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Day 222: Friday With a Rush

Many Fridays end early with bright sunlight and an adult beverage with friends at some friendly place where everyone knows your name, like the song. That was not where today was headed. Deadlines are due, and director emails asking you to perform some rituals to summon help for some computer and process problems came raining down. I know I am in for it when the Friday status meeting is friendly and pleasant, and all the issues have resolution dates of today are red-colored on the status report, and everyone is sure they will resolve by the afternoon. And it is your team that is solving the issues.

Alexander the Great knew the legend that the man who can untie the great Gordian Knot would rule. He took out his sword and cut it. He did not work with computers. My knot is made out of unbreakable procedures and multiple computer systems with so many owning teams it is congress-like. It was going to take a while to fix stuff.

The first issue was forwarded to me after being a week old. Within minutes I received multiple communications in multiple media that the problem needed my attention from various directors. A 403 is the worst possible error; it has its own web page, meaning access is forbidden. The email sent to me included a week of reply-all emails (?!) that showed that it was a refusal, 403, and was caused by some change in security (LDAP group deleted?!) or the grants on the views and tables being lost when the data was recreated due to some change not explained (when you rebuild a table you have to save the grants of access and re-grant them or 403 happen). The surprising answer to this was that we will have a meeting/workshop to fix the problem on Monday at 4. The problem moved to next week!

I was in meetings and trying to fix other issues while this was running. Friday was a bit more exciting than I had hoped. As I wrote above, I was thinking more of Billy Joel’s song like Piano Man than a Star Trek moment, “C’p’t’n, I am w’rking a f’st as I can.” I did not wear a red shirt today!

Next, the configuration (config) to use the software is missing and we need to be open for the business today to set-up the system! A quick phone conference and more panic. The users will not be able to configure the system as the missing config turns on what they need to do! It is like we wired the light switch but then installed a whiteboard over the switch. I copy the changes into a new fix and we get it put in. Sort of like moving the whiteboard. I add this to the build manual. Done! It is 5PM.

Before this, Evan comes over after returning from the coast. He comes in during the last panic. We get coffee at Insomnia Coffee with a nice baked good. Of course, I have my Nike computer, and I order in the last fix from the coffee shop for the system while drinking their excellent coffee. As I log back into Nike–my laptop had to load a security patch and reboot; Evan watches as I update the documents and send in the emails and update people on Slack and MS Teams (we are still using both).

There is no Billy Joel music, and the adult beverage is not what I wish for, but it helps to get the job done, “A medium coffee of your choice with cream.”

Friday night! I get home and make Susie eggs with cheddar cheese for dinner. I have reheated pasta last night’s Domino’s order. Evan heads out.

In the snail-mail, I received two gaming items. I got grab bags for the board game Concordia. I saw them on the BoardGameGeek website store. They let you put the random product tokens in a bag, saving time, and ensuring randomness. Excellent improvement.

I also received from www.hfminis.co.uk Scooby-Doo miniatures figures in Dungeons and Dragons scale, 28mm, and they sent a Shaggy miniature (Wolsey in their on-line catalog). They were out-of-stock of “Wolsey” when I ordered a few weeks ago, and so I had purchased a Post-Apocalyptic Wolsey (very well-armed Shaggy look with a fireman’s ax) and hoped I could rework it back to a normal looking Shaggy. Instead, I found a free item of a Shaggy (Wolsey) in the bag. A class act from Hassle Free Miniatures–they knew what I wanted and made more. I suspect they are selling more figures now that a new board game is out!

The figures on the game I am painting them for

The crazy video game that I backed years ago, Darkest Dungeon, has gone cardboard! I backed the Kickstarter of the board game version as I like the miniatures’ look, and the Darkest Dungeon tiles will also have lots of other uses. I love the dark art and the voicing of the video game and looks great in a physical version. The Kickstarter is really rocking and has raised over a million dollars so far and is headed to two million! The number of items unlocking is constant. The number of miniatures at $150 pledge is unlocked is huge, a buck and a quarter a mini. Yes, more painting.

I bought a copy of the video game Darkest Dungeon, $29 for my Mac, and loved the game again; the voicing is a trip! The 2D video game art perfect!

