Allergies, Black Betty & Something Fantastic Happened…

Black Betty

Little over a week ago my kids tell me there is a black kitten on the back deck. She’s been trying to come inside the house and hasn’t let the deck all night. (I was at work.) My kids fed and watered her. Black Betty looks like a kitten to me. She’s very tiny and looked like she had been wearing a collar at one time. I actually left her on the deck for a couple of days, hoping she would go back home. The only time she left the deck was to chase the kids in the back yard (she’s very doggish) the part that really tore at my heart was she was sick. Her breathing was all bubbly and her little nose would get clogged with snot and she couldn’t breathe, and she’d sneeze these long boogers and shake her head. I didn’t have enough money to take her to the vet and my darling friends on FB helped donate money to get her to a vet.

The bill was $81 and she was given a prescription for an antibiotic. She’s very affectionate, and has finally stopped the runny nose and bubbly breathing. She is still sneezing boogers everywhere even though I only have 1 more day of antibiotics to give her. I intend to take her to the vet later to get her rabies vaccine and a spay. I know she’s not spayed because she was in heat when I finally allowed her into the house. No worries about kittens, my tom is neutered and has been for years. So I thought she was a kitten, the vet says she’s at least 2-3 years old (according to the plaque build up on her teeth) and weighs not quite 6 lbs. Which surprises me because my big tom is 25 lbs. Lately she’s been doing great, bit of a runny nose appeared today, so I’m slightly worried, but we’ll see if it gets better.

So my allergies kicked in yesterday. I’m still not sure what I’m allergic to. I normally feel like crap a day after it rains, as far as I know it didn’t rain yesterday (it rained today) but I woke up with a sore throat yesterday and sinus drainage. Today my sore throat is better, for it seems that my sinuses are draining out my nose instead of down my throat. However today my ears feel a little funky. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back to 100% since I have to work till 2 AM.

Now for some really good news. I know I’ve posted a lot of bad stuff happening and this one is good… Sorta. So I got a letter in the mail today that looked rather a lot like the notifications of my bank account being overdrawn. I opened it with dread thinking I don’t remember going into the red (money has been tight since the great bed bug extermination and will be tight until I get these loans paid off… which is February…) so I open the envelope and  there is a letter from my bank (which has been bought by another bank) telling me that my Visa Debit Card Rewards program will no longer accrue reward points after July 31, 2016,

Wait… What?? I have a rewards program with my debit card? When did that happen? How come no one told me? So I log into the reward program and I’ve got 18,000+ points. Now having been a member of a reward point system way back when I had a Borders Rewards Visa, it took thousands of points to get $5 off my next book purchase. So I’m thinking that 18,000 isn’t a whole lot of points until I start looking at the rewards. 18,000 is a decent amount of points. I can get a $100 Amazon gift card, DOOM and Overwatch for 17,000 points. These are just the points on my debit card. I wanna see the points my husband has. He uses his much more than I use mine. I haven’t been impulsive and spent my points. I want to talk to my husband first, see how much we have together and then we can decide where to spend the points.

The Amazon gift card is awesome though.

The Good, the Microsoft & the HP

Okay, let’s dial it back. Thursday I’m showing my daughter my very first voice over gameplay video of an XCOM 2 mission. Here is the link if you wish to torture yourself: Ransacked Turnip’s XCOM 2 Mission I know there are places where the game sounds drown out my microphone. I admit I had no idea what I was doing and this was my first time. Spoiler! At least the mission was successful.

So the computer suddenly turns itself off. I figure it has overheated. No big deal, I get the compressed air, I pull the side panel off and blow out all the dust. Computer turns on, but won’t stay on. I assume it is still hot, wait an hour, try again. Now the computer is possessed. It just turns itself on and off. I filmed its shenanigans: Possessed Computer

So we take it Friday to Microcenter and they diagnosed it for free! Said we need a new motherboard and processor. The computer is 2 years old and we intend to give it to our kids when my husband and I buy a new computer. So we paid the $210 for the new motherboard and processor. Paul spends the rest of Friday night installing while I went to work. He shows me that everything is working and trust me, while Paul was working on the computer it felt like a family member was in surgery. I was so anxious over it.

