“Hi, Guy Who Got the Weirdest Malware I’ve Ever Seen!”

Posted by Kathy on May 9th, 2015

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(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / RTimagesI’ve never been good at remembering names. Faces, yes. If I met you only once before, I can usually remember the context of the meeting. I’d probably even remember a lot about you if we spoke at length – where you work, what you do, your kids, places you vacationed. Whatever.

But even if you gave me your name and I repeated it aloud during the conversation, it never seems to make its way to long term memory. You might as well ask me to remember pi to the 107th digit. Ain’t gonna happen.

I had an exercise in name mortification this week at work.

The problem with providing technical support for people is that I generally remember the nature of the computer problem I resolved more than the name of the person who brought it to me.

On Thursday, an adjunct professor knocked on my office door. I opened it and welcomed her in. I totally remembered that the first time we met was during a troubleshooting session that lasted over two hours, as she had a host of issues that took a while to complete.

I knew what she teaches, I knew I installed Microsoft Office, antivirus and Chrome, and fixed a problem with a statistical software package she used. I remembered where she lived and that on the day of our meeting she was late because of a traffic jam.

I just didn’t remember her name.

She came in needing me to install two network printers, which was all well and good until it wasn’t.

Because one of the printers requires an accounting code before you can print to it, I had to get her code from her department administrator.

So I called her.

Me: “Patti? I have someone here who needs to print to your restricted printer.”

Patti: “No problem. I’ll get you the code. Who is it?”

Me: {{crickets}}

Patti: “I can check the code if you just tell me who it’s for.”

Me: {{more crickets}}

Patti: “Kathy?”

Kathy: {{ever more crickets}}

Now Patti’s cricketing and wondering why the hell I won’t answer her.

The adjunct is sitting inches from me. I can’t very well ask her what her name is because she knows we met for such a long time before, and have corresponded by email many times since.

How the hell am I going to get her name without actually asking for it and looking like a complete doofus?

I decided to pretend that I needed her User ID in order to get her code, so I asked her for it.


Except not.

When I gave the User ID to Patti, she pretty much had it with me being so inexplicably secretive.

Patti: “That’s the User ID, but can you just give me the name?”

Me: {{All the crickets in all the world}}

I’m thinking “Please Patti, figure out that I don’t know her name. Look up the ID and find it yourself! LOOK. UP. THE. ID!”

Finally, finally, we have liftoff.

Patti: “OK, I’ll just look her up. It’s Jane Smith. Got it. Here’s her printer code.”

A wave of relief came over me, I took care of the printer installation, rushed Jane off and then promptly emailed Patti to explain that I’m a dumbass and to thank her for receiving my telepathic request to look up the woman’s name.

So if you work with me and pass me in the hallway, don’t be offended if I just nod and wave.

You’re not getting a “Hi, Mike” or a “Hi, Nancy” or a “Hi, Dan.”

Because I’ll be thinking instead:

“Hi, guy who couldn’t install a second monitor because he installed remoting software that created a virtual graphics card that interfered with the on-board card and until I uninstalled the remote software couldn’t attach the second monitor and communicate with the on-board!”

— OR —

“Hi, lady whose files mysteriously get deleted from your network drive every time you reboot!”

— OR —

“Hi, man with the stats program that only works with the MS-Access 64-bit version that took me three hours to research for that one in a million scenario!”

Because it’s not you, it’s me. Oy.


Any statisticians in the house?

Posted by Kathy on December 29th, 2014

While out on my walk today I noticed a lot of obvious Christmas gift boxes and related paraphernalia on my neighbors’ curbs ready for trash pickup.

You had the usual flat screen TV boxes, a Keurig box, some toy boxes and a host of plain shipping boxes.

Also pizza boxes. My neighbors live on pizza apparently.

But then.

Then there was this:


I laughed, of course. Someone either had a really good Christmas, or a really bad one.

I kept on with my walk and about ten houses down the street, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?


Can someone who knows stats tell me what the chances are for this happening?

Toilets for Christmas. It’s a thing now. Take note.

I hope y’all had a nice holiday, and I wish you a blessed and happy 2015. Complete with your own American Standard beige toilet, if that’s what your heart desires.

Memory Burn

Posted by Kathy on November 18th, 2014

Mo and BabsMany of you know my husband Dave and I took a vacation to England in September. It was our second trip there in a 16-month period, lucky ducks we are.

Whenever I get back from a whirlwind vacation, I think of blogging about it, but it just feels like too much work. Too much to document and I always wonder if I’ll remember everything or bore everyone, or both. So I decide not to write about it at all.

But today I wanted to talk about the little moments of this vacation that pop into my head when my life is spinning, when people are getting on my last nerve, when I need to fling myself back there. Back there to those moments when I was completely content. Back there when I wasn’t thinking of the hundreds of emails that were invading my Inbox. Back there where time stood still. Where the memory is savored and burned. Burned into my memory so I can pull it out whenever I need to save myself from whatever crisis is whirling around me.

I escape to a few moments, a few simple moments.

The first happened the morning I woke up after our friends’ wedding. Mo and Babs (pictured above) were married on September 20th and we celebrated with them at Babs’ brother’s house in the countryside. They graciously hosted us for the night in their home and when I awoke to pure silence, I glanced out the bedroom window and saw a weather vane turning slowly in a gentle breeze.

I watched it turn for perhaps ten minutes, thinking “I’m so unbelievably relaxed and happy. I want to stay here forever. I want to pull up stakes and move over here. I want this life.”

After Dave and I rustled ourselves awake and headed downstairs for breakfast, our hosts made me a cup of coffee and I went outside to enjoy some fresh morning air. The last time we’d been to England, it was classically cold, rainy and miserable. But not this time.

