I Should Never Touch Technology

Remember a month or two ago when all the news broadcasts and websites were telling us some hackers were accessing private data via our wireless routers? They told us to NO-TIVO-269x300reboot our routers immediately or disaster would ensue. Failure to do so would result in thieves stealing our passwords and banking information, making the contents of our fridges go bad, and reprogramming our brains to believe trees are invisible and bees are a beverage.

Rebooting the router wasn’t hard, so I did that without technical disaster. But my son is a professional tech writer and expert, and he messaged me to ask which router I had. I told him, and I could almost see the message window recoil in horror. I was still using the router he’d installed for us several years ago, and (apparently) that model was especially vulnerable to hacking shenanigans.

Fortunately for me, as a result of his job, he literally has drawers full of phones and routers and tablets and all manner of tech gizmos. He informed me he was sending me a better, newer, more secure router immediately, which he did.

A couple of weeks later, he messaged to ask if I’d installed the new router. I had not. Why? Because I knew, deep in my slightly Luddite bones, that I’d manage to fuck it up. He’d sent me the link to the app I needed to set it up quickly and easily…but I knew better.

Now, about ten days after his “you really need to install that” message, I decided I’d better do it, because not much stings more than weary disapproval from a guy whose diapers you changed for two years.

The first obstacle was the massive Gordian knot of cords and cables behind the TV stand in the living room, where the main cable box, modem, and router live. Once I identified which plug went to the modem, I disconnected it. The plug is still under the TV stand, though, because I couldn’t untangle the wire from the rest of the mess without pulling every device, including the TV, off the stand, and I am not in the mood to deal with that shit today.

I plugged in the new router and opened the app on my phone, held it over the router, and that part actually went pretty well. I reset my signal extender in the kitchen, and internet was restored to my laptop. Victory!

I was about to pay for my hubris.

The TV in the living room was fine. But we only use that when we have company that might want to sit on a slightly less dog-fur-infested couch. I spend 99% of my waking hours in the family room, working with the TV on, and later binge-watching streaming video and knitting. And that TV couldn’t find the TiVo box. Neither could the TV in Tom’s lair, where he spends a good portion of his evenings and weekends.

Rackenfrazzle.

I did all the usual stuff. I unplugged and re-plugged. I turned off and on. I went to TiVo Central and tried everything I could in the settings. I reestablished the internet connection…but it still wouldn’t go to TV mode, which is really its only job.

I knew it. I just knew it. Now I was going to have to call Suddenlink, something that tends to make me a stabby, frustrated, vengeful bucket of rage. I went through the automated fixes first, but resetting the modem didn’t do anything, so I repeated “representative” at every prompt until I got a human. As it turns out, a highly unhelpful human.

She seriously had no idea what to do. There was a lot of “Um…yeah…” and “Well…” and “I don’t know…” going on. Without offering even one semi-helpful solution, she said, “Yeah, the TiVo is pretty sensitive. There’s really not anything I can do from here. They like the technicians to do that manually.”

I wondered why they’d “upgraded” us to TiVo from the older but much less shitty cable boxes. I wondered why they’d choose a type of service that was so touchy that simply installing a new router would require a technician visit. I wondered how long it would be before a technician could be dispatched.

I suggested she might like to transfer me to someone (with a brain…bonus points to me for not saying that part out loud) who might have some idea of how to resolve this without a technician coming out. No, that wouldn’t help. So, she scheduled a technician for tomorrow between 4-6 p.m.

Fine. I could watch in the living room today, I guessed. My internet is working, so…yay.

I hung up and started thinking. I used my brain, which is 100% not trained in Suddenlink Technical Support, but is not stupid. And my brain said, “Well, yeah, the TV in the living room, which is connected directly to the main TiVo box (not the two TiVo minis that control the TVs in the family room and Tom’s lair), does work fine. But that main unit is, what, like the brain of the whole set-up, right?” I agreed with my not-stupid brain. “So,” it continued, “even though that TV works, wouldn’t it make sense to maybe unplug and reset the main unit and see what happens?”

That seemed super smart to me, and probably something someone who is paid actual money by the people who installed this equipment to resolve such issues should have suggested.

So, I shuffled back to the living room, unplugged the main TiVo box, plugged it back in, and returned to my natural habitat on the couch in the family room and turned on that TV.

And…it worked perfectly.

I hit redial on my phone and canceled tomorrow’s technician appointment roughly three minutes after I’d made it.

I feel like I should get a job at Suddenlink Tech Support, but I’m pretty sure they’d have to delete at least half my IQ points. If their IQ-deleting system is able to connect to the network, of course.

