The Thrilling Adventures of Stephen|
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|Saturday, November 30th, 2013|
|A Thrilling Vermin Adventure
Recently, we were hearing strange noises in the house. And then, one day, a really strange noise, a metronome in the basement. It was an old, battery-powered thing that had somehow been turned on. Conclusion: we had an uninvited visitor.
I would have called an exterminator, but my wife, K., is ultra-softhearted. So we went looking for live-traps. Finally got one at Ace hardware. I spent several days on
careful strategic planning, and finally
pinky swore to K. I'd do it that day
decided my plans were mature. Then I made my mistake. I opened the box.
I had a hint of my mistake when I opened the box and saw the instructions were inside
the trap, and found that I couldn't get it open. This was a clue to stop and think. But I just bulled on ahead, and managed to break it.
Eventually, I figured out how to get it open, at which point it turned out that repair instructions were not
included. The next hour or so are best passed over with muttered and loudly voiced obscenities. After breaking it further (which was necessary to get at certain parts), and a couple of false starts, I finally figured out how it was supposed to work, and got it back together. It even worked, sort of. Expecting nothing, I took it downstairs, baited it, and left.
Sonofabitch, the damned thing functioned fine. I feel just slightly guilty that I didn't check it till evening, because there was a large gray squirrel inside the trap, probably without water for half a day. So I got dressed, took Throckmorton G. Squirrel and his container to the car, and set off for Dakota County. As Dakota County is both twenty or so miles away, and on the other side of a fairly wide river, I figured this ought to discourage a return to Casa Messy.
Throckmorton tolerated his ride fairly well, and listened politely as I explained that he was lucky, as I wasn't going to kill him. He took off like a rocket when I opened the door. I returned home. With luck, there are no further varmints down there to bother us.
Sometimes, I wonder if all this high-pressure living isn't too much for an old fart like me, but so far, I tolerate it.
P. S.: It turned out that instructions for opening the trap were on the outside of the box. It never occurred to me to look there.
|Saturday, October 8th, 2011|
|Writer's Block: Love hurts
When you're heart breaks, you are injured, just as if you'd broken a bone. In both cases there is no remedy except time. Eventually, you heal.
|Sunday, September 25th, 2011|
|Sunday, September 18th, 2011|
|Sunday, August 28th, 2011|
|A Nice Time
I went over to Uncle Hugo's 'today' (yesterday by the calendar), for the book signing by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I had a nice time at the store, at "It's Greek to Me" after the signing, and at local fan Scott Raun's house after the meal. Lee and Miller are very charming in person, and lots of fun to chat with.
Warning: Sharon Lee is TALL! She may be the tallest woman I ever met, and is certainly in the top five. I'm six-one, and she is only an inch or two shorter than me. She and Steve mentioned going out for walks, with her dressed in men's clothes (which were more comfortable for her), and getting mistaken for a pair of gays ('Hey, don't you go insulting my wife by calling her a fag'-Miller, quote approx.)
And if you ever meet Steve M., ask him to tell you about Harlan Ellison, Clarion, and the great curmudgeon's spontaneous kindness to a young lady who very much needed help. Current Mood: happy
|Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011|
The '98 Subaru wagon died at 158,000 miles, effectively speaking (it needed the second major repair within a year). K.'s Honda Fit was too small for me, because the short people's conspiracy made sure the seat wouldn't slide back far enough. K. is retired.
Decision: new Subaru Imprezza wagon. The Sport model, because it has windshield wiper and outside mirror de-icers. Picked it up Thurs, 20110818.
So far, we like.
|Thursday, May 1st, 2008|
Left my car at a body shop, to have the bumper re-attached. You see, a while back I backed into my garage, and went too near the phone pole. The bumper popped right off. I used K.'s car for a while, but now I want my own back, as I'll have a temporary job starting Monday.
Oh, I also bought a windbreaker at the Burlington Coat Factory
, since the weather is too warm to need my winter coat now.
And K. and I just watched both Lost
and Burn Notice
. Good shows.
