Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reporting for Duty

Today I received my annual (it seems) summons for jury duty in Municipal Court. One would think that in a town with a population of 2,400 that I wouldn’t be called almost every year. I suppose that after you eliminate all the people under 18 years old and over 65 years old, people who do not hold American citizenship and do not read, write, speak, or understand English, people who have been convicted of a crime and served more than a year in prison, students, those who have no child care for children under the age of 7, and people who have less than a 6th grade education, that probably leaves a jury pool of about 300 people. It’s not that surprising that some of us are called quite often.

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Technical Difficulties

More than a few years ago, Mr. Fixit won a bit on our then new state lottery. Since it was “found” money we decided to do something totally frivolous. We bought a satellite TV system. That was when the systems were relatively new and very expensive. I hesitate to say what it cost but it took almost all of his winnings. It was worth it. Our cable service was unreliable to say the least.

A couple of years ago, the receiver on the living room TV malfunctioned and needed to be replaced. Jason had gone back to cable for their high speed internet service so he suggested that we take his satellite receivers instead of buying new ones. I simply called Directv and explained that we wanted to transfer the card from our malfunctioning receiver to a borrowed one. The old card was activated with no problem and no cost.

Last Thursday the original receiver on the TV in computer room (mine) finally gave up. Some channels were lost completely, and on others the picture was breaking up. Mr. Fixit said that we should use the other receiver that Jason had given us. When I called Directv to notify them of the change and to ask them to re-activate the old card, the young lady said that she couldn’t re-activate the old card. She explained that I had two options that, of course, would cost us money. I chose the option of getting two new receivers. She said it would take two to five days for the receivers to arrive. I thought it would be Wednesday of this week before delivery; they actually arrived Saturday afternoon. Yea! For FedEx!

Sunday Mr. Fixit decided to install the new equipment. After several hours of foreign language swearing, patronizing eye-rolling at my every attempt to lend my technical expertise, groaning, and thinning of his upper lip (I can’t figure out why and how his upper lip disappears when he gets frustrated), he finally connected the receiver, the DVD recorder, and the sound system to the television, and partially programmed the new remote. The cat had pleaded pitifully to go out at the height of our “technical discussion.” The poor thing apparently doesn’t care for slightly raised voices.

The next step was to connect the receiver and the DVD player to my television and to program the remote. It didn’t take quite as long to complete the job and the swearing, patronizing eye-rolling and the thinning of the lip thing and my reaction to it were reduced and a bit less forceful. The cat came in from outside and only hid under the bed.

I then called to have the cards activated. The young man even helped us program the remotes and we were ready for TV viewing. Later in the afternoon, when I decided to watch a DVD I discovered that I couldn’t get the sound or picture even though the DVD player was running. Uh-oh, more technical problems!

After several more hours of Mr. Fixit using all his God-given talents and the swearing, etc. the problem still was not solved. Jason called and offered to come over to help when he heard of our problems. Mr. Fixit continued to try to solve the problem, his frustration growing worse by the second. I suggested, “Maybe you should wait until Jason gets here. Thirty seconds after he walks in the door, it will be fixed.” Of course, that earned another eye-roll in my direction. Somehow it seems that failing to fix something is a dent in his masculinity and to his ego.

Jason finally arrived. Thirty seconds later my DVD player was working.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Rules of the Road

Recently the governor our state signed a new law that will allow motorcyclists and bicyclists to run red lights. After stopping they may proceed through the light. I suppose the cyclists complained because their vehicles aren’t heavy enough to cause the lights to change. Apparently, there are many lights in the state that are controlled by some kind of pressure mechanisms. Okay, I can see their problem, but I wonder how many accidents will occur when the riders take advantage of the law. The motorcycle lobby in our state must be as influential are the NRA. When you give some people an inch, they take a mile. I’m not sure that this is the best idea I’ve ever heard.

I have no problem sharing the road with motorcycles, but people on bicycles drive me nuts. In our town and in Clemson, there are bike lanes provided for the cyclists on the main streets and roads. I think someone thought that a lot of students would be riding bikes to class. As a matter of fact, I don’t see very many students on bikes; they drive large SUV’s and Land Rovers. Instead of riding in the proper lane, a great many of the cyclists ride ON the white line marking their lane. You still have to swerve around them to keep your passenger side mirror from knocking the dolts ass over teacups.

On Saturday mornings on the two lane highways you will often come upon a gaggle (herd, covey, flock? or perhaps a group of riders should be called a goof) of riders at least 50 or 60 strong who move as one amorphous mass. When they cross the road, they move as one unit making opposing traffic come to a complete standstill . Do they ever consider that I am driving a vehicle that probably weighs a ton or more and their vehicle is only a few pounds? Do they take it for granted that I will stop? Are they betting on the fact that maybe I will stop because I don’t want my car damaged? Apparently, they don’t know of my Uzi fantasies.

