Thursday, August 4, 2022

EVEN IN A PANDEMIC - THINGS BREAK AND NEED TO BE REPLACED

 The time had come – we had to replace one of our toilet seats – the one in the upstairs bathroom.  We have been in the house for about 33 years.  We have 2 bathrooms and have replaced each of the toilet seats at least once.  The upstairs toilet seat apparently had a plastic film seal over the seat and the hole that had suddenly appeared in the film was getting too big to ignore, so a new one was needed.  (I am a big believer in “whenever you can ignore a problem – do so”.)  I had not actually completely ignored the problem  - I had given a bit of a pull to the edge of the hole to see if it would expand...

Now a toilet seat might seem a generic item and replaceable with no thought, but having grown up in a home where the bathroom was alternatively referred to as “the reading room” and “daddy's office”, I can assure you it does take some thought – especially when one is on a budget.  First I read up on toilet seats as I knew that these days there are different shapes and though there might even be different sizes – only different shapes.  I was pretty sure ours was a “round” as opposed to an “elongated” - the latter being a newer style of toilet than ours – which predates our buying the house.  I was right.  So size was determined – round.  Price is always a factor and we did not something fancy – so next question was plastic or (not, not paper) wood?  We have one of each (our half bath in our kitchen* has a wood seat).  Husband studied the seats in both bathrooms and decided on plastic.

Then the hard question – Home Depot or Lowes?  I noticed that Home Depot had a lot more choices than Lowes, but husband had to go to both stores.  He bought the plastic, round seat, near, but not at the bottom of the price range, we had figured would be good for us and we took it home.  

At home  - after it sat around for a few days, of course, he opened the box and took the seat to the bathroom to see how it would be.  He then went to the Home Depot website and decided that maybe we should have a more substantial seat and found one.  Back to Home Depot and bought that seat.  We had not returned the original so we could think about it.  

He decided the new one was more substantial and decided to put it in.  It was another manufacturer and had a more complicated installation than the other (and our old) seat – involving putting in the hinge and then pushing the seat connectors into the hinge.  When he took the seat out of the box it had several large scratches on it.  Back to thinking.  One thing he mentioned that was that the scratched one was slightly, but measurably thicker - “Does that matter?”  My first response was “no”, but then I thought about it.  This toilet is somehow taller than the one downstairs (which should be the same size) and the downstairs one is a slightly more comfortable height for me  so I changed my response to “yes” and explained this to him.  We decided to go with the first seat.  

We went to install the first seat we bought.  We took off the old one – cleaned the toilet well (my job) and went to install the new seat.  Unfortunately no one thought that one have the toilet sitting almost against the side wall.  (I often joke that we should take out the toilet paper and find someplace else to put it so my leg does not touch it when using the toilet – it is that close a space.)  Installing the left side of the seat was complicated by this problem, but we managed to get installed.  Well, that's something accomplished.  

The seat does have a new feature – s l o w  c l o s i n g.  I am used to holding the end of the seat to keep it from falling too quickly and have to learn to let go and let it fall. 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

CHECK ONCE, CHECK TWICE, AND THEN CHECK AGAIN ANOTHER COUPLE OF TIMES

 A word on always check what others do.  

My mom is her 90s.  Today we took her to the doctor's office for surgery to remove a cancer.  

Mom has 2 cancers.  There was a big one on her forearm and a small one on her cheek.  Per our conversation with the office before I had expected that the larger one on her arm was going to removed today.  When I called and made the appointment I was told that no, this was to remove the small on her check and to consult with the doctor about if the same sort of surgery would be used to removed the larger one or if a different sort of surgery was needed.  

Mom is in a wheelchair and has trouble “transferring” from it to most alternative seating unless they are about the same height.  

Being a nervous person who likes to be prepared I had called the office last week and asked a number of questions and was told that no, this was to remove the small on her cheek and to consult with the doctor about if the same sort of surgery would be used to removed the larger one or if a different sort of surgery was needed.  So going in I now expected them to remove the cancer on her cheek (which is the one which concerns her more as people can easily see it.   At the same time I explained that mom has a lot of trouble transferring from her wheelchair to other seats, especially if they are higher than the wheelchair.   I have been terribly nervous and not doing well at all – not from mom having cancer – but from how this was all going to go.  My sister, who is mom's primary caretaker arranged for an ambulette and  an aide from mom's nursing home to come with her and help us.  This was a great help as it cut about an hour each way of travel as mom live half an hour further from us than the doctor is – so it was an extra half hour to her and then back again to the doctor (reversed on way home).  