Today is Saturday. I get up, and I’m ready to go and finish XCOM 2. I’m on the last mission of the game. At the corner of the monitor it says: Activate Windows and then gives instructions to activate Windows. So I do as the instructions say and the settings gives me an error saying our product key doesn’t match our version of Windows. So I decide that I’ll ignore it and let Paul deal with it tonight. Well I fire up Steam and then XCOM 2, I’ve got all day, well until 4 PM to beat the last mission. I want to walk into work a winner!

There isn’t any SOUND. Me not being a total idiot, checked to make sure all the cables were plugged in, the speakers were on, and then I did a test. The speakers played sound. So I try the game again. Still no sound. Then I open YouTube and click on a Markiplier video. No sound. So I get this idea that maybe this Activate Windows thing might have something to do with the sound. (It doesn’t but I didn’t realize that until I actually got to typing this blog post. The actual problem is that for some reason the monitor got set as the sound system.)

So first thing I do is look on my tower for the Windows 8 product key sticker. I DON’T HAVE ONE! They were always on the tower. I never noticed that ours didn’t have one. So I start going through old documents, even found the HP Quick Start Guide from 2 years ago when we bought the computer. No Product Key. I do have these little slips of paper saying Certificate of Authenticity with a Product ID on them. So I decide finally time to contact Microsoft and see if they can give me the product key that goes with these product IDs.

(We bought the computer refurbished from Microcenter Valentine’s Day 2014. The Manufacturer’s Warranty expired in June 2014, we purchased an extended warranty that expired on Valentine’s Day 2016.)

Microsoft gives me several options to contact them. I chose the chat with a tech because I really didn’t want to wait on hold for 30 minutes. The tech comes on and I immediately explain my predicament. I bought a pre-built machine, it came with Windows 8, we did the free upgrade to Windows 10, I swapped out my motherboard and now Windows says its not a genuine version of Windows. The tech was Rose J. and she didn’t listen to me at all. She tells me that my changing motherboards violated my EULA with Windows.  She then has me open the command prompt and type in some jargon. Nothing happens. She asked me to try again.

She then tells me to look on the tower for the product key. I explain that was the first thing I did and I don’t have a product key sticker. I explain about the slips of paper I have. Now this is a text chat and she doesn’t give any indication that she has read anything I have typed. (She also said, “Let’s get started,” about a dozen times, gave the feel of an automated response, but I think they were pre-typed selections she could just click.) She asks what stickers are on the tower, I explain HP make/model and serial numbers. She wants to know what the numbers are. So I type in the numbers. She tells me to contact HP. 
So I go to HP’s website. They do not have any options to contact them other than to download their diagnostic tool, post on the forums, FAQs, watch support videos, and get software and drivers. So I identify my CPU, and they tell me that because my warranty has expired that I have to call them! Hallelujah, except they said there is a fee for support.  Wait? What? I just need the WINDOWS 8 PRODUCT KEY MY CPU CAME WITH! I go ahead and take a chance and call them. Got directly in touch with a person and told her my story, about the texting with Microsoft, how I don’t have a tower sticker, etc. She tells me there is nothing HP can do for me, if I need a Windows Product Key I need to call MICROSOFT!
So I break down and call Microsoft, to get a person on the phone this time. The cool part is Microsoft actually calls you so you aren’t waiting on hold. Downside is I’m on the phone with someone in India. (I’m naive enough to think I got someone on the phone who had an Indian accent in the US, but when the supervisor called me, he also had an Indian accent and that was too coincidental for me.) She had me download some sort of tool that allowed her to basically use my computer remotely, I was a little uncomfortable with it, but I really wanted my Windows 10 to effin work! She activates Windows 10 and BOOM the little message goes away. I thank her, talked to her supervisor, told him good things about the girl who activated my Windows 10. Told him about the bad service I got with the texting and he says those people aren’t trained in Windows tech support. 
So I fire up Steam, ready to play XCOM 2. Got that last mission. STILL NO SOUND!
Cause I’m an idiot. 