I also backed the extension of Grand Hotel Austria, Let’s Waltz also on Kickstarter. The game is one of my favorites but you have to be into Eurogames to love it. You run a hotel and entice customers to stay in your hotel by serving them wine, coffee, cake, and strudel. You also have to support the government while filling rooms to get more bonuses. Now it looks like there is a dance floor for waltzing. So perfect for Austria. There is also an update to the original that I also will be acquiring.

And another crowdsourced game arrived this week, 1975, a Dungeon and Dragon 5E adventure. This is a rework of a lightly published adventure written for the original version of Dungeons and Dragons of 1975. I wanted to see what they would do as I like the style of the author. I have another one coming next month, The Halls of the Rainbow Mage, which I still have the original (for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 or D20) and ran more than once way back in the early 2000s. It will be fun to run it again on a physical table someday after Covid-19.

And then the Cleopatra and the Society of Architects: Deluxe Edition should be here soon. This game is a rework of an out-of-print game where you assemble a temple in 3D for Cleopatra. The architect that do the best work without falling into corruption wins. I ordered the painted version. Yes–No painting! I again can use the pieces for other gaming, and since they are all painted, they are ready to use. I can’t wait for this one!

It is getting late and I should wrap this up. Often the writing of this blog is just fun and I am not sure I want to stop.

Today more than nine-hundred people are reported to have died from the virus. Today is also the highest new infection number for the USA. The third wave we feared begins.

I picked a song that could be a hymn, Mercy Now. We will need some mercy now.

Day 221: Thursday Uneventful

It is unusual to have a day, now with elections and pandemic, that is uneventful. There is always something going on that can scare the bejeezus out of you if only you notice it. Instead, I tried to have an uneventful day–even if I had to ignore things.

So I did not watch the debate, I did not watch the markets, and I seldom watched the news.

Today is Thursday, a non-stop day of status meetings and crises of the moment at work. It all starts at 6ish, with my first meeting at 7AM. So it is a rushed start. I did get a break and made lunch, and Susie got going for her Thursday pill and then food.

I was tired and a bit careworn from this week’s emergencies. I decided to cook corned beef hash, from a can, and an egg for lunch. I did not want to order out for lunch today.

Today Jason Carlson from Nike retirement party just after lunch. It was fun to see so many friends on Zoom, and we all talked about Jason’s years with Nike. Jason retired at just over 25 years.

I had some more meetings and emails and reviews but had to stop at 2:30 to take Susie to the dentist. She had a failed filling that needed to be reworked. I dropped her off; after our temperatures were taken and forms filled out, we had no symptoms. Susie’s temperature was 95! Sue got cold in the car.

While Susie was under the drill, I had a few minutes for my chores. I got gas for Air Volvo and washed it at the car wash. The dentist called, and Susie was done, and I picked up a prescription and then picked up Susie.

Susie took a nap. She later said it felt like someone punched her in the face. Tylenol fixed that.

I had one more meeting that over ran by thirty minutes.

Pizza from Dominos was delivered, and we enjoyed that and NFL. No debate for us. Mariah came over with some beer a bit late and partook of our pizza, pasta, and salad all from Dominos.

The NFL play was so bad that we could not agree on a team anymore to cheer for. The Eagles usually get our vote, but they did plays that were astounding in their incompetence. But the Giants managed one moment that is hard to forget. The ball is run, and the runner has headed to the end zone far ahead of the other team, uncatchable, and just appeared to lose his cool and just trip and fall. With unusual directness, the camera replay showed his teammate point out the gaff and laughing.

Susie’s memory problems have improved as the stress comes down, sleep is gotten, and food is provided. Susie knows what day it is again and enjoyed the game and the pizza.

Corwin remember to do the dishes and put the trash out.

I finished reading the story of the sinking of the Lusitania Dead Wake by Erik Larson today. Larson makes the story come to life and brings some closure to the story. Usually, the stories are written about the horrors and the pain, but Larson manages to tie it a bit better together. I would recommend the book. Like some of the newer books on other naval stories I have read, the writer can now recreate the events by combining accounts that were either not available or not accounted for in the past books. I have seen this same ability to recreate history in the book Jutland 1916: Death in the Gray Wastes, which covers a slightly different time and finds sources to tell the story that was always there but not combined so well into a narrative, both German and British. I recommend this one. If one wants to wander away from the sea, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion is also a reworking of history that I enjoyed and covers the days before the battle and months after–the author’s research tells a more clear story than I have found in any other account. I highly recommend it to clearly know Gettysburg. But if one wants to love history, Star in Their Courses by Shelby Foote about the battle is the best of books to feel the battle. It is a good book for a plane or a vacation.

