Countdown!


The countdown seems to be speeding up as we race toward the day when our daughter Lexi ties the knot with a very fine gentleman named Connor. (Did I mention that our daughter is getting married? She is!) The date is June 23, and it’s coming fast. Lexi and Connor seem to have matters well under control (unlike her parents, who basically were setting their hair on fire before their own wedding, centuries ago), but I’m not sure the same can be said of the father of the bride. I still have to buy a new suit (What? I have to wear a suit?), and I have to learn enough dance steps to carry off my role at the reception. There are probably other things, too, but that’s enough right there to give me brain freeze.

All that said, we couldn’t be happier for her, and for Connor. Woo-hoo!

 

Captain Jack Starts Physical Therapy

“Has no one else noticed that the water is rising in here?”

Captain Jack is coming right along in his recovery from ACL surgery. He’s already had two sessions with doggie PT, including time in the hydro tank—an underwater treadmill. He was a little wigged out at first, but he caught on after a while. How do you get a dog to walk straight and steady on a watery treadmill? Peanut butter!

Chaos at the Star Rigger Ranch, Pt. 2

Range Hood Update!

So, they didn’t bore the hole in the wall for the range hood for another week, which was ample time for me to cut open the inside wall and discover that a stud lay squarely in the path of my projected hole! Gah. After regrouping and consulting, I changed the plan and took down the slim-profile rectangular duct that I’d worked so hard on, and switched to round duct all the way—just enough difference to slide past the stud. It worked! But it left me with an ugly rectangular hole to close up. Oh well, we eat problems for breakfast here at the ranch. I applied myself to the problem, and the ugly hole is gone! And the range hood is operational!

A lot of finish work remains. For example, I had to cut a hole in the side of the gleaming stainless steel chimney (that’s what they call the decorative shroud around the actual exhaust duct). Me and my Dremel (and several expendable cutting wheels), we did it. Did good, too. Except one thing: the chimney is too short! It doesn’t reach the ceiling! How did I not see that before?

The manufacturer offers a chimney extension piece—for $165! That’s almost the cost of the whole unit. I am now hoping to find a local sheet metal worker who can fabricate a piece for me for less.

Sitting tight on that for now. We love having a real exhaust vent for our smoky cooking! Plus, I put up the re-cut pegboard, and Allysen now has a new hobby of figuring out what to hang on it and how.

Oh, and we now have a working porch lift in front of the house. Did I mention?

(Also, I’ve had enough home construction to last me the year.)

Chaos at the Star Rigger Ranch, Pt. 1

Because things weren’t crazy enough around here, we now have two major construction projects going at the same time.

A porch lift is going in beside our front steps, so Allysen’s mom can come and go safely. Here’s the concrete pad that got poured today. The lift will be moved from its previous owner and installed here over the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, on the inside, I’m completing my birthday present to Allysen (her birthday was in February): a range hood for our kitchen. We have needed a range hood and exhaust since we bought the house 26 years ago. But the stove is on an inside wall, and that makes it hard. Why are we insanely taking on this job at the same time as the other? Because the guys installing the lift have a big ladder, and they’re going to cut through the wall for me, and install the outside vent—which is located nearly three stories up!

Here’s our original (and still working) exhaust fan, which lemme tell you is chilly in February! And our smoky stove, with a pegboard holding everything:

Here’s the new hood, up for testing:

And here’s proof of progress (except I just took everything down so we can paint the wall):

Tomorrow they cut the wall.

The Bumpy Road of Rehab

Allysen’s mom came home from the rehab center not quite a week ago (following a broken hip), which caught us off guard due to poor communication from the rehab center. We did not expect The System to spit her out quite that soon. It’s been an absolute maelstrom of activity, finding out what we need to know about equipping the apartment, acquiring the equipment, setting up 24-hour care, learning a million things we never needed or wanted to know before. Early on, Allysen hired a care manager, without whose help I don’t think we would have survived the transition. But we’re getting there. Here’s a picture of her with Allysen and Jayce.

Meanwhile, Captain Jack smolders about being confined to a single room at a time, and wearing the Healing Hat, a.k.a. Helmet of Courage. (We do not call it [Cone of Shame] in this house!) Drugs are wonderful, when they work. But other times, the border collie spirit sneers at sedatives. Drugs? We don’t need no steenking drugs!

Moonlight has had to learn some navigational tricks, getting around the newly barricaded apartment. She’s almost twenty, and she can’t really vault over child gates anymore. Here she is, checking out the Bridge to the Future that I built for her at one checkpoint.

Captain Jack Comes Home


Captain Jack came home from surgery on this Good Friday (a day barely noted by his frazzled humans), having had surgery yesterday for his blown-out ACL. The surgery, called TPLO by the docs, actually involves reshaping the joint somewhat by cutting the tibia end and securing it with a metal plate at a slightly altered angle to the femur side of the joint. (They can’t repair the actual torn ligament the way they do in humans; they’re tried, and it just doesn’t take). Jack has to be kept uber-uber-quiet for two months or longer. And that means keeping him separated from A’s mom’s dog McDuff, who is living with us because of A’s mom being in hospital and rehab for a broken hip!

A’s mom is coming home very soon, BTW, and will be continuing physical therapy at home. Jack, while she’s doing that, will in a few weeks be starting physical therapy at the animal hospital! He’ll get to do his in a tank of water—treadmill in a tank. Stay tuned!

Oh—I probably won’t have a chance to post this weekend, so Happy Easter, everyone! (Happy Spring, if that’s more your style!)

