Kitty Forgiveness

I made a boo-boo the other day.  And inconvenienced the kitty inadvertently.  We’d been having power outages on Sunday, and it completely escaped me that the kitty box runs on electricity.  We’ve been using a LitterMaid™ for the past ten years, and it sits in the basement, raking the box approximately fifteen minutes after the kitty uses it.  I empty the collection box twice a week (usually on Wednesdays and Sundays) and fill the box with litter as needed.  I’ve been getting the inexpensive litter from Petco for at least the past three years, I paid the initial $20 for the 30# bucket and have been refilling it every time we’re in the area shopping or on some other errand.  It’s $10 for subsequent fill-ups, and that’s a nice bargain.

While I was working on Sunday, in the morning there was a blackout due to the state electricity provider (NYSEG) having a series of problems in their transmission lines that (from what I later heard and read) was caused somewhere in the Hudson Valley near the Indian Point nuclear plant.  Where I live has its own electrical co-op, so they provide electricity at a cheaper rate than what others can get from the state.  It’s one of the reasons it’s so relatively (by comparison) inexpensive to live here when we were outside of the village/town here, our utility costs were at least double what they are now.  So it’s one of the big reasons we stay put.  We could live somewhere that was more picturesque, but the costs of doing so are just prohibitive.

As I was informed by the wife at lunch via text, the power had gone out several times.  We have a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) at the place where our main computers reside, so if there’s a momentary or short term power failure, our computers are unaffected, we can shut down safely, rather than being shut down all of a sudden, which is not good for the components.  Businesses use the same sort of contraption for their registers since they’re highly susceptible to things like power spikes, brownouts and things of that nature.  Need to protect the data at all costs.

However, the cat’s litter box is considered a non-essential commodity in that vein, so I don’t have it hooked up to one.  And when the power goes off, it stops working.  And doesn’t turn itself back on.  It requires one of the humans that live here to remember that there are things plugged in that won’t just turn themselves back on when the power returns.  Except, in this case, both of them forgot.  And it didn’t turn out well for the littlest resident of the house.

Starting Sunday evening, Rochester was being vocal about something but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I checked his food bowl and it was mostly full, his water fountain was running as it was supposed to be, but the fill container on the back needed some more water.  I filled that and cleaned up around his area of the spilled food, thinking that this might be the cause of his consternation.  He looked up at me, rower’d a couple of times and had a bit more food.  Then went off to another part of the house.  A encountered him a few more times during the evening and there was a similar conversation.  The cat box just didn’t occur to me, since we keep it in such an ‘out-of-the-way’ area.

By Monday morning, I’m certain things were getting out of hand as it had been about 20 hours since the power went off the first time.  Kitty was probably getting a little concerned that his box wasn’t clean when he needed to go to the bathroom, but since he doesn’t speak English, he wasn’t able to adequately communicate.  I got up for work as I always do around five, and he wasn’t at the top of the stairs to greet me, which I thought was a little unusual.  His normal routine is to come upstairs while I’m in the bathroom, keep me company and sit at the top of the stairs for his morning rub while I’m putting on my socks in preparation of going downstairs to get dressed and have my morning tea.

In my morning routine that day, there was nothing that required me to go to the basement, so I was still oblivious to the fact that something needed to be done about the cat box.  Rochester was still vocal about something, but I went off to work thinking things were ok here at the house.  Upon arriving home again nine hours later, I just happened to look down the basement stairs and saw something that looked like a pile of brown at the foot.  Going down to investigate, I found it to be a pile of kitty crap.  Oh dear.  It all started to make sense.  Glancing at the cat box, I saw there were piles of litter here and there, brown spots and heaps and the light on the box was most definitely off.  Kitty had finally had enough of trying to find fresh spots to do his business and started to (logically) make a new spot for his bathroom duties.  I felt really bad that I had goofed.

I cleaned up the area where he’d crapped, cleaned the box thoroughly and refilled it with litter.  Turned it back on and came upstairs to apologize.  Giving my buddy a good rubbing, telling him how sorry I was I couldn’t understand him as he harangued me a good bit about being a stupid self-centered human.  Yup, guilty as charged, buddy.  I told the wife about what had happened and she face-palmed as she admitted she forgot about it too.  Just one of those things that you don’t necessarily think about when it happens, you reset the clocks on appliances like the microwave and Keurig, and then go on about your day.

