Supercalibleeping passwords . . .



After many years of faithful service, my old printer developed a terminal case of the Fading Stutters* and expired just when most of Jane’s final school assignments were due, because that’s how we, and by extension our possessions or indeed any item or creature we look at casually in passing, roll.

On Friday, I went shopping for a replacement.  I’d done some research and had decided it was time to splurge on an all-in-one.  Faxing isn’t something I’m likely to do at home—seeing as we don’t have a land line, anyway—but scanning and copying have somehow become integral to my life as a parent and blogslave.

I like Epson,** and there were several models of all-in-ones available at the local Electronics Store Which Shall Not Be Named.*** I walked around comparing ink and features and dimensions and general sexiness—it would, after all, be living in my bedroom office.  After clocking in a mile between aisles, I finally determined that the only real differences between the current top of the line home model and the previously current top of the line was a spiffy  keypad for the fax function I’d never use,  extra-large ink cartridges that hold a third more ink while being twice as expensive, a smaller paper tray for reasons I didn’t understand,^ and two hundred dollars.

I chose accordingly.

Turns out that most all-in-one printers are wireless now, which seemed like a good deal at the time, since we were forever plugging and unplugging various devices into Old Printer, which may or may not have factored into its demise, but was darned annoying at best.  It would be convenient to be able to print from wherever in the house we happened to be.

So I brought home a big box o’ technology, moved Old Printer from the top of my stubby, two-drawer filing cabinet to the floor, unpacked New Printer, removed fourteen thousand pieces of blue tape, packing strips, and static film pieces, plugged it in, and launched the installation Wizard.

The Wizard suggested that it would be easier to add the printer to my home network if I had a USB printer cable, but not to sweat it—I could just enter everything on the printer’s touchscreen.  As long as I had my WiFi password.

I thought about this, then sent a text to Watson: “What’s the WiFi password again?”

She replied.  “S1u2p3e4r5c6a7l8i9F0r1a2g3i4l5i6s7t8i9c0e1x2p3i4a5l6i7D8o9c0i1o2u3s4 which is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with numbers between the letters and the S, F, and D capitalized.^^  Unless it’s been changed.”

Right. Okay.

The Wizard prompted me to enter the login—which is slightly shorter—and password.  It also reminded me that everything was case-sensitive.

I should mention here that the touchscreen didn’t offer me a keyboard. It offered me a flat version of a spiffy numerical fax keypad. So, as I tapped a specific button, the associated letters appeared on the screen first as capitals, then lowercase, and then the actual number would appear.

This means to enter a capital S, I need to hit the 7 button four times (PQRS).  To enter a lowercase s, I have to hit the 7 button eight times (PQRSpqrs).  And to enter an actual number 7, I would have to hit that blessed button nine times (PQRSpqrs7).

I should also mention that the keypad issues a happy BLEEP with every single tap.

There was a LOT of happy bleepin’ bleeping going on by the time I finished.

But I did, eventually, finish and do hit Done.

It processed, then beeped a little less happily, flashed me a message, and issued a report sheet stated the same thing.


I tried again, and was beeped, flashed, and handed another report.



Once more, with triple checks of each precious pixel representation of a letter or digit and gritted teeth.



I texted my husband.  “Did you change the WiFi password?”

“I don’t think so,” he replied. “It should still be S1u2p3e4r5c6a7l8i9F0r1a2g3i4l5i6s7t8i9c0e1x2p3i4a5l6i7D8o9c0i1o2u3s4. That’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with numbers between the letters and the S, F, and D capitalized, if it helps.”

I tried again, with quadruple checks and crossed fingers and the burning of sage.



It was some comfort that the speed of the printing was as impressive as advertised, though I was sure it would be even MORE impressive if it would graciously allow me to print something other than an error report.

The Wizard, at this point, had become bored with my incompetence and was taking a nap. I woke it up and made it take me through the whole thing again.

The Wizard patiently suggested that it would be easier to add the printer to my home network if I had a USB printer cable.

I texted my husband. “Do we have a USB printer cable?”

“No idea,” he replied.

So I went to the location of my secret cable stash—the garage—and began unsnarling them. I had cables for cameras and eReaders and MP3 players and nuclear countdowns and found evidence suggested they were starting to sprout like spider plants . . . but nothing looked like it might connect my printer to my computer through the USB port on the front of New Printer.

On the way back to see the Wizard, I stubbed my toe on Old Printer, which was crouched in front of my dresser, looking forlorn, trailing cables.

Trailing. Cables.

I studied the image the Wizard was helpfully showing me of a USB printer cable and where it would be inserted. I looked at the port on the back of New Printer. I yanked out the silver cable from Old Printer and looked at the end.


Five minutes later, we were in business.

No, I lie.

Two hours and five minutes later, we were in business.

And then our Internet connection went down.

Oh, bleep.




*Which I believe might also be a disease that sheep or goats or horses might have, but since neither are known for their print quality even when they’re healthy, I’m not going to bother looking it up.

**Not only for dot matrix nostalgia—Epson produces workhorses that do what they’re supposed to do until they drop, stuttering, in exhaustion.  Other brands are susceptible to Grawlix Tourette’s, which is amusing, but wastes paper.

