.journal 2001.08.25
What a day.

Now listening to: Delerium, Karma
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Drawing Blood; Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
Now playing: Chu Chu Rocket (Dreamcast)

Normally the goings-on of a day are the kind of thing I try to shuffle off to the .blog, but there are times when I just get caught up in the strangest adventures. Or maybe there are times when I just can't shut up. I don't know, but I won't be able to stay up this late for a long, long time, I've got Star Trek: the Next Generation on the TV, Delerium in the boom box, and the events of tonight still super-fresh in my mind.

For those of you who don't follow the .blog, I finally had the most important of my absent friends return to me recently, and was able to talk to her at some small length online. While it wasn't much, it was the first direct contant I had with her since the fire, and after talking to her I finally felt that things in my life may be okay here soon.

So, of course, the first thing that happens when I wake up the next morning is that my computer bites the dust.

We'd had some strange electric occurrences over here the past few days, including two different light bulbs cease working mere hours after being replaced, and our ice maker only sporadically working. We really thought nothing of it, but when my computer goes down less than a week before I'm to start school, we got problems. So we call the front desk that afternoon and they say that an electrician should be here shortly. Nobody shows up that day, and I spend the evening at the office hoping to get in touch with my absent friend.

Fast forward to this morning. My sister calls the front desk again and asks about the electrician. It turns out that the electrician just up and quit, and the hotel manager is frantically calling around trying to find someone to come take care of our problem. (Bless that manager, she really has been treating us too well.) The electrician shows up over an hour early, and the problem is traced to the fluorescent light fixture in the downstairs bathroom. But because Home Depot doesn't have a replacement in stock, they can only remove the old one and not put in a new one. Not too big a deal, since there's an overhead bulb in that bathroom that works just as well.

But as for my computer, well, that's another matter entirely. As far as I can tell, the hard disk just got majorly screwed up, though I can't tell if these are just temporary writing problems or if there was actual physical damage done to the hard disk. I could ascertain the nature of the problem and fix it very quickly, if only for the fact that while I brought my computer with me from the house, I didn't bring my rescue CDs. So my sister had to call ServiceMaster and sometime today or tomorrow I should be going over to where all our stuff's in storage so I root through all my CDs. (And since the rescue operation hoses the registry, I'll have to grab all my application CDs as well to reinstall them.)

I had to put my computer problems on hold for a while, though, because there was one little matter I really needed to take care of: going to the University of Toledo to get my textbooks for the autumn term that starts this Monday. While I brought my courseload with me I didn't bring my map of the campus, so right away I got stuck wandering around the campus like an idiot. Then I get to the bookstore, which you can guess is crowded to the max, only to find that of my five courses, only three of them actually have their books in. So I pick those books up and go to the checkout.

Three hundred freaking dollars.

I mean, these are some nice books and all. Two of them even came with study aid CD-ROMs, and one of them is so recent it even includes a good-sized section on Napster. But three hundred dollars? It was at about this time that I was really wishing I'd brought my sister so I could put all this on my father's credit card instead. At least I had enough on my debit card to get it all, but probably just barely. I finish my time on campus my checking out all my classrooms for Monday, and rush over to the office so I can take Heather to the house for Rowan duty.

Before we leave the office, though, there's a matter that needs attending to. My sister lost her notebook computer in the fire, and with it about five years of business records, never mind all her writing and personal effects she had on it. Unfortunately, it's the business records that she's constantly being pestered about, and she also needs the computing power to organize everything the insurance company's asking her about what she's lost. So real early this month we went to Gateway's Website and ordered a Solo 1200 to replace her old notebook. At first they said it would be here by the 15th, but shortly thereafter they changed that to the 24th. Well, it was the 24th, and we had no notebook, and especially since I could have used the notebook myself to try to be available for my friend, this kind of pissed me off too.

The first thing I do is to check Gateway's site to see what it says about our order. It says the order is still "being prepared for release to manufacturing." That doesn't sound right to me, so Heather gets on the phone with Gateway, who after much hemming and hawing tell her that they have no record of the order. There's panic button number one. Heather waits a bit then calls again, and this time Gateway actually says they have the order, but they refuse to give her any day on which she can expect to get the notebook. Panic button number two, and my sister flies out the front door to try to get a hold of herself.

It didn't work. With all the pressures around her, my sister simply broke down. And because I tend to pick up on the emotional states of the people around me, I start feeling out of control too. So my sister tries to explain this all to my father as sanely as she can, but of course she's startting to lose it and who in the hell can blame her? She just lost damn near everything she had three months ago, she's got an insurance company pestering her on one side and the business on the other, all while she's trying to regain some semblance of a normal life, and now the tool with which she could start getting her life back around that should have been here by now is now on an indefinite delay?

Now, if this was your daughter, wouldn't you be compelled to go over and give her a hug and try to help her work out a way to get this done? I would. But, of course, this is my father we're talking about, so the first thing he does is give her the coldest stare he possibly can (and believe me, I know my father practices that stare in front of the mirror each night), and tells her, "Don't go into theatrics."

It was at this point where I lost it. My father is a man of many talents, but interpersonal communications is far from one of them, and in as much as I was in control at this point I tried to explain to my father how much pressure he and everyone else was putting his daughter under, and considering that, you know, this was his daughter we're talking about, maybe he should just shut the hell up (those weren't theatrics, damn it, my sister is hurting real bad) if he wasn't going to offer any solutions and instead try to console her. Of course, trying to talk to my father about those things is pointless, and the best I can say I did was I distracted him long enough to stop mistreating his older daughter and start mistreating his younger one.

