Thursday, November 13, 2003

A bloomin' family reunion, and a lot of malfunctioning stuff!

My grandfather (the one who lives on the farm in Virginia) e-mailed me to say that he was planning to come down and visit me in Nashville. He has been saying he would do this for years, but this time he was serious. So he's arriving this weekend.

Then a few days ago, I got an e-mail from my cousin Laura, who I haven't seen in almost two years. She has been going to school in Boston, but graduated and is now applying to medical schools. It turns out that she has an interview at Vanderbilt on Monday. So she's also coming down -- and naturally I offered up my place.

So all of a sudden I have two out-of-town guests, and it's time to get the house presentable. I've been spending every free moment cleaning, dealing with repairs, etc. Plus, we have a business plan due in several weeks for my class, and our company is getting impatient. Then late last week the massive server that holds our company's electronic archives decided to die in the middle of the night. This has already been good for one all-nighter and countless hours of additional stress. The worst part about the work is that it's a "hurry-up-and-wait" operation, because it takes so long to move around the tons of data we're dealing with.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day (from 6:30 AM until around 4:30 PM) working on the system from home while the plumber and handyman simultaneously abused my house. (After two trips, I believe I now have a working toilet in the guest bathroom!) I also broke down and hired a maid service to clean the place. I feel so bourgeois. But at least the dust bunnies have left the building.

Somewhere in there, I also ran a line directly from the phone network box to my DSL modem, and proved that my DSL problems are not the fault of the ancient phone wiring in my house. The next guess is a bad modem -- they're sending me another one. The phone company is convinced that there couldn't possibly be anything wrong with the line, so we're trying everything else first.

I then went in to work for a meeting around 5:00, and stayed there working until midnight.

This morning dawned with temperatures in the 30s, and I discovered that once again my furnace seemed to be dead. This happened last year. The repair guy said to just cycle the circuit breaker several times. After about five attempts, it finally came on. (It's an outside unit, and apparently moisture can creep into the unit and cause it not to light. A safety device cuts off the gas if there's no flame. Cycling the power resets the safety device and lets it try again. The unit hadn't been used in a few days, and it poured rain yesterday. So hopefully this won't become a regular occurrence.)

And to add to the pile of malfunction and misfortune, the zero key on my cell phone has died. So to anyone with a zero in your number, I won't be calling you. Everyone else, you're good. (Actually I can work around it with speed dial and other tricks, but it's a real pain!) Verizon says I have to take the phone to one of their stores, which are apparently all in the distant suburbs. And they're very vague about what might happen when I get there. I fear that they may ship my phone off to Timbuktu for repair and leave me without phone, which would be bad since I've also been disconnecting my home phone as part of the DSL troubleshooting.

Now I've got to go into work for more pointless meetings and server angst. Plus I've still got to go grocery shopping to do.

I'm ready for another vacation!