When Service Calls Go As Expected

 

So right off the bat I’m doing a shameless plug for Harster. I don’t think many if any read my blog but after shaming the HVAC company that told me my a/c unit was old and needed replacing, I need to sing praises about Harster.

First of all I met David Harster, and told him about the lowering to 68 at night and raising to 72 during the day and he just shook his head. Gave me his business card and said to call him.

First thing Harster charged me $95 just like the other company. Except this guy actually serviced my a/c unit. He removed the cover to my inside unit and cleaned the coils! And guess what! It stopped the leak! He put a clamp on the drain hose so it couldn’t fall off. Checked my outside freon, told me the condenser unit wasn’t that dirty and when I told him what the other technician had said about the filter. He pulled it out and showed it to me. He said the recommendation on the filter is to change it every 3 months, but really you should check the filter once a month and if you could still see light through it, it was okay. Once you couldn’t see light through it, change it. Before he left he made sure the a/c was functioning properly and checked the vents to see if it was blowing out cooler air. Not once did this guy mention my a/c unit was old and needed replacing. Everything that Harster did was what I expected the other company to do.

I left a negative review for the other company on Google, this was before Harster serviced my unit, and I got an e-mail from the other company, asking for a review of their services. So I clicked the link and gave them 1 star (couldn’t give them negative stars, blah) and told them about how lousy they were and then told them I called Harster and about how great Harster was and how I’ve been telling everyone not to use the other company but to save their money and call Harster. So the other company gives me a $40 off service coupon.  OMG like I’ll ever call them again!!!

So from my personal experience. If you live in Saint Louis, call HARSTER first. Not to mention I love their billboards. This one is my favorite.

 

Review: War Horse

War Horse
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I had gotten halfway through the book before I decided I wanted to see the movie. I originally didn’t want to see the movie because most animal movies make me cry, and depending on the movie (Neverending Story) I’ll break down and sob.

The movie and book were both mediocre and the ending was anticlimactic on both. I did not cry at the end of either. It wasn’t until I borrowed the book from the library I realized it was a Scholastic kids book, and I looked it up Grades 3-7 interest level. So I was prepared for short sentences and 0 sub-plots. The book did not fail to deliver those.

However what surprised me was that the book was told by the point of view of the horse. So we were seeing WWI from a Joey’s point of view, i.e. food, water, how hard he was worked, how kindly he was treated and how Topthorn was doing. I think I liked Topthorn more than Joey.

I think what would’ve made me really like this book would’ve been if the author had concluded with the fates of the others who came in contact with Joey through the war like Trooper Warren and Captain Stewart or the pair of haflingers.

View all my reviews

Learning Curve or Someone Needs to Write a New Homeowners Guide

I currently live in the first house I’ve ever bought. We’ve lived here for 4 years. It will be 5 years in October. We’ve had our a/c serviced before under the Home Owners Warranty that we purchased. (The seller bought the first year, and we paid for 2 years after that.) He just said it needed freon, charged it up and away we went with a/c. Well last summer the a/c didn’t seem to be doing its best. On really hot days it would not turn off, it ran 24/7.

This summer and today is June 17, 2016, and on the last week of 95 degree weather the a/c only cooled the house down to 77 rather than our favorite setting of 72. (We set the temp at 72 and leave it there year round.) The inside unit was also leaking water. So my husband and I bit the bullet and called an HVAC company. (I’m tempted to put the name of the company we called, but I’ve been telling word of mouth which company it was.)

As far as I know and I know very little about owning a home, I called and asked for my a/c to be serviced, you know, like a tune-up on a car and maybe find out why the inside unit was leaking and why the a/c wasn’t cooling down the house all the way (I was prepared for being told it was probably because it was really hot outside.) I was informed it would be $95 for the service call.

