Saturday, September 10, 2016


This is a blast from the past, but I think it's a good post. From September, 2013.

I have been told that I can raise computers from the Dead and that I practice the Dark Arts in the understanding and healing of them. However, even the most virtuoso violinist at the apex of the violin heap, has had a slip or two off the fingerboard, and played clams a-plenty. I also have a huge affinity for the viola and despise the violin, for a few reasons. One being, I am never comfortable playing a violin, so naturally, I have or have had several of the things at one or another time in my life, rather like mice or cockroaches, and I have had only one viola, my Bolognese-built snob of an italian, maker, Guidantus Florenus, or Wolf, as his luthier named him, when he was appraised and certified after his bonafides checked out. So, I have no need for other violas.

Those violin notes high up on the "E" (EEK!) string are harmonics. Maybe. I wouldn't know, because they're above the hearing range of anything that lives on this planet. My friend Nancy, who has been my stand partner, much to the woe of our manager (it's his fault, since he knows we get into trouble) swears those are real notes. I think she's lying and I know I'm faking, when some moron of a band-leader seats me in the first violin section.

However, I rented violins for a while, then I bought a few, then I sold a couple, because the first were just not quite what I wanted, and then I bought another and it was okay and then I sold that one. I am currently violinless, which is really okay with me, since I am not playing professionally much anymore anyway. Wolf rocks and that is all I need.

This is just Wolf's scroll. Note the serif (point on the bottom) Seen head-on, (the pic of which I don't have) the two sides are asymmetrical which is a hallmark of Guidantus. He packs a wallop of a sound and is a dream to play; like butter.

Now, if we were to transfer all this love/hate over to... oh, I don't know say, computers, it would go like this. I love desktops. The bigger and leaner, the better. I have an ancient Gateway, that JC farts around on and watches Hulu+ and Netflix on and he's happy with that. I have a dual-core, that is pretty much over-clocked right now and it works well. It has an extra power supply for the monitor and software for my vision. It works even better once I rid it of all the dancing baloney, hoo-ha and JAVA type stuff that slowed it down and allowed it to be susceptible to all manner of bad ju-ju. Still, I am looking to upgrade to another quad-core AMD this year, with up to 16 X the amount of speed and Terabytes, rather than Gigabytes, for some very specific reasons. Sheesh. Thank the Christ you don't have to do that with violas; although it could be said I already own the equivalent of Big Blue or Cray of violas, so that analogy doesn't work.

Yes, take your stupid mousey control thingy and vamoose, along with Herr Mozart and that high, screechy thing, the violin.

Yeah, you scoot too! (Truth be told, this is a beauty; probably a Storioni, or a Stradivarius.) Whatevs, man. Begone!

What does work, is the statement I make about “slipping off the fingerboard” as it relates to system rebuilds. Over the last week, I and my “colleague's” business has seen an up-tick in repairs, rebuilds, shooing away of malware, trojans, hijacks and just general fuckery. Most of our “patients” have been laptops, which now and forever, I equate to violins.

Don't get me wrong, I love my IBM laptop T42. Probably because it is an IBM product and I am proud of having worked for them and being a top-drawer engineer there. I fixed all manner of gaffes, goofs and even restored 2 idiots' laptops that they left in the car overnight in a town in North Dakota. They had already called in once, and the idiot IBM engineer who talked to them first told them to leave their laptops “in the sun for a few hours and that will work.” It didn't and I received and fixed the second call. Epic in the history of "Stupid I Have Known at IBM" for the 1st guy. But, believe me, I have committed my share of confuse-a-what writ large.

Spreadsheets, databases, documents, suites. All of this crap will only replicate the data after it has been entered. I used to think that I should keep a Magic-8 Ball and tell callers, "It is too soon to tell" and other cryptic shit, or talk like Yoda. IBM wouldn't have minded. As long as it got fixed, you could play hopscotch in the aisles. Those were the days.

I once got a call from a guy who was trying to copy some data in a cell in Lotus 1-2-3, from Row 2 to Row 500, or something. So, I assiduously walked him through the process, highlighting the row, in this case row 1, hit CTR + C, then use the down arrow and holding down Shift + CTR, highlight the rows, then hit CTR +V and voila! All of your numbers or formulae or what have you are supposed to be copied. Only this didn't work. Blank cells. I went at this from every way I could think of and the guy was really patient. I put him on hold and consulted with some of my fellow engineers around me. And we were all coming up with nada, zilch, bupkus.