***Because The Convenience Of Its Brick And Mortar Location Only Marginally Trumps The Abysmal Lack Of Customer Service Let Alone Eye Contact From Its Staff, That’s Why.

^Maybe the spiffy keypad takes up too much room?

^^No, not really. But pretty close.



If it Weren’t for Good Luck . . .

Funny Animal Captions - 16 Years Later
My horoscope today:

You’ll come across special offerings from life the likes of which other people don’t realize exist.
It’s as though the forces that be are reserving a bit of magic intended just for you.

Sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it?

Problem is, it wasn’t specific enough.

At one o’clock this afternoon, my department was hopping: if the phone didn’t ring, someone came up to the desk to ask for help, and every time I moved more than three feet from the desk, the phone would ring. There were forms and complicated explanations and requests that had to be recorded and letters that had to be written, and printers that jammed up for no reason.

It was one of those days where you just hang on, do triage best you can, and try not to mind the inbox-outbox ratio.

At two o’clock, every supervisor in the building went to the weekly Admin meeting.

That was okay, since we were covered for the desk.

At two-thirty, the switchboard put a call through specifically to me—my SIL, telling me that my husband was in the emergency room with a seriously screwed up back, and while my MIL was able to pick up Sunny from pre-kindergarten, it was looking like no one would be able to pick up Janie from school at 3:30.

Not so okay.

I couldn’t interrupt the Admin meeting to have a supervisor sign my slip and I couldn’t just walk off the job. So I called Janie’s school and left a message that she needed to go to After Care, and someone would be there as soon as possible, then called my SIL to tell her that the first one on her way to Janie should call the other one, and I’d be out as soon as I could then called the school again until I reached a Real Human Being.

And all the while, my co-workers and I were fielding questions and problems in phone and in person for patrons.

So I waited for an hour, guilty and busy and wondering if I could get to Janie in time to get her home and changed and snacked in time for her very first softball game at five—until I received the text from her coach that reminded everyone to assemble at four-thirty— and worried to death that my non-salaried husband would be incapacitated for more than a few days and how I was going to get everyone everywhere until he was up and about . . . If, my stress whispered, he ever was.

At four, my desk shift was over, so I ran upstairs to catch my boss coming out of the meeting, took the signed form to our HR person and explained that I was sure if it was sick or comp time and I was too late to mind either, and high-tailed it to the parking lot, where I caught a message from my SIL saying she had the kids and what now?

We decided that since I was going to pass the hospital, I’d take care of my husband and the meds and she and my MIL and Sunny would go to Janie’s game.   So I drove to the hospital, behind a series of people who didn’t believe in a minimum speed limit.

I found Emergency, parked, and sent him a text asking where he was.

He told me to turn around, because I’d just driven right past him.

I did and was told not to help as he levered himself into the car.  Turns out, he has a bad muscle sprain—maybe even a small tear.

The man is  in serious pain and loopy from the meds and frustrated and upset with missing so much work—he’s down flat at least until Friday—and Janie’s game.

And that’s when I remembered . . . my husband is also a Gemini.

Talk about your special offerings.  Thanks, forces that be.  Can’t tell you how much we appreciate it.

But, you know . . . we’re insured and the meds are covered.

My SIL was there to pick up the considerable slack, and I have plenty of sick time to cover my hours today and maybe tomorrow, if I’m needed here instead of there.

My husband is napping on the couch in a position that feels okay to him.  Janie walked on her first bat and then stole second and third—my SIL has been sending me a play-by-play—while her little sister and grandmother cheer her on.

And dinner—spaghetti and meatballs and garlic breadsticks—is cooking away while I take the opportunity to type up a post that took a few turns since I’d first read that horoscope.

I guess those are special life offerings, too.

Don’t get me wrong—it still sucks and the next few days won’t be fun.  And there may still be orthopedic surgery in our future.But maybe the magical part is that it all could have been much, much worse.

Terrifying thought . . . but under the circumstances, I’ll take it.

Do it NOW.

epic win photos - Notice Notice WIN

My husband called me at work this morning.

The guy who checks out our heating system every fall discovered that our heater is cracked and leaking carbon monoxide

We usually wait for the all-clear before we turn it on, but it’s been chilly lately, so we’ve been running it for about four days.  After all, we had two children and a senior to worry about.


The levels didn’t set off our CO alarms, but they were getting there after only four days—and we couldn’t, after the fact, remember when we’d changed the batteries.  And it turns out that the CDC had a different idea about the placement of our alarms than the manufacturer does.

It’s going to cost us upwards of five thousand dollars to replace the unit—not including the cost of the space heaters that will be keeping us warm until next week—but we’re alive and healthy, and that’s a damned good trade for our savings account.

Two weeks ago, the newspaper reported that a local couple wasn’t so lucky—they’re still in the hospital and their beloved dogs are gone.

So please, anyone who lands on this post, even if you’re just looking for cider recipes,  earache remedies, or Damon Runyan quotes—and even if you live in an area that doesn’t get that cold right now—get your heating systems checked (or bug your landlord) and replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarms right now. 

If you don’t have any CO alarms, go shopping for them now or ask your family for an early Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus/Solstice gift—or give them one.

If you can’t afford ‘em, ask your fire department or the health department of your city or county if they can help.  They’d much rather help you now than hope to save you in the future.

I’m serious, guys, and you know that doesn’t happen often.

Do it now.