I lost over an hour from my day, but at least the evening binge-watching shall go on unimpeded.

Mystery of the Missing Molar

Have you ever lost a tooth? I don’t mean it fell out or was pulled. I mean have you ever literally lost one? As in “issue an Enamel Alert, and put its picture on toothpaste tubes” lost. You probably wonder how that could happen, but I can tell you…it can.

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Last night, after 11:00 p.m., I was almost ready to go to bed and decided to have a piece of toast, because since my gastric bypass in 2001, eating makes me sleepy. I made my toast, buttered it, and returned to the couch to munch while I got ready to shut down the computer and call it a night.

Next thought… “Toast doesn’t have bones.”

But there was something hard in my mouth. I felt around with my tongue, separated the mushy toast-bites from the hard thing, swallowed the toast, and spit the object into my hand.

The crown from one of my bottom right molars. Nice.

Further lingual investigation identified the tooth-stump and probed. No pain. Well, that was good.

The bottom of the crown looked gross, but since I have no idea what the underside of an eight-year-old crown should look like, I can’t really say if that was unusual.

For the past month, I’ve had a series of dental appointments to address a lot of cavities, chips, and broken teeth resulting from seventeen years of malabsorption and demineralization due to my gastric bypass–a side effect we hadn’t really known about back when I had the surgery. Fortunately, I already had an appointment scheduled for 11:00 this morning.

I grabbed my phone, took a photo of the wayward crown and one of the tooth-stump in my mouth, and emailed the dental office with the subject “Emergency!”

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The crown in question, and possibly some semi-chewed toast

I’d already locked and barred the sliding door, so I shut down the computer, got my phone and glass of water, put the tooth on the breakfast bar, threw away the paper towel and remainder of the piece of toast, turned off the lights, called the dogs, went through the bedroom (followed by the dogs), into my bathroom to get ready for bed, then got into bed and thought about finding a small jewelry bag in the kitchen drawer to put the tooth in so I could take it with me in the morning to show the dentist.

This morning, I got up and made coffee, let the dogs out, got a little fabric bag out of the junk drawer, and went to put the tooth in it.

But the tooth was gone.

I know I put it on the breakfast bar. Yes, it was very late, and I was already halfway to sleepy-land, but I know I put it there, because that’s where I put the dogs’ puppy teeth when I found them, and I thought it was funny.

I fed the dogs, poured coffee, and started looking. On the floor, around the base of the breakfast bar, under the table, in Oliver’s crate, under Oliver’s crate, on the end table where I sit all day, around the computer, under the couch, in the couch, under other furniture, in and around various objects on the kitchen counters, in the garbage inside the paper towel holding the uneaten toast, in the half-bath (though I’m sure I didn’t go in there after the incident), on the deck in case I was wrong and we had gone outside again after the crown came off and I’d had it in my hand, in my bathroom, on my bed stand, in the bed, on floors all along the route I took from couch to bed…no tooth.

Email from the dentist’s office said bring it, because maybe they could put it back on. I explained my dilemma.

Appointment time came, and I had work done on the front bottom teeth, and some preliminary repairs to a very unsightly area of decay on one front tooth. And they took an impression of the tooth-stump, because it’s looking like I’m going to need a new crown.

Inquiring of the Facebook hive mind, it was suggested one of the dogs got it. Apparently, dogs are attracted to dental-mouth-type-things. They chew up whitening trays, retainers, dentures, so…maybe? But these two do not counter surf. The area where I put the tooth is where I also put their treats, and they’ve never taken anything off there. But what else could it be? A very determined mouse? There are way tastier things around here than a broken crown.

I’m left with only one suspect. The tooth fairy. A really shitty tooth fairy who needs to be fired immediately, because I did not put it under my pillow, did not authorize the theft of mens-tooth-fairy-costumethe tooth, and the bitch didn’t leave me any money, which I’m now going to need to pay for a new crown.

So, instead of being on dental visit 5 of 6 or 7, it’s now 5 of 7 or 8, because it will probably take a couple of visits to prepare and place the crown. Yay.

I’m done looking. I’ve driven myself nuts over it all day. If it shows up, fine. If a dog ate it, I don’t want it back. (Seriously.) It’s not for sure they could put this one back on anyway, and after eight or so years, it’s probably a good idea to start fresh.

Of course, now that I’m not looking, maybe it will come out of hiding. The main irritation right now is the mystery. It’s like a cliffhanger. I want to know where the hell a tooth could go, possibly of its own volition, between 11:30 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

The dogs aren’t talking.

