Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Saved from Vista, at Least for Now

Last week was the week when Word disappeared. Sure, in the beginning there was (the) Word, but then I couldn't access it at all. After many trials and tribulations somehow, it's working again. But it has led me to think about eventually purchasing a new Windows Vista program, since the problem originated in Windows.

All was well in computer-land, indeed, I even managed to file my taxes online today. That pleased me, since I'll get a refund. But now I know where some of that refund is going. When I printed out the 25 pages of my tax return (who knew it would take 25 pages for a low-income persons tax return?) the ink began to fade on some parts of the page, then on more. Apparently my long-lasting printer cartridge has finally reached the end of its life span. Admittedly, it has lasted longer than I expected. My HP printer is already obsolete, according the the HP site. I bought it in September of 2004. The cartridges cost $82.72, plus tax, so I'd better get one before they also disappear.

I've spent some time researching short story markets, and some more time researching the best place to buy a new printer cartridge. Then I went to the library to return some books and see if they had any by this year's Writer in Residence, Elizabeth Ruth. They do, but canny folk have already reserved copies of her two novels. Her bio makes her sound like an interesting choice, so perhaps I'll submit a story for an appraisal. First, though, I have to take care of my printer problem.

It's been almost luxurious, staying home, most of the time, for a few days, watching the snow, and doing a little of this and a little of that. I could get used to it again with no problem, but I think next week I'll be back in the office for some of the time. And before long, the spring lawn care season will arrive. Think busy, think very, very busy.

I'd better write some more and fart around some more, while I still can.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Slowest Typist in the East Forges On

I was going to title this post, Slowest Typist in the World but, having heard from my friend Lori, who also claims to be the slowest typist, I had to settle for a lesser title.

Its slow going because I'm learning to use a new and complex computer program. Or maybe I'm slow because I haven't done this sort of work for a long time. And I"ve never imported and exported information between two very different programs. It's more than three years since I worked outside my home. Excuses, excuses, just ask, I"ve got a million of 'em. The good news is, I haven't yet been fired. Then again, it might be hard for a daughter to fire her mother; though so far, she's had no difficulty in pointing out any errors. I think I'm improving s l o w l y.

In other news, the story that I revised and resubmitted to ye famous literary mag has been rejected, again. This time it was returned by a dfferent editor who had not read the first version.

Maybe there will be good news tomorrow, if not, there'd better be chocolate. And if no chocolate comes in the door, courtesy of my favourite Viking, this writer will finish off the Chapmans no sugar ice-cream that resides in the freezer. I wouldn't want the treat to gather ice crystals.

There will be enough ice crystals on my scarf tomorrow, if the weather forecast is correct.

I go to bed earlier and earlier, now that I'm working. In fact, it's time to go there now. Goodnght.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Grumbles and Accolades

I'd planned to update my blog sooner. In fact, I had updated it, but somehow the updated info vanished into cyberspace. So what's been going on? Plenty.

I enjoyed my trip to Myrtle Beach with my daughter. We were fortunate not to run into much snow while traveling through the mountains. I was the map-reader/navigator and I only made one mistake, but that took us onto a narrow winding two-lane highway for many many miles. At times, we could see the Interstate highway that we were supposed to be on, but it wasn't accessible until we reached a larger town. It was late by the time we found the hotel/conference centre. We were sure we were getting close when we passed the Mytle Beach information centre. But it is more than 60 miles away from Myrtle Beach itself. Deceptive advertising, I'd say.

The hotel was fine and there were even some perks, like cozy bathrobes and a very warm swimming pool and a salt-water hot tub. The hot tub was the perfect place to relax after a long day of listening to presentations and looking at screens. Or, almost the perfect place, if one didn't listen to the other people using the hot tub.

I went down to the beach twice and said hello the Atlantic ocean. It returned the favour by sneaking up on me and soaking one foot. There weren't many people walking the beach, but any good shells had been collected earlier in the day, I think. Or maybe I just couldn't spot any worth putting in my pocket.

One of the things that struck me as we travelled through the Carolina's was the contrast between the huge well-kept houses and commercial buildings and the abandoned houses and commercial buildings. I wondered why the buildings were allowed to stand and deteriorate. Why not pull them down since they are a fire hazard? I don't know the answer.

Another thing that impressed me, but not necessarily in a good way, was the size of the meals offered in restaurants. Larger is better - seems to be part of the American way. Even when we asked about the size of the meal, the server seemed to assume we wanted to know if there would be enough. Enough was never a problem. And even when we tried to make healthy choices, we were often foiled by the lack of information. A chicken dish that was noted on the menu as a healthy choice arrived swimming in some liquid that resembled butter, but wasn't. As my daughter said - the meal lingered on long after it had been eaten and gave her persistent indigestion.

But I have to praise the customer service people in the U.S. They impressed me with their willing attitude. Maybe it's part of their training, if so, it's a good idea. In only one case did we receive bad service. Well, actually it was no service, but I think that was an exception to the usual good service found in retaiI outlets and restaurants.

For example, we went into a fudge emporium, and the young man, the only staff person there, made the production of fudge into a show, complete with a running commentary that involved the audience. He was good, so good that a couple of the other potential customers who were watching asked him if he'd auditioned for the entertainment centre that is part of the shopping complex. He said he hadn't because he liked selling fudge.

It took me a few days to recover from the trip and while I was in recovery mode, my daughter asked me if I'd like come in to work sooner than I'd expected.

So, last week, I began my training. I'm in the office each afternoon and it's very strange to 'go to work' every day. Maybe I'll adjust after a while. But, at the moment, four hours per day seems to be a lot. Learning a new computer program is quite a challenge and I hope I'm up to it.

You might be wondering where the accolades come into this. We went to see A Note for Scandal and I thought it a wonderful film. Judi Dench is amazing in it. I hope she gets an Oscar for the role. Plus, any woman of her age who is willing to do a scene that takes place in a bathtub ought to receive a special award for courage. I'm younger than she is and I'd never consider it! That could be because I have more wrinkles in some places than she does.

A few more days of staring at a computer screen that is too far away will bring even more wrinkles, no doubt. After the person who is training me leaves, I plan to crawl under the desk and see if there is enough cable to move the screen closer to me. There is also an ergonomic keyboard and I haven't adjusted to using it yet. It's possible that I will. All things are possible, but some are less than probable. Maybe I can request a regular keyboard, instead. Maybe I'm not meant to be an ergonomic person - because, while the alphabet keys don't present a problem while using the ergo keyboard, the numbers do.

Will an old dog learn new tricks? Well, she'll try.

Off to work, perchance to type the right numbers.