Fixing my mom’s pesky PC

I knew it would be a 4 hour job going into this. She called me in a panic from work, saying all these alert windows were popping up and she couldn’t do anything. Sadly, I had warned her months ago that her work PC needed serious attention. I even took the time to write up an estimate for her boss, comparing the money he would spend at GeekSquad or another PC repair shop versus what I could do. Of course I come in at less than half. He then asks if I can guarantee my work. I told him absolutely not, especially not without actually seeing and running the PC first. Even GeekSquad won’t guarantee their work. With computers, anything can go wrong. Fast forward to this week and the panicky phone call. A fee was