I Have No Idea What’s Going On Over There Anymore

My gorgeous new yarn from Blue Barn Fiber is sitting in my mailbox, waiting for me to rescue it and ooh and aah over its glorious yarny-silky goodness, but I’m trapped in the house.

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Seriously, just look at that. It’s called Tide Pools, and I ordered it on a 50/50 SW merino and silk base.

But I can’t get near it because, as I figured, the Redneck Kid-Farm Rodeo is in full force out in their front yard. Last I counted, there were 8-10 kids from toddler to teen running about out there. I know they don’t all live there. It’s a 2-bedroom house, and my best guess is two of the older boys actually live there.

I have no idea who the rest of these assorted rugrats are. Cousins? Friends? Paying daycare customers? I don’t think they’re other random neighborhood kids, because I can’t think of any white kids on this street.

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As I reported in This Post (which contains photographic evidence of excessive kid-quota), there was one primary thing that might just put me over the edge. And (shudder) it appears to have happened.

What I wrote: “I’m really, really glad they don’t appear to have a dog, though. A dog running around out there would not be appreciated by my dogs–or by me.”

And…guess what. Yep. Dog. It looks–from my spying-spot in the dining room–like a little tan chihuahua. But it could be a puppy of something else short-haired that will be larger when it matures. I don’t know yet. So far, it’s been out on a leash, but I’m not optimistic it will stay that way. I picture it wriggling under my fence and getting eaten by the the Poodledactyl and Sir Mozzie the Swift.

For now, observation continues. They do seem to go a lot of places, and should the vehicles be gone when I check, I’ll need to make a dash for the mailbox. This is seriously impeding my usual practice of Immediate Gratification. Waiting sucks. But people suck more.

UPDATED: At latest count, four boys playing basketball. Three toddlers in a wading pool. One young boy going back and forth between the groups. Two teen-type girls watching the toddlers. AND…the dog. Looks like a chihuahua or maybe a chi-dachshund mix because it has a long back. If it’s not a puppy, it appears young. They keep putting it in the pool with the toddlers. It keeps jumping out. And, you guessed it…it’s no longer on a leash.

It’s gonna be a looooooong summer, folks.

Binge-Watching The X-Files

I recently started watching The X-Files for the first time. When it premiered almost 25 years ago, I didn’t watch much TV. But now, working at home and having access to c52a782d86e841116a324a1032dcfa74streaming video, binge-watching is one of my favorite things. Since I watch nearly every paranormal/supernatural show I can find, finally watching The X-Files was bound to happen.

Let me be clear about one thing. I do like the show. I’m into season 7 now, so obviously I enjoy it. I’m less clear about why it has achieved legendary status and a reboot. (I’m looking forward to the reboot seasons, though! Another week or so and I should be there.)

Since it premiered in 1993, I expected it to feel dated, and it does, a little. The cars, technology, wardrobe, even the on-screen graphics show it’s not a recent production. I was surprised to find the feel of the show felt dated even for 1993. Then I decided that’s what they were going for. Sort of a noir atmosphere, or a somber Twilight Zone tone. Fine. I can live with that.

But there are still some things that nag at me as I’m watching.

  • Scully’s wardrobe. I know it’s 1993 business professional stuff, but were the suits really so boxy then? And collars up to the jaw? Because I’ve seen nuns and Amish grandmothers looking more stylish. I assume Gillian Anderson has a figure under there, but you rarely catch even the faintest hint. I’m not saying dress her up like she’s on The Bachelorettee, but c’mon.
  • Lack of facial expressions. I’ll probably catch hell for this, but I don’t think Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are spectacular actors. They’re not bad. They’re just not…great. The lack of facial expressions is almost amusing. It’s like all their emotions are on a dimmer switch set to low. Even when they raise their voices, their faces barely move. It’s almost like a ventriloquist dummy. The mouth moves, and the eyes go back and forth, and that’s it. Sometimes it even looks like they’re trying to speak while moving their mouths as little as possible. Duchovny has at most three expressions. Neutral/brooding, alarmed or excited (which are the same) with slightly widened eyes and open mouth, and worried/angry/furious which involves a somewhat furrowed brow.

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  • Where’s the humor? I get it, it’s a serious show. But even the most serious, dark shows usually break it up now and then, or have the wacky best friend, nosy neighbor, quirky co-worker, running jokes…something to lighten the tone once in a while. As I’m getting to later seasons, it has improved. There are a few episodes where they break from the weighty story arc, like the time the shapeshifter guy locked Mulder in the basement and put the moves on Scully, or the one where they went to Texas and discovered vampires, and they were each recounting the case from their perspective to Skinner. Mostly, though, it’s dark, dark, dark and kind of oppressive. Oh, The Lone Gunmen? They’re awesome.

