Sunday, January 29, 2012

It Lives!!

Photo by ME - yes, really ME!
At approximately 5 AM on New Year's Day 2012, my three year-old Gateway home computer stopped working. I kept pushing the start button, but nothing would happen. I unplugged it. I plugged it into a different outlet. I let it sit for a day ... for a week. Still nothing.

My inner geek was determined to figure out what was wrong and if I could fix it. I opened the computer up and took a look around. Got out my compressed air in case it was just a severe case of dust bunny fever. 

Then my outer realist remembered that I really don't know that much about hardware. Software, yes, I'm a wiz-kid. But figuring out which wire inside the box did what was beyond my pay grade.

I spent a couple of weeks trying to figure out which local computer place has the best reputation and the most reasonable rates. Then I sprained my ankle and became incapable of carrying any computer into a store and I certainly couldn't afford a house call. Tonight I decided that I was going to drag the computer out into the living room and eventually find a way to get it down to my car. 

When I got it into the kitchen, I thought I would plug it in and try one more time. Still nothing. 

About one minute later, I heard this beep-beep noise. As it had been so long since I last heard the beep-beep, I didn't recognize it. I turned around and saw lights flashing and I could hear motors whirling. It was alive! But it wasn't connected to a monitor or keyboard, so I had no idea what it was doing. 

I decided to take a risk, unplug the computer and roll it back into the office and hook it up again. 

I pressed the start button and nothing. 

I pressed the button again and held it down for a couple of seconds. (Because I wanted to make sure it knew I was serious.) Nothing. 

Then I figured I would do what I did in the kitchen and just give it a minute to consider its options. And it made the right decision. 
I got the beep-beep and my computer came back to life. It was a bit messed up at first and I had to cautiously restart it a couple of times, but I updated my anti-virus software and I think this baby is going to make it.

I guess the two weeks of novenas paid off. Thanks to St. Isidore of Seville, the patron saint of computer programmers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The positive side of a sprained ankle

It's important to stay positive when facing a challenge in your life. My current challenge being my lovely sprained ankle. This is just a partial list of what I have learned thus far

  • Unmatched socks are not a problem
  • Access to better parking
  • Crutches can double as a very long arm
  • Wheelchair rides at the airport
  • Pre-boarding with the first class flyers
  • Being called a "trooper"
  • Friends and co-workers with knee-scooter-envy
  • Scooter doubles as a chair, if needed
  • Being able to separate people into two groups: those who want to see your multi-colored foot and those who don't
  • Low expectations of being on time for meetings

Monday, January 23, 2012

Slip Sliding

Last Tuesday morning, I finally took my Christmas tree to the Olmsted County disposal/recycling area. There was this huge hill of Christmas trees waiting to be mulched. I took a photo of it and my plan was to write a post about it.

About 30 minutes after dropping off the tree, the entire plan went out the windows when I slipped and fell with my ankle taking the impact. I was in one of the Mayo subways, heading to my office. No one saw me fall, but two other Mayo staff members came upon me less than 10 seconds after I went down.

I knew that I had done something to my ankle, but figured I had only twisted it. The two saintly co-workers who happened upon me, asked if I could stand. I figured I should check out my ankle before trying to stand and what I saw just flabbergasted me. In less than a minute, this softball size "thing" had taken over my ankle. "No, I don't think I should stand on it."

If Mayo has one item in abundance, it is wheelchairs. Everywhere you go, everywhere. There are wheelchairs. One of the two grabbed a wheelchair and they got me to my office. <There must be something about pushing someone in a wheelchair that generates endorphins because everyone wanted to push me in the wheelchair that day.>

I couldn't get in for an X-ray until 2:30 and while that rather patubed me, I would guess that they got a better image after having me ice it for five hours.  (That's my ankle after five hours of icing) It was just a sprain, but the recommendation was to stay off my foot for about three to four weeks and that I should expect at least eight to ten week until full recovery.

"Here's your crutches and an aircast and a boatload of paperwork for the workman's comp claim. Good luck and have a nice day."

It didn't take me long to figure out I would not do well on crutches and that trying to hobble around the Mayo campus is just not practical. So I talked my way into a knee caddy, a glorified scooter with a wire basket. I know I look a bit funny, but at least I'm getting around campus. (and my scooter is nothing like my mom's walker, Cousin Allyson!)

To add to the fun, I'm traveling almost every weekend for skating. This past weekend was to snowy Chicago. The key to success was getting the wheelchair assistance right away.  I was flying Southwest Airlines that has open seating, but I qualified for pre-boarding seating. Front row to Chicago and back!

Absolutely nothing went off as planned for the trip down to Chicago. The flight was postponed, then they combined two flights to Midway together, but didn't bother to combine the luggage. I got into Midway at 11, waited one hour to learn that my luggage was still in MSP and wouldn't arrive until the next day, waited another 45 minutes to get a cab to take me to my hotel in deep, dark suburbia, and another 45 minutes to get me there.

I travel to Pennsylvania later this week and have to make a connection in Cincinnati, so I'm praying that everything goes better than this. At least the destination will make the trip worthwhile - Hershey, PA! Chocolate heals everything!

Friday, January 13, 2012


I finally have an absolutely legitimate excuse for this lapse in blogging. My home computer died. 

It had been acting funky for awhile, but shortly after New Year's, it stopped working. I kept pushing the power button, but nothing would happen. It had done this a couple of times before, but would eventually come back to life. After two days of trying different configurations, I accepted the fact it wasn't coming back. 

My first instinct was to head to Best Buy and get a new one. But the reality of my budget was saying no. And dang it all, why did I decide to stop using my credit cards as my New Year's resolution? UGH! Cuz you know that Best Buy always has some six months/no interest deal going on. 

Second instinct - take the computer in to Best Buy and drop it off with the Geek Squad. I'm pretty sure it's the starter that's shot, but I'm not as smart about the inside workings of a computer as I should be.  I took the cover off the computer and gave it a gander, but seriously, what was I expecting to see?  I've been a huge fan of the Geek Squad for years - even before they sold out to BB - but it costs about $80 just for them to tell you what's wrong with it. 

There are OTHER computer repair places in Rochester, but I have to get some recommendations from the locals before I trust someone.

So how have I managed to last this long without my home computer? Surprisingly well. I've used Carbonite back-ups for the last three or four years. Through that service, I have a complete back-up of my computer's hard drive available to me online. All my pictures, all my music, etc. Yippee!

And it's not like I don't have access to other devices. I have my work computers, my iPad, my iPhone-turned-iTouch, and my crappy Android phone that I regret buying.  Plus I have a netbook computer that I've hooked up to my big monitor, keyboard, mouse and printer so they don't get dusty.  It really looks stupid and I'm not using it, but I set it up JUST in case.

So that's my goal for next week: Take my computer somewhere for evaluation. Find out if it can be fixed or if we have to take it out back and shoot it.

If Tim Tebow can pray for a touchdown, is it wrong to start a Novena for my computer? And who exactly is the patron saint of computers?