It is a uneventful day. Reading and taking care of things. Chores can be nice.

Today the reports show more than nine-hundred seventy people in the USA died from the infection.

I picked this hymn Eternal Father Strong To Save.

Day 220: Wednesday Resting

Susie’s eye doctor said that her issues are not serious and will likely clear-up in time. We spent a few hours, as usual, at the eye doctor. Susie will be rechecked again in December. The dentist is tomorrow. We are waiting to hear on the date for Mohs surgery doctor for the bit of cancer on her head and back. More on that later.

View from St. V medical building 9th floor

The morning began later than normal at about 715ish. Corwin had not made it back home last night so I got up and made coffee and read my email until the groceries arrived from Safeway.com about 9ish. I carried in the six bags and put them away.

Susie was up on time and we left on time after more coffee.

After the appointment, we drove home and Susie took a rest and I made grilled hamburgers for lunch. Susie had her’s later for dinner.

Susie’s rest was interrupted by the tree doctors next door. Our neighbors had their big pine trimmed, and some of the smaller trees were removed from the fence line. They landed some of the trees in my yard and asked permission to clean-up my backyard–of course, I agreed. It was loud. The tree looks a bit safer now and ready for our windy, wet winter.

I then took a nap too. I was also reading Dead Wake by Erik Larson about the story of the last trip of the Lusitania. He tells it like a story. I enjoyed his other book about the Chicago Fair of 1893, and I am enjoying this one. I have read with some the surprise that the famous film of the Lusitania leaving New York is from that last voyage. There was a film crew for that day.

I had a ham and cheese sandwich with corn chips for dinner.

I am going to try to finish this early. I want to make cup cakes, German Chocolate, tonight. And then David and Michelle Smith called and talked for a while…I will see if I can get those done…

It was a quiet day and non-eventful. The best we could hopeful.

Today it was reported that more than twelve-hundred twenty people in the USA died from Covid-19.

I found this song in the Methodist Hymnal (#655), the words are a bit different–but it so good I had to go with it: Fix Me, Jesus.

Day 219: Hard Tuesday

Today is hard. Susie developed eye problems yesterday and, while her vision is not getting worse, we need this checked. Susie also learned today that most skin biopsies came back as cancer or pre-cancerous. Susie will need Mohs surgery. We will have been scheduling that soon.

I had to explain the appointments to Susie four times today as she could not remember the call with the eye doctor. Susie is having difficulty with short-term memory today. We will start with the eye doctor tomorrow.

To make matters even harder on Thursday Susie has another dentist appointment. An old filling has failed and they have to redo it. That will be in the afternoon.

So a hard week already and it is just Tuesday.

Work started as a marathon at 6ish, with the Zoom meetings starting at 7. I get up and make coffee and then rush all day. I also had to get Susie going at 8ish, which turned into 9ish, to call the eye doctor. I had emails, text, and reading and agreeing to documents all morning while listening to Zoom meetings.

I made an order from Safeway.com for groceries between meetings. We were running low on eggs, out of milk, and various meat items. I also reloaded the soups and cake mixes. More cupcakes! I did not know I would not be home for the delivery window as I had not heard from the eye doctor. Corwin is committed to taking the order delivered on Wednesday in the range of 8-12PM for me.

Returning to the story, I got Susie some food. She called the eye doctor, and then we waited for their return call. This afternoon we learned we would be there at 11:45AM tomorrow, and I then took off Wednesday from work. Susie can often handle an eye appointment without me, but this is a sudden change in her vision, and Susie has short-term memory issues today. Thus I will drive her there and take the day.

I had chicken noodle soup from a can with a bagel for lunch today. I made Susie some yogurt and Cheerios for breakfast-lunch. She had a scone for a snack later.

I had more meetings. We got the call from the skin doctor and the report of cancer this afternoon.

Dinner was tacos. I make my own spices now. I ate too many. When I am upset, I eat too much. I also love tacos.