Eventually my father offered two potential solutions to the problem, but as usual they were solutions in his eyes, that in reality would crumble to dust. The first solution was to have my sister do all the work on an office computer. First of all, my sister has so much work to do on this stuff that asking her to do that would pretty much doom her to living at the office for months. Of course, my father doesn't see that as a problem; shouldn't we all be spending as much time as possible there anyway so we can make him money? But there's all the responsibilties my sister has here, like laundry and stuff, not to mention the fact that that office is no place to be spending extended periods of time because it isn't a pleasant a place, and while this hotel room may not be home it's still a lot more comfortable and convenient than that blasted converted warehouse.

Father's second solution was to take an unused computer from the office and bring it over here for my sister to work on. Let's shoot down those holes in logic: of all the computers not being used right now, none of them have the computing power to run the applications my sister would need to run. And of the ones that are powerful enough, pretty much every computer there is in major need of cleaning up. That's supposed to be one of the things I'm doing over there, but after working there for a couple of months my father is still using every computer and not cleaning stuff off them so I can do the reformatting that pretty much every computer there needs at that point. So much for that plan.

So father takes off in a fluster and leaves my sister and myself to our own devices and to work off our collective anger, not like we could use the emotional support of a family member at a time like that but obviously we weren't going to find any from him. We get our stuff together eventually, though, and head to the house to take care of Rowan. Only father's already there, along with a new contractor he's hoping will actually reconstruct the house and stuff, and this new person is spooking the hell out of Rowan. Rowan ate a bit of her food but then took off into the recesses of our backyard, and did so again after we brought her back to her food. So we end up having to leave Rowan, unsure of whether or not she's really had enough to eat.

However, in my mind I start calculating whether or not there was a computer at the office that I could use here at the hotel. Nothing there was as powerful as my Athlon, but so long as I had a word processor to type reports for school up in, and Internet access so I could be online for my friend. We had one computer that would fit the bill, funnily enough the first computer I bought that I never actually brought home because it was needed so much at the office at the time, a Pentium-133 that's out of commission due to some vague hard disk condition father never explained to me that well. I ask my father if I can bring it back here to "work on," he gives the okay, and we head back to the office and I pick the computer up.

In the meantime my sister has convinced me to take her to our local Gateway Country store so she can talk to somebody in the flesh. By this point my sister had basically "flipped over" and gone into full-force bitch mode. If I can ever blame my sister for two things in my life, it is for my proclivity to refer to Japanese motorcycles as "riceburners" and to believe "bitch" is a compliment. Thankfully in this case being a bitch was a good thing, because it meant my sister was going to take action. I went into the store with her, just in case she needed help mopping up any pools of blood.

It was there that we finally got the story of what was going on: a plant which manufactures part of Gateway's notebooks got devastated by a tornado a while back, and shipment of notebooks would not recommence before the seventh of next month. Now, I can sympathize with Gateway over their plight, but at the same time Gateway had a goddamn responsibility to call people who had pending orders up and tell them about this, or at least tell their phone representatives about this so we didn't have to go through this whole rigamorole to find out the truth. We told the nice people at the Gateway Country store that we appreciated their help and it was nothing personal against them, but Gateway could go screw at that point as far as we were concerned. We'll be shopping locally for notebooks later today, and will likely cancel the Gateway order as well.

So we're on our way home, and by this point the sun's gone down and I turn on the lights of my car. My sister and I stopped at 7-Eleven to pick up some Mountain Dew Code Red Slurpees, and while I'm in the parking lot I check out my lights. And wouldn't you know it, my license plate lights are out. Well, strike that: only one is "out" out, but the second one must have a wiring fault because I had to tap on it with my finger in order to get it to turn on. And not having a working license plate light was what got me pulled over for the first time ever last year, when I was still going out in Jeff's car learning how to drive, as we came home from a sports bar. And given what I've already been through with my car when it comes to lights and getting pulled over, I didn't want to go through that again.

I ended up taking as many back roads as possible to get back to the hotel, but I did so, started dinner cooking and tried to get the Pentium working. Only there's this big problem with the D: drive, and it seems to lock up the moment it starts loading up the desktop. After about an hour of tinkering around, I find out that it can't run any .dll's, and at that point a reinstall of Windows was the only possible solution. The only problem is, I didn't bring the CDs for the computer. At least they were at the office, and not in a locked storage locker I couldn't get to easily. But dare I risk going out in my car again with its lighting problems?

So I end up going back to the office to retrieve the CDs in the folks' mini-van, which after two months of riding around in my dinky little Camry was a chore and a half to get used to. But I get over there, get the CDs, and get back here. After not a considerable amount of effort on my part, I get Windows reinstalled, get online, get ICQ downloaded so my friend can get hold of me, and eventually download an FTP program and figure out how to FTP to and from my site to work on. I figured all this detail was too much for a .blog entry.

Trying to run as much software as I am right now on this old Pentium is a chore, but hey, it works, and so long as I can type up reports for school and, most importantly, be in contact with my friend if she needs it, I don't think I can complain too much. The lack of a sound card may hurt if I try to run the CD-ROMs that came with my textbooks, but hopefully I can get my old computer up and operational again soon. The only problem will be if I need to replace the hard disk, because there'll be a question over whether or not the hotel should pay for it, and unless they want to run out and get it from me I'll have to figure out a way to buy a hard disk that doesn't involve my depleted debit card.

And yet despite all this chaos around me, I think I'm doing better than I have since the fire. It's amazing how much having a good friend in your life can make all the other troubles melt away. Maybe I'm just watching too much Oh My Goddess!, but when you know you don't have to go through chaos alone, doesn't that make the shit life throws your way all the more meaningless?

So how was your day, hmm?

Everyone take care and be well. I'll see you all soon. Hopefully one of you very, very soon.

- Sean