Saturday, February 2, 2019

Titan's Big Adventure at My House of Mayhem

Because a story is always better with a dog, here is the incident summary of "Titan's Big Adventure." Because, whether you are troubleshooting a computer or mayhem in your house, a clear list showing cause, effect and solution is required.
  1. Titan arrives at my house Thursday night, for a weekend at Nanny's dogsitting camp and performs his traditional "holy crap" panic pee on the floor.
  2. At bedtime, Titan paces the floor crying until I realize he has no real fur coat, no body fat, and is freezing.
  3. Blankies applied.
  4. Friday the house gets colder and colder until the furnace finally gives up.
  5. LOML is working another double shift.
  6. The furnace, which is in the attic, can only be accessed by pull down attic stairs. Previous furnace repairpersons have refused to work on it. Calls to repairpersons are not returned.
  7. Plus, Christmas ornaments are blocking access to the furnace, (organizing attic storage is on the TO DO when time list.)
  8. Ornaments removed after midnight when LOML arrives home. He will leave again at 7 AM to return to work.
  9. Furnace blinking "4" Airflow problem, possible bad blower motor. (2 year old furnace!)
  10. "Sort of" dirty air filter removed. VOILA.
  11. Takes time for house to warm up. Electric heaters on.
  12. Saturday morning. 6 AM. Sleepy-sounding repairperson returns emergency call for help. (It was 10 degrees last night!) Thanks, we fixed it. (here is where it really reminds me of some of the "support desk" calls I have made for software/hardware assistance, only to end up solving the problem myself.)
  13. Put on electric tea kettle.
  14. Check email, watch news.
  15. TV signal lost. Set Top Box not communicating.
  16. Go to internet, follow set top box troubleshooting steps.
  17. OMG, what is this mess of wires behind TV! (Another To Do when Time list item)
  18. Half hour to untangle and organize wires.
  19. Troubleshoot set top box, no result, go back to internet instructions.
  20. Internet goes down.
  21. Call brother in law — is your Cable/Internet down? Nope, it is just me.
  22. Walk through reset of WiFi box with brother in law.("I have to do this 3 times a week...")
  23. Still nothing.
  24. Whatever happened to my tea? I need a break.
  25. Teapot cold. No power in kitchen.
  26.  Notice electric heater no longer on in living room
  27. (lightbulb emoji!). Blown circuit breaker, realize Cable/Internet box in attic must be wired on that circuit.
  28. Titan (the pup whose adventure this is) watches from under blankets on couch.
  29. Open electrical box. (Sooner or later we were going to mark these breakers.)
  30. Especially that one that used to always go when we tried to run the air conditioner and the microwave.
  31. That one that looks like it is still on even though it isn't.
  32. Play circuit breaker roulette. Offending breaker marked with red nail polish. VOILA!
  33. Lights, cable, tea kettle! (quick, unplug that heater)
  34. Titan finally gets to go outside and pee. (Thanks for not panicking!)
  35. Tea, toasted bagel, TV and WiFi. Apple for Titan; he listened to my complaining and didn't make remarks about the dirty furnace filter and the overloaded circuit.
  36. Realize that non-tv/cable wires are still in a ball behind the TV.
  37. LOML is still at work.
    Thanks for the support Titan. Maybe I can comb my hair now,

The End? Still another day left in the weekend.

Filed under: Expanded troubleshooting steps for TV/WiFi/Tea Kettle/Random Lights outages.

Friday, December 21, 2018

How to Live on the Smile Side of Life Even When You Don't Feel Like Smiling

"Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy..."
Bobby McFerrin, "Don't Worry, Be Happy

There is a great webpage full of quick tips out there: - because in today's crazy, superspeed world, a little web byte at a time may be all the time you have to devote to yourself. I am currently working on a 5 Minutes for Me philosopy, which I will share soon, but in the meantime, here is a tip I wrote about how to Live on the Smile Side of Life even when you don't feel like smiling. 

Are You Living on the Smile Side of Life?

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

A Message on Thanksgiving 2018

Was going to create a silly or funny greeting, but after such a cluster of horror this year, I offer this, with the knowledge that, each day is precious.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Note to My Co-Workers on the Night of Murphy's Snowstorm

Today, I left the parking lot at 3:30 pm, after spending 15 minutes clearing my car. Took Rte 1 south, to avoid the Ryders Lane mess. Slow going, but it moved. Turned into Milltown, headed toward home via the usual back roads, at at about 20 mph. Slippery, but drive-able.

Passed one car stopped in the middle of the road with flashers on. Passed another car stopped in the middle of the road with flashers on. Passed a tractor trailer stopped in the middle of the road with flashers on. 

Turned onto Cranbury Road at 4 PM into stopped traffic.

Watched the gas gauge go down - the only thing moving on the gridlocked road. Finally reached WaWa around 4:35. All gas pumps blocked off. No gas. Actually, no pumps. Second day of "pump replacement." 
Concerned about waning gas level while sitting in traffic, ("30 miles") decided to stay at WaWa until non-moving traffic dissipated and would allow me to get to the 1/2 mile away gas station for a fill up.

Bought a coffee and a sandwich. Sat in the car with radio on, but car not running to save gas. Dripped sriracha all over my coat. Around 5:20 pm the radio cut out. Attempts to start the car were met with "that" clicking sound.

Dead battery.

Rescued around 6 pm by LOML. Left car at WaWa because traffic still backed up, and even a jump would not guarantee getting to the next gas station.

Home now. Car still at WaWa. May need to call AAA to come give a jump in the morning. First have to find a way to get there. Snowstorms often demand people in security work (aka LOML) to stay on post.