When I went into the procedure room with mom apparently no one knew that they “could do the procedure with her in her wheelchair”.  It was finally worked out to do so.  Then the doctor started on her arm – which actually had made sense to me as it was the much larger of the two.  I questioned this and he said it was better to do it first – I agreed – but said that then I should not have been told the opposite.  Two things I did not expect – but yet, that is how crazy things are now.

The last time mom went in for the procedure her aide went with her instead of me.  I had thought there would be another session after wards.  The aide was handed the paperwork with the instructions for care and followup.  Since she needed it for the nursing home to follow, my husband took a good photo of it so we would have it for our records.  When we got home I sent the file to my sisters with my info about what went on.  Later in the evening husband printed out the paperwork for me to file in my records for mom.  He noticed errors.  “Did your mom have a something removed from her nose?”  No – her arm and the other cancer is on her cheek!  Someone else's name had been written on the form, crossed out and mom's info put in.  The appointment listed was for a different time.  Unknown phone number on the form as her phone number.  What!!!?  Just when my stomach was no longer feeling nervous...

I emailed my sisters again and told them all this.  Tomorrow we have to run some errands and now I have to call the doctor's office on Friday to find out what is going on – and then call mom's nursing home to let them about the errors and the resolution with the doctor.

Similarly, but less life threatening – a friend paid off their car lease.  A month later they received a past due notice and they have not been able to correct this matter.  

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

Check, double check and triple check – and then have someone else check – any important papers you receive and are filing away.  Don't trust someone else to have filled them in properly.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

WELL I THOUGHT MY EMAIL PROBLEMS WOULD BE BEHIND NOW - BUT NO, NOW I HAVE TO DELETE SOMEWHERE AROUND 90% OF WHAT HAS COME INTO MY COMPUTER

 Sorry about missing last week.   My main computer and email are still not completely back up and running from the email software problems I have been having. I really depend on my computer(s) to stay organized.  

What do YOU do with your email to read and keep track of it?

We did have to delete the software and do a clean install of the new software.  By doing this we then had to do a new setup of all my email accounts.  Okay – you have one or two or three email accounts – but as part of my organizing I have somewhere around 15 accounts.  15 accounts – why?  

Well I have my basic account – my family, husband's family and maybe 3 or 4 close friends have this email address – this way I can respond to the most important people in our lives quickly.  

I have an account for my accounting practice for my clients to contact me.  

One of my business clients – a woman in her 80s who still owns, runs and goes to work at her business every day – does not use a computer.  Her alarm company only bills by email.  So I opened up an account for her business to deal with this.  Before the pandemic when I was going in every month I would print out the bills when they came in, bring them with me to her and write the check for her to pay the company.  Since the pandemic I print the bills and mail them to her to pay as I have not being going to her – she mails me copies of the info I need.  

I have an account for the craft business which husband and I have for matters related to the business.

I have an account for my cell phone so it works.

I have an account for my embroidery club – it is used for things related to the club and me.  I have a second account for this club – but this account I have as the treasurer of the club – when I am no longer treasurer the new treasurer will get this account and have records of what the old treasurer (me) sent out, received, and did.  

I have an account for our reenactment unit – it used, for things related to the unit and me.  I also, again, have a second account for the unit as I am, again, treasurer of it.  (When one is an accountant one always ends up being the treasurer.)  This is used for business of the unit and will, again, be passed along to the next treasurer at some point.

I have an email account for this blog – any of you who want to me contact – feel free to do using the blog's email address.

I have 2 email accounts which I use when doing things online – such as various online groups/sites I belong to.  

I have 2 email accounts which were used with other clubs I used to belong to and I have kept for when I send an email and not be known.  

I also have one email account which has a different start to it as when I give the email address by telephone (something I used to do often when making hotel reservations back at the end of 20th century) my normal format has an “f” in it which people hear when talk as “s”, so when I need to give my email address by telephone I use this address as it does not have that problem.

My poor husband sat for 2 days entering all of these accounts into the new software and making sure they work properly.
Biggest problem is that when we talked about wiping out the old program and installing the new I asked him if this would result in just the unread emails being brought into the computer or all of the ones in the accounts.  He assured that only the unread emails would be brought into my computer/the software.  Wrong guess – one email address brought in something like 32,000 emails!!  (And that is one of my junk accounts.) While I might like to have them in my computer I don't NEED emails from 2018 – or more importantly don't even WANT emails from 2008!  

So I spend a good part of every day going through the email accounts in the software and deleting old emails – by the single email or more generally by the page.  I also have to sort some of the ones I am keeping into special folders to be able some emails more easily (such as the emails from USPS telling me what mail was to be delivered to me each day – if you haven't signed up for this service, it is very good to have).  When deleting emails – even single ones – they take quite awhile to be deleted which is annoying and slows the process down.  I figure this could take a month or two or more to finish doing.