So, I go back to my caller and apologized for making him wait and explained; yargle, blah, blah. There was a silence for a moment, then I hear this tiny voice in my head set, “Am I supposed to have typed my numbers INTO the cell I want to copy first, y'know, like before I copy?” I turned to stone. I wanted to say, “well, Lotus 1-2-3 doesn't come with the ESP module yet, so yes moron, you do.” But, that should have been one of the first things I asked him. Still, I was the OS/2 Goddess.

Similarly, after my great save last week of the doomed quadcore, wherein I used several highly unorthodox techniques to rescue the operating system, using a different rescue method than the one given and utilized a non-sanctified disc and changed the BIOS boot order and DAMN! If that didn't work. So, what followed yesterday, reminded me that yes, I am human and may not reclaim my status of Goddesshood. I'll settle for Beastess. Yes, I have feet of clay, make mistakes and laugh about them later. I am my own best audience.

I don't hate violins or laptops as much as this precocious nitwit, not by a long shot. But on a scale of things I hate, he's barely ahead of having the shits, throwing up or dying.

Another Toshiba laptop. Oh, how I hate thee, Toshiba Satellite C655d-s5200. You work and all your parts are running, so can you please tell me why, in the name of Chthulu, why every Goddamned ethernet controller I feed you, you refuse to see? What the hell is wrong with you. You go online, hard-wired, wifi and no problemo, but you will not and refuse to see any Ethernet controller. Are you one of those stupid orphan cards made by some fly-by-night company that is in 6 Satellites and we're just screwed? Should I even give a shit? The worst part of this whole thing came to be when I realized I couldn't get on with my wifi antenna because I had it plugged into the phone jack. I guess I missed “Recognizing Shapes” class at school. Once, I plugged the wifi antenna in, Surprise! Internet. But no damned ethernet card. I really, really hate, you Toshiba Satellite C655d-s5200.

I'm sure this was a riveting class and I missed a whole bunch of stuff that would be mostly helpful. For now, I'll just continue trying to put wifi antennae into phone jacks. I mean, it's not like I can see the damned things, anyway. 

Thus has become my pogrom against laptops in general. The whole mouse and pointer and select thingy is spastic. I use plug-ins on my own. I vow here and now, NOT to start acquiring these nightmares. I also don't do hardware and am not keen at all about Windows of any stripe. So, a new pet hate; along with Mozart and violins, we can now add laptops.


I went to the hospital on Friday, with a piece of paper that had a bunch of gibberish on it. It just said something about pulmonary whatsis and I had no idea what to expect. I showed up early and had all of my stuff for once. Usually, I leave shit at home and papers, or scrips have to be faxed and it's just a nightmare. I should have everything pinned to me, like those idiot mittens we all had growing up in Michigan.

So, I was early, and got checked in and then was given directions to the banks of elevators in TGH, Tampa General Hospital. I don't know what it is about hospitals, but this is one of the most confusing places, as was the University of Michigan hospital, where I worked during school. At U of M, you didn't enter on the first floor, like a normal building, you entered on the 4th floor. At TGH, there are east and west units. I think I was directed to the western units. All I know is the lady says, “You go left past the Golden Tree” (what is this, a Runescape quest?) another left, go to the end and you'll see elevators. Go to the 2nd floor to pulmonary.”

Off I go, past the Golden Tree and find the elevators. TGH is a teaching hospital. I love teaching hospitals; they're madhouses and there's all sorts of stuff going on. Besides, this was my home for almost 2 months in 2010. Anyway, I'm waiting by the elevator, with a bunch of folks and there's a mad stampede, unseen but heard from a hall to my right. A passel of doctors appear, and they do a football huddle and whisper excitedly for several moments, then they tear back off the way they came. A drive-by consult. All that was missing was the clap and “BREAK!”

The elevator comes and I'm the last on, as I'll be the first off, so I get to push all the buttons. I get to the 2nd floor and hop off. The pulmonary wing is absolutely dead, crypt-like. There's a guy sitting behind the desk, and he says, “Wallace?” I said, “yup.” So I mosey on over and I see there's an electronic scale. He says, “What's your first name, I was told, but I can't remember anything, I'm as sharp as a bowling ball.” I start to laugh and tell him. I ask if this here scale works and he says yes, so I jump up on it. Well, it didn't do anything. Boyd says, “It's got to be turned on, first. Hop off.” I did and I turned it on. 108.2 pounds. Hallelujah! I haven't been over 104 pounds in over 7 years.

I am so lame when it comes to taking pictures. It's like a cow driving a car.
Attempt #1 (It should be noted; this was BEFORE I was diagnosed with essential tremor, so that's part of the problem. The other part is, the Wallace gene will guarantee that bad pictures are taken 99.99% of the time.)

