Friday, September 08, 2006

Escape from FAR Manor! (Vacation, day 1)

Note: Depending on when I can find a tube (the Internet is a series of tubes, you know), these posts may appear later than their dates. I'm going to backdate them to the day I wrote them.

OMG. If all vacation days were like this one, I’d just work. As it is, I may end up being the exception and saying I wish I’d spent more time at the office. At least there’s a happy ending.

You know it’s not going to be a wonderful day when the phone rings at 5 a.m. and you find that the power is out. In the course of things, we found that the house phone was out as well, but the office phone that woke us up obviously wasn’t. But I digress. When I picked up the phone, the line was dead — in my sleep-deprived state, I forgot that phone has a flaky hook switch. I also didn’t catch details like the night light and clock-radio being dark. It took flipping two light switches, and nothing happening either time, for it to penetrate my thick skull.

“Power’s out,” I told Mrs. Fetched on the way to the bathroom. “Did you forget to pay the electric bill?” (Being half-asleep does little to stop my lame attempts at humor.)

“It is?” she mumbled.

In the bathroom, I could hear the alarm from the chicken houses… seems the situation was more widespread.

“That must have been Mom, then,” said Mrs. Fetched (a good bet; nobody else would call us at 5 a.m. unless it was a wrong number or a prank). “I need to go start the generator.” The chicken houses have backup power, which helps to keep them, you know, alive during a power failure.

I lay awake while she was gone, not from choice, until she returned. I knew that a major feed incident in #1 had all but buried a feed hopper, and I’d already volunteered to help shovel feed in the morning. So when she said she was going to start that at 6-ish, I said, “I’ll come. I’m not going to get back to sleep anyway.” A little breakfast, and away we went. After making a dent in the pile, we did the daily walk-through. That took us to about 10:30.

After a shower, I sat down to check email and what all my blog-buddies are up to, and my smellphone rang. My boss. “Those documents you uploaded to the intranet are coming back ‘File Not Found’.” Serves me right to trust anything built or maintained by IT — just because it worked that last X times doesn’t mean you should ever trust it to work this time. I checked my work email, found another person with the same problem, then turned off the VPN and emailed everyone from my home account. Lotus Farking Notes is still screwing up attachments, which it has been doing for the last few months now, and now the web-based client I’ve been using has been following suit at least for forwarded attachments. Words to live by: in a crisis, don’t depend on IT. Or: “IncompetenT” begins and ends with IT. (OK, rant off.)

Noonish, we went out to eat. On the road, Mrs. Fetched started in about me calling the insurance company about the load we’re taking about against my life insurance. That reminded me about other calls I wanted to make: activate my debit card, order a new battery for my iBook, and let the phone company know the business line was acting up again — the hum was loud enough Thursday night to kill the DSL.

By the time we got home, The Boy had returned from his job and I was about dead. He went with Mrs. Fetched to shovel feed, and I crashed for a couple of hours, waking up about an hour later than I wanted (and just as Mrs. Fetched returned).

Her Imperial Highness was put out that I hadn’t made my calls yet. I’d committed the Ultimate Sin of inconveniencing her: she expected me to take M.A.E. to work; it was 4 p.m. and I had to make the calls now. Never mind that the one she wanted was to Alabama and thus gave me an extra hour. I could have called from the car, but she was already in high dudgeon and even less inclined than usual to listen to reason. Fine: I used the time to make the calls (check’s in the mail, debit card active, battery ordered) and get stuff together (i.e. packing for vacation). The fourth call, to the phone company, never happened. Just to make sure, I took an old phone out to the interface box and plugged it in the test jack. No hum. Loosening and tightening the screw terminals cleared it all up.

What with one thing and another, I didn’t make good my escape from FAR Manor until about 6:30. I stopped in Cleveland to pick up some essentials, and learned that I was in a dry county. I thought such things no longer existed… but then I remembered the sorry excuse for a Pretendersent we have these days….

An hour on the road, a half hour spent grabbing groceries (and a fruitless search for beer), ten minutes to check in, twenty to unpack: at 8:30, I called home to let everyone knew all was well (except for the beer).

I fixed a sandwich for supper and entertained myself with some music out of my iBook and reading some ancient (older than me!) Bell System Practices about maintaining 197/198-type switches (those old step-by-step boogers — am I a geek or what?). Then… blessed sleep.

Two glorious weeks of vacation, the first two-week vacation of my working life. I’ll be bouncing back & forth for a few days to FAR Manor, but Mrs. Fetched will join me here for a couple of days starting Wednesday. Next Saturday, off to Solar’s for a week in Florida.

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