Saturday, July 27, 2013

Office woes...MS Office, that is...

It was such a simple thing.  Jim’s laptop overheated and the hard drive was trashed.  Since it would no longer even attempt a boot-up, I watched for good deals and found him a new Inspiron with Windows 8 for a reasonable price.  His software needs are minimal, so I purchased MS Office home and student 2013.  It included Word, Excel, Power Point, and One Note. 

I received the laptop, but for some reason, the e-mail containing the download key for Office went astray.  This triggered two calls to Microsoft and eight calls to Dell.  I was assured that they would send me a CD overnight.  What I received was a small box containing a download key.  There were four instructions.  It looked like a no-brainer. 

1)  Go to
2)  Enter the download key and follow the instructions
3)  Sign in or create a Microsoft account
4)  Download Office to your PC

I followed the four steps.  It seemed to me that the download was a bit too fast; it was over in about 15 seconds and then took me back to the install page.  There was no pop-up that showed installation, nothing to indicate that it was doing anything.  I went back to the home page, but there were no tiles for Office.  I searched everywhere, but found nothing.  So I tried it again.  It took me to the install page and I went through the motions.  It took four attempts before the four Office apps showed up on the home page.

I wasn’t quite sure what I had done differently, but I was relieved.  I opened Word and was able to navigate around.  Then I clicked on Excel.  My time promptly disappeared down the rabbit hole.  I spent an hour trying every avenue to no avail.  I gave up for the night, knowing I was tired and work weary and probably wasn’t thinking with a fresh mind.  That was Wednesday. 

Tonight, I attacked the problem again.  Jim had tried to do a “repair” on Excel when he got home from work, but the computer was grinding away for four hours by the time I got on the case.  At 8:30, I called Dell’s Solution Station.  I sat on the phone until 11:30 with no resolution.  First there was an 80-minute system scan, then another lengthy process.  After those things did not work, we used the download key again, but I could have told him it wouldn’t take the same key twice…I had tried that on Wednesday.  Then he uninstalled and reinstalled the program.  He was convinced that it would work.  Finally he gave up, telling me that I needed a senior technician and arranging an appointment for them to call me back on Saturday at 6 p.m.

He was confident because the Office installation window had come up and was loading.  Under the progress bar it states “We’re wrapping things up – please stay online as we make some finishing touches.”  When he gave up at 11:30 p.m., the bar was only as far as the “t” in the word stay.  As of 1:50 a.m., I’m up to the “k” in the word make.  He told me that if it wasn’t loaded by 12:30, I could shut it down and wait for my senior technician call tomorrow.  But I figured I should just let it keep working.  It may be progressing at a snail’s pace, but as long as it is still moving, I’m letting it continue.  At its present rate, the progress bar may make it to the end by about 5 a.m.  Here’s hoping by morning, a working copy of Excel will be loaded on the stupid machine!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pink Chiffon Tricycle Queen!

In my never-ending quest for better health and a lower BMI, I started a reduced carb diet on June 10.  I’m not cutting out carbs completely, but I have seriously limited the amount of bread, white starchy foods, etc., that I’m consuming.  I am already down 12 lbs.  I was hoping to be down 20 lbs. by mid-July, but 15 will do.  As long as the scale keeps heading South, I'll be happy.  

Toward the effort to be lean and fit (quite an imaginative goal, I must admit), I took my first outing on my new adult 3-wheel Schwinn on Tuesday night.  It was a bit of a fiasco.  I planned to head East up my road, turn North on Webb and have a down-hill or relatively flat ride the rest of the way to my daughter’s house, a mere 4.5 miles away.  

It was to be an easy first ride...right.  