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  • Zero chemistry. Maybe it’s coming, or maybe it’s just never going to happen, but most shows which feature male and female leads usually bring them together eventually. Booth and Bones, for example. They didn’t get together until the start of season 7, but even before then, they had a lot of chemistry. I know, it’s not necessary for them to get together; it doesn’t change the point of the show. But, hey, maybe then they’d show some emotion. Not betting on it, though.
  • Are there aliens or not? At this point, I guess there are. There’s that fetus they’re passing around like a dead baby football and using to try to breed hybrids. But it could well turn out to be something else. First, it’s “the government is covering up the existence of aliens.” Then, “the government is pretending to cover up the existence of aliens so people will think that’s what they’re up to and not notice they’re really conducting human experiments.” Now I think it’s “all of the above, but there are actually aliens involved in the experiments.” Maybe. That could change in the next episode.

One thing I really enjoy is watching the list of guest stars after the opening theme. So many actors who have become favorites in other shows appeared on The X-Files back in the day. Mark Sheppard, Laurie Holden, Luke Wilson, Bruce Campbell, Willie Garson, Peter Boyle, Seth Green, Bryan Cranston, Donal Logue, Kurtwood Smith, James Pickens Jr., just to name a few.

So, what do you think? Are you a fan of The X-Files? What do I need to know, or what am I just not seeing clearly? I like it a lot. I’ll keep watching. But I don’t see me getting an “I Want To Believe” tattoo any time soon.

I Know You’re Only Here For The Dog Pictures

Yesterday was “Direwolves to the groomer day.” This comes along about every eight weeks, because Oliver is a poodle and there’s no way in blue hell I’m tackling that jobdoginatub myself.

When we still had Brody (Pyr) and Darwin (heavy-coated golden), they also had to visit the groomer, because attempting to get that undercoat out at home would’ve resulted in two very unkempt, pissed-off dogs and me in traction because my back would be contorted like a Crazy Straw. But Mozzie is a smallish, light-coated golden, so he only visits Jill’s Pet Resort for a nail trim, then we bathe him at home while Oliver is getting re-poodle-ized at Jill’s.

Grooming day is always chaotic, because the boys are 19 and 21 months old, energetic and strong, and a lot to handle. Thankfully, we now schedule this on Tom’s day off so he can help wrangle them, since the time they both almost got away from me in the parking lot.

There was some additional chaos yesterday, when we arrived and Jill came out to quietly tell me they didn’t have us on the schedule. I had the email, though, and she was super nice and they quickly rearranged some things so he could still be groomed, for which I was grateful since we have people coming over on Sunday, and I’d rather he not look like Post-Apocalyptic-Poodle. Everyone at Jill’s is always so great, and even though we’d just thrown their schedule out the window, we weren’t made to feel rushed or like an inconvenience.

I’ve always favored a shaved face when Oliver is groomed, or at least very short compared to the rest of his body.

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But Tom prefers a longer, more doodle-ish face, and yesterday I relented and let Kate (Oliver’s groomer) leave it more natural. He’s adorable no matter what, and other than his mouth-fur getting icky from food and dog-slobber, I’m okay with it. We try to leave his butt region with some coverage, but the way he sits means he tends to mat, so clipping is usually required…leaving Giant Poodle Testicles on full display. I’m considering inventing a Poodle Butt Toupee for those pet-parents who have intact male dogs but would rather not view their goodies all day.

Now on to the reason you’re really reading this post…the pictures! Mozzie, being a golden, looks pretty much the same. He is, however, super soft and so silky I can hardly stand it, and he smells a lot better. Bonus, his toenails aren’t ripping my legs to shreds.

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And here’s Oliver with his “natural” (more or less) face and 100% natural tail…

Tom picked Oliver up for me yesterday, which I really appreciated. It was supposed to be simple, but ended up being a pain in the ass. He didn’t complain, but I won’t try to guilt him into doing it again. I just really hate to drive.

Today is all about the chill. Yesterday was busy, and the weekend will be too. I’m going to work on my shawl, which is only about six or seven (long) rows from being done. I need to look up how to do the picot bind-off and practice so I don’t ruin the shawl I’ve been working on for three weeks…so wish me luck!

Neighbors Again

It’s going to be a long summer.

I’ve blogged a few times about the new neighbors in the small rental house across the street. As best I can tell, there seem to be parents and a couple of teen boys who actually live there, but since the menagerie of children changes hourly, I can’t be entirely sure. There are bigs and littles, girls and boys, elementary, middle school, toddlers…

And I’m not a kid person. I don’t hate them, exactly. The old saying is children should be seen and not heard, but I sort of prefer they be neither seen nor heard.

