Showing 1 - 10 of 204 posts found matching keyword: family

My father's aging (10+ year old) DIRECTV satellite receiver finally died, so he called AT&T for a replacement. That was the easy part. The new receiver came within 3 days, and Dad installed it (correctly!). He then visited the url the device displayed on screen for remote activation. That link re-routed to a page that told him to call a telephone number, so he did.

The first customer service representative he spoke to tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Repeatedly. Dad ultimately had to abort this attempt for a pre-scheduled doctor's appointment. Afterwards, he had me try again in the hopes that I would be better able to communicate with the technician. The customer service representative I spoke to also tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Then she hung up on me. I don't think it was her fault. She was using AT&T phone service, after all.

At this point I stopped waiting for a customer service representative to suggest what I suspected: that the problem might be in the receiver's access card. The receiver was reporting an on-screen ID number of "0000-0000-0000", which happens to be the default number if there is no card installed. When I opened the panel, I did indeed discover that whoever had inserted the card before shipping had installed it upside down. The old receiver model took cards face down; the new model required face up. I pulled the card, turned it over, plugged everything back in, and called DIRECT a third time. This time, the customer service representative was able to activate the receiver on the first try.

The terms for the new receiver required the old receiver to be shipped to DIRECTV for recycling. Again, the url that DIRECTV provided for generating a label was outdated, redirecting to *another* page that returned a 404 page error. After a little creative Googling, I found an AT&T electronics recycling link that appears to do what the suggested link was supposed to have done. By this time I was not surprised when the website instructions (and generated label) made it clear the receiver was to be mailed via USPS but the downloaded file called it a "FedEx Shipping Label." AT&T seems to have a real problem with modernization.

Hopefully, Dad will get credit for returning his receiver as instructed, though given how hard it was to do almost everything else, I'm not holding out strong hope. I'm starting to feel like I'd have a better chance if I sent a telegraph to the company to tell them it was coming and personally handed the box to a Pony Express rider.

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Dictionary.com made news this week by defining "supposably" to mean "as may be assumed, imagined, or supposed." That's the same definition typically ascribed to "supposedly" ("according to what is accepted or believed"). There was a time in my life I would have been bent out of shape about this.

Where I come from, "supposably" is not a word. At least, it's not that word. According to my trusty Websters New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (2nd Edition), "supposably" should mean "in a supposable manner." However, it has been used as a mispronunciation of "supposedly" for so long that some 21st-century lexicographers have finally thrown up their hands in defeat.

I have a personal connection to this word because my father has always uses supposably when he means supposedly. In his case, I think he does it because it bothers me. Dad's a real tease that way. (See? It's not my fault. I have been trained to be argumentative by a parent who thinks its fun to fly red flags in front of bulls!)

The reason I'm not a raving basket case over this new definition is because A) I've been reading a lot lately about the bizarre and often counter-intuitive developmental history of the English language, and B) the world is in such a state that if I let myself get worked up over words these days then I'm really going to need to start drinking. The meanings of English words have been meandering for centuries and will continue to do so for so long as someone is still speaking the language. I need to remember that the important part of language is understanding one another, not clinging to arbitrary rules of pronunciation.

That said, I will continue not using "supposably" in my own writing. Even in the 21st-century, a man's got to stand for something.

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She was very excited about the cake

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For Christmas, my aunt gave me a Libra 2021 Calendar ("Personalized Daily Horoscope Presented by The International Astrological Alliance, a Leading Resource on Astrology and The Zodiac").

Personally, I have never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. But maybe that's because I've never been exposed to someone who really understood it all. Reading the back of the calendar, it says that "Libra can be possessive, smothering, insulting and sarcastic." If that wasn't written for me, I don't know what was.

Yesterday, on the first day of the year, my horoscope recommended that I should hang out with friends so that I could meet "someone who brags about every little thing." That doesn't sound like fun, but hey, maybe because I now know about it, I can avoid it, right? Thanks, horoscope.

On the other hand, today's entry reads:

Wedding bells may ring for many Librans in love. Others might get engaged. You can also meet interesting people at the wedding reception of a friend.

Um, I thought this was supposed to be personalized. Not only does that not sound like me or anyone I know, it also doesn't seem to have anything to do with 2021. Doesn't my horoscope know there's a pandemic on? "May ring"? "Might get engaged"? "Can also meet"? I've read things in cookies that were more definite and useful.

But maybe that's just one bad entry. Rather than throw it out, I've decided to hang the calendar in the most appropriate place I can think of: in my bathroom over my toilet. May the stars continue to be my guide in 2021.

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The year 2020 has been horrible in so many ways, but Christmas was not one of them.

Because the family was minimizing the amount of time we were spending with one another outside our households, I woke up at 1:30PM and opened presents — provided by friends and relatives who were much too generous — at 3 with just my Mother. When we were done we delivered pound cake and key lime pie to family elsewhere in town, and then came home to a ravioli dinner and a rerun of Jeopardy!. I finished the day watching a silent Hitchcock film and a spaghetti Western staring Toshiro Mifune.

I recognize that most people would disagree, but as someone who generally finds the holiday chafing, I think it was the best Christmas of my life.

Thank you, COVID-19.

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2020 killed my dog.

July, R.I.P.

July beat cancer for the first time in 2016 after having her toe amputated. She beat it a second time when she had a portion of her ear removed in 2019. This past July, she had a mammary tumor removed. Three times seems to be the limit.