I have also found that some – not a lot, but some – emails came through scrambled or unformatted and in at least one case the name in the list does not match the text in the email – it being one of the ones from USPS by title, but not the text in it.  

In addition we made the changeover just before I was due to email out the monthly newsletter for my embroidery club.  I had finished the newsletter just before husband started dealing with all of this – it was written and saved in a text processing program so what I had written was not affected by all of this.  I went to last month's newsletter and copied the list of who it was sent to and pasted that into the email for this newsletter.  Instead of showing the showing the emails it only showed the member's names!  I could not send it out using the information from last month's newsletter.  I hate to push my work off onto someone else – but had to as it serves as the meeting reminder and I wanted it out a month before the meeting – so I sent it the club president (who knew I was having email problems) and asked her to send it out for me.  I send out 2 other copies – one to those who asked about our club and one to certain people in the region management who I am required to send it to.   Those went out a couple of days after I hand copied their information into new address books in the new program.  I have been told that there was problem with this – attached files (including the newsletter) cannot be opened as before – they have to be copied first.  

Throw into all of this – husband set up the program to automatically download emails when I sign on.  At some point I have this changed to wait until I check for emails as if I sign after having checked emails for the day earlier in the day – it will download any new ones when I do not generally want them as if I am back in the account it generally means I need information from something I have already read.  The other problem with this is if I do need to check for email again in ONE account – all of them are downloading any email which has come in.  

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -
This will be an ongoing project for some time.  There is nothing else I can do to get it all cleaned up.  I am trying to do it logical way – in my case I started with the first email account in the list – not the most important one.  I figure if I have all my emails from the start of 2022 in my computer I can always refer to older ones in my online account if needed.  Only somewhere around 40,000 emails left to sort through!

What do YOU do with your email to read and keep track of it – no really, I am curious what other people do?





Thursday, June 23, 2022

COMPUTER PROBLEMS CONTINUE TO PLAGUE US - HAVE YOU UPDATED EVERYTHING FOR THE NEW SECURITY STANDARDS?

 This is my computer problem which has been set aside for the past couple of weeks since it started as husband's computer was much more important than mine.  

I use a software program to check my email – but like most to all of the programs I use, I have not updated it.   I hate adjusting to the assorted changes to programs which invariably come with the update and will put off updating unless necessary for the program to run.  

At the same time husband had the problems with our Win 10 computer the recent security changes to online caught up with me.  I could not use my email program to check my email as I did not meet the new requirements.  Normally I would have had husband deal with the changes – but he was still dealing with the computer problems he had.  So I did what I had to – I started checking email by signing into each email account separately and checking email that way.  I have a number of emails accounts – my general one for family and friends, a couple for when I don't want to be known and may need to drop the account if it gets hacked, one for groups I go to online, one for me for my embroidery guild, another one I use as treasurer of my chapter of same – which I consider to be an email of the chapter and I can pass along to the next treasurer to use, one for me for our reenactment unit, a similar email address for the treasurer of the unit – again, can be passed along to the next treasurer, one for a client – she does not use a computer and her business's alarm company only bills by email – so I set up an email account for her and I monitor it for her, an email for this site, an email address for me for the craft business husband and I have, and about 5 or 6 more for various purposes – some of which are gone and I have the kept the address for junk use.  

I knew I could not sign in and out of all of these accounts daily. I picked the ones most important to check daily and I do so.  The remaining ones I am checking once a week.  Unfortunately for some reason my computer does not like me signing in and out and in and out… one after another.  So around the 4th email address – it gets hung up and I end up having to reboot the computer, same after a few more email checks – I am not talking a lot of emails here – most have none, others might have 3 or 4 at most – but the computer is not happy.  So checking email has become an extended chore.  

Yesterday I asked husband if all was okay with his computer and it was running as before and as needed and it was.  So I asked him to help me setup my email accounts to meet the new requirements.  We spent 3 hours today trying to do so.  It has not happened – not even with one account – and worst of all -  I did not get to check ANY email accounts today – though I am sure I did not miss anything.   We set up an account and then it is rejected when we try to check email.  Latest idea is that we delete the email program and start all over with a new copy and enter each account as it needs to be for the new standards.  

Well – at least we have something to do.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Don't be like me – keep your programs updated to avoid problems – and don't wait for the last minute to make needed changes.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

COMPUTER REPAIR - PART 2

 Everything was not okay with his computer.  When it came back using the backup there were no speakers and other problems.  He decided to use an older backup – from March – and then the entire process went blooey!!  He worked it on for hours and hours.  Last Friday we gave in and took it to the chain computer store we used – and bought the computer from – to see what they could do.  

