As I sit here writing this post, I am waiting for my boss Robb’s plane to touch down at Detroit Metro. He will then scurry from his seat and hit the ground running, coat tails flying, while debating whether to call me for messages, or check out any e-mails he might have missed in his four-hour flight. He shipped his bags home yesterday via UPS due to the iffy weather at Dallas, so he is good to go after deplaning. Does he return to the office tonight for the first time in 2017, or can his appearance wait until tomorrow? We shall see.
Unlike some of his vacations, we’ve been lucky this past few weeks, since there were only a few “high grounders” which we quickly dispensed with, so Robb could return to those blue Caribbean waves, or his hammock slung between the palm trees, in short order. As for me, I’ve just been sitting here at the laptop being the virtual watchdog.
Yup, it was smooth sailing, except there was one pesky incident for me … no, not the weather, though I bemoaned it enough. I figured two weeks would garner more walks than I actually got accomplished, due to brutal cold, ice, rain, wind, fog, or that brief snowstorm just a week ago today.
On January 3rd, that very morning he jetted off to paradise, I returned from a walk at Council Point Park, and settled myself at the table, fired up the laptop and prepared to remote in to work to check on “things”.
But, instead of the usual blue modern architecture desktop display, I got a big message in the middle of the screen that said “installing device driver software” … so, what did that mean and I’ve never seen THAT message before!
But, the icon sat there and wouldn’t go away … well great … just great. The message remained stuck, smack in the middle of the screen, and after those drivers did their dirty work, my desktop display turned black and I lost my ability to connect to the internet.
I did a hard shutdown, rebooted the laptop, and returned, fingers crossed, that this screen and laptop behavior was not the new normal. But it was. So, I reverted the computer to the day before, then slowly the laptop returned to its “former self” giving me some comfort, despite that black screen.
But wait …
There were many more obstacles to deal with and hoops to jump through before this ordeal was over.
I got a series of pop-ups with messages – no – warnings, from Microsoft about using fraudulent software. I rolled my eyes, and, in my disgust with the situation, I spat out a few choice words at Microsoft – after all, my laptop was genuine when they insisted on foisting Windows 10 on me last Spring!
The pop-up messages requested I input my product license key info at a suggested link to activate my software and legitimatize it once again.
I dug out and reviewed my Ziploc packet of info received with the laptop, and, much to my surprise, I never got any product key information, merely the boot/driver disks for Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Well, everything seemed to be working fine, except for the black desktop display with its ominous message in the bottom right-hand corner that stated: “this copy of Windows is not genuine” – gulp.
Additionally, those constant pesky pop-ups warned me that “you may be a victim of software counterfeiting”. These messages continued through the first week of the new year, but it still did not deter me from using the laptop, until Microsoft refused to permit my Windows updates without me validating my operating system as genuine Microsoft Windows.
Well, I decided then it was time for a consult with Hewlett Packard to procure the product license key.
But, unfortunately … HP wanted none of that problem – “it was a Microsoft issue” they said.
So, with much trepidation, I called Microsoft customer service and got an excellent tech who tried her best to fix the license info for me. Stephanie said this was a common consumer problem, not unique to me, because no product license key is given anymore with a new laptop. She took control of my computer and with a series of keystrokes, she verified the laptop’s product and serial number info, and said it was factory-installed software, so I would have to pay $40.00 for a partial product key.
“You’re kidding!” was all I could say.
So, I gave her my credit card info so she could activate the license once again. But the transaction could not go through, as my bank electronically rejected it by saying it was not an “authentic purchase” … the tech, who was very patient, told me to square it with the bank, and she would call me back shortly. Not to be deterred, I called the bank, who found the story incredulous, and said there was nothing deterring the transaction going through.
Stephanie called back, we tried again – no go. She then received permission from her supervisor to do the “fix” for free since I work from home and needed it for business purposes.
A few technical glitches and more coding and configuration, and some flying fingers by the tech, yielded the desired effect some two hours after the second phone call. We rebooted three times and got rid of the funky fraudulent messages, restoring my comfort zone, and, with me feeling like I was no longer committing a criminal act.
Okay, Bill Gates … I’m cool with Microsoft again, but you made me feel so dirty!
During this weeklong debacle, I was ready to fulfill my childhood dream of running away and joining the circus.
Of course, running away from your problems doesn’t solve anything, and, of course, joining the circus isn’t even an option anymore.
I was astounded to wake up Sunday morning and hear that the Greatest Show on Earth was folding up forever later this year.
Some of my fondest memories are going to see the circus when it was in town. I’d sit in between my parents, my cone of sticky candy floss momentarily forgotten, as I was mesmerized by the three rings of stupendous acts, and I was star struck by the animals and entertainers. In later years, my parents would tell me I declared early on that “when “I grow up” I would join the circus. They never discouraged me, but, I guess I either never grew up, or decided that a legal secretary was a safer occupation, and now that option to be a circus employee is closed forever … of course there is always the Shrine Circus.
As a tot, Barnum & Bailey was not just about the big top, but part of my snacks as well. Their tasty animal crackers filled up a brightly colored small box which was festooned with circus animals and I toted that snack cracker box around by clutching the pale pink string handle.
In between trips to the real circus with my folks, I stationed myself in front of the T.V. every Friday night to view ringmaster Don Ameche’s weekly spotlight on various circus performances. Plus, in later years, there were annual trips by our Brownies, Girl Guides or Pioneer Girls troops for a weekend matinee circus performance.
So, that circus fascination never faded when it came to those daring performers or the animals. Perhaps I even uttered Dorothy’s famous line “lions and tigers and bears – oh my!” while watching the King of the Jungle with his handler, or the tigers leaping through a ring of fire, or, even those silly brown bears riding a bicycle or dancing with one another.
I’m glad I was lucky enough to enjoy the circus so often – too bad many youngsters won’t have those same cherished childhood memories, unless they are lucky enough to have the Shrine Circus come to their locale.
As I close this post, I am reminded once again of simpler times and how the days, no – the years – are flying by much too quickly and the world is spinning way too fast for this old gal.