In late October, she got wobbly in the legs. We crossed our fingers that it was a spinal problem. She initially responded to treatment, but she took a turn for the worse about two weeks ago when she lost even the ability to stand with assistance. It was downhill from there.

So long as she was lucid and had an appetite, I felt it was my duty to support her however I could — I couldn't justify killing my dog simply because she had become inconvenient. But I realized late last night that we had probably reached the end of the line. (I'll save the gory details except to say that cancer can be a real bitch.) I had her euthanized this afternoon, and she died in my arms.

For the better part of the past decade, July had been my shadow. Her sister, Victoria, wanted to be near me; July *needed* to be near me. She followed me everywhere and complained to whoever would listen when she couldn't see me. I can't blame her. Who else was she going to get to take her for walkies or hand her a slice of pizza?

I already feel like I'm missing something when I walk into a room and don't hear the tappa-tappa of toenails trailing behind me. I keep looking for baby, and she's not there anymore and never will be again. That will take some getting used to.

Thanks to Kelley for bringing her into my life and thanks to Mom for being a substitute Walter when necessary over the years. Thanks to her vet, Jeff, for helping me keep her around as long as we did. (Fourteen years is a good, long life for a standard poodle!) And especially thanks to July for doing your best to make 2020 bearable for as long as you could.

In happier times

I loved my girls.

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Dad's in the hospital again for some sort of infection. I thought at first he had decided that if COVID was good enough for the president, it was good enough for him. The good news is that he doesn't have COVID. The bad news is that I don't know what he's got.

[UPDATE 10-06: He's been diagnosed with untreated bronchiolitis that turned into sepsis. He is expected to recover. Would this have become such a dangerous issue if fear of spreading COVID to high risk patients hadn't closed his GP's office to all people with respiratory issues? *shakes fist at 2020*]

After extended visits in three consecutive years, it's getting harder to get Dad to go to the hospital. Despite feeling increasingly terrible, he's refused the option for weeks. He had to spend all last night bleeding from the nose before he'd finally consent to going. What will he have to bleed from next year?

It was almost exactly two years ago that he was checked into the same hospital for diverticulitis, a rupture in his intestines that he never had repaired. Is this a recurrence of that? (How far do you have to stick your head up your ass before bleeding from the nose could be a diverticulitis symptom?) Your guess is as good as mine. Better, probably.

I'm sure you don't really care about my father's medical problems, but this blog also serves as sort of a diary, and one day (probably in October 2022), I'll wonder when it was that Dad went in to the hospital for that mystery infection that might have been COVID.

I mean, I don't mind reminding you, but you really need to work on your long-term recall, future Walter.

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Taken 38 years ago today in a K-Mart photo booth:

8-28-82 K Mart Walter & Trey

I sure did like Pac-Man.

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Actual conversation:

ME: If America was a corporation whose CEO had run it the way America has been run for the past 6 months, would you renew the contract of that CEO?

DAD: Yes. I think America is doing great right now.

ME: Right now? A year ago, maybe. But not right now. Right now, things are terrible. (Points at television.) For example, there are riots in Wisconsin right now.

DAD: Donald Trump sent the National Guard into Wisconsin.

ME: If the presence of the National Guard is an indicator of greatness, why weren't they in Wisconsin last year?

DAD (looking at me like I had two heads): They didn't need them last year. There were no riots then!

You can't argue with logic like that.

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True story: Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and I was really looking forward to the latest movie adaptation when it finally opened in my local theater the second weekend in March. (I've seen other adaptations, of course. The 1996 version is good enough that it almost made me like Gwyneth Paltrow.) However, the second week in March coincided with the arrival of COVID-19 and the global shutdown. That's right, this whole pandemic exists just to keep me from Emma. Curses!

Well, I finally fooled you, COVID-19.

126. (1780.) Emma. (2020)

Fifteen minutes into my rental, Mom asked me, "What is it you like so much about bitches?" She was referring to protagonist Emma Woodhouse, who at the start the novel is very unlikable indeed, something the movie leans into *hard*. (Some might say that she's not much better at the end. Those people are heartless monsters.) Mom also knows I just watched 6 seasons of Downton Abbey and developed a bit of a crush on Lady Mary Crawley, another character who always gets it her way. In response to her question, I replied, "I like women who are like my mother." We did not talk much for the rest of the movie.

The enjoyment of Jane Austen's story is Emma's journey of self-discovery through a series of misadventures and comic misunderstandings which the movie does perfectly. In fact, the movie does just about everything perfectly. If you can't get behind Miss Woodhouse and the rest of the amazing cast, you at least should be able to marvel at the lush, Technicolor-like cinematography and stunning Regency period outfits. (Oscars for everyone!)

If I have any complaint, it's that the relationship between Emma and her beau develops too quickly. (Austen's Emma is constructed more as a detective novel than a romance. All the clues are there the whole time, but nothing comes together until the end.) It's a minor quibble, and the modernization of the plot does nothing to damage an otherwise wonderful adaptation. (The Harry Potter movies disabused me of the notion that movies should be exact visual duplications of their source material. If you're going to adapt another piece of art, you need to bring something new to the table.)

I've been in such a foul humor lately, what with the eternal cycle of bad news, that it's truly an unexpected delight to have a distraction like this. While I've always highly recommended Emma, the novel, I can now do the same with Emma., the movie.

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To be continued...

 

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