Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My New Refrigerator

What a fucking fiasco, something out of the Keystone Cops and / or the theatre of the absurd.

As anyone who follows me on Facebook will know, (and if you don't i'm (should you care) last Thursday night, i discovered that the freezer compartment of my refrigerator was dead. This was rather a cause for concern, as i had around $100 worth of meat and seafood in there. Unfortunately, it was too late to call my landlord and say, hey.

On Friday morning, i took what i could and stashed it in the big walk-in freezer at my work. The ice cream was a complete write-off, but i saved almost everything else. When i came home from work that afternoon, i called my landlord again, intending (again) to say "hey," but i connected to a vexing message on his answering machine, informing me he'd gone away for the weekend. It's nice for some....

So, for the weekend, it was take-out dinners every night. Can't complain.

On Monday, when i returned home from the shop (a bit late) and called my landlord, he'd gone for the evening. Grrrrrrrr. But Tuesday was my day off and i called him first thing in the morning and he said, he'd try to have a repairman over that day, but added that i really should have called earlier. (!!!)

Well, the repair dude showed up at around three o'clock (as i was in the middle of watching "Skyfall"), checked out the refrigeration situation, and declared it too old to be repaired / not worth repairing / can't get the parts anymore, etc.  He called my landlord and stated, "new fridge required."

It arrived on Wednesday afternoon and here's its picture:

Big, innit! Oh, guess what? It was too big to fit through my kitchen door. So the delivery guys had to take it the long way round, through my living room and my office area and into the kitchen that way. The problem being, though, that although there was plenty of room to move the fridge, a lot of furniture had to be moved in order to accommodate it. And it wasn't on a dolly, it was dragged across the carpet. Awkwardly.

Now, my apartment is fairly large but i've accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. It's crammed full of bookshelves and CD racks. Quite a few of these fell victim to this juggernaut: shelves were knocked over, racks were demolished, etc., and although at least i now had a working refrigerator, i also had books and discs and ogodthepainofit all over the bloody floor. Plus, i'm ashamed to say (fastidious housewife that i am) a fair bit of dirt was revealed.

I've started the clean-up, obviously, but it's such a daunting task: hundreds of CDs that i had alphabetized, now lying around at random. Hundreds of CD-Rs in numerical order, a shambles. Why me?

Oh, well, here's the latest in my CD collection (the letter "B" wasn't particularly turned into a nihilistic splatter by the above):

Well, i used to listen to opera a lot more than i do now, as you may notice from my recent playlist:

Rory Gallagher -- Tattoo
Quicksilver Messenger Service -- Happy Trails
Colin James -- Twenty Five Live
Big Wreck -- The Pleasure And The Greed
King Crimson - Beat

Cheers, ebberybuddy

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Gift Card Scamboozle

I don't use gift cards all that often -- for one thing, i'm rarely given them (not "gifted" them, good grief). But i don't use credit cards either (i lack the self-discipline to use them sensibly, a lesson i learned with a great deal of trial and tribulation when i was in my twenties) (and i haven't matured much since then, to be honest).

But sometimes, for online purchases, a credit card is the only way, and so i will occasionally buy myself (not "gift" myself, good grief) a Visa or MasterCard gift card for $50 or $100 and use that.

So, what do you do with a gift card when you've used up all but its last two or three dollars? I mean, you can't really use it for anything then, so, you probably place it wistfully into the garbage and say 'bye 'bye. At least, that's what i do. My last one had ninety-four cents available on it and what the hell was i going to do with that? So i trashed it.

Consider this, then: millions of gift cards out there, each with a dollar or two remaining, all in the bin. Is this a windfall for the gift card companies? Or is it? I'd be inclined to suggest that they're raking it in on unclaimed balances alone.

And the stupid thing is, i can't get too angry: i just wish i'd thought of it first. (Did you know that i may have been the first person ever, to conceptualize the GPS? No, really! Unfortunately, i was very young at the time, a hundred years or so ago, and the technology didn't exist. But 'twas i.)