Now, if the sheer excitement of all this doesn't kill me. . . Current Mood: cheerful
|Wednesday, April 30th, 2008|
|Invormation Wanted on Weird, Rare Astronomical Event
The weather was very strange today. Instead of it's normal gray color, and a normal spring temperature about the same as the inside of my refrigerator, the sky was (I'm not joking) a bright blue color. Also, instead of the light coming from all directions at once, there was this bright object in the sky that not only gave off light, but heat. In fact, the air temperature may have gotten above 40 degrees Farenheit!
I seem to recall hearing of these phenomena, and I believe have names and explanations. If any of you know anything about this, please leave a comment telling me what was going on.
While on the subject of information I need: I heard this odd phrase the other day, "global warming." (And yes, I checked, it wasn't 'global warping,' or 'global warning'). If anyone has any idea what this means, I'd appreciate your sharing the knowledge.
|Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007|
|Bad Amazon Customer Service Improves Just Slightly
Well, someone finally paid attention to my ten days of complaints, re-opened my wife's account, and called up to talk to me.
So, I went into the wife's account to look at her records, and, SURPRISE!, there are no records. Apparently everything has been wiped.
But I have managed to figure out what the alleged problem is, and I've got a call in with Chase about the proper account. It's one where we had a possible fraudulent charge issue last year. Amazon confused that account with a different account, and told us there was a dispute on the second account. That explains why, when I called Chase, they didn't find anything being disputed.
So, maybe I will finally get this completely resolved. Not that I'm holding my breath or betting big on it. Current Mood: exhausted
|Wednesday, April 25th, 2007|
|More Nonsense From Amazon
They continue to amaze us with their stupidity.
My wife K. got an e-mail, asking if they had satisfactorily answered her question. Her question was 'Why did you cancel my account, and why are you disputing an order from 2006?' The answer customer service gave was 'We can't tell you. To tell you, we'd have to be able to access your account, and we can't since it's cancelled. Only a special department can do that, and we can't transfer you to them.' In our opinion, this has to count as a 'No, you didn't answer our question.'
So, an e-mail was sent, putting this point across, perhaps a bit more forcefully. And what happened? They rubbed salt in the wound. They dumped her to a screen reminding her that if she has any questions, she can answer most of them by logging into her account. You know, the account that's been cancelled, and thus can no longer be logged into -- and no, Amazon customer 'service' can't help us with that either.
We have to wonder, here at Casa Messy, just how out of touch you have to be to think you're making people feel better with this automatic, insincere, pointless, perversely unhelpful fluff?
By now, seeing how long they can continue to fail to even address our problem, and how much angrier they can make us, has become strangely enjoyable. If nothing else, it gives me the chance to post things like this. Current Mood: cranky
|Amazon Does the Unbelievable: It Makes It's Customer Service Worse
Yes, though I thought they'd hit bedrock, Amazon has now dug an even deeper pit.
K. really, REALLY wanted the book we'd ordered through Amazon, used. The seller had been nice, and it was the low price. So, I re-ordered the book under my own name.
Silly me, I used the same credit card, since it was the default on the account. AMAZON CANCELLED THAT ORDER TOO. Since the card number had been used in connection with a "fraudulent" order, they won't process any orders using that card. Of course, they hadn't bothered to delete the card from my account. It's still there, so I can make other orders they won't fill.
I wouldn't have believed any company could be this stupid and clownish, but Amazon has reached this nadir of customer treatment.
|Tuesday, April 24th, 2007|
|Amazon's Lousy Customer Service Continues
The idiots at Amazon e-mailed my wife this morning, saying that the reason they closed her account was because the bank was disputing a charge on the credit card -- a charge made in May of 2006. (Yes, that's right, an order nearly three years old). I called the bank issuing the card (Chase), and they told me that there are no disputed charges on the card, and never have been.
Meanwhile, Amazon sent me an e-mail, saying that they had closed her account because she used my credit card to open her account with. The fact her name is on the card's account, that she has a copy of the card with her name on it, that is apparently beside the point. If the account was valid, said the e-mail, click on this link, and tell us. Clicking on the link sends you to the Amazon home page.