If they would ride according the laws and with common sense as I try to do when I drive, maybe I could learn to overlook their Spandex garb*.

*I deleted a rather catty paragraph about the clothing cyclists wear because it was a bit much. What can I say? I’m feeling a bit catty today, but discretion prevailed so I removed it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Miss Manners & Emily Post Never Had This Problem, I Bet

Doing my small part to combat ecological dangers (using tote bags instead of those awful plastic ones to transport my shopping) has posed a problem of shopping etiquette for me. Would it be terribly gauche to use a Wal-mart totes in the Bi-Lo supermarket if I forget to throw the Bi-Lo ones in the car? Of course, I would never think of using Bi-Lo totes in Wal-mart because their cashiers get a little testy using the ones with the Wal-mart logo on them. I wouldn’t want to incur their wrath by using a competitors’ bag.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Recent Reads

Silence – Thomas Perry

Changing identities and disappearing is the subject of several Thomas Perry novels, i.e., the Jane Whitefield series. This one has a bit of a twist. Jack Till helped a witness to crime disappear because she was afraid to testify. Some years later evidence was planted and used to frame her business partner/lover for her murder in order to draw her out. The authorities were unwilling to believe that Till helped her disappear; therefore, he must find her and keep her safe in order to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice. Added to the problem of finding the witness, Till must also deal with a tango-dancing husband and wife assassination team who want to silence her forever.

As usual, I enjoyed Mr. Perry tale and his writing style very much.

I found this hard-cover book that is in perfect condition at a flea market for $1.

Darkness, Take My Hand – Dennis Lehane

This the second of the Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, private investigators, series. Some books I enjoy because of good plots; some I enjoy because of the writing. Mr. Lehane is a very good writer and his plots are interesting. His books, this one in particular, are not for the squeamish or faint-hearted – very graphic violence.

The Blue Nowhere – Jeffery Deaver

This was another perfect condition, $1 find at the flea market. When I saw it I wondered how I had missed this one. I thought I had read all of his novels. I read the synopsis on the dust jacket and brought it home anticipating another great read from Mr. Deaver. This one is not my cup of tea. I realized it as soon as I began reading. There was a glossary in the front of the book of computer terminology. I hate books where I have to flip to the glossary on every page. I hated the sci-fi classic Dune because of this. I slogged through the first few chapters of computer-ese, geek jargon, and technical stuff about programming and hacking before I gave up. I had the basics of the mystery (the victims and the suspects) and then I skipped to end of the book to read the last two chapters for the solution. It may have been a good plot but the technical stuff was just mind-numbing for me. Before this book, I thought a bad book wasn’t in Mr. Deaver, but I was wrong.

The Wailing Wind – Tony Hillerman

While browsing for movies on the Netflix site, I found two movies based on Mr. Hillerman’s novels. They were shown as part of the “Mystery!” series on PBS and produced by Robert Redford. They were very well done with Adam Beach and Wes Studi portraying Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. After seeing the movies, I decided to re-read a few of his books. I read Mr. Hillerman for his descriptions of the Four Corners area and the mythology (perhaps that is the wrong terminology) of the Navajo as well as for his plots and his writing.

Mr. Hillerman never fails to please.

Monday, July 7, 2008

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Even though I have convinced Mr. Fixit that I am THE COMPUTER WIZARD, I must admit (to everyone except him) that I am technologically challenged. I carry the manuals for my cell phone and my digital camera in my purse. I have learned over the years to keep the instructions for everything from my salad spinner to the computer. Today I even found the instruction sheet for using the paper cutter.

Yesterday morning I lost my DSL internet service. After performing a few tests (Actually, my computer automatically does the tests when the connection is lost. After running the tests the conclusion of the computer was that I had lost my connection to the internet. Brilliant!) and unplugging and re-connecting every cable on the computer, my service was restored.

During the time the computer was disconnected, I asked Mr. Fixit if he would change the DVD burner. Jason gave me a burner with Lightscribe, but I was experiencing a few problems with that, too. Armed with my Compaq manual, Mr. Fixit replaced the burner with the old one. He may have problems opening his email, but he can “work” on the innards of the computer. I don’t call him Mr. Fixit for nothin’.

Later on in the afternoon, when the bedroom phone rang, I noticed that the caller id wasn’t displayed. I thought it might have been a momentary glitch so I ignored the problem. This morning when the phone rang, I noticed that the caller id on the phone in the computer room was also on the blink. I concluded that the problem might be associated with the computer problem I experienced yesterday. I started going through the 8” stack of various instruction sheets and user manuals kept close at hand on a shelf on the computer desk. I thought that if I had the instruction sheet I could find the solution without waiting for Mr. Fixit to come home from work.

I found the 18-page booklet for the phone, but there is a little problem. It’s in Spanish. Thank goodness, Spanish is Mr. Fixit’s first language. He’s so handy to have around.