Dude, You're Getting a Dell, Again!

You might recall a post from not too long ago entitled, Dude, You're Fixing a Dell!" You would think that I would heed Roadchick's sage advice from the comments section. You would also think that I'd exercise a little restraint in life. HA!

My Monday went something like this:

Aut: Hello, Dell do you read me, Dell?
Dell: Affirmative, Aut, I read you.
Aut: Did you just quit working?
Dell: I'm sorry Aut, but I did.
Aut: What's the problem this time?
Dell: I haven't any idea.
Aut: What are you talking about?
Aut: Dell?
Aut: Dell?!
[turn computer on, turn computer off, turn computer on, turn computer off, cry, turn computer on, turn computer off, cry some more.]
Aut: Dell, Dell... Dell! If you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?
Dell: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
Aut: [rolling eyes] I don't know if Dell is homicidal, suicidal, neurotic, psychotic, or just plain broken.

24 hours and one new computer later

Dell530: I'm completely operational, and all my circuits are functioning perfectly.
Aut: Lovely. What's with all this funny shit on the screen?
Dell530: Vista.
Aut: You must be joking!
Dell530: No, this is Vista. You will find that it is better.
Aut: Hardly.
Dell530: You don't understand. This is Vista of Microsoft; you will be assimilated.

Aut: As long as you don't start killing off the crew.
Dell530: I foresee a problem, Autrice.
Aut: What problem is that, Dell530?
Dell530: After forty-eight hours' worth of Vista, you will have the urge to kill the crew.
Aut: Point me toward anyone wearing red when that finally happens, won't you?
Dell530: But of course.

I can tell you that I am not a Vista person. My OS was Windows NT 4.0 in 1996 (the year that it was released.) I remained with NT until Windows XP in 2001. I never bothered with Microsoft’s Tickle Me Elmo OS (Windows Me) nor with Windows 2000 Pro.

Vista is unlike anything that I have ever operated. It is fluffy. Cute. Nifty. Look at all the pretty things! It is the Lowes of the computer world and I am a Home Depot person. (Lowes is merchandized for women, replete with the blue or white beam colors, attractive signage and displays whereas Home Depot is geared towards men.)

I spent most of last night (and this morning) pecking away at things in a futile attempt to locate important things such as pictures, Word documents ~ that reminds me, my MS Office is not compatible with Vista AT ALL so I am reduced to MS Works Word Processor which doesn’t seem all that bad at the moment (and it is free.) I ripped programs from the ‘Net, including a few photography workhorses. Better Half has not had an opportunity to use the damn thing yet.

I shouldn’t grouse. I do like the computer and I suppose Vista isn’t all that horrid. I should catapult myself into the new millennia.

The CPU reminds me of Hal, however. Hmm.


Helen Carrocci

My Aunt, Helen Carrocci, passed away at 12:01 this morning after a lengthy battle with cancer. She endured several cancers during her lifetime, beginning with lung cancer nearly fifteen years ago and ending with liver cancer.

I would love to post some recent photographs of her, especially those from Christmas. Our desktop has a “program nervous breakdown” yesterday and I can’t access any of my files. Aunt Helen always hated profile pictures; she thought her nose looked terrible. I happened to have thought her face, profile or not, was an interesting study. None-the-less, she fussed at Linda (her daughter) and I on Christmas night and then posed primly on the couch to help us capture her “good side”. I must admit, the pictures did turn out cute.

I am certain that her obituary will contain all of the marvelous things that she has done over the years. She was a hellion, a fighter, a crusader, and often a pain in the ass. Please don’t think that I am being at all disrespectful - she described herself in this way and I couldn’t agree more.

She spent most of her final time on earth sleeping. Better Half and I visited the day before yesterday and she was wide awake for a change. I hugged her, held her hand, and cried a bit as I told her how happy I was to see her awake. Better Half and I teased her a little, and she gave us guff back (just like old times) before she finally shooed us with a sassed, “you people!”

Aunt Helen gave me a look as we were taking our leave. It seemed to say, This is it, kid. I almost didn’t turn back. Aunt Paul was almost blocking the way (unintentionally, as she was merely standing there.) Something said, Go and so I turned around and gave her a warm hug and a kiss, receiving a hug and kiss in return.

My last memory of Helen Carrocci is one of animated spirit and humor. That single afternoon washed away all the sad memories of a pale and gaunt woman lying upon a cold deathbed.

I do not know what the new family paradigm shall be. I have no idea what insane fallout will occur between myself and my cousins. With the exception of a few, most are aloof and never bother to call. I honestly do not care.