I also talked with someone at Amazon, again, who said the problem is that the billing address info on file with the bank doesn't match the billing address info she provided them, which is a lie. I talked to someone at the bank, and confirmed that the billing address info is identical in both cases.
Meanwhile, what really gets me, is that Amazon's web pages keep talking about how they want to delight you with their great customer service -- but there is no way to call up an account specialist and actually talk with one, and the account specialists are the only ones who can fix the screw ups. With luck, one of them will get in touch with me by the end of the week.
Amazon.com's operational philosophy: 'Drop dead, you're too stupid to treat right, it's easier to just lie to you.' Current Mood: angry
|Monday, April 23rd, 2007|
|I'm so mad I could bite nails in two.
Amazon.com has just shown what happens when you let the accounts take over your firm, and we will not be dealing with them again.
It started with K. submitting an order. She got an e-mail saying the order had been accepted, and giving shipping dates. Today, we tried to check on the order. We can't get into her account.
So I try to get them to send a password so we can get into her account. That tells us their is no such account this despite the e-mail confirming the order.
Finally, I call them. It turns out they've messed her account up somehow. They won't tell what the problem is, they won't ship the order, they won't put someone on the line that can deal with the problem immediately, we should wait for them to get in contact with us in a week or so.
Fuck that noise. We'll do business with people who don't think we should wait on their convenience in order to be allowed to give them money. Current Mood: angry
|Friday, March 2nd, 2007|
|Snow, Snow, Snow
Comparing weeks to the same dates, we've had more snow in the last week than in the last 25 years.
It started on my birthday, last Sunday, God's little birthday present to me (that Deity, such a kidder). I shoveled that three times.Then came March 1st.It started snowing in the morning, and it was still snowing when I woke up today.
Last I looked out the window, it was still coming down, although lightly.
Someone remind me why I live here?
Btw, I've measured this week's fall at over nineteen inches at my house. How much more is hard to say, because the snow on top was light and fluffy, while that at the bottom was heavy and compressed. But it was definitely too much.
|Monday, February 12th, 2007|
|Sunday, February 4th, 2007|
|It That Time of Year Again
Dangerous wind chills, highs for the day in negative territory, temperatures coldest in years. It will feel like 35 below.
I'm not sure I want to live. Current Mood: numb
|Thursday, February 1st, 2007|
I just finished John Birmingham's science-fiction trilogy THE AXIS OF TIME yesterday. The third novel went on sale on Jan. 30th, and I read it through that night.
The premise of the series is that a naval battle group, composed of US and Allied ships, is accidentally sent back in time from 2021 to 1942, and manages to accidentally disrupt the U.S. fleet on the way to the battle of Midway. Further, said battle group is composed of soldiers who are veterans of the twenty-years-and-counting War on Terror, multi-racial, male and female, and with "Don't ask, don't tell" long since repealed. The flagship is the U.S.S. Hillary Clinton, named for the martyred President revered by the military for her implacable determination to crush terrorist groups.
I liked all the books, but the third, Final Impact
, sort of trails off. Much of it centers on the emerging struggle between the USSR and the US/UK alliance, as Germany and Japan are implacably crushed. In short, it seems to be a transition between the end of one series and the beginning of another. Additionally, the previous novel in the series, Designated Targets
, seemed to set up a plot concerning Hawaii that is almost totally neglected in Final Impact
. It feels like the author just ran out of room, and had to cut a novel's worth of material out of the series.
Still, I liked Final Impact
and recommend the whole series. Current Mood: contemplative
|Sunday, January 21st, 2007|
|Well, That Sucked
I had an interesting week, in the apocryphally-Chinese sense of the word.
On Sat., the thirteenth, I developed some annoying abdominal pain. It was bad enough to get me to cancel going out that day (John Ringo was signing books at "Dreamhaven"). On Sunday, it continued, and I decided to call my clinic on Monday for an appointment.
Then, things got better. I wasn't feeling quite so bad on Monday, and I was distinctly better on Tuesday. By Wednesday I was feeling pretty good, and by Thursday I thought I was recovered. I hadn't done much all week, but I was ready to, more or less.