As I mentioned to a friend of mine whom I was talking to the next day relating what had happened, I suggested I needed to make a ‘to-do’ list of things that need to be checked after a power outage.  She said that it was probably a good idea, and would look forward to me doing something in that regard.

Since then, no more power outages, and Rochester is back to using his litter box.  So we’re set, at least until the power goes out again.

Murano Part 2

We left off where our intrepid couple had embarked on a mission to find a suitable vehicle to replace the 2016 Ford Edge they’ve been not driving all that much over the last three years.  Hilarity and boredom ensues.  Continue at your own risk.

Having taken the Murano for a test drive, my wife and I, and our salesperson moved into the dealership building to discuss dollars and sense.  We’d still not been completely open with him about our budget, and since we had test driven the top of the line (Platinum) edition of the model, he was thinking we might need to consider going for something less pricey.  Well, we’ve been ‘settling’ for less pricey for most of the last 20 years of leasing, and my wife was in the mood for spending a little more to get more, and I wasn’t about to stop her.  One doesn’t often get the opportunity to ‘own’ something that’s way outside of your own personal price range, so why not do a little ‘mad money’ sort of thing once in your lifetime when the opportunity arises?

Finally coming clean with the salesperson (Doug), we informed him that we were interested in the Platinum model, but the color scheme didn’t really appeal.  I told him that I had looked on the dealer’s website a few days prior and saw that they had the aforementioned Gun Metallic Murano, and after checking my phone, I saw it was still listed as available inventory.  I gave him the VIN and dealer #’s and he was off to the races to see if indeed it was still on the lot.  Now if it had been me?  I would have used the terminal sitting on his desk to see where it was.  The dealer just happened to have a satellite lot about 40 miles away, and it could have been there, since the dealer’s website list didn’t specify which lot it was on.  Just that it existed, and it was available.  But being new, Doug was trying his best to do it right, so he looked in this place, then that, and I think he finally went to one of his superiors and asked if they knew about it, because soon after I saw him leave the building and go out to where they were all parked and start looking at individual vehicles.

Upon his return, he said that indeed it was on the lot, we had just missed it when we were looking at the cars initially.  Although as I recall, I had looked at one that said something about “Graphite” and the color seemed to be about right on the outside.  At the time I had dismissed it thinking the reference to graphite meant the color of the car, not the color of the interior, which is what it turned out to be.  So I actually had looked at it, just not realized it was the one all along.  Regardless, we were delighted to find it was there, so we directed Doug’s energies towards securing it for us, if possible.

Soon after the sales manager came over with numbers and a couple of questions about credit. My wife, being the careful sort, had set up a ‘freeze’ on hers so that no one could open a new account in her name without her knowing about it.  The only problem was, when she had set it up initially several years ago, the company had requested a username, and sometime since, they had gone to an email address/password combination and she was unaware of that.  Consequently,  she was trying to use a username to access her account and getting frozen out (no pun) from being able to access her account to unfreeze the account, so the dealership could check it.   It took about 45 minutes before we left for her to get someone to fix it, and even now at the dealership they were having a little trouble accessing it. One reporting company they could access, but the other (Experian) was still showing the freeze.  So they were only able to get some of the information they needed.  The company she was doing business with had given her a PIN # over the phone, but neither she nor the sales manager had any idea where to input it.  So again there was a small impasse.

Even so, when he ran the credit on the available reporting company, the results came back so stellar they were immediately aware that we weren’t going to be a credit risk at all.  Consequently, things could move forward.  Now came the big question.  How much to put down?  The sales manager had run numbers in the down payment/monthly payment ratio based on the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of the vehicle and our initial suggestion of amount created a monthly payment that was pretty steep.  Of course that can be changed if one puts more down initially.  Since we’re not buying the car, just leasing (borrowing, essentially) the sticker in the window that gets you in the door is based on purchase, not lease.  So what you may have seen as being a possible $21,000 car is actually a $28,000 one, since the sticker on the windshield is for purchasing purposes.  That was something I’d forgotten, I was working under the assumption of what the windshield said, not the sticker on the side window.  Oops.