So here are the latest additions to my CD collection. Unfortunately, as my collection is fluid -- new ones coming every day, folks! -- some will appear out of sequence, like this, which i just received yesterday:

Mick Abrahams is a fabulous blues-rock guitarist. He was a founding member of Jethro Tull, but Ian Anderson chucked him out after their first album, because all Mick wanted to was to play da blooze, while Ian Anderson envisioned a different direction for Tull. This is a 2013 live 2-CD set (disc one is acoustic, disc two is electric) and it's great -- and Mick's between-song patter is hilarious, he's also a natural comic LOL

Otherwise, normal sequence continues:

And, of course, the playlist:

The Bee Gees - Odessa
Chicago - Chicago VII
Glenn Hughes - The God Of Voice: The Best Of Glenn Hughes [stupid title!]
Van der Graaf Generator - The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
Wishbone Ash - No Smoke Without Fire
Peter Hammill - X My Heart
The Jeff Beck Group - Beck-Ola
Paula Cole - Raven
Barlow - Barlow
Roy Wood - Outstanding Performer
Sparks - Kimono My House
Yes - Going For The One

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

My Love/Hate Affair With Computers, Part 196

It's been a week in cyber-hell.

I use LibreOffice ( as my document / spreadsheet reader and i'm very happy with it, but  a couple of days ago they prompted me to download the most recent version, and i'm a firm believer in keeping my software updated, so i did. Downloaded it and installed it.  Except that the d/l apparently failed and when i tried to open a document, i couldn't.

Okay, there i was without any way to open document files and / or spreadsheets, and becoming extremely frustrated. I tried to download the new version of LibreOffice again; after more than an hour at the stellar rate of 32 KB/sec, my Internet connection died. The download failed.

So, when i had a connection again, i decided to try Open Office. I used Open Office once, i prefer LibreOffice, but i thought, any port in a storm. Nope. Connection died, download failed.

So, thinking maybe i have more problems with my poor old desktop computer than i had imagined, i
plugged my network cable in to my laptop, and attempted to download LibreOffice again (figuring i could transfer it to a thumb drive and install it on my PC that way).

The download failed. This was NOT how i wanted to spend the evening....

And, just to make things even more fun, i seemed to have an eyelash embedded in my left eyeball, which turned it a fetching shade of red and also, rendered me basically monocular.

Jeez, how much longer do i have to do penance for the sins of my previous life...?

Then i had a thought. (Yes, thoughts do occasionally slither into my brain-pan.) What if i downloaded LibreOffice as a torrent...? That would eliminate any failures due to my wonky Internet connection. Tra, la, i had the software in a couple of hours, installed it and am now happily grappling with spreadsheets once more.

But wait! This tale isn't over yet.

The LibreOffice fiasco aside, my system had been running really slowly anyway. My Internet connection kept failing, but on top of that, everything was loading soooo slowly. (Does smashing your head into your computer desk in frustration, damage the CPU? Probably not.) And then, last night, my keyboard stopped working. My primary input device wouldn't input anything. I could open word documents now, but when i tried to type anything into them, nothing happened. Keyboard kaput. I couldn't take any more, i watched a movie and went to bed (after sending a few messages of despair to Facebook via my phone).

Today -- my day off. Sorting out the keyboard was easy. I simply used the Device Manager to remove it, and re-booted. Windows found it an re-installed it and now it's back to normal.

My connection -- in fact my whole system -- was responding even more slowly than usual and i was
getting super-frustrated (this was around 4 a.m., great start to the day) and i started to think, why is everything so slow? Is there something that i don't know about chewing up memory? My daily AV scan showed nothing nasty. So i went to the Task Manager and checked running processes and ...eureka!

Sometime ago, i installed some Samsung software that was supposed to help sync my PC and my phone and i discovered that it was using a huge amount of memory -- far more than anything else, and i didn't even know it loaded automatically with Windows! So i uninstalled it and ... ah, bliss. All is well. I haven't even lost my Internet connection since.

And i never used that damned software anyway, i'm not one of those people who wants their entire life on their phone. I'm old, i'd rather have in the PC....

I'm going to seriously have to consider a new PC soon, though. This one is definitely showing signs of age (and i'm still running XP, which has been condemned to death next year). Or at least a reasonably-priced refurbished Windows 7 machine (are you reading this, Troy?).

Anyway, here's a few additions to my CD collection series:

 And  a very brief playlist (i've been busy):

Rory Gallagher -- Notes From San Francisco
Rory Gallagher - Top Priority
Def Leppard - Yeah!
Various Artists -- The Great Grandson Of Morris On
John Fogerty - Blue Moon Swamp