Thursday night-Friday morning, the 18th-19th, the pain returned. It started around 3 AM, and got worse. If I'd been thinking clearly, I'd have remembered that this was the start of K.'s weekend off, called her at work, and asked her to drive straight home. But I wasn't thinking clearly. By the time it occurred to me, she had left work.
So I waited around for an hour or so, suffering, and then got up to go to the bathroom because I felt like vomiting. I almost fell down with dizziness, and after walking those few steps my heart was pounding. I couldn't throw up anything, either. And the pain was very bad, to the point I was worry about a swollen or burst appendix. I decided I couldn't wait for her to get home.
While debating calling for a taxi or an ambulance, I got dressed. I felt a little better by the time I was through, and decided to drive myself. A note for K., and off I went, accompanied by a thick novel to read during the inevitable waits (Off Armageddon Reef
, by David Weber; my highest recommendation).
I got to Health Partners Riverside Clinic with no trouble, around 9:15, and things went about as smoothly as could be expected. I was talking with an urgent care nurse almost immediately (less than a minute), saw the doctor reasonably soon, and then went upstairs for lab tests. In the lab toilet, where I futilely tried to give a urine sample, I felt really bad, the worst so far, and when I walked out of the john, I was almost keeling over. They took a little blood, with the usual problems finding my veins, and then wheeled me downstairs. This was pretty close to the low point of the morning, and maybe the whole weekend.
When I went in, they'd taken my vital signs, and my blood pressure had been something like 90/70, which is quite low. Downstairs, they took it again, and I was at 68/52. They took me out near the nurses' station and had me lying down while they started an IV — with some difficulty, not surprising considering how far down my blood pressure was.
The lab must have done a rush on my blood work, because they soon reported that my white count was very elevated, about twice normal. My doctor for the day was Dr. Uodin (I used to have a regular physician at that clinic, but he moved to another clinic last year, and I hadn't picked a new primary), and his only question now was which hospital to admit me to.
About this time, 11:30, K. got through to me at the clinic. I later found out she'd tried earlier, but the "patient confidentiality" stuff, and an unhelpful receptionist, had cut us off from each other. I wasn't within reach of a phone, but I wrote a note that a nurse read to her, telling her where I was going, and asking her to bring my CPAP machine and laptop to North Memorial Medical Center, plus another book.
The ambulance guys finally arrived, and off to N. Mem. I went. The small bag of fluid they'd started at Riverside ran out along the way, and the paramedic replaced it with a larger bag of normal saline (0.9% salt in sterile water). We arrived, found the proper ER room (there was a television screen in the entrance with directions where to take me, but the signs that should have pointed to ER 4 were quite inadequate; go figure). More blood samples, and more giving of my symptoms to the ER nurse and doctor. Pretty quick service. The IV installed at Riverside was becoming infiltrated (no surprise, I've always had bad IV veins), so a new one was started, and another large bottle of normal saline was running in fast. The new one was rather easier to do, probably because of the fluids that had been added to me, over a liter by then.
Then a CAT scan (the ER doc, after listening to me describe my symptoms, had said he wanted me scanned within 'about the next five minutes.' It took a little longer than that, but not much). The scan wasn't what I'd expected. In my case at least, the machine would say "Take a deep breath, and hold it," and then the little patient platform I was on would move forward or back, anywhere from two inches to a foot, and the machine would tell my I could breath again. I had thought they just passed you through once. The scan itself took only about a minute, then back to the ER, and K. was brought in.
We waited for a while, thinking I might be going under the knife that afternoon — the ER doctor's preliminary diagnoses were ruptured appendix, gall bladder trouble, or perforated ulcer. But the CAT scan came back negative. After consultations with a couple of other doctors, it was decided to give me another CAT scan, this time with radio-contrast material. So I chugged down a bottle of water with something in it, waited some more, and was taken up to my room, IV dripping and K. worrying and humping my CPAP, laptop, and the two books she'd brought me (Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
, and The Book of Lost Things
by John Connolly, both recommended). It had taken them a while to find a free room for me; apparently the hospital was a bit crowded. I ended in a nice semi-private, with a room-mate who'd crushed his finger in some kind of accident, and his family. He persuaded most of them to go home, but his mother refused to leave. Typical female worrying, just as K. was more scared for me than I was.