I told him this is a major achievement for me and he's looking at me like, "Sheeh, most women have the opposite problem, and you're thrilled to be 3 pounds heavier". Boyd's ready for this test and I am too, I really had no idea what we were doing. So off we went. It turns out it was a spirometry test, as I have COPD, which like essential tremor, is partially inherited, but mostly dictated by behavior; smoking. I had quit 2 years earlier for the last time and didn't miss it. But through the whole test, this guy is just telling one joke after another. He's better than I am! The only thing I told him that cracked him up was when I commented on his last name, “Storey.”

When we lived in Michigan, we went to a high Catholic Church and in the summer time, one of the members of the church, a veterinarian, named Dick Storey, would open his lakefront house in the afternoons and have house parties and we would all go after church. Being an only child, I never mixed well with other children at all, but was perfectly at home with adults, so I would hang out in the living room, where Dr. Storey had a baby grand piano. Thank God, my parents were not of the “children are seen, but not heard” school of child-rearing, although on this occasion, they may have been reflecting on their choice. But they would step in if things started to get out of control. Once, after a dinner, I was hanging with the guys, because they were a hell of a lot more interesting then the women in the kitchen, who were cleaning dishes and probably slurping martinis. The men were drinking whiskey and smoking cigars. The other kids were outside, playing dolls, or army men, stuff I had zero interest in, at the time. I developed a raging interest in Military History later on; I was really a crappy girl-child.

Boyd's co-worker/buddy came over and I almost poked his eye out with my cane fiddling with this shit. Boyd helpfully hung onto it for me as I tried to take a picture, and not make shitty videos.
Attempt #2

But, back to the Veterinarian and the piano. During a lull in the conversation, I announced apropos of nothing, “Dr. Storey, did you know I can play the piano?” Dr. Storey, having 5 of his own kids, and being extremely patient, said, “why, Mary, no, I did not. Why don't you play a tune for us.” My 5 year old self proceeded to clamber up on the piano bench and play “Onward Christian Soldiers,” which I had learned in VBS, the previous week. When I was done, I said, “Any requests?” My father hollered out, how about “Alexander's Ragtime Band.” I said, “Okay!” And I proceeded to play “Onward Christian Soldiers,” again. I asked for another request, but before I could fulfill another happy listener, who had asked for George Gershwin's “Summertime (that would have been awesome,) my mother came and whisked me into the kitchen. That was pretty much the end of my piano-playing career.

Boyd got a kick out of that. But, Boyd had quite a story of his own. He spent time in the Navy and then, re-upped as a sonar man for several tours. He's been with TGH and not only does testing on patients like me, but the heart transplant patients. These tests, consist of blowing into a tube, several times, as a machine registers lung capacity, elasticity and volume.

We did it several times and it went like clockwork; his patter was continual and I asked him if anyone had ever complained, because it has a lulling effect, which also caused me to concentrate on what we were doing. I've noticed in the medical profession, the very best, will have a way with being able to get through the static of a patient's fears. They will be able to get the patient to buy into what needs to be done and it is something that is not easy to do, although it may look easy. He said he'd had a couple of complaints; but overall, the response was just fantastic.

When I had my ulcer surgery, way back in 1985, it was so successful, because the doctors and nurses made me part of the team. My own recovery time was 1/3 what was expected for a major surgery back then.

Mr. Boyd Storey, RRT. A laff-and-a-haff and a great guy! I enjoyed this and I hope I get to see him again. Attempt #3 was the charm.

So, as easy as it is to bitch about stupid doctors and the insurance companies themselves, when you run across the best, I think it appropriate to acknowledge them. I made a deal with Boyd. I told him if he didn't mind my mentioning him in a post that I would write a letter to his department head (he gets a Starbucks gift card) regarding his superior ability and his way and kindness with people. Thanks, Boyd. You're the best!

For those interested, I am not bad off. I have 43% lung function, but I walk and get around and am strong as an ox. As long as I keep not smoking, which I haven't done for over years now, I will be fine. I plan on being around for another 30 years, as the Wallaces and the Rosses have a longevity gene. Besides, I have too much to do.

A note: Since this post was written back on September 12, 2013, I have participated in several Clinical Trials and my lung function/capacity has increased to 90%. I started doing this in honor of my mother, who died at a relatively young age of 70. She lived every day fully with this disease, with far less than the lung capacity and overall good health that I now enjoy. The other most wonderful thing about this, is I'm helping to find a way to beat back this disease; as I mentioned, it's partly inherited and at my Clinical Trial place, Clinical Research of West Florida - who have become like family to me - there are patients who NEVER smoked, yet suffer from COPD. One day, it will be a thing of the past.

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