Reality check:

1) I haven't ridden for two years
2) The new bike has three wheels

3) The new bike has only one speed
4) I’m two years older and out of shape
5) I’m nursing a bad right knee
6) This was my first bike ride since the hip replacement

Turns out a bike with three wheels is not nearly as nimble as a 2-wheeler.  Every imperfection in the road caused the bike to jerk one way or the other.  I had to keep a death grip on the handlebars the whole time.  Every upgrade in the road was like climbing Mount Everest.  I got a quarter mile to the East and stopped at the top of a small hill, just short of a massive coronary.

I turned around and headed West, knowing that the upgrades would not be as high.  With no ability to change speeds, it took huge effort to ride up anything more than a 1% grade.  That effort was a real strain on the bad knee, but I doggedly rode the opposite direction of my planned route.

When I got to the end of River Road, there was a steep upgrade to the intersection.  I stopped about 40 feet shy and walked the bike up and across.  I climbed back in the saddle and biked down Lane with determination, actually making it up and over the two sets of railroad tracks without dismounting, but with some serious leg-pumping effort.  After practically getting side-swiped by someone in a hurry to get home for dinner, I pulled into a quiet development and cut through.  I was only pursued by one nasty-looking, large, black, barking dog (thank heavens).  I came out the other side of the development onto Main Street and rode up into the village, then down Center Road.  The whole time I kept wondering if I looked like Will Ackerman’s “Pink Chiffon Tricycle Queen” (thank you Jim Madden for that vivid image).

I stopped at a small market to grab something wet, since I had sweated out every available drop of perspiration by the time I arrived there.  When I got off the bike, I instantly developed cramps in the soles of both feet and on the backs of my inner thighs.  I hobbled into the store and bought a couple bottles of cold Diet Dew.  Then I tried to park myself on the bench outside the place, but the cramps were too painful, so I stood as still as I could and downed 20 ounces of Diet Dew in about four swallows.  I called my other half, who was at my daughter’s working on a project, and told him if I did not arrive in 45 minutes, to drive up Center Road and drag my cold dead body off the sidewalk.  Then I started to walk the bike.

I did about a quarter mile on foot, which helped alleviate the cramping, but caused annoying rubber burns on the back of my leg.  You see, the two wheels on the back tend to hit your legs if you walk the thing.  I got back on the bike and rode the rest of the way, flying down my daughter’s street at about 50 mph, and barely making the turn into her driveway.  I missed doing a header into a hundred-year-old cherry tree by inches.

All told, the planned 45-minute ride took about an hour and a half, and the 4.5-mile distance turned into approximately 7.5 miles.  I am now in my second day of suffering from my own stupidity, with severe aches in my hip, legs and knee.  I know this too will pass.  I have, however, resigned myself to transporting the bike to flatter terrain until I build up my leg muscles and my stamina.  And, just maybe, I'll wait a week or so before I give it another go...


Apologies, schools, and round-abouts....

It's been some time since I have written anything on the blog.  There are no real excuses, so I'll quote work, a many days long family reunion, a road trip to Chattanooga, and writer's block!  June flew by without so much as a sound and here we are.

I have to say that I love United Way.  They are always right in there trying to make things better and in a pretty proactive way.  We had a request for donations for the upcoming school year that will be used to provide paper and school supplies for kids who can't afford to buy such items.  I think it's great for United Way to be thinking ahead about these things. 

Unfortunately, I read this at the same time I read the New-Herald article about the beginning of the road work for the 1.4-million dollar traffic round-about in Leroy.  I almost choked on my Diet Dew.  There has never been a fatality at the intersection of Route 86, Vrooman Road, and Leroy Center Road to my recollection, and I have lived right up the road for close to 40 years.  Yet this basically country intersection needs a 1.4-million dollar improvement? 

Perhaps we should have tried traffic lights know the kind where you stop when it's red and go when it's green?  Surely, if there is so much danger as to need 1.4 million dollars in improvement, there is enough reason to approve a traffic light, even on a state route.  Then we could have used the remaining 1.3 million dollars to make sure every kid in Lake County has supplies and transportation for the upcoming school year.  Just saying...