Archive for category: Technicalities

Tiring Business

30 Dec
December 30, 2012

“Mum, where are my winter tires..?”

Suffering from the mission-impossible-never-ending-Sisyphus-like position of logistic manager around here, my brain snapped into full alert.  The snow had been coming down in thick layers the past few days, with no regard to economic or social standing, democratically covering everything with its brand new infinite-shades-of-white coat. The roads were no exception; their by now hard packed, glazed surface having demobilized more vehicles than any ambitious arm truce.

Because the tire-owner had been abroad for half a year, he had graciously lent us his car. Provided we made the necessary change of tires once snow and ice decided to vacate the premises for a couple of months…

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Trying Cabinet

11 Mar
March 11, 2012
Coming home from vacation is always nice. I love again having round the clock access to my own refrigerator, filled with what I personally have picked out and purchased. Although opening it immediately upon arriving home occasionally has some interesting aspects to it as you discover that your fridge in your absence has breeded some very interesting, often both hairy and a little bit scary, life forms.
The freedom to do what I please within my own four walls, without regard to others, is also something I cherish. Even though this is not a habit of mine, I enjoy being able to walk around naked until, when I feel like it, I put my clothes on. Of course, I only do this when our in all other respects very liberated teenagers are not around; When it comes to parents they are extremely prudish, among other things preferring to believe, and being adamant, that they, as babies, were delivered by the stork.
Walking around the garden, saying hello to plants and trees, picking up a fallen branch here, removing a dead leaf there, is always a source of contentment, a way of getting grounded,  realigning mind, body and space after one or several plane flights. I try not to focus on all the weeding and watering that needs to be done, which, of course, I only succeed with in the wintertime when the weeds, along with everything else, is covered in several feet of snow…
Weeding is not the only thing that catches up with you when the holidays are over, and soon, if you don’t watch out carefully, or come from outer space…, you are back on the good old treadmill. One of the things that needs a lot of attention after a journey, particularly in a family of five, is the laundry. Drying facilities are then of the utmost importance. Any housewife (excuse me guys, but if you have taken on the responsibility for this Sisyphean task that no one actually takes notice of or give you credit for, you are exceptions to the rule, and may God and your wife forgive you all your sins and grant you access to Heaven!) can imagine my consternation when I’d hung the first load in the drying cabinet, turned the switch and…
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Out of Gas

12 Nov
November 12, 2011

We did get a little suspicious the other day when the heating system suddenly came to a standstill.  And when the hot water abandoned us, we understood that something was amiss. Or rather empty. Our hosts had meticulously written down instructions for how to act in such a situation, so I picked up the phone and dialed the number of the gas company. Of course it was after opening hours, as is usually the case on such occasions, so there was only a recorded message telling us the obvious fact, in addition to something about a number we could call in “caso de emergencia”.  A bad hair day can hardly be classified as such, and the dishes seemed to be happy sitting in the sink. So we waited till this morning, and reached a friendly lady who had a command over the English language similar to mine of Spanish, meaning veery poor, but when I hung up, I was fairly convinced there’ll be a man coming over to fix the problem tomorrow morning.

And sure enough, today, promptly at 8 o’ clock two friendly “gas men” showed up. The late bedder and early riser, still uncombed and in  her usual cosy and ruffled morning attire, opened the necessary gates and doors (you  soon get used to handling a loot of keys here, to every front, back and side door, all in addition equipped with a grilled door for protection against intruders…) and the men set about to work. It turned out that all 8 bottler were empty, not a molecule of gas was left. We asked for all of the bottles to be changed, and in the meantime I got up, making myself at least somewhat presentable and met them just as they were finishing the job, and ready for payment.
 It was then I realized that we did not have the necessary means between us for the task, so I told them I’d just pop down to Alfas and pick up some cash there. No worry, I would be back in 10 minutes. I knew the location of a Telebanco  near our local Supermercado and headed for that. Parked the car right outside and hopped out. The Telebanco was forthcoming, accepted my card and took me through all the steps, returned my card (that’s always a relief), and then… nothing. No message of irregularities had been given, the transaction seemed to have gone through, but no money appeared. I waited, and waited. Eventually I realized that it was a lost case, and tried calling a service number kindly provided on the screen. I called the number … and reached an answering machine. It repeated its most likely very informative message in Spanish, over and over again, and just as I was about to hang up a person was on the line. She was friendly enough, but English was not her strongest point, so I grabbed a passing lady and asked her if she could help me. Her English was perfect, her Spanish on the other hand….left a lot to be desired. I kept shouting into the phone “momento, momento, por favor” and looked wildly around me. A man on a motorbike approached, and I ran up to him, pleading with him to help me. He quickly sized up the situation, and the sweet guy, fluent in both languages, took over the phone. He conveyed to me that the bank lady wanted my DNA. I  looked blankly at him. Why on earth did the woman want to know about my genes, did she want to check it towards an international gene bank of notorious conmen or what? It turned out she was talking about my passportnumber, which of course, was in my passport, back at the house. I thanked the man and asked him if he knew of another TB in the neighborhood, to which he answered in the negative, I’ d probably have to go to the next town, Albir. So I set out, preparing myself for a longer drive, and 4 seconds later, I spotted another. I schreeched to a halt, made a u-turn, parked and hopped out. This time the darned banco didn’t even allow me to insert any of my 3 cards. Franticly, I knew the gas men were awating my return, I even tried my library card and my neat little card showing my blood type. After all, there is such a thing as a blood bank, and maybe if the bank drew a little blood from me, I could withdraw some money from the automat.  But it was all to no avail. So back in the car I once more set out for Albir, but now a little wiser, looking left and right, while I was driving. And sure enough, just a few blocks away, there was yet another TB. By now a little skeptical, I inserted one of my cards and went through the procedures. “Transaction not possible”, the screen displayed. It might as well have said “f… off!” I hesitated for a moment and then tried one of my other two cards. Step by step, I followed the instructions veeery carefully, all the while expecting the transaction to stall, the card to be spewed out, or, I wouldn’t put it past it, reach out a boxing glove  and punch me in the face! All the more amazed, I saw the transaction being completed, the card given back to me, and the money materialize.  What happened at the first TB, where the transaction had followed all the normal steps, short of providing me with the money, I don’t know. My favorite scenario is a Spaniard short on funds showing up to withdraw a few Euros and astonished watching money worth of 8 big gas bottles and quite a bit more falling into his unsuspicious lap, an expression of glee spreading over his face.
The gas money was duly handed over, along with a little extra for the long wait, and everybody was happy: The gas men and we, now able to do both dishes our hair, the latter of course feeling more urgent than the other, here in WinterWonderSummerLand.