Of course there is a diagnostic fee, which with tax was over $40.  They contacted us back on Monday morning with all sorts of suggestions that he should add to the computer.  I don't remember if I mentioned this – but the computer is 14 months old – 2 months past the end of the warranty – of course.  They wanted to take out drives and add drives – and none of the drives were damaged.  They also wanted to update it to Win 11 – we are barely into using Win 10 and hate it compared to Win 7.  Their price for the repair was coming to more than we paid for the computer to begin with!  He told them no to what they wanted to add and to just reinstall windows as the hardware was not damaged per them.  We picked it up yesterday, Tuesday, and he has been working on reinstalling software and putting back a backup.  Seems to work well again.  He got different backup software to use – though we have used what he had used for years, if not decades.

This was the first desktop computer we actually “bought as a computer” since maybe the last century.  Husband has been building our computers with my help since then.  We buy the parts at the same computer store and then assemble the computers – well he assembles them, I just help.  Before these computers we have made we have bought computers since before we were married (close to 50 years) starting with Atari 800.  We have never had problems with a computer such as we had with this.  None of them stopped working – we stopped using them due to change in type of computer or when the computer was actually too antiquated to keep using – never due to a problem with them working.  The reason we bought this computer instead of assembling this one  was that it was cheaper and the computer was being used only for software which needed Win 10 while we kept using our old Win 7  computers which we like.  


THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

KEEP BACKING UP – OFTEN.  Make sure that you make the backups separate each time and if you can – onto alternating drives and other media also so if a problem occurs one can go back a backup if needed.   (And remember “the Cloud” is just “someone else's hard drive”).

Thursday, June 9, 2022

COMPUTER BACKUPS - SO WHEN THE COMPUTER DIES ALL CAN BE RESTORED

 This week I have to talk about organizing one's computer – yes, it is very important.  If one leaves the dishes for later in the day, as long as they get done it is fine – the same for dusting, laundry and most household chores.  But one may only get one chance to back up their computer before data or software is lost.   

We do not back up to “the cloud”.  All backups are on local on other media than the data drive(s) used.    Another name for “the cloud” is “someone else's hard drive”.  I figure it is worth much more to someone to break into, say, Google's data which includes same for – how many people? - then it is to break into ours – and we do not keep sensitive data.  Plus if the Internet is “down” we can keep using our computers with all data available to us.

I am very careful to back up.  I keep my data on USB flash stick drives so it can be moved from my desktop to my laptop or another computer.  I use 2 additional of these drives (marked “A” and “B”) for daily backing up.  I do so at least daily and alternate between the two of them,  If I used “A” yesterday, today's backup is on B.  This way even if the backup for the day and the original data is lost – I have only lost a day's work as I still have the prior day's backup.  

I also have 2 of these drives (with larger capacity) which are marked “E” and “F”.  On Friday afternoons I update the data on whichever of these 2 drives I did not use last Friday.  This way even if I lose my original and both backups – I have the data as of the last Friday (end of work week).

Okay you are starting to think I am bit crazy and back up too much – but more is coming and it is important.  Since flash drives have a limited number of rewrites to them I also have 2 external hard drives.  I They are named odd and even (my data drive is H and my archive drive of prior years is G).  My data drive, archive drive and A and B backup drives are always in my desktop computer (unless being used on my laptop or there is some unusual reason to remove them from the computer).  

In the middle of the month (around the 15th) I will back up my data drives to an external hard drive and also backup my computer itself to same.  I use the “odd” hard drive for backups in the odd number months (1, etc) and the “even” hard drive for same in even months (2, etc).  This way I have a complete backup of computer and data at most 2 months old and more likely one month old or more recent.  

It sounds like a lot of work but takes maybe half an hour at most (and that is more than actual) while I am closing my work area for the day.  

I also have separate data flash drives for my accounting business clients so that when I go to a client (in non-pandemic times) I only bring their data with me and not any other client's data.  I back these up when I use them to the A/B alternates and if used during the past week on weekly backup and also always to the monthly hard drive backup.

Earlier this year my computer went wacky and husband had to use the most recent backup of the computer after he got it working again to get it close to normal and I did not lose any data.  

Okay – that is a one time problem, won't happen again – HA! HA!

Two days ago husband let our joint Windows 10 computer update.  We each have a Win 7 computer setup as we want and only use the Win 10 as we need to for software which needs it.  A month or so ago his Win 7 died and since he is using the Win 10 as his regular computer.  

