Monday, September 16, 2013

On Vacation

I had scheduled this week off, with an eye towards cleaning, writing, and resting.

You'd think I'd know better by now.

On Friday morning, I zoomed into work, put my headphones on, and finished writing the thing I'd been trying to finish for the last two days - an entry for a contest, because winning awards helps justify our budget, or maybe just that gives our CIO a way to show off for the other directors. Whichever, it was the last big thing I needed to get done, and I got it done. So by mid-morning, I was looking forward to a quiet day with a few routine updates and maybe one or two routine interruptions. (We get a lot of those; they're usually just helping out people in other departments, one way or another, and generally not that big a deal.)

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the building, two of our employees were having the following conversation:
1st Guy: "Hey, I can't seem to open this massively infected file. Can you try it? Here, I'll put it on the network drive for you."

2nd Guy: "No, I can't open it either. Hey, do you get about two dozen virus warning when you click on that?"

3rd Person: "Hey, why am I suddenly getting all these virus warnings when I try to look at my own files on the network drive?"
...So that was pretty much the rest of my day. This particular infection was both pernicious and virulent, and dealing with it involved going up to the infected department, kicking all of their computers over to Safe Mode, and scanning the everloving poop out them individually. It's been years since we had to go machine-to-machine like that...

So that was the workday. Once it was over and things were under control (at least theoretically), I left work and caught up with my wife and our children at a nearby McDonald's. They played, we all ate, we went back home...

The garage door wouldn't open. I thought the battery on my clicker had died, so I went around and came in through the front door, then opened the garage manually. In the process, I realized that the garage door opener was fine, but the house didn't have power.

Then the boys came inside, and Firstborn informed me that we did have power... in his room. And the stove and the dishwasher were still lit. So, okay, I started checking fuses... nothing was tripped, and resetting them didn't fix anything. So I figured maybe the fuse box had gone bad, put in calls to a couple of electricians, and didn't hear back from any of them. If this had happened a week or two earlier, we'd have had to leave the house; Texas is just too hot. As it was, we just had a warmish night.

So on Saturday, we finally got an electrician out to look at it; he pronounced the fuse box perfectly healthy, and said the problem was that the box was only getting power along one of the two legs that feed it. So I needed to call Oncor. To their credit (and my great relief), Oncor got someone out to help us quite quickly, and the fellow cheerfully informed me that no, he really didn't need me there for anything, and yes, I could run away and finally get some lunch.

So, after a bit more wrangling - absolutely nothing that I tried to schedule, coordinate, or otherwise plan made even a token effort at working out - I managed to gather up the Beautiful Woman and both boys (who had gone over to play at Nana and Poppy's while the electrician was there). The boys had eaten very little lunch, and my wife hadn't eaten at all, because... Well, she'd gone off to teach her Saturday morning class, and found - guess what? - power outages at the college. I am not making this up. She wound up teaching in the dark for an hour and half, because it's a seven-week class and they can't just cancel.

So we finally all got food, and went to visit my brother and his wife. Among their many virtues is the fact that they own a pool. We swam, and cooled off, and chatted, and finally went and had dinner. By the time we got home, the house had electricity again, so I plugged in all the electronics and turned on the air conditioning, and then we went to sleep.

Then, on Sunday... No, forget about Sunday. It wasn't as bad as Saturday, but there was a lot of catching-up kinds of work to do. Sunday night: still exhausted. That's all you really need to know about it.

So today, I'm taking a vacation from my vacation. I'm not working on any of my projects. I'm typing this, obviously, but mostly I'm just playing video games. There will probably be a hot bath later, and perhaps a beer. Or maybe I'll just collapse and take a very long nap. Assuming this goes right, well...


  1. Power is funny like that, isn't it? It's actually pretty amazing that it works at all. I mean, it's electrons zipping along a conductive line feeding some thirsty piece of something all the juicy bits it needs to sustain itself. But electricity is also mean. It's like a feral beast being contained within a tiny cage of insulation and prayer. One small change to the Way Of Things, and all hell can break loose. Or not break loose, as with the case was with you. Power sure is a funny thing.

  2. Apparently having all the breakers on meant that even the ones that weren't actually getting any power were still getting a little bit, by way of some sort of backwash. So, yeah: power is weird.


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