But fortunately, my wife has no debts at the present time with the exception of our mortgage, and the Edge’s lease was paid off earlier in the month.  Too, she makes more than I do, even in retirement, so she’s a bit more flexible in what she can spend at any given time.  In that vein, she was able to toss a number to him that worked out well on both sides and kept the monthly payment from being too astronomical.  Armed with that information, the sales manager left, and we Doug took that opportunity to call our insurance agent to make them aware we were getting a new vehicle and our insurance needed to be adjusted to reflect that.

However, once he had talked to the secretary at the agency for a few minutes, then handed the phone to me and walked off, the conversation with the secretary took an interesting turn.  She asked me if we were adding the vehicle to the policy in addition to the Edge, and I said no.  She then asked if we were getting new plates for the new vehicle.  Again, I said no, because we were just going to be transferring the plates, since it’s not a commercial vehicle like a pickup, which has its own requirements for plates.  In New York, if your pickup has no cover on the bed, it’s considered to be a commercial vehicle and requires that sort of license plate.  With a cover, its folded under the umbrella of a passenger vehicle or SUV.  Even a Tonneau cover will do, anything that semi-permanently covers the bed of the truck allows this distinction.

(continued in Part 3)

Not really missing my email

The desktop computer is for the most part my gateway to the Internet.  It has all the programs I’m used to using on a daily basis, connects to the router, the printer and so on, and it has a fairly large storage drive (6TB) as well as a smaller 2 TB drive for the operating system and other files that don’t need to be on the larger drive.  Too, it contains my email program (Thunderbird) which interconnects with my list of email addresses (I have a few) and stores them without any muss or fuss.

Although with the recent inability to get it to run reliably, I’ve been forced to use my old Thinkpad instead.  It’s a workhorse, but has limited abilities compared to the desktop.  One thing I never bothered to install on it was an email program.  I prefer to keep my emails in one place, other than willy-nilly all over and not somewhat organized.  If the problems with the desktop are really problematic, I may have to adjust that plan, since I can’t be without email for too much longer.  I can access most of my email from the web of course, but that’s a plodding way to get to my mail.  I much rather prefer having one program that can access them all, store and separate them into specific folders, like Thunderbird can do and has done since I first installed it.

Over the last week that the desktop has been down, I’ve been noticing that I’m not spending as much time on the computer, or the couch.  I’ve been doing other things when I get home from work, spending time outside with my wife in the backyard, tinkering in the garage with the roto-tiller (it’s coming together, should be done in a day or so barring any sort of further disaster) and looking around for other things to do.  So all in all, the breakdown of the computer hasn’t been a horrible thing, it’s actually forced me to do things outside of my routine, and I’ve been ok with it.  Booting up the Thinkpad takes time, it doesn’t have a very speedy processor, so from the time I push the power button to the time I can actively do anything is probably 5-6 minutes.  Sometimes more.  I have another laptop that’s a bit speedier, but that one is awaiting a hard drive upgrade.

When I first decided to upgrade the drive on that one, I went with a 2TB drive, (it originally came with a small 100 GB drive) but I didn’t take into account that the larger size drive with manual platters was going to make it as slow as molasses.  If I’d bothered to go with a SSD (Solid State Drive), without any moving parts, it would have been better.  But SSD drives are like big flash drives, and they cost a bit more. So I went the cheap-o route and paid the price.  Soon after I purchased a 1 TB SSD for it and it’s now awaiting me to open the case and install it.  More computer work to do.

This afternoon after finishing work I thought about trying to use Outlook for a stopgap measure in getting my email.  Except, Outlook doesn’t play nice with POP3 servers.  Or IMAP ones for that matter.  It has a pre-set method for getting to the servers, and it presumes the domain that you give is the same one that contains the email servers.  Which in my case isn’t the way it works.  Consequently, Outlook isn’t going to be sufficient.  I’ll probably have to go with a stripped down version of Thunderbird, and leave the emails on the server instead of downloading them to the laptop and taking up valuable space.  I do have an auxiliary ‘thumbdrive’ USB dongle attached to the laptop, that contains a lot of files and folders I use on the desktop; it’s easily transportable and works well in a pinch.  But even its 120 gigs is getting filled up.

Just one more conundrum in a month filled with them.