They had to wait two hours for the stuff I swallowed to actually work through my GI tract, and there was an additional delay of another hour, but around 5:30 I got my second scan, which also featured injected radio-opaque materials. Otherwise, it was much like the first one, down to the identical machine voice coming out of a different CAT scanner. Out into the hall to wait to be taken back to my room — and I waited, and waited — K. found me from where she'd been waiting, and we waited some more — screw this! I persuaded K. to wheel me back to my room, but we got caught. 'Bad patient, wait for escort, in case you faint on your gurney.'
After a few minutes, I told K. the coast seemed to be clear, so let's try it again. She wimped out, so I got off the gurney and walked to the elevators, K. following. As this demonstrates, I was feeling much better by then. We were caught near the elevators, but I just stepped inside and kept going while we were being lectured to wait for an escort, and soon was back in bed. My room-mate was gone, having been taken to surgery to reconstruct his finger. My gurney and chart were returned separately.
Aside from feeling cold all the time, I was in pretty good shape. Back in the room, I turned up the room heat, and soon everyone was saying it was awfully hot in that room — or rather, everyone but me. I was under a blanket, and felt comfortable.
Eventually, my hospital doctor came in, a very nice internist named Adams. More history and examination, and some fun chatting (he turned out to be a Weber fan, and he didn't say 'lay' when he meant 'lie,' the first person who got the distinction right that day; we joked about a certain President who says 'NUC-u-lar' instead of 'NU-clee-er'). Dr. Adams told me the second CAT scan was also negative. We talked about what might be the problem, and discussed my plan of treatment, which was basically to hold me at the hospital, gradually reintroduce food (being possibly pre-surgery, I'd had nothing by mouth except some ice chips and the contrast drink), and observe. Dr. Adams told me I'd talk with a surgeon when the surgeon got through cutting someone. K. eventually went home. I settled in for the night around 8:30, with the CPAP set up on the window sill. Being near the window, with the sill and the heat controls, was working well for me.
Around 10:30, the surgeon came in to see me, (I was just coming back from the bathroom), accompanied by a medical student. More history and examination, including rectal and hernia exams, all negative. He didn't think there was anything wrong with me that needed an operation. Back to sleep.
Eventually, my room-mate came back from surgery. He must have complained to the nurse, because she turned the heater setting back down, but that was rather late, and I was pretty much asleep, so I let it go.
As a sign of how tired I was, I didn't wake up again, aside from bathroom breaks and vital sign checks, till about 11:30 the next day. I'd slept almost fourteen hours My room mate was gone, so I turned the heat back up, and swiped the pillow from his bead so that I could sit up more easily (yes, the bed elevated, but not quite enough; and while there were several more pillows in the room, only the one on his bed had a pillow case, aside from the two I already had; I had been using one pillow for my head, and one for my tail-bone, since it sticks downwards rather painfully since I lost all the weight. I'm down from 465 to 206, by the way). More blood tests, including an arterial stick for a blood gas by someone who wasn't very good (not to brag, but I was much better when I was a respiratory tech). I had my clear liquid lunch, two containers of apple juice. K. arrived, and we chatted with my nurse for the day, who was disappointed to find out that I my narcolepsy wasn't bad enough for me to fall over unconscious while laughing. It was something she'd hoped to see in real life. We exchanged stories of weird laughs, mine and an uncle of hers, who makes animal noises when laughing. And then we were more or less on our own. I'd finally warmed up enough to turn the heat down to a level others found comfortable.
Dr. Adams came in, and told me that he wanted to keep me another day. My white count was way down, but one of the blood cultures was growing something, and they hadn't identified it yet. But since it was only one of two, he thought it was most likely an accidental contaminant. Since I'd tolerated clear liquids well, we'd go full liquids, then solids if that worked.