When he turned on the computer yesterday – it did not come on.  Something in the backing up did something weird to the computer.  He worked on it into the wee hours of this morning and then gave up.  He does not back up as often as I do so his backup is about a month (maybe two) old.  Presuming that backup works – all of his programs will think it is back then and any work since and not backed up is lost.  It took 3 or 4 tries of booting the computer today for everything to seem be okay with it.  

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

When was the last time you backed up your computer(s)?  If you lost the data on it would you be okay or would you need the data?    

Get yourself a couple of USB stick flash drives and at least start backing up your data.  An external hard drive is good idea for backup of the computer itself also.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

MOWING, SNOWING AND KNOWING WHEN TO HIRE HELP

 Well we finally did what we needed to do.  We hired a gardener.  

We used to have a gardener whose employees came weekly and mowed the grass – mostly in the backyard as the front of our house is mostly paved driveway – and cleaned up the leaves and such.  We actually had several of them over a time.  The last one disappeared – we were waiting for his people to come and clear the snow one winter a decade or so ago and he never came.  He did not answer his telephone.  We called our former gardener who had “sold us off” to this one and he checked.  Our gardener had moved back home to another country.  

Husband decided he (we) could deal with the mowing and seasonal cleanups and we started doing same.  We hired a company to clear the snow in winter as that can be a bit much for us – depending on the amount of snow we get.  This worked a couple of years and then the snow clearing company said it was only doing snow removal for commercial properties – as did and has every other snow removal company we have found.  

So we have gone along for some years dealing with it all ourselves – and husband is not what he used to be in terms of what he can do (which is why I have been helping/doing much of the work) and spends the fall and winter in terror of being snowed in and not being able to get out of our house if we need to.  

We managed to get through doing the mowing, cleaning up, and snow removal as well as we could.  But then the pandemic came along.  In 2020 we were staying in the house almost continually.  In late summer we had to go to our garage (which serves as husband's wood shop so it was needed before during the year).  The garage sits behind our house on one side and the regular door to it is on the side.  We needed something from the garage in late summer and when we went to go into the garage we saw our backyard – there was waist high grass and weeds!  We realized we could not handle it and decided to ignore it, let it all die over the winter and start anew in 2021.  

But 2021 was not much a better year and we again forgot about the backyard.  I knew that we would not be able to deal with what had grown in the yard – “weed trees” - plus poison ivy was probably running loose also.  So we discussed it and decided that in 2022 we would hire the same gardener as our next door neighbor used.   I even made notes in my cell phone and computer calendars to remind me to start the process in March 2022.

Of course I missed March and did not get in touch with the gardener until May.  He is very nice.  How nice?  Turns out he has helped us before.  During the winter we had a large snow storm – the snow was light and fluffy and we easily cleared it away.  Unfortunately the county snow plow crew did not come through until the day after the storm and the sidewalks/driveways had been cleared and the light snow was thrown back onto them as HEAVY PACKED snow.  We set out again to try to clear the snow chopping off bits of the packed snow and shoveling it.  A pickup truck with a snow plow on the front stopped and told us to move away from the snow – he then drove up the driveway partway and broke apart the packed snow.  He would have done same with our other driveway cut but a snow plow came through again (so glad they came twice two days after the snow and not at all during the snow) and said something to him and he had to leave.  When the gardener came after I called him to talk about what we needed – turned out he was the good soul who had helped us?  

His crew has come twice (it started raining heavily the first day) and cleared out our backyard.  It is now rather bare.  He suggested he would bring new dirt and fill in so backyard was even and reseed – but, he warned us, we would have to make sure to water it regular until the grass was growing.  I agreed.  I then remembered  - the back water faucet is shut off as it had frozen and water was dripping.  So before he comes and does the reseeding work we have to get a plumber to come and fix the faucet!  

Husband had been very nervous and tends to oversee a bit too much – I try to keep him in the house and not out bothering anyone.  

Today we went out and bought a new window well cover and put it in place.  We are hoping that the basement flooding that we had during Hurricane Ida last year and after wards whenever we had heavy rain will no longer happen.  The water seemed to come in through/around this window and the cover was gone from it.  We did not have the same problem by the other window whose cover remained intact and in place.b

And we can actually walk in our backyard – even go to the shed back there.  Which reminded us – we need to fix one of the hinges on the shed door!   And he lists residential snow clearing on his website!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Sometimes one has to give in and admit that they cannot do something.  When it is something which even children can do (mow grass) it can be even harder to admit that one can no longer do it.  But one has to learn their limitations and give in and hire someone to do what they can no longer do.