First thing the a/c guy tells me is: In Missouri that a/c units are only made for 95 degrees. When it is 95 degrees outside the unit won’t turn off. If a higher degree was used then it would make the walls sweat. 

Second thing the guy tells me is: I need to replace my programmable thermostat with a non-programmable one and start turning the temp down to 68 at night and back up to 72 in the morning. Dafuq? (I actually looked this up after the guy left and the closest information I could find to this was you set your temp to 68 in the WINTER and 75 in the SUMMER, nothing about changing it nightly. I got my information from: Department of Energy: Thermostats)

So he checks the temperature in my ducts, and pulls the drain hose off (he didn’t put it back on though) says to me that the drain pan is probably rusted and has a hole in it and that my coils are probably rusted too. (Coils are made from aluminum, had to google this one after the fact too. So they don’t rust.)

He pulls out the filter (which we had just replaced) and says the filter is too restrictive, that I need a filter with grooves large enough to put my fingers into. So we go outside and look at the condenser unit, he tells me its dirty, I agree. I tell him I know nothing about cleaning them. (Now this is a service call, so I fully expect him to clean it.) He says he can do it, but it will cost $79 extra on top of the $95 that I’m being charged for him to come out. Wait. What? He also tells me that he can replace my thermostat for $150 extra on top of the $95 dollars that I’m being charged for him to come out. He bleeds off some freon, tells me the pressure is within range of what it is supposed to be. Tells me that a hose has been shrunk down to a smaller size and that could be the reason that my a/c isn’t cooling the house. Makes no suggestion of replacing the hose.

So he gives me 3 options:

  1. Pay the extra $79 for him to perform “maintenance” which means hose off the condenser unit.
  2. Pay him to replace the thermostat.
  3. Buy a new a/c unit.
Nowhere was I actually told that anything was broken or bad or on its last legs. He told me the unit was old and should be replaced. So he leaves and about an hour and a half later the a/c cycles and then shuts off. I’m in a panic. I do everything I’m certain I’ll be asked if I’ve done, turned everything off then on, replaced the batteries on the thermostat. Nothing works. The fan will turn on but the condenser unit won’t. So I call the a/c repair company back and tell them that the technician was here a couple hours ago and now the a/c won’t work at all. I fully expected them to send the technician back out, I even called in late to work. Instead they kept telling me over the phone that the technician’s notes state the unit is old and should be replaced. They would be MORE than happy to send out a “comfort adjustor” to give me a free estimate for a new unit. That was this company’s story and they were sticking to it.
I’ll never use them again, and I’ve been telling everyone who will listen how bad their customer service was and how their technician was giving out misinformation. I left a bad review and read some of the other bad reviews, they were the same problems. Rather than fix the unit (wasn’t just a/c but furnaces and hot water heaters too) they wanted to replace it and from what I read, rather inflated prices. How is this company still in business?
So I called another HVAC company and told them over the phone, I have an old unit, it leaks, I want to know why it leaks, and I’m not interested in buying a new unit. The lady was polite, said no problem, and set up the appointment.
My a/c has been working again, not well, but it does work. The thermostat had been factory reset to 85 degrees which was why the unit shut off. It had reached the ‘desired’ temperature.

XCOM 2

The first time I played X-COM I was 13. It was 1994 and my dad bought it. I used to watch him play, and was intrigued by the pretense of the game, you saved the Earth from alien invasion. The game was difficult (even on the lowest difficulty) and even though I still have the game (repurchased through Steam) I still have never beat it. That game was called X-COM: UFO DEFENSE.