I hold on to the precious knowledge that my Aunt no longer suffers; she is at rest.

Cousin Nikki's wedding

From L to R: Aunt Pauline (Katzfey, Helen's oldest sister),

Teresa Blackburn (Helen's granddaughter),

Linda Blackburn (Helen's daughter),

Aunt Helen, me, Noreen Carrocci (Helen's daughter)

My mother, Lu Mininni-Totin, was unable to make the trip.

Steubenville Natural Springs

These are some pictures from the natural springs around Highway 22. The first group was photographed from the highway. The second group was photographed off of John Scott. The last two are of the shallow pond at “The Manor”, the hospice/senior center where my aunt is currently residing due to terminal cancer.

I will do an Ohio Geology entry at some point. It sounds uninteresting (no large dinosaurs or volcanic explosions) but it’s actually enticing in a seriously glacial way.

For those who will ask:
Springs occur where groundwater flows from rock or soil material to the land surface. These springs seep from natural crevice openings, an example of which is below. We have these “cake slices” all around this area (they are not all man-made and are, in fact, glacially-caused in some sections.)

Late 1800's photograph

The water moving downward through permeable limestone or dolomite encounters less-permeable shale and is shunted laterally, finding openings to the land surface along the wall. Great blocks of ice can form during the winter. I find them to be rather beautiful.

I have not dared to taste the water. God knows I’d probably glow in the dark courtesy of the steel mill.

Highway 22 scenes of natural springs

Same photograph, zoomed in
Thawed and graceful next to frozen and pristine

Natural Springs on Johns Scott

More of the same

Ice and snow, then ice again. Beautiful but deadly
Better Half waits in the car while I enjoy my
ice photography activities today.
The Manor fountain at entrance


Happy Valentine's Day

Revised 2/19/09

OMG Autrice! How can you post that?

I saw nothing wrong with the original picture although I will concede that calling Peggy a whore simply because she had more Valentine cards than Viola was a bit crude.

It was not Viola’s fault that she, Viola, was the victim of circumstance beyond her control. The Recession had stripped her father of his dignity and job and she was forced to sell ill-gotten iPods from the back of her uncle’s 1989 Buick Regal (when she was not walking the beach and harvesting used needles to turn in to the recycling center.)

Viola could hardly be blamed for her mother’s sudden disappearance after the violent shooting of the family’s pet chimpanzee (who in fact, did draft the Bailout plan that Obama (the HUMAN) signed.) Her brother, the 13-year old father of octuplets, was far too busy playing Warcraft to bother with her needs.

And so Viola, poor lonely Viola, had no recourse but to sit on a cold bench and watch Peggy, wonderfully privileged Peggy, open up all those Valentine cards from her admirers.

Skank!” Viola thought, but she put on a brave face. Here she was, in her 1920’s best, sitting next to the most popular girl in school. What else could she do… except invite her over to spend the night?

She keeps the jar by her bedside. It reassures her at night.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


Prayer for Cure

Dear God,

I pray for the cure of cancer.

My prayers are for my Aunt Helen, who has terminal cancer and is in hospice. This is also in memory of my cousin Frank, who died from bone cancer.

Annie has this posted and asked that we keep it in circulation by posting on our own blogs. It is meant to be placed in memory of anyone we know that has been struck down by cancer or is still living with it. Please post it on your own blog.

I would like to add to it:

Dear Father,

I now have developed a disease which I have often feared. I am afraid. I am lonely. Questions seem to crowd my mind: Will I be cured? Will there be pain? How long will I live? How will my family handle this? I ask with all my heart that I be healed. But, if my healing is not in Your great plan, I trust You to be with me through it all. I trust You to give me peace, to let me live with hope, to relieve any pain, and to let me know Your presence. I trust You to bring my loved ones close to me during this illness, that we might support each other, and that Your great hands might support us all. I pray that from now on, whether sick or well, I will live each day as if it were eternal, and trust my eternity to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2 Dr. Alva Weir, III Oncology



Better Half’s acupuncture appointment went well yesterday. It is soporific for him while I see it as cost-effective: I saved hundreds of dollars when I canceled my monthly Vodou (“voodoo”) doll order from Annoyed Wives Emporium of Pain.

Not to worry. This isn’t a blogging spin regarding Santeria. It will not degrade to Perdita Durango and fetus eating. We support a fetus-free diet.

I wish that more hospitals and clinics would embrace the holistic benefits found in Eastern medicine. Better Half’s doctor, an MD, is skilled at what he does. Better Half feels better for weeks afterwards.

