Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Grab Bag of First World Problems

Gonna mix up the grab bag approach a little bit this week for some good old-fashioned venting. As of a week ago, starting slightly prior, the following were the top three annoyances in my day-to-day existence:

- internet connectivity at work that was spotty at best
- a dead cable box in the master bedroom at home
- and a dead and decomposing raccoon in our garbage can

OK how about I elaborate on those working from the bottom up, shall I?


So the backstory begins with the little guy's birthday party, which was the first weekend of September. It was a lot of fun and there was much running all around and through and in and out of the house, and none of that really fazed me or my wife or anybody else, unless you start getting down to the four-legged perspective, because it must have seriously spooked our shy cat, who vanished at some point and hasn't been seen since. It would have been all too easy, and clearly highly desirable, for her to bolt through a screen door after a child flung it open at any point in the afternoon.

She has run away before, and she did not come back willingly on her own. She was gone for weeks (months?) last time and ultimately we set out a trap for her, literally a steel cage with a pressure plate and a spring-loaded door. It seemed like a desperation move, but it worked. So this time we went straight to that page of the playbook and set the trap near the edge of the deck, relatively far from the house and close to the undergrowth that has taken over the back of our property. Of course the trap is now older and well-used and perhaps not as reliable as it once was, capable of springing of a bird lands on it or something. Or, hypothetically if a fox or raccoon were to be lured in by the aroma of wet cat food. The problem with raccoons is that their natural woodland camouflage also makes them blend in with our very weathered wooden deck. So one day the trap was closed, and looking out the window at it we thought it had just gone off on its own and I made a mental note to reset it but the days have a way of getting away from me ... and then on closer look, a day or two later, I realized there was an unmoving animal inside. Accidental and unfortunate, and it happened so fast that we have to assume the animal was sick or something (hence wandering out of the undergrowth and onto our deck) which contributed to its demise. But still. This discovery came on a Saturday morning when we were expecting guests, and I grabbed the trap, shoved the whole thing in a trash bag, and put the bag in our garbage can out by the garage, where it had to wait until Tuesday night to go to the curb and Wednesday morning to be taken away. It was gross for a few days there. But it's gone now. Unfortunately we still are missing a cat, but hopefully (thanks to a new trap borrowed from a friend of my wife's) that part of the story will have a happy ending soon enough.


No upstairs cable. No idea why the box suddenly gave up the ghost, but it did, and threw off our nightly routine. (Please see the title of this post; I know this is not any kind of heart-rending tragedy.) For that matter, it threw off a few mornings where we would normally let the kids watch some cartoon on demand in our room while we got other stuff done upstairs and could keep half an eye on them.

Much more bright side to this particular story though, because it was about time for us to renew (read: upgrade) our cable package anyway, and so a whole mess of brand new shiny equipment was shipped to us, rather than a piecemeal replacement. I was all set to swap out the master bedroom cable box first since that would restore the most normalcy, until I realized that there's a very specific order in which everything had to be set up and initialized, and of course the master bedroom cable box, technically secondary to the one with the big tv in the den, was last on the list. But I did finally get everything set up and we are now enjoying the benefits. The biggest one is that we had never figured out how to sync the old cable box remote to the upstairs tv, and were constantly juggling two different remotes to do different things, which is especially irksome when you've just snorgled yourself awake and just want to turn the tv off and roll over and go back to sleep, but can only find the remote that lets you change channels.

We've also now got that whole "start watching in one room, finish in another" feature which I can't seriously see us ever using, and we've finally joined the 21st century and gotten a DVR-capable system. If the blog dies off altogether sometime this winter, just assume we've gotten completely subsumed by our backlog of recorded shows.


And finally, the ridiculous proxy server errors at work. Which is the thing I feel the worst about feeling irked about, because of course the real impact of not being able to surf the web was an inability to distract and/or amuse myself while I was at work waiting for someone to give me something to do. Our internal websites were loading just fine, and also working just fine, meaning there was nothing for me to troubleshoot or otherwise direct my attention to (with the exception of Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, when I had a legit task and made the most of it). There really is no defensible reason why I would need to be able to access public sites on the Web to do my job, so I had no cover for contacting the IT help desk and letting them know they needed to fix the proxy server asap. All I could do was wait, and wait, and spend about as much time checking (and re-checking) to see if the problem had fixed itself as I would normally spend reading articles that grab my attention. I'm not proud of any of this, and ordinarily I'd be likely to forget it ever happened and never mention it on the blog. But given that everything was happening at once, and I was going from the office's interwebs difficulties to home where half the cable was out and there was a miasma of death hanging over the bottom of the driveway ... it was a memorable few days there, or at least memorable enough to vent about here.

But it's in the past now! So on to better things.

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