I will get some rest tonight and let the shoe company try a day with me away.

We would not ask for these problems; it is not a journey we picked, but I know the journey will be made, and we will face it together.

Today a lot of people passed away from the virus–more than nine-hundred ten.

Today’s song is one that fit: Shall We Gather At The River.

Day 218: Monday Online Dungeons and Dragons

It is hard to imagine that we would be into this lockdown now 218 days. From what I can tell, we are now at the half-way point. The virus death-rate is lower–likely from younger and healthy people catching it and medical procedures now better understood to help the seriously ill with Covid-19. Still, there is no significant improvement for older people and those with reduced immune systems. A vaccine is still months away in a large and safe, and effective application to the USA and European populations.

Today started as do most Mondays at 6ish with me trying to find my way and catching up with the emails and other communications. Despite that the world is round and that many folks sent emails on the other side of the earth when I am still sleeping, I had a pile of issues from India and some leftovers from the weekend. The world runs non-stop, even before Covid-19.

I spent the morning drinking a lot of coffee and trying to untangle items left over from the previous week. We managed to find our way, and I get some things started. I read emails on one screen and watched Zoom and documents on another screen; I had my two screens running. One is email and Slack channels, and the other is for Zoom and composing. I have a third screen using my personal laptop; I watch the news and my personal email.

Lunch was New England Clam Chowder from a can. While I was having lunch, Susie was off getting hair, nails, etc. done by Zerida. This is every Monday morning. Her driver was a few minutes late, but she got going and had Chicken McNugget fav for lunch.

Susie finished her ballet today and they all went out with today’s mail.

Susie had a dentist appointment today, so I had to stop the Zoom and emails and text and Slack channels early. Susie has an appointment to return on Thursday for a filling fix.

Tonight we returned to playing Roll20 with six players now, the perfect number. We had to skip last week as I had a computer conference, virtual, on Monday night. We stopped in the middle of combat. Thus we picked up combat there. Matt Vincent joined us as a dwarf war cleric. We added him as a survivor from another party of explorers. In my story, he was driven to the lower levels by the confusion effect from the umber hulks (think if a cross between a beetle and an ogre) that broken in and rediscovered the “lost level.” The adventurers finally made short work of the invisible stalkers that attacked them. Matt’s cleric O’Mi was being stalked by some evil dwarves, and he joined the other players who then helped bring an end to the evil stalkers.

Aside: We are running the massive Mad Mage adventure available in book form from your local gaming store or in the electronic version on Roll20.

In the applications, they explored a bit more and found a huge room filled with more evil dwarves who hailed them and eventually got the players to trip the defenses for the altar. There were literally flattened remains of some evil dwarves near the altar, think something from Indian Jones movies. When the players tripped the trap, the altar unfolded into a clay monster (golem). Still, the players put it down–they had expected it and managed to cast dispel magic on it to slow down its transformation (I went with the idea that dispel magic spell in 5e rules can remove a magic ability for one round), giving them two full sets of attacks.

In Roll20, all the evil dwarves and their allies attacked when they saw the golem was destroyed. As the Dungeon Master, I decided that. The bad guys were driven off by the adventurers.

The last of our story from today is that the grand doors to the treasury did not open when they pushed them, and a giant incorporeal hand is now trying to crush them. We will pick-up the story next week in Roll20.

I did have some issues with the Roll20 software. I had to go out and come back in once. That cleared all the issues. I had to wait a few times for the information to appear. I used two screens again. I put the text items on one screen and the map and controls on another screen. This works best for me.

After the game, I learned that Susie has a vision problem tonight. She has gone partially blind in one eye. She has a larger “floater” in the good eye. We will contact the eye folks in the morning. Often they clear-up in a few weeks, but you always want them checked.

We really did not need a new problem. We will, avoiding Covid-19, deal with it.

I received my Open Enrollment papers from Nike today. Nothing has changed. That is not bad; Nike has decided to absorb the additional cost for health insurance next year and offer the same insurance. Something nice from 2020.

The stock market had a large loss when the stimulus package again did not materialize.

The reports are that more than four-hundred forty people in the USA died today from the infection. The charts are also showing a third wave starting here and in the world.

I decided to go with something to make us all feel better, Puff The Magic Dragon. It is sort of a hymn.