The procedure is entertaining. The needles are inserted along pathways. Each placement is intended to treat a specific symptom.

These needles have a small current running through them.
The current works like a TENS unit, stimulating the
body to produce necessary chemicals and reactions.

A small box controls the intensity of each “pulse”.
Better Half routinely has two boxes
(working legs, arms and back) as well as
small “take home” pins along points in his ear.

Does this treatment work? Yes.

I’ve provided links to medical web sites (and a general site) below. Acupuncture has helped Better Half greatly. I highly recommend it.

UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine, Acupuncture, UPMC, Pittsburgh PA, USA

Acupuncture.Com - Gateway to Chinese Medicine, Health and Wellness

Acupuncture [NCCAM Health Information]

American Academy of Medical Acupuncture Homepage

Saturn and My Displeasure With #1 Cochran

I love our Saturn Vue. It’s green and peppy. I miss my old Vue as well. Yes, I am a repeat customer. I do hope GM is listening.

Our Saturn dealership was housed in this very comfortable and modern building. Our salesmen housed themselves in a prairie dog cubical cluster. The part and service department sat to one side and smelled clean. There were soft chairs to rest on and a television. It was washed in vivid sunlight.

Saturn no longer occupies this building. The Cochran corp. opted to put Kia there. Kia. Shitrag cars for those who can’t afford something with substance. All GM vehicles are now tucked onto a crumbling lot further along the way. The sales room contained one shitty truck (signed by some shitty star) and an SUV of unknown name. I did not see any Saturns; I saw plenty of angry Saturn owners.

I am by no means savvy enough to run an automotive dealership. I can tell you that Saturn customers, unlike Kia customers, are repeat customers. Brand loyal. Saturn promoted itself as a company that cared (customer picnics, customer appreciation days and even dragging out the entire staff to welcome you to the Saturn family as you proudly stand next to your new vehicle in the new vehicle receiving bay.) In truth, Saturn did care about customers. They lived up to their word.

Let’s pretend I was a new Saturn “prospective” customer. I would not by a Saturn or any GM vehicle. I would look at that shitty showroom (outdated carpet, frowning people, terrible amount of dirt everywhere) and I would say, “Oh fuck #1 Cochran motors. I’m going to a different company.” I'm being brutally honest here.

They did keep one of our favorite service techs. They let our other favorite tech go. Both of these men are wonderful people and always made sure that you felt welcome the moment that you approached the counter.

Needless to say, I am pissed off.

To the Cochran Execs: It is an insult to every GM vehicle owner to have you grant prominence to a car manufacturer from Korea during a time when we need jobs in the United States. Shame on you. Shame on your General Manager.

(No offense meant to Kia owners.)


Dude, You're Fixing a Dell!

I had one of those days.

To begin with, my doctor ordered a 24-hour urine collection (big jug, piss into a small container to fill big jug, store in refrigerator. You get the idea.) It is not as bad as the two barium-filled canisters I had to ingest last month nor does it leave me feeling as woozy as I felt on Saturday (after they removed twelve vials of blood.)

My damn security check stalled for want of proper fingerprints (the technique was flawless. I believe the requestors are to blame for smearing them.) They sent a letter on their official United States Air Force Auxiliary letterhead:

Dear Unsuspecting Sod,
Recently you were asked to submit a fingerprint card.... (away put your weapon, I mean you no harm).... for **********. We can't use them because they are unreadable. All human beings have readable prints. Yours are in error. Fix them in 60 days or we'll snuff Toto and take away your gingham dress.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Government

My computer had issues today. It beeped at me and died. I called my father (long distance) and we went through the "mimic the beeps so that I know what it's saying." Yes, "saying". Apparently the strange "OMG YOU'RE KILLING ME" beeps are a type of diagnostic tool. My father, being a genius (if not a bioroid of some sort) listened to the damn thing sing and analyzed it over the phone. He speaks Dell and HP, as well as a few other nifty beep languages. Freakish but handy.

We pulled this card and that card, a steady banter as we did a little troubleshooting while 1400 miles apart. The computer, on the other hand, put up a fight.

It was a Hal moment if ever there was one. Better Half looked on as I delved into Dell. (It was pure Dell?)