Conclusion: Murphy's Snowstorm obeyed its own law by causing as much havoc as possible at the worst possible time. 
Unsure of morning arrival time.

 I returned to my car after the traffic cleared and was unable to jump start it. AAA was summoned, although my stressed out brain confused both AAA and me, when I referred to my car model as a "verizon" and I stuttered for a few agonizing second until I blurted out the real make and model of my car.

The LOML and I dozed in his warm car, until AAA arrived, and it was amazing how quickly the new battery was in and I was ready to go.

Still needing to solve the low gas problem, I suddenly realized that work had been completed at some point, and all I had to do was turn my car around and head to the one pump that was open at that time of night.

Finally, with a new battery and a full tank, I drove home over formerly gridlocked-ice packed roads and got home, for the night, at 1 AM.

This morning, the sun is shining, the snow is gone from my local roads, and New Jersey os shaking her head, thinking "What the heck did I do last night?"

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Happy Halloween!

An excerpt from my Ha Ha Halloween podcast.

My affinity for the funny and whimsical side of Halloween goes back to my childhood. I never wanted to be a scary character, but something fun and fantastical. Even when I dressed as a witch, I was always a good witch. The year I was a flower girl for my uncle’s wedding, I wanted to go trick or treating as a bride, complete with a lacy white dress, a veil and bouquet. I had a bride outfit for my Barbie, with a pearl tiara and satin-lace trimmed dress and pictured being her twin. Shortly before Halloween my mother came home with my costume. This was, unfortunately, in the days of the plastic costume and mask in a box. She smiled, so proud of herself that she had actually found a Halloween bride-in-a-box costume.  But what I saw through the clear cellophane of the box top was not the fantasy Barbie bride of my dreams, but a bloody-faced mask, with a dirt and rip painted plastic evil Vampire Bride tunic. The story makes me smile today, but at the time, I was mortified, which is an appropriate mood for a vampire bride.

My children were influenced by my ha ha Halloween attitude, and preferred fun character costumes, hero and shero costumes, pirates, mermaids, WW I flying aces, and other creative themes. In fact, one year, my oldest daughter found my old suede bell bottom pants and a crocheted granny top, and decided to go as a hippy/flower child. She wore this outfit to the annual Halloween parade and costume contest at the Milltown, NJ Annual Legion. We all clapped when she was selected as a prize winner – but surprised when she was named Scariest Costume. As the legion member presented her with her award, he explained “We veterans of the 60s and 70s decided that hippies scared us!” Then he laughed. The kids were confused, but those of us of a certain age got his joke.

My son recalls a teen experience that happened on Mischief night – that night before Halloween that some tradition says that kids can get into “mischief” with no repercussions. Personally, I think it is a bad idea, and never knowingly allowed my kids out to participate. But, my son, somehow, that night was out on the street with his friends, and encountered local police officers. They were asked if they had eggs – the source of a lot of Mischief Night damage. The boys all denied having any eggs. The police officers then said, ok, so nothing in your pockets? And began tapping the boys pockets. There was the sound of eggs breaking. My son swears he only had “one egg” on him, and remains mad to this day. Me, picturing the boys with their egg-soggy pants can’t help but smile.

The mayor of Jamesburg, New Jersey where I live, shared a similar story with me Here is what she wrote me:

"My son and his friends were planning to go out on mischief night. This started when they were around 10-12 years old. I caught wind of their plan and so did another mom when we found stockpiles of toilet paper. I told them I would take them out but we could only use toilet paper and only our friend's houses. 

So off we go just after dark. 4 boys and a mom. We do their own houses and other friends we knew wouldn't mind a little toilet paper. We pull on to a particular street, which was also a dead end. I turn my lights off and the boys get out and start running down the street. Next I hear the kids yell "COPS".  I SLINK down in my seat as he passes. The kids scatter and hide. All except my son. The officer calls his name as he stands there with toilet paper in hand. The officer knew my son and almost all the kids in town who went through his Dare program at school. He asks my son "does your mother know what you are doing?” He turns and points his finger and says, "ask her, she's right there!" 

I try to sit up straight and not look guilty for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The officer backs up and shakes his head, laughs and drives away. "

My sister Peggy remembers the time she made group costume for her daughters Becky and Jen, and my sister Theresa’s son Joey. She took a clear plastic bag, filled it with dry leaves and attached a hanging tag to it to create a giant teabag costume for Joey. Then, she made a teapot and teacup sandwich board type costume for the girls. The two younger kids were fine with it, but Becky absolutely did not like it. However they won best group costume at another Milltown American Legion Halloween Parade. I’m guessing the award was some consolation for being a Tea Party member long before the Tea Party movement actually became a “thing.”

Fellow Laughter Professional, Miriam Gassman, recalled her before-punk-hair-gel days idea to make her hair stick straight up on Halloween. For some reason she thought that slathering her hair with Vaseline would do the trick. Well, not only did that not work, but she was forced to go to high school for the next week with greasy hair that took several days of washing to fix. Any teen will tell you, that is a really horror story!

Halloween was not so fun the year Hurricane Sandy blasted New Jersey and so many people were without power and just trying to assess property damages. Governor Christie even signed an executive order to move the date of trick or treating. It was the second year in a row that NJ kids had weather almost destroy Halloween. The previous year, a freak, heavy wet snowstorm played havoc with the celebrations. But, out of these two years of more tricks than treats, came a surge in popularity of  “trunk or treat,” a kind of tailgate Halloween party, held in school and mall parking lots. People load their car trunks with treats and decorations, and the kids make the rounds. Now that is how to keep the HA HA in Halloween!