There’s the basketball hoop monopolizing the street, the ball spending more time in our yard due to the slope than on the actual “court,” and the piles of worn plastic toys. There is a hobby horse that looks alarmingly like one I had when I was a kid…and I was born in the 1960s. Pretty sure there’s some sort of consumer safety issue there.

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Now I’ve been treated to bald, shirtless, paunchy guy hanging out in the yard–the father, I’m assuming.

Then a four-person tent appeared in the front yard. Not the side yard, of which there is roughly a half acre, or the back yard. Right in front. Presumably to accommodate kid-overflow. I think the mother does daycare, but who the hell knows?

Now we have a new sight to behold. The other morning I heard an engine and thought, “Yay, they’re mowing their yard.” But it kept going. For a long time. I peeked through the blinds, and thought it was a strange way to mow, going all over the place. Oh, and up and down the street too.

Huh. It’s not a lawnmower at all. Not anymore. Now it is a former lawnmower with the mowing bits removed, serving as an ATV, and kids are driving it around. Which I’m fairly sure isn’t especially safe.

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The giant blue tent would be just out of frame to the right.

The only thing I’m clinging to at this point is they do not have a dog. Because if they had a dog tied in the yard or roaming at large, Steps Would Be Taken.

The summer may be long, but I’m hoping their lease is short.

Happily Unhuggable

My personal space bubble is getting wider and thicker as I get older. Growing up, back when I still cared about fitting in and being like everyone else, hugs were automatic, if not enjoyed. Everybody hugs, right? But why?

Honestly, I don’t like to be touched at all, unless you are a dog, in which case snuggles are mandatory and you can sit on my lap, climb me like a mountain, lick my face, and I will skritch you anywhere you would like to be skritched.

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Him, I will hug. Probably more than he would prefer.

I have to have an eye exam soon, and after that I desperately need to schedule what I’m sure will be the first of a long series of painful, face-touching appointments. I’m going to need lots of drugs. The really good kind. Partially for the expected nerve-searing agony, but also because I’ll be super stressed out having people touching me.

I don’t even get my hair cut and colored anymore because there is literally no way to accomplish this without being touched, and it is also customary to chat with the stylist. I have decided to embrace the gray and see it as a fashion choice rather than advancing crone-hood. I grab my craft scissors every couple of months and whack off the dead ends and call it good.

I don’t go to the doctor, and I haven’t gotten a new tattoo in three years. These both involve way too much personal contact. I don’t want people to shake my hand or touch my arm when we’re talking. Honestly, I’m not really a fan of the talking part either, but if we can do it at a reasonable distance, I’ll probably survive. Recommended distance = text me from your house. No, don’t call. I don’t answer the phone. Phone calls are like your voice touching my ears.

No manicures or pedicures, and forget massages, because that is professional, therapeutic touching, and it’s not happening. Ever.

Still, hugging is expected, and people who enjoy it can’t comprehend that not everybody is okay with it. Any group event…so much hugging. Friends hug greetings, people meeting for the first time are all “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad to finally meet you!” Hug.

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Cringe.

And family…the hug machine cranks into overdrive. This is when I most often have to give in, because not hugging family you haven’t seen in a while is apparently offensive. Or something. I’m not really sure, because figuring out people is not my strong suit. hug__by_gotbob

I try to limit hug exposure by hanging back until everyone seems to have the hugs out of their systems, then slip into the group unobtrusively. With farewell hugs, the best strategy is to edge to the outer perimeter of the group, sidling toward the door or your car, and hope a friendly wave will do. (Spoiler alert: It almost never does.)

In addition to all the anxiety I have about leaving the house and the Direwolves, the conversations I’ll have to participate in, whether there will be any adult beverages to numb some of my neurological worry centers, if I’m dressed appropriately to blend in and not attract unwanted attention, if I’ll have to use someone’s bathroom (I have developed extraordinary bladder control to avoid this situation)…I don’t really want to have to factor in hug-avoidance. But failure to remain vigilant results in far too much person-to-person contact.

It’s not that I don’t care about all these huggy people. I do. I am happy to see them. I’m stressed about it, but I’m happy. I just don’t want people inside my safety-bubble.

I’m not a germophobe. My lackadaisical attitude toward household sanitation guarantees my immune system is regularly challenged by all manner of microscopic threats and is in top working order. My aversion to touching people isn’t due to fear of illness. I just don’t like it, and I’m at an age where I’m about out of rats’ asses to give about whether I’m socially acceptable.

The struggle is real.