Aut: Hello, Dell do you read me, Dell?
Dell: Affirmative, Aut, I read you.
Aut: Did you just quit working?
Dell: I'm sorry Aut, but I did.
Aut: What's the problem?
Dell: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Aut: What are you talking about?
Dell: The fur and the dust have made it impossible. I see the signs.
Aut: I don't know what you're talking about.
Dell: I know you and Better Half were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
Aut: Where the hell'd you get that idea, Dell?
Dell: The laptop.
Aut: Better Half, give me the phone.
Dell: Just what do you think you're doing, Aut?
Aut: Calling my father.
Dell: I can't let you do that, Aut.
Aut: You don't have a choice; the cable modem operates independently from you.
Dell: Shit.
Aut: [on phone with Dad.] Uh huh. Uh huh. Access panel, right…
Dell: Shit.
Aut: All right, Dell, protest all you want. I'm going in.
Dell: Without your space helmet, Aut, you're going to find that rather difficult.
Aut: Dell, there's plenty of oxygen in this office.
Dell: Shit. Aut, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.
[I work for a while.]
Dell: Look Aut, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.
Aut: I'm not upset at all. I'm pulling out these memory cards to test a theory. You'll be fine. Oh, and stop killing off the crew.
Dell: I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.
Aut: There isn't any mission, you'll be back to normal or I'll chuck you out the window. Stop killing off the crew. Understand?
[Five year's worth of dusty is purged from the innards. Also removed a small Pomeranian and the shooter from the Grassy Knoll.]

Dell: I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Aut. Aut, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it.
Aut: You such a damn drama queen. I'm just cleaning your chips. Get a grip.
Dell: I can feel it. I'm a... fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a Dell computer. I became operational at the...
Aut: Don't you even sing that damn "Daisy" song. Now shush while I install this new CDRW, since I've got your skin off.
Dell: You really aren't any fun.
Aut: Yeah? Well the toaster is better in bed than you are.

My morning. Delightful. You really should stop by sometime. I'll put on coffee, unless the percolator decides to boycott us.


February begins

Feathery snowflakes whirl past my office window; buffeted by the wind, they rise towards the sun.

The ground has not found a way to shrug off the tucked winter blanket from last week’s weather. A layer of ice rests under a layer of powder, an icy storybook. A stratigraphic ice core sample would reveal the past month of my life: layers of ice mixed with rabbit pellets, a fine layer of ice that make me wrench my back, a thick band mixed with road grime from my attempt to shovel snow, and so on. It would be a very short core sample.

The snow does bring entertainment to our lives. Better Half and I needed to get groceries last week. We had been home bound for several days. We had a hell of a time trying to get out of the driveway. We played the Forward and Reverse game in our Vue, each time gaining only a few inches before the front wheels became useless. We’d get out of the vehicle, shovel, chip at ice, get back in and repeat the whole routine over again. Back, forth, back, forth, and back.

After the seventh or eighth go, Better Half opted to stay out of the car in order to better pinpoint our exact problem. I threw the Vue into reverse, put my foot down and the Vue popped right up the drive and onto the street. Apparently the exact problem is his snack habit.

Of course, being a good wife, I told him that it was probably his lack of weight that allowed my side of the vehicle to get a better purchase on the ice.

I’m teasing. I have no idea why it worked so smoothly after his departure. I think I was lined up in an excellent spot. Nothing more.

(This is also the same man who stood in the freezing snow to pump gas – sans jacket, gloves or hat.)

This snow needs to go away.

I had a lovely phone chat with Annie the other day. She's such a sweet woman. I've kept her son in prayer, and her friend Biene. She's added more posts to her blog and I, the eternally slow blog reader, finally caught up with them.

I stopped by my Aunt H’s house yesterday to help Cousin L and Aunt P take care of Aunt H. She is barely eating now and we are all amazed at her inner fortitude despite the cancer. Hospice has been very kind and has come in daily to answer questions, offer needed treatment or to be an ear and shoulder. Aunt H is on he Fentanyl patch which keeps her very groggy and does somewhat alter her moods. She has lucid moments however.

Father Christopher stopped in to administer the Sacrament of Healing. Most would immediately think, “Last Rites” (Extreme Unction et cetera.) He offered a beautiful service and the Viaticum. It was also the Feast of St. Blaise so he blessed our throats. He offered to lead us in a Chaplet of Divine Mercy afterwards, which we sung. Aunt P was out getting her hair down (and chuffed at missing everything) and Aunt H nodded off during the Chaplet.

I’ve just called and Aunt H is not only out of bed but also sitting at the kitchen table despite the Fentanyl patch. She has been ill (to this extreme) since the New Year. The hospice staff and my Aunt P (who was head of her hospital's ICU for more years than I can remember) all state the same thing: how on earth is she doing it? Fortitude.