most of my tabs open in Chrome. My coworkers think I’m nuts – they all love Firefox. I think it stinks. I think it runs terribly on my machine, I think it crashes. I’m willing to concede that all of that could be me, my machine, my settings. I used to use it exclusively until it kept crashing on me when I had music playing. But I keep 4 basic tabs open: my avatar’s email account, my RL persona twitter account, Google reader, and a work-related tab. Tonight – Twitter no longer works on Firefox for me. Yes – this is strictly Firefox related. Twitter opens just fine in Chrome and IE for me.
My Dell Inspiron, which has been trying valiantly to support my SL habit, is now freezing every 60 seconds or so. I tried to talk to Honour, but it’s very hard when the machine freezes and you can’t type or move. I logged out.
I’m tired of being warned left and right that as of March 1st, Google owns my data. I’m not tired of the WARNINGS, you understand, I’m tired of what they imply. I’m frustrated by the concept that we and our personal data are simply up for sale. That we cannot derive benefit and joy from all the cool technological advances without the fear of all the not-so-nice folks harming us via those same technological advances.
I want my gaming computer back and working. I want people to proof-read their emails, or at least send corrections that stand out. I want things to work. If I have a question, I want to be able to contact support and get an answer without getting a run-around.
I know I’m tired. I know that this is frustration writing. But it’s been 3 weeks with NO gaming computer, and weeks before that of an ailing gaming computer.
So….. I got it out of my system. I’ll finish on a positive note. Where I live, winter has basically passed us by this year. After last year – that’s okay with me. Normally I love the change of seasons. But last winter was harsh enough to count for at least two, if not three, winters. On Feb 19 my crocuses were up. My parsley stayed blooming through the winter, as did the dill. The bay leaves almost made it. 🙂 You see the photos here. I will look at my plants. I will pick up my hard-back book that I got at the library on Sunday and I will curl up in a chair, with a cat or two on my lap, and read. Like the Terminator, like MacArthur, I’ll be back.
So today (actually, now yesterday) was my birthday. I didn’t want much. My husband had already given me this beautiful laptop. It was a work day, that was fine. All I wanted was to do what I had to do in my every-day life and then stay up late and celebrate in SL. I logged on at 10 and that was the last thing that worked. From that point on I couldnt rez properly, I couldn’t tp, my chats froze. I logged in and out and in and out and in…. Over a dozen times. Literally. After the first 30 minutes I never rezzed as anything other than a cloud. I could IM to my friends – nearly all were on. And I couldn’t get anywhere. I locked and crashed repeatedly. Poor Michele – what a wonderful friend. She listened to me as I literally cried and wept. I tried on both machines: new one with the 1.20 client, old one with the 1.19 client. I could not get logged on. I’m still crying. At this point I want to power down and never open the machines again. I’m so discouraged and disappointed. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, and I want to and I am.
Finally made it to SL tonight and it was ssssllllllooooooooowwww. I was IM’ing with 3 others and everyone had the same issue. Made it very hard to enjoy.
1. Machine crashed first time tried to load SL.
2. Ahuva was hairless.
3. Her hair wasn’t anywhere in the inventory – not in body, not in library. totally aggravating.
4. My hope that this was simply my machine’s inability to rez was dashed upon meeting someone else who confirmed that indeed, I had no hair. Sigh. So I donned my “barbie” hair. 🙂
5. Tried to IM Melissa (who was online) but she wasn’t answering.
I think I figured out why I lost my hair. I think that when I saved the whole outfit the other day, I forgot to check the box for hair. When I changed out of my “all dressed up and no place to go outfit” i loaded the other outfit. but it didnt have hair. major oversight. I also finally found my original hair (yet again). I got smarter this time. I put on my hair, saved the WHOLE outfit (i hope). then i made a copy of the hair into another folder. so with any luck, if i need it, i’ll find it more easily.
And I’m supposed to learn to put on new skins? You’ve got to be kidding.
And for all of you who are concerned that I will slip into SL and never emerge:
As long as it’s summer and there is sun, there is a garden that needs weeding, and my machine stinks, I don’t think you have too much to worry about. 🙂