It was sunny and dry and warm and lovely. And my view was stunning. It was still and quiet, save for a few crows screaming through the sky.

Me and my English coffee, in the sun on a rock wall. A few minutes of escape. Burn it in, Kathy. Burn it in.

English coffee

The other moment I still relish is from a visit we made to Bekonscot Model Village in Beaconsfield, where Babs’ brother and wife live.

It’s a small park packed with miniature estates, shops, docks and bridges. The Queen used to go there as a child, don’t ya know. Cutest little place, perfect for strolling with old friends and new. We spent a couple hours here.

At one point, I stopped on a bridge to watch tiny boats full of tiny people pass under me. The sun felt so warm. So enriching. So filling. Drink it up, Kathy. Drink it up.


My husband came over and asked “What’cha thinkin’ about?” I told him “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” I was in some kind of happy bubble that enveloped me, where no bad thoughts could enter. No stress. No worries. Just sun and warmth and glee.

“I don’t want this to end,” I said. “I need this for later when we go back. For when we work again, pay bills again, clean cat litter boxes again and I can’t stand it.”

And so I use it whenever I need to. Every other day now. I tap into my memory burn and recall how happy that trip made me, the trip with our good friends, where everything went right this time.

Stress pounds rudely on the door these days, sure. But I don’t answer. Get out, you fool! You don’t belong here! And I think of the weather vane, turning slow slow slow while I crept out of sleep. The coffee I sipped in the morning sun with an impossibly perfect view. And the little village that got me to let it go. Let it all go, if only for a moment.

Yes, we saw all the touristy things in London, ate well, played well, vacationed well. But it wasn’t what we saw that remains with us. It’s what we felt. We packed it all up in our suitcase brains and unpack it whenever the need for it calls.

Kathy, remember? Do you remember the little things?

Yes, yes I do.

So what’s in your memory burn?

We Have Cats Because They’re Not Dogs. And Yet…

Posted by Kathy on October 25th, 2014

So I’ve never been a dog person. First, because I was attacked by a German shepherd as a child. That’ll turn you off dogs for good, lemme tell ya.

Second, because dogs eat stuff they shouldn’t, break stuff and need to be taken out for walks. I’m a very easily annoyed and lazy person, so there you go.

And yet, I appear to have a dog anyway. A new cat named Chloe, renamed Chewy.

Why renamed Chewy?

Because of this:

chewed HDMI cable

This is the HDMI cable from our upstairs TV that suddenly wouldn’t work. Took 45 minutes on the phone with a perplexed RCN tech support guy before I realized the cable had been chewed. Swapped out for another and bingo! TV works. Thanks, Chewy.

And this:

chewed bass cable

This is my husband Dave’s bass cable. He made the mistake of leaving it out of the case. It still works. For now.

And this:


No, she didn’t do all this damage, but she does have a weird habit during her morning feeding routine.

When I grab food out of the pantry, where the broom is stored, she’ll squeal a bit and then start gnawing on the bristles until I have the food plopped down on a plate.

Every morning. Pantry, squeal, gnaw, plop. Pantry, squeal, gnaw, plop.

And now she’s turned to breaking things. This morning when I was trying to sleep in late, which for me is 6AM, Chewy would have none of it.

When I didn’t get up at 4:45AM as she demanded, she pushed this large-ish lamp right off the bedside table.


Really? We’re deliberately shoving lamps off tables now? Who does that?

When the lamp landed, I heard some metal breakage and now it won’t turn on again. Well, it did for a moment, long enough to get a flash of light and then darkness.


She broke the lamp that we bought 22 years ago with our bedroom furniture. I know a lamp really can’t have sentimental value, but, dammit, we really liked it.

Well, I’m up now. So let’s go get you fed, jerk dog in cat’s clothing.

I suppose I owe you a picture of Chewy.  We have so few clear pictures of her because she’s such a spaz and won’t sit still for long. She’s hilarious, playful and weird and we love her to bits.

You know, when she’s not wrecking the place.


Back to School Crazy

Posted by Kathy on August 8th, 2014

crayonsI’d like to start off by saying I tip my hat to all you parents out there. I’m constantly amazed at how you pull off the hardest job in the world, all with a myriad other stresses in your life. I don’t know where you get the time or energy for it.

Pat yourselves on the back. Go ahead. Do it.

Those of you with kids returning to school in the fall are probably running around right now trying to get all your ducks in a row. I’ve heard of schools sending parents a list of things their children will need before school starts, especially grade school-aged children. Very specific lists that include a backpack, notebooks, scissors, erasers, construction paper and a host of other things.

I was chatting with a friend about the list he and his wife received from their children’s school. The list is long and painfully precise. Stray from the list under penalty of death. Among the things they need to buy is a 48-count box of crayons.

Here comes the crazy….

Parents are supposed to write or affix their child’s name to all of their belongings so they always get returned to the child.

Including the crayons.

No, they aren’t supposed to write the child’s name on the box itself. They are instructed to write the name on each and every crayon.

My jaw dropped and I argued with my friend for five minutes that he must be playing a joke on me. He insisted this was true and got his wife on the phone to let me hear just how true this is and how much fun they have with this chore.

Still in disbelief, I Googled it and sure enough, it’s a thing. A dreadful, time-wasting, ridiculous thing.

I’m sorry. But when I was in grade school, I’m pretty sure I took a zippered bag full of crayons to school and if I lost them or some bratty classmate stole them, my mother probably just bought me a whole new box.

I’m pretty sure if I was a parent and got those instructions, I’d pay someone to do the task for me. Kathy ain’t got no time for labeling crayons.

So how are all you parents coping with school checklists? Did you get everything yet? Are your kids ready for back to school?