Friday, July 25, 2014

Fifteen hours to find…

The last two days have gifted me with the happy knowledge that I made a really good call about, oh, eighteen years ago, when I briefly considered going into regular help desk support before going, “…nah…” and sticking with database-stuff.

Good move, Me.

Yeah, I spent the last two days (re)loading one or another program, rebooting my laptop, and watching it still not work. I have twiddled my thumbs while updates (re)ran. I have checked and unchecked boxes, then tried the same thing again, which amazingly…still didn’t work.

Not the fourth, fifth or sixth times. Well, darn.

It has been ever so much fun. Really.

Apparently, what happened was this: Windows was running an update. Meanwhile, the corporate antivirus was happily running its normal scans using a brand new set of definitions. These happened to contain the suggestion that certain Windows-based files were very bad indeed, and needed to be immediately quarantined for my protection.

Automatically, for my convenience.

What I actually saw was an antivirus screen whooshing past me saying “Cool I caught something don’t worry I got this k-thx-bye!”

I had just enough time to go, “…wut…?” before all hell broke loose. My laptop started telling me I couldn’t look at the email I was already looking at because the file was missing or I wasn’t authorized.


Then it rather curtly told me it had to restart itself to finish an update and three minutes later – with no option for me to say “hang on just one darned minute…!” – it did so.

Thus sealing its own fate. Windows was thoroughly confused. It couldn’t find anything. It viewed the bank’s own internal domains as “untrusted sites.”

It was a hot mess.

I spent, kid you not, almost nine hours altogether between the two days on the phone with the help desk (and we don’t want to discuss how many hours tinkering with it on my own); I had a few moments where I wanted to just start banging the receiver on the desk while shrieking incoherently.

I mean, I know how it is: You have a checklist of fast and easy things that fix a good 85-90% of the problems people call in to the help desk. They’re fast and easy so you want to get them out of the way first – nobody wants to spend an hour on the phone with someone, only to have it end up being that their keyboard cord had wriggled itself out of the USB port.

The old “ha ha, I guess it wasn’t actually plugged in, ha ha” gag loses its shine pretty fast.

But at the same time, when you’ve been on the phone with five different people over two days time, when the fourth and fifth ones want to start alllllllllllll the way back at Step One, well, you’re kind of wanting to scream, “WILL you please look at the notes from the last {three, four} calls?! We already TRIED that. Like, EIGHT TIMES today alone!

“I understand your frustration, ma’am, but if you would please just bear with me and try rebooting real quick…”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” {throws laptop out nearest window}

Eventually, it occurred to me that in addition to “corrupt user profile,” the symptoms also sounded a bit like a file – or, folder? – being locked.

About three minutes later, I was logging into all the systems just fine: Somewhere in All That, something had flipped a bunch of internal folders to read only.

I know. I’m still a bit bemused by this. I cannot fathom why anything – even a Windows update which might conceivably want to put a lock or two on specific files – would end up making an entire folder read-only.

It defies all logic.

But that’s what it was.

Welcome to Tech, y’all. This is our glamorous life. Hour upon hour of frustrating, hair-rending, teeth-gnashing misery, followed by inexplicable solutions that magically work, a few high-fives amongst ourselves and being able to feel mighty clever for a few minutes…until the next insane, improbable, should not even BE a thing thing ambles out of the woodwork and stands there grinning at you. Go ahead. Figure out what I AM, and how to make me into a pretty little butterfly instead…

Fifteen hours to find…fifteen minutes to fix. Woooooo, who DOESN’T love computers, am I right?!?!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Garden Report: July 6, 2014

I haven’t been doing a lot of gardening the last few weeks; mostly, I’ve just been dashing out, grabbing anything that looked ready off the vine or bush, and running back into the Den as quickly as I could.

This has mostly been due to it being nightmarishly hot the last couple weeks, especially on my precious weekends – and hot from very early in the morning, just to add insult to injury.

There was a time when I would have talked myself into doing the work anyway, on the theory that if paid gardeners can take it (which they do, all the time), well, so can I.

That time has passed.

I am older and wiser now.

Well. Older, and more experienced now. And repeated experience has taught me that overdoing things is only going to lead to sorrow. So in my continuing attempts to be smarter, dammit, I have eschewed things like attempting to garden in direct sunlight on days when the average temperature is in the three digits.

I can be taught, apparently.

But I digress.

It was still pretty darned hot this weekend too, but Sunday was finally at-least-not-triple-digits so I finally got out there to actually DO stuff.

The green beans have begun their mad production period. I’d already pulled about two pounds from the bushes last week during one of the mad-dash afternoon harvesting expeditions, so I knew what to expect when I went out there “for real” today. Which was bushes loaded down with beans.

(They’re a little hard to see – the main cluster is pretty much dead-center, and every bush has at least three clusters like this!)

We ended up with seven pounds of them. Good grief!

I told Captain Adventure he could have his turn on the Wii after we – we – had picked the green beans. So in spite of his absolute hatred of the Outside…

ugh, ugh, ugh, this is HORRIBLE, the green-growing-thing is TOUCHING me! It might have BUGS! it might have DIRT! This sunshine-stuff feels like sandpaper on my skin! I hate this! AAAAH! BUG! BUG! THERE’S A BUG!

A pair of gloves between his skin and the icky unfamiliar feeling of green-growing-things bought us a few more beans-picked…

…but then I relented and let him flee back to the relative comfort of the Den. (But no games until the job was done. That was the deal, and now it’s going to take twice as long, bud.) (Ah, the delicate balance between making him at least TRY stuff he doesn’t like and not pushing him too hard and ending up with an autism-driven meltdown on your hands) (<= those are not fun, for anybody involved).

