Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pulling the Plug

I was struggling with my Hewlett Packard printer, copier, scanner. It all started a couple of weeks ago when I had to change the color ink cartridge. The first printer I had was a Cannon, and I always dreaded changing the ink cartridges for the Cannon. It was messy, and required commodious resetting of the printer. Well, that dread has persisted, and, although changing the cartridges in the HP PCS is not hard, it evokes an emotional response from me that is illogical, and, up until now, uncalled for.

So, as I said, a couple of weeks ago, I had to change the color ink cartridge. Although I had the correct cartridge as identified by number, the message from the printer was that the cartridge was not the correct one. I double checked, and number on the box, the number on the cartridge and the number on the printer all matched...But the message persisted. After trying several jigglings and wigglings, I turned off the printer, turned it back on, and was able to have the printer do the self test and align cartridge test. And print what I needed to print: a card. About a week later, I had a project consisting of printing about 25 post cards. I made mistake after mistake that I attributed to user error but maintained, unfrustrated.

Sunday, the 9th of March, I tried to work on another project: but the HP PCS informed me the color printer not the correct one. I tried the jiggling and wiggling trick, the shut the printer off and turn it on trick, but nothing. Just an awful noise, and the paper would not feed correctly....

Okay, so now I was frustrated. So much so I could not do anything more with the printer that day. But I decided okay, there is the possibility I got a bad cartridge. Replacing a cartridge is certainly less expensive than replacing a PCS. So, Monday, after work, I purchased another cartridge. After loading it into the machine, I had the same results. I tried the jiggling and wiggling trick, the shut the printer off and turn it on trick, but nothing...

I did not think I would end up with two faulty cartridges... What are the odds?

I was about to walk away from the printer, frustrated, when I remembered my very own saying about electronic equipment: "When all else fails, pull the plug."

Pulling the plug is something I learned in the early 1990s, long before I had a computer. At that time I had an AT&T (that's how old this equipment was, before AT&T equipment became something else) LED answering machine. I did not want an LED answering machine: when I replaced my answering machine, which had a mini-cassette cartridge, I wanted another one just like it: there was a LARGE red light on it, that blinked when I had a message. The mini-cassette cartridge kept the message even if the machine was unplugged, or the power went out... But, I could not find one like that....

So, I opted for a cordless phone LED answering machine combination. It had a tiny, tiny little light that blinked when I had a message, but the light was hardly noticeable... I did not like it. And, I did not like the interminable number of "beeps" before the caller could leave a message. I called customer service, and learned the interminable beeps was a flaw in this type of equipment... But, to reset the "chip" in this equipment, it needed to be unplugged for about 2 to 3 minutes. It worked. The number of beeps decreased... I had to do this regularly, because for this answering machine, every time someone called and hung up, the beeps increased. Evidently, telemarketers hang up when they hear the beeps, because almost every day, the number of beeps increased. But I had very few telemarketer messages. (What a wonderful way to discourage telemarketers, that piece of equipment had a saving grace.)

Actually that piece of equipment had two saving graces: I learned about pulling the plug. Just shutting off the equipment does not work. Actually disconnecting it from the power source was the key, and still is. Over the years, with computers, printers, DVD players, or what have you, this trick has worked. It has worked with the very expensive office printers at work. It has worked with my wireless network, when it needs to be rebooted, only both the modem and the router need to be unplugged. It worked when I dropped my television (don't ask) and although the television still worked, the color was off. The instructions said that when the color was off because of a changed electro-magnetic field, (what possessed me to read the instructions?) to "degauss" the TV, unplug the set for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes was not long enough, but overnight worked. What possessed me to think overnight would work? Who knows?

Well, degaussing a TV because the color is off is not remotely akin to replacing a color cartridge of the correct size, twice, in an HP PCS, only to have it not work and make an awful noise when I tried to print. It sounded like something physical was wrong. But, pulling the plug is a lot less expensive than buying a new PCS (or even a new cartridge, darn it.) So, pull the plug I did..

Lo and behold, the printer worked as it should: it printed in color, it did not make an awful noise, the paper fed correctly... I do not know why pulling the plug worked. But it did....Ah, the mystery of it.


The Democratic Party In Texas

I heard on the news yesterday that the Democratic Party in Texas has given up counting the delegates from the Caucuses on March 4, 2008. Instead, they will wait until the regional conventions occur, on March 29, 2008, to determine the number of delegates Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama will be allotted. Apparently, the system is too confusing, and figuring out the apportionment for the million people who (unexpectedly) attended the Caucuses is too difficult. That does not inspire confidence in the Democratic Party in Texas.

Why invent a system you can not use? I have to wonder out loud if the system was invented to allow a few members of the Party to have more influence, but the inventors did not count on a lot of grass roots participation. This system is only 20 years old in Texas. Time to take a look and see if this is really working.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Cat Mania

I do not understand what has been happening with my cats, but I do realize that something is going on... I call it "Cat Mania" because it seems that my cats have become manic about something about which I do not understand, and they can not explain... A couple of weeks ago, the dominant cat in my house started complaining about my absences, and this has continued. Although my absences have not been long term, the complaints have continued: I was not castigated for going to work, but any after work or weekend activities are reviled, but now I am even castigated for going to work....


