Posted by: nikiyustis | August 29, 2007

Back on the Mac

This post is dedicated to my mother, who, 33 years ago this moment, was in labor with me in sunny southern California.

I will tell three stories: Why my chain link fence is okay; How comfortable i feel working for a big institution; and Getting a landline sucks these days

Why my chain link fence is okay

Three large dogs live in our house. Helix is a two-year-old Chocolate Lab and Kiefer is a four-year-old German Shepherd. They have both been my dogs since they were about four months old. The were leftovers whose littermates had long since landed in new homes. Zuni is a shepherd mix, and has lived in many different situations. She was a rescue dog in my life back in 2002 when I was in college at U. Arizona (never to be confused with Arizona State, of course). She had been found unclaimed on a reservation and was treated for various health problems, including something called valley fever. She was independent, friendly with people (especially those with food), and indifferent with other dogs. The relationship I was in didn’t last, and my ex took Zuni and I took Kiefer, who was at the time barely a year old. Zuni didn’t have it bad with the ex, and anyway she’s mostly interested in food, a good run, and following her nose, so if you happily participate in these pursuits with her, she regards you highly. Well, things were rocky with him, so he went to live with father in Wyoming, where Zuni ended up staying. I called the father to say my piece: if you can’t keep the dog well, bring her to me.

Last month, he brought her to me. She is now somewhere in the 8-10 year range, and seems diabetic: blind, very thin, processing more water than the local plant. She likes running around with the other dogs, and seems generally okay; it takes a closer eye and a bit of time for the problem to become clear.

Getting a fence became imperative since I was either being run ragged taking them out separately or turned into a pretzel trying to keep a hold of all three–not to mention the few times one or two got away and ran down some neighbors and their dogs, times which live in neighborhood infamy.

We called everybody in the book and they ploddingly got about getting us estimates, which averaged around $1000 bucks for two sides of fence (south and west already fenced). Ughkhgh. Then they couldn’t be out to put it up for 3-5 weeks. So we called the guys my friend told me were the cheapest. The gave us the low estimate, it’s true, and before I could even fax them the contract, there were guys in my yard digging holes. They said they were gonna let the posts set up, and would be back later in the week to finish the fence. Fine, but I reminded myself to call and verify they would put the second gate on the west side. ‘Later in the week’ turned out to mean tomorrow for those guys, so there’s no gate on the west side. Oughta be cheaper that way.

Zuni, in her old age, decided to go for her favorite move and climbed the chain link fence this morning, worrying my husband and the other two dogs, but not going farther than the front yard. I knew of her escape tricks, but didn’t expect it out of her advanced age and ailing health.

My chain link fence is galvanized metal, and some may think it looks bad; in fact, a lot of people objected to my fence plans, claiming it would be ugly, it would detract from the house, and urging me to keep it far from the sidewalk. However, after playing frisbee and ball tonight for a while with all three running around gleefully, I love my fence. Chain link allows you to see around the neighborhood, enjoying the other flora and fauna, and I prefer to give my dogs a nice area to run (under supervision, apparently). And why would I coat it with vinyl so it ‘looks better’ only to be supporting the use of one of mankind’s vilest creations? Privacy fencing all the way around the back yard, you ask? Totally freakish in Iowa. Once I plant a ton of morning glories or some such clinging greens, my fence will be dashing.

How comfortable I feel working for a big institution

Last spring I applied for no less than a half dozen teaching positions on the west coast. I also applied for a job at the U of Iowa and one at MIT. MIT wanted an interview, but I decided against it. The polite let downs came trickling out of the west as I was picked for the position at Iowa, where I’ve been part time for the last year and a half. Now I have benefits, now I have my own office, now I receive packets of information from retirement companies detailing ‘how to live on a middle class income’: I don’t make 40k, and I’m not to sure when I will.

But, I have academia at my finger tips: use of databases and libraries, state of the art audio equipment, connections to well known professors in various fields. Today my wedding invitations came, and right before my name on the invoice came The University of Iowa. It was autofilled by my computer when I placed the order (though it had been after my name in the form).

I have authority in my purchases. I might tell any number of students and fellow faculty/staff members about my experience. We university employees may or may not make much, but the students, ah the students.

On a side note, I will be acknowledging on all of my invitations.

Getting a landline sucks these days

My neighborhood is a black hole for my cell phone. On this event horizon, calls slow down, and actually stop. The only remedy was to call the phone company to plug us in. I have DSL, which, we were told, will not interfere with calls. Funnily, there was nary a mention of the requisite line filter–12.99 wall line/14.99 wall mount–until after the service had been provided.

Upon requesting the landline, I realized that my cell phone has been my primary communication device for the past five years or more, so the land phone I had was older still. Of course, it didn’t work. Mother-in-law cheerfully provided a pair of used cordless (sigh) phones that worked, but seemed staticky (as yet unidentified as interference from DSL). I figured Radio Shack has to have a nice wall mount, corded phone–old school, like the one in my kitchen when I was in junior high–for $10 or so. Certainly they did, but then I needed the 25ft industrial cord (for my kitchen roaming and cord twisting habits): another $10. Great.

I get home, plug it in, and… more static. Furious, I call the phone company, who, mind you, I had already called twice over the last couple days asking them to verify that my line had been, er, serviced since my request (the promised servicing was to have been last Thursday). The company drones said yes, my service request had been fulfilled and that my line seemed fine, as far as they could tell, which was apparently not very far. Well, during this last call to Qwest, after the $20 at radio shack (and after the $13 new battery pack for my old cordless phone–and the return of said battery pack) I tell them I’m sickened by the amount of money I’m paying them for this “service.” They tell me I simply need some filters for the lines, and everything will be fine. I immediately assume they provide the filters free of charge since it is certainly not MY problem that the DSL is interfering with my phone line (interference that I was told didn’t exist). Oh, no, no, no! I need to BUY the filters myself, of course. So, I buy the wall mount filter, hoping to still get my dream kitchen phone (old school, but sadly, they don’t make them that heavy anymore). Troy points out the line filter and we grab that, too, so we can use the cordless upstairs.

Unpack the wall mount filter… and it doesn’t fit with the wiring coming out of the wall, and I’m thorough with attempts to adapt it. In the end, I will be returning to Radio Shack, and I will be using a cordless phone (sigh) which breaks my internet connections when I use them simultaneously (and I thought *that* wasn’t supposed to happen either). I just can’t even wait to go through the dumbass speech-rec menu *again* to be put on hold because my situation requires special attention, and by special, they mean human.


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