A couple of years ago the game was remade as XCOM: ENEMY UNKNOWN and playing took me back to a lot of good memories and nightmares (yes the 1994 game scared me to the point I had nightmares) but this was the first XCOM game I beat.
Now brings us to XCOM 2:
I have restarted this game 4 times already (which was a common XCOM thing, lots of restarting, researching things differently, building bases differently) but I love the game and the story. I’m considering restarting it again now that I’ve gotten a little further. At the same time I’ve really put a lot of hours into this game and might just play it until I lose the game. At the moment I’ve lost a few soldiers but I haven’t failed a mission nor failed to undertake a mission.
Now I play games blind usually, meaning that I don’t look at any videos or read walkthroughs or strategies (I did google which class was best for the skulljack) or spoilers. If you’re the same then better stop reading cause I’m gonna talk about an annoying difference between XCOM 1 & 2.
XCOM 1 (Enemy Unknown) you could do the campaign as slowly or quickly as you wanted. Usually before assaulting the alien base I would get all my research done, get all my troops armored and armed and max trained before taking out the base. In XCOM 2 you basically have a game timer. The AVATAR project can be delayed or reduced but not stopped and I feel like XCOM 2 rushes me. I’m also always starved for supplies and elerium cores.
Also I have a crush on Central Officer Bradford. I’ve got an unhealthy screenshot gallery of him.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot or I’m a Hypocrite

To make my night better I accidently got Diet Mountain Dew rather than regular. (sarcasm) I wonder how it will taste when I add a half pint of vodka.

Okay I decided to more assertive to say things rather than just hold them in and let them slowly let it bother me and kill my morale and make me hate my co-workers even more. I’ve done it once before when I asked the girl about the cookies and she said she didn’t care (well the last 2 days she’s made cookies  )

So yesterday I go into work and I’m waiting to clock in. It won’t let you clock in early, and depending on how late you are, won’t let you clock in late either. In the crew room are a girl on her cell phone, a guy I don’t know, myself and the lobby guy. The lobby guy is talking to me about something, I usually half listen to him. So I look up at the clock and I’ve got 5 minutes. I ask the other guy I don’t know if he gets off at 5 PM, he says he does. I asked him why was he in the crew room. He says, “I’m just waiting to clock out.” I look incredulously at him and tell him that is stealing company time. He immediately leaves the crew room.

Later that night the manager comes to me and asks what happened with the guy. I told him what happened. The manager says the guy was so upset about losing his job that he called up and apologized. (Let’s take a second here to give kudos to the guy, this is an opportunity to make a better employee out of him.) So the manager tells me the guy has autism. Now this is gonna sound callous but I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Okay so he has autism.”

Today the lobby guy comes and tells me about what the guy did and tells me he has autism, and again I shrug my shoulders and said, “So he has autism.”

Here is the deal. I have an autistic son, he’s 15, and moderately functional. He was non-verbal until he was 5 (sign language helped so much) and has been in the school system since he was 2 and a half. So I know a little about autism from 15 years of experience with it. I feel like our co-workers are making an excuse for being a poor employee. People with autism are highly intelligent, extremely bright, and they can learn. The real problem is not that the employee has autism, it is the company is using the autism as an excuse, rather than training the employee correctly (poor training is a huge pet peeve of mine at work and I can only bitch about it on my blog). I mean how else do they explain the other poor employees? They don’t have autism. I feel I should apologize and I probably will because that is the type of person I am.

Now onto the me being a hypocrite. I was thinking about codependency and truthfully how I’m only responsible for myself, and that I should let go all this bitching and negativity about what goes on at work. Trust me it is hard, but I hate feeling like I’m the only one who doesn’t get away with any of the other shit that the other employees do.

Tonight I was gently reminded that cleaning the lobby was an hour job, not hour and fifteen minutes. (I cannot get my cleaning time under hour and fifteen.) I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, because if I cut corners (I used to skip out on the bathroom floors and the vestibule floor or moving the tables to do the floors) it would get pointed out to me that I needed to do these things and couldn’t leave until I fixed them. I’ve never seen anyone else do the lobby so I wonder what I’m doing wrong. One manager says he can do them in 45 minutes. I’m seriously at a loss here.