 

Crazy, Crazy

There has been enough chaos around here to make me feel like our lives are being whirled in a Vitamix blender, which would be fine if the result was a margarita, but this is different. Allysen’s mom spent a couple of days in the hospital after her hip operation, at which point nature decided to drop the third Nor’easter in two weeks on us—this one a blizzard delivering nearly two feet of snow—in the middle of which the Powers That Be transported Allysen’s mom from the hospital to rehab. Which meant Allysen had to go out in the blizzard to be there for the move (while I stayed home wielding the snowblower and shovel, resting a bit, then wielding the snowblower and shovel some more, resting a bit, then wielding… etc.).

Today I got word that Captain Jack needs surgery for his torn CCL (dog version of ACL), which he got while playing in a meadow with another dog, so he’s scheduled for surgery in two weeks—following which this border collie mix will have to be kept inactive and very quiet for a month, and pretty quiet for another month. Are we kidding? Nope, we’re not.

Coming home from that, I received word that my brother Chuck’s cancer treatment has hit some bumps—though the last MRI offered some encouragement, so they’re forging ahead with treatment.

And Stephen Hawking died. Well, damn.

On the other hand, the date is 3-14, so Happy Pi Day!

Life Takes a Sharp Left Turn

Allysen’s mom fell and broke her hip Friday evening. She lives in our downstairs apartment, and I walked in with a slice of pizza for her, only to find her on the floor in the dining room. She said her leg hurt, so I didn’t move her—and in fact, EMTs and the fire department were already on their way, because she’d pressed the medical alert button she wears hanging from her neck. Allysen was out for the evening, so I accompanied her for the ambulance ride, complete with wailing siren.

The ER staff at Mount Auburn Hospital were terrific. By the time Allysen and I left for the night, her mom was scheduled for a partial hip replacement the next day. That was Saturday, and it went very well. I expect there will be a couple of weeks of rehab in our immediate future. I think she was especially annoyed about this in light of her having just gotten cataract surgery; she was really tired of people (us) hovering around giving her eye drops. Doctored-out, was how she put it, just a couple of days before her fall.

Ironically, after all the work put into the apartment to eliminate tripping hazards, it was playing with her dog McDuff that toppled her. She’d turned 88 just a few weeks ago. Old age is definitely not for sissies. She’s recovering well, so far, though.

“I didn’t do anything!”

 

Antares Rises from the Ashes!

It’s been a month since my Asus laptop, Antares, died from motherboard failure—a year to the day after I purchased it. After much nudging, pleading, and cajoling on my part, Asus agreed to take it back for warranty repair. It came back this week, running again, but with Windows restored to a factory-new condition. Good(-ish)! I run a lot of software, and that means a week of reinstalling everything… unless… unless I can restore it from backup.

Before I sent it in, I’d pulled the hard drive and made a disk-image backup using Aomei free backup software, and a second backup using Paragon backup software, just in case. You can’t be too careful.

So I plug in the backup drive, run Aomei, and tell it to restore the drive from my backup. What could go wrong? Runnnn… brrrrrrrrr…boom, restart computer, and we’re back to Feb. 8. Right?

Restart computer. Boom. “Boot device not found.” Thud.

“It’s still dead, Jim.”

Two days later, and I’m still running different permutations of the restore, using a boot thumbdrive that Aomei created for me.  (Paragon created one, too, but it didn’t boot.) No response from an email to tech support.  And then, on the user forum, an admin casually notes that my backup procedure was flawed—can’t backup the system files from a drive in a USB enclosure. Oh, shirt.

As a temporary diversion, I spend an hour playing Mr. Fixit, replacing the faulty inlet valve in our dishwasher. At least that works!

I have more backups, though, right? Surely I do. Here’s one from November.  This is my last hope. I run it. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr… (it’s on a different backup drive, a slower one). Two hours later, restart. Boom. My heart leaps as I hear the Windows welcome chime! I have my desktop with all my stuff as of November! Restoring the missing data is just a detail, and I’m back in business!  Aomei Backupper, you came through!

Antares is alive again!

Asus Comes Through!

Will she come back to life?

Previously on the Star Rigger Chronicles…

We left our hero shedding more than one tear over his beloved laptop (It’s dead, Jim), which abruptly died a year to the day after purchase—and muttering imprecations about the manufacturer whose tech support said, “Sorry! Out of warranty!” It was a dark day.

But today, the shrouds of darkness have scattered! After receiving two voicemails from Asus asking if my problem has been resolved (Duh! No!), I (the hero is me) call them back. At first, the answer is the same, only better: “For an estimated $700, we will diagnose your machine and call you with a new estimate, which may be more. If you wish, you may dispute the new estimate.”

“Huh? Dispute the estimate? What does that even mean?”

“You can try to get a discount.”

 Groan. “Look, it died one year to the day after I bought it. Can’t you help me?”

Repeat refrain. Eventually, though, she says, “Let me put you on hold.” I hold. She comes back and says, “We are going to escalate this to corporate. You will get a call within 48 business hours.”

“Forty-eight business—” calculating in head “—does that mean six days?” No, that was just customer-support talk. It means two days.

Two hours later I get a call from corporate. They need a copy of my purchase receipt so they can escalate it again. I find the receipt, and with some difficulty get it scanned to a pdf. (The dead laptop is where I usually handle scanning.)

That was yesterday. Today I get the reply: “Yes, we will fix it under the warranty.”

From somewhere in the clouds, we hear, faintly, the triumphal sounds of John Williams and the London Symphony, playing the Throne Room theme from Star Wars! Yay!

Never give up! Never surrender!

 

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