By now, I felt a lot better than K. did. The pain had gone away the previous night. I tried to get a wireless connection from my room, but couldn't find a network in reach. So the two of us sat there, talking and reading, till K. went for some dinner. I had a full liquid dinner (mushroom soup, more juice, ice cream, coffee, milk), K. came back, we talked and read some more, then K went home for the night, taking Off Armageddon Reef
and Hannibal Rising
with her, since I'd finished them.
Since I don't like coffee, and had been served it with lunch, I'd requested tea in future. Somehow, this translated into a second lunch, served in the evening. It had a ham and cheese sandwich, herbal tea, and vegetable soup, and fruit. I managed to eat half the soup, sandwich, and fruit, slowly, over an hour or so.
I was sorta slept out, and they'd finally discontinued my IV because I was tolerating fluids, so I grabbed the laptop and went for a walk. I found an unsecured network, but apparently it had no internet access, because the computer reported me signed on, but unable to reach anything. I played FreeCell for a while, had a nice chat with the hospital chaplain, who was up late, and went back to my bed. I still couldn't sleep, so I finished off The Book of Lost Things
, finished the sandwich, and then finally went to sleep. (I didn't have much of The Book of Lost Things
to read to finish it, since I'd started it some weeks ago, but returned it to the library unfinished when I couldn't renew it).
During the night, I acquired a new roommate, who only spoke Spanish. Since none of the nurses spoke Spanish, it was alternately frustrating and funny, listening to them trying to communicate with him.
This morning I woke relatively early, around 7:15. Breakfast was soon served — a slice of french toast, some juice, cereal and milk. Over a couple of hours, I finished it.
Dr. Adams came in, and told me I could go home. The blood culture looked like a typical accidental contaminant, and all other tests were negative. Which left the question, what had caused my pain, nausea, and general malaise? ("General malaise," by the way, is medical speak for "feeling like shit.") He wasn't sure ("That's why they call it 'the art of medicine, rather than the science of medicine' "), but his best educated guess was stomach flu. He'd had a bunch of patients come in with it during the past week, and while their symptoms weren't precisely the same as mine, they were similar, and in some cases equally serious. My friend Lee R. had also had it, and told me how wiped out it left her. I warned my nurse I'd be leaving, and she got the paperwork started.
K. called, I told her the news, we hung up, and then I called back and asked her to stop at a bookstore on the way to buy a Spanish-English dictionary for my roommate. It was just too frustrating, listening to them fail to communicate. I got dressed, and played some more FreeCell while waiting for K. She showed, gave the dictionary to my room-mate, the nurse gave me my walking papers, and we left. On the way home, we swung by Riverside, making several wrong turns in the process (the Minneapolis freeway layout can be sorta weird, and I hadn't driven this route before, but we got there and I went in, had my parking ticket validated, went to my car, drove to the exit, and had the some minor luck: the gate was up, and no cashier. (Of course, I'd had major luck in not needing surgery.) Thanks for two days of free parking, Riverside. Home, shovel a little snow, sit around for a bit, to sleep, wake up, and write this.
And that’s how I spent the weekend. I sincerely hope yours was better. Current Mood: drained
|Wednesday, January 10th, 2007|
|Why Do They Do Things Like This?
You could well ask that of me, since it's been about a year since I entered anything here. Why did I set this up, and then stop using it?
My question today, though, concerns the U. S. Postal Screwup (motto: "Two Hundred Years of Progressive Rate Increases"). The Postal Screwup has this procedure when a package is mailed that supposedly allows you to track the progress of said package.
Well, on Monday, Amazon mailed casa St. Onge some DVDs (Desperate Housewives, season II, if you must know), and the P.S. dutifully recorded that they'd accepted the package. Now, it's two days later, and the only information they have is STILL that they've accepted the package. Based on past performance, the discs will show up in our mail, the only information available on package tracking will be that they accepted the package.
Why did they go to the trouble of setting up this system, if they didn't intend to make it useful? Current Mood: confused