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Precinct committees, AKA caucuses

About the Texas Presidential Primary and Precinct Committee meetings, 3/4/08

Texas does their Republican and Democratic Presidential Primaries different, but Texas does just about everything different. This was the first year, in 30, that I ever paid attention to this, and I think that many other Texans have not paid attention to this, either. Apparently, about 65% of the convention delegates are elected by vote, and the other 35% or so are elected by precinct committees...These precinct committees are held directly after the end of voting, at the polling place.

Typically, according to sources, these precinct committees are barely attended...Not so this year: voting was heavy. From personal reports of friends at various precincts, voting cut off was handled in various manners. But, if someone was inside the polling place door, by 7 PM, they had to be allowed to vote: consequently some polling places had voters at voting machines well after 7 PM, the lines were so long.

Precinct committees could not start until polling was done: voting had to be verified, and if the rolls were incomplete, voting could not be verified...Early voters as well as primary day voters could attend, as long as voting was verified on the rolls...

My experience was we went to a small computer lab in the local elementary school where voting is conducted... There were so many in attendance, milling and churning occurred. We were welcomely moved into the cafeteria where there were seats for all..We were fortunate: the 7:15 PM start was delayed maybe 30 minutes for the last of the voters... It was delayed much longer in many precincts across the state...

We were also blessed: unbeknownst to me, the precinct in which I live is the home precinct of the current Lubbock County Democratic Chairperson, and the future one. We had knowledgeable folks conducting the committee meeting. As I learned from reports of friends and the news media, that was not so in many precincts...

We signed in, the count was made, and of the 84 present, 50 were Senator Hillary Clinton supporters, 34 were Senator Barrack Obama supporters: the delegate allotment was 11 and 7 respectively. We elected a chair and secretary, divided into groups, and "elected" delegates: volunteers were called for first. I did not volunteer at first, thinking everyone there would want to be a volunteer, and I would defer. Wrong. We did get eleven (female) volunteers, and the Obama caucus got their 7, were an equal number of alternates for each...

Resolutions were entertained: from the well thought out to the unrealistic and unreasonable..

And, then we were done.... Except, everyone was invited to volunteer to help with the Lubbcok County Convention. (I have actually attended one, previously.) I signed up... And, will be a delegate.

Over and over again during the committee meeting, I was struck by several things, and comparing notes with my friends, they agreed: Senator Barrack Obama may be reaching out to the young voter, but the attendees at my precinct were of all ages, with a predominance of elderly women. The Senator Hillary Clinton delegates were ALL women. Many, many people present said they were torn between candidates, and found themselves willing to say they would come out and support which ever Democratic candidate is nominated...

Ultimately, I think Democrats are FINALLY glad to have not one, but two candidates they can support! I think many of us have thought these two candidates could fill both the Presidential and Vice Presidential slates. I heard Senator Hillary Clinton say the same, and the decision could be who takes which role.

Ultimately, whether Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is nominated as the party choice, I feel confident this fall I can support the Democratic Presidential candidate to the extent I can be supportive of the campaign in some way... It has been years and THANK YOU!

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Struggling and Juggling

I am reading Hillary Rodham Clinton's "It Takes A Village." In one chapter she writes about the various roles women have: daughter, sister, wife, mother, career person. She mentions that she referred to "juggling" her roles in her life. She writes that Mary Catherine Bateson, anthropologist, comments that the problem with juggling is that eventually, inevitably, something gets dropped.

That is how I feel about my life right now....Work has once again become a stressful overload. The supervisor is aware, but has assigned myself and another social worker one and half wards of crisis management patients... One ward is the typical assignment. The reason is understandable, and a little complex, and I will not go into it, because it really is someone else's story, not mine. The supervisor is aware that she has asked us to take on extra, and when we get overwhelmed, we tell her what we need help with, and she divvies up the tasks to others...

But the tell tale signs of being overtaxed are there: In January, shortly after this started, I forgot to pay a bill. I go home at night and do not want to do anything. I am experiencing insomnia again. I have days of low level panic: racing heart, shakes, poor focus and concentration. I forget things. I write things that make no sense, especially when I am handwriting and not keystroking. I leave words out, or do not finish writing words. When I am speaking, I say wrong words... We have requested a meeting with the supervisor, after she finished yearly evaluations, but another crisis intervened... Ah, so it is....

Having been offered this challenge, I feel positive and confident that I am meeting it as well as I can. I am gratified that my coworkers from other disciplines are understanding, complimentary, supportive.

I like my work. I am good at what I do, I am effective with the patients who really want help, in the psychiatric prison in which I work. I feel I do important work, and if there is ever an under served population, it is prisoners...But, to continue, I have to be able to survive and function with a manageable workload. We are understaffed, and I am complimented I am called on to do more.. And I accept the challenge, but know there is a limit... And, I have to protect myself.

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