The Blue Screen of Death

12 Oct
October 12, 2011

Windows NT crashed
The Blue Screen of Death
No one hears your screams
My old Pc is past its prime, to put it mildly. I have gotten used to the missing plastic left hand corner of the case, and the long crack on the same side looks  like it’s always been there. But now the functionality is acting up. The keys on the keyboard are tilting this way and that, and only if in a very good mood do what they are supposed to do. The space key is particularly obstinate, as are many of the letters, leaving me in a state of despair, and the text almost unintelligible. As if that weren’t enough, the screen has started showing signs of old age, with strange, fine lines and non figurative artwork obscuring what lies behind.
So this afternoon I found myself in one of the town’s biggest pc-stores. For the first time on my own on such an occasion. I had equipped myself with some advice from people with insight on the matter, and a list of my own prerequisites, but other than that I came empty handed/headed…
I was hoping to meet a kind, helpful and knowledgeable salesman, that could guide me through the pc jungle, and met… Christopher. Christopher was all that I could hope for, and more. When I told him my errand, acquiring a pc, he looked a little weary, but upon realizing I actually had a list of things I was looking for in the machine, I saw life reenter his eyes. He started making a list of options, while telling me that since I was a woman, design would obviously be an issue, so he would…I stopped him short, and told him that estetics was at the bottom of my list, but that I would appreciate if he took me through the technicalities of different machines and explaining to me what bearing they had on my needs.
Where before his expression had grown into a rather happy one, he now looked ecstatic. As if he were electrically charged, he took off like a machine spewing tennisballs, throwing facts and figures at me almost at the speed of light. Number of cores, speed of same, capacity of memory, speed of same, hard disc capacity, core i3/5/7 contra something I don’t even remember, but should stay way clear of,  RAM, MB, GB, USB 2, 3, …, dedicated video memory, not to mention integrated subwoofer and HSDPA! He was so enthusiastic it was a sight to behold. Some of the terms were actually familiar, but many only vaguely so, and even more share gibberish to me. So I stopped him whenever I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, and the guy actually went out of his way to try to make things a little clearer for me.
Eventually we had narrowed the choice down to two little beauties, of which one definitely was my favourite. I had him print out the specifications for me, which he did, signing with his name, if ever I needed to enquire about something. Only a predetermined decision not to make any purchase today, kept me from sealing a deal there and then. What convinced me even further that I had come to the right place, was the fact that he told me how they could set up the machine for me, provide expert assistance at all times, telephonic, online, personal. He even pointed out the man in the red t-shirt by the door, whose only job was to sit there, waiting for me to call or come by.
Almost too good to be true, I told myself, walking to my car in high spirits. Coming home I went through the information Christopher, my now good friend, had given me, looking things up on the internet, and of course realized that there were questions I either had not remembered to ask, or answers I had not fully understood. So, what the heck, I thought, I’ll just call Christopher or the guy in the red t-shirt sitting by the door. I looked at the papers he’d given me and found…no telephone number. I looked up the company on the internet and found… no phone number! No wonder the nice man in the red t-shirt had been looking so relaxed, no wonder Christopher could make such generous promises, almost making me believe he would move in with me to always be at hand.
I am still a far cry from buying a new pc, but I do know more about what I am looking for, I have realized that I am still not proficient or detached enough to see through enthusiastic and overly friendly sales persons, and I will ask for the phone number of both “Christopher” and knights in red t-shirts before making any purchase.
Below is a link to make me and hopefully many of you, stay sane, in the world of computers.

The Ebikon Challenge

01 Oct
October 1, 2011

In our house there is, among other things, a lot of cutting, hacking, churning, grinding, milling, crushing, mashing and beating going on. (Just to set your mind at rest, this is mainly referring to cooking…). So when I learned about a versatile kitchen machine actually performing all of these tasks, I, or rather the machine, was sold. The only obstacle was the price, but as I was soon going to Zürich on other business, I did a tiny bit of research and found that buying the “baby” in Switzerland would save me, while at the same time literally providing me with, quite a bit of “dough”. Still, to justify such a purchase, I would have to renounce at least a couple of years of Christmas and birthday presents. That would not represent a problem, though, as my live in partner was thrilled to have that load (thinking up presents for me) off his mind for a long time…

If you want to read more about a crazy, tiring, but fun day, follow this link:

http://www.evernote.com/shard/s92/sh/5dd12616-b096-4b41-9459-93224e4e1bd1/1f63c14acfc68ff6bc9f4ba650703e4a