Shortly after that, guess what showed up?

…this is the rarely-sighted Boo Bug, also not exactly the biggest lover of things involving DIRT or BUGS…

Here, the Boo Bug is seen reluctantly posing with a bean, making the ‘my mom is a lunatic’ face.

And then a wasp flew by. End of Denizen assistance. (I can’t really blame her. Unlike the gentle bumblebee who only stings as a last resort upon being backed into a corner or the scary-looking-but-actually-harmless soldier fly, wasps are like the drunken asshole bar fighters of the insect world. Oy, you! yeah, YOU, ugly! Get outta my Outside with your ugly face! Ohhh, you’re askin’ for it, mate, you’re askin’ for it, you wanna piece of me? do ya? do ya?! I’M FOR YA! {sting-sting-sting-sting-sting})

The husband and his buddy were working on the greenhouse, so of course as I’m going, ‘C’mon, honey, hold up the bean! Boo! C’mon, show me the bean you just picked! Pleeeeeeeeease, just humor me, OK?!” he’s all, “Hey, aren’t you going to take a picture of me out here working on your greenhouse?!”

Of course, he says this after I’ve hit the lock button and put the phone back in its holster. So then I’m all, “OK, hang on…don’t move…stay still…gotta unlock my phone…darn it…hang on, DON’T MOVE! It’s trying to find your face…”

And that’s why he looks like he’s caught between laughing and an angry tirade in this picture.

(Yeahhhhh, my phone is really not meant for ‘action’ shots. It does a great job with still-life stuff, but it takes approximately forever plus ten years to actually snap anything. I have a crazy number of colorful blurs from Denizen events where I’ve tried to capture them, say, walking across a stage, or talking with friends.)

I found a few aphids starting to make themselves at home in the beans, and was thinking I might need to break out the soap…but then I found that the troops were arriving to handle the problem for me.

Ah, glad you’re here, Colonel. Carry on, and I shall leave my mostly-useless-by-the-time-the-damage-is-noticeable-anyway organic insect-soap in the shed…

The zucchini bushes are not long for this world; they were actually planted in a spot that is about to become part of a construction project we’re doing. BUT, until they actually break ground, I’m going to continue enjoying a few zucchinis a week from them.

(These are Renee’s Garden ‘Raven’ zucchini. The two things I love best about them are that they don’t sprawl all over the place but instead maintain a nice, compact bush, and that they aren’t as pokey as other zucchini bushes. They can still bring me out in a rash if I disrespect them, but they don’t go out of their way to do it like some zucchini bushes seem to; but – and I’m not sure if this is the zucchini plant, or the nasty weather at work, so, grain of salt, y’all – I have noticed that they also don’t seem to produce as wildly as others I’ve grown. Which is not actually automatically a bad thing, since I’ve had years where we’ve all come to despise the very SIGHT of a zucchini due to too darned many of them syndrome)

The cucumber vines are loving the heat; ever since it started getting too hot for us human-types, they’ve been flourishing.

I love looking into the little valley between the two rows. It’s like a little secret cucumber forest or something.

These are actually pickling cucumbers; right now, the bushes are giving us one or two “full sized” cucumbers a week, but I’m seeing a lot of baby-cukes on there right now so I suspect in another couple weeks, we’ll get the main flush and be able to start making some pickles.

Dear Cucumber: Please do not let the zucchini put on airs and pretend you aren’t related. While it is true that you are genus cucumis while zucchini are cucurbita, you are both of the same Cucurbitaceae family. You both have a long and luscious history of being beloved by humans, and have been written into our songs and legends. Stand proud, my warty little friend!

The yellow beans really wish they weren’t in the middle of all this. Also they wish that I would be more consistent about weeding their bed.

Speaking of weeds, just because it was too hot for me to be out there doing stuff for the last few weeks doesn’t mean it was too hot for the weeds to come out to play. No indeed.

My new “potato squares” were 100% covered in purslane.

This is something new I’m trying: Usually I dig a deep hole, plant the potatoes, and then basically fill up the hole as they grow. These are planted at a more modest depth, in the center of stone squares. As the bushes (hopefully) grow, I’m going to add layers of additional stone around them and fill them in; what I’m hoping for most is an easier time getting at the potatoes at the end of all things, because frankly trying to dig them out is a royal pain in the neck. And back. And I end up slicing through a remarkable number of them, no matter how slowly and carefully I try to go. Argh. I’ve got Red Pontiac, Yukon Gold, and Blue Nile potatoes in the ground – here’s hoping they decide to sprout for me.

And then…there was this.

Yeahhhhhhh, I *may* have neglected this corner a BIT longer than I should have.

So I started weeding. And weeding. And weeding. And I found the new box I’d slapped together because I thought I would grow some beets in it. And I started pulling out the yet more purslane from it and guess what I found?

Some of the leggiest beets I have ever seen.

Seriously, isn’t that pathetic. Those poor things have been streeeeeetching out, trying to get even a little light. I’m not sure if they really can be saved, but I’m going to try to at least give them a chance…seems the least I can do, after planting and then ignoring them so badly all this time.

This is how far I got before I got slammed with The Tireds and said, “OK, stopping now.”

Holy smokes, this was a lot of weeds.


On the way back in, I stopped to check the tomato bushes; most of them are teasing us with plentiful but very green fruits.

But we do have at least some color, here and there.

That’s about it for last week in the garden; the list of things I want to do keeps getting longer and longer, while the list of things I actually get done seldom seems to grow at all.

Hopefully the weather will work with me a bit more soon, and I’ll be able to turn that around; until then, I’ll just be grateful for what I’ve gotten done, and enjoy having something from our own yard for dinner more often.