Feb 21

Things still falling apart

The new dryer arrived, was installed, and actually works.

The ailing computer came home from the shop, but the problem wasn’t solved. It continued to crash frequently for no apparent reason. I took it back to the shop and got a second opinion from a different technician. The motherboard is damaged and will have to be replaced. There’s nothing wrong with the CPU or memory modules, so we could theoretically just move them to another motherboard — except that no motherboard that could use them is being made anymore.

We could buy an old one on eBay, but what would be the point? No, this means we have to buy a new motherboard and CPU and memory, and build a new computer in the case of the old one. This is probably a good idea anyway, as the computer in question is increasingly unstable. For example, inserting the FlashPath adapter for my digital camera into the floppy drive causes the machine to reboot. So does opening the little plastic door that covers the front-panel USB port.

Last night, I tried to order the replacement components from TigerDirect, but I couldn’t remember the password for my account there. When I tried to use the “I Forgot My Password” feature to have the password e-mailed to me, it didn’t work. Nothing came.

This morning, I phoned TigerDirect customer service, waited on hold, and eventually spoke to a live human being. He investigated and told me that their e-mail servers are currently suffering from some kind of major problem caused by large amounts of spam. He recommended that I create a new account using an alternate e-mail address, and use that to place the order. I did.

Two MP3 players I ordered for Ben and Ruth arrived. They don’t work.
And Marie went to her dentist to have a toothache diagnosed. Result: she needs a root canal and a crown, which will cost over a thousand dollars.

Feb 17

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold

Over the last month or so, I decided to stop procrastinating and get some broken things fixed. I took apart a leaking toilet, replaced all the non-porcelain parts, and put it back together. I had the broken driver’s sun visor in my car replaced. I replaced several flaky light fixtures. I took a nonfunctional VCR to the repair shop. I sent the older of our two TiVos to Texas to have its ailing modem repaired and its hard drive and memory upgraded. I bought refill kits for our laser and inkjet printers, both of which were running low. I purchased replacements for Ben’s dead Palm and the dead video adapter that he had been using to play computer games. And I had the broken fuel door on our minivan replaced.

The various mechanical devices in my household took notice of what I was doing, and realized that if I wasn’t stopped, they would all have to work at the same time. Unthinkable! They decided to retaliate. The toilet started leaking again. One of the new light fixtures developed exactly the same problem as the one it replaced. The new video adapter caused the computer to crash every half hour or so. Our dryer started making loud squeaking noises, and then stopped working completely on February 9. The color inkjet cartridge didn’t work even after it was refilled. (I ordered a replacement.)

Today, the repair technician came to look at our dryer and pronounced it dead. (I bought a new one, to be delivered Wednesday.) The replacement color inkjet cartridge arrived in the mail — and also didn’t work. (Apparently the printer is busted.) The replacement sun visor in my car broke in exactly the same way as the original one.

I should just give up, but I’m too stubborn to let a bunch of stupid machines defeat me. The crashing computer is now in the shop, and the TiVo arrived in Corpus Christi today for its overhaul. I bought replacement water hoses for our clothes washer (even though the original ones weren’t even broken yet!) and installed them today. I’ll have another go at fixing the leaky toilet sometime this week, probably buy a new inkjet printer as well. After the new dryer arrives and the computer and TiVo return home, they’ll undoubtedly meet with the new printer, the washer, the toilet, and the light fixtures to plan their next move.

Actually, I suspect that those devices are just the foot soldiers in this war; I’ll bet it’s really my computers that are doing all the planning and giving the orders. Even this one, the computer I’m typing on right now, is in on the plot. I know this because I discovered, as I logged onto Blogger, that the Tab key on its keyboard has stopped working. You’re all part of the conspiracy, aren’t you? Yes, dishwasher, I’m talking to you. Your drying cycle has never worked right. And you, microwave oven! I don’t trust you any more that your predecessor, the one that committed suicide by setting a potato on fire! I know you’re all out to get me! But I’m ready for you! I’ll —

Feb 05

Plates and states

I’m playing the License Plate Game again this year, and it’s going much better than in 2003. I only have 35 of the 50 states so far, but among those 35 are some that are quite rare in North Carolina. I spotted a Minnesota plate on Tuesday, and yesterday I saw one from Idaho. Idaho was one of the two states I never managed to get last year, so checking it off was especially satisfying.
This morning, as I was driving to work, I glanced at a passing minivan and was astonished to see that it had front and rear plates from Hawaii. On the other hand, I still haven’t sighted a license plate from Kentucky, which is practically next door. But with eleven months to go, I’m not very concerned about that one.

Feb 04

The eyes have it

My glaucoma screening at Kelly Eye Center was today. The technicians measured my intraocular pressure (IOP) again and gave me another visual field test. They also measured my corneal thickness (which affects IOP, so you have to allow for it when comparing IOP numbers). Then Dr. Talluto dilated my pupils and used an ophthalmoscope to look through the lens of each eye and examine optic disk (the spot where the optic nerve connects to the retina). And she saw exactly what we thought she would: cupping of the disk, indicating damage to the optic nerve.
It’s official — I have glaucoma. But the disease is in a very early stage, and now we can treat it. Dr. Talluto gave me eye drops to put in one eye for the next month, while leaving the other eye untreated. This will allow her to measure how well the medication is reducing the IOP. I’ll visit her again on March 4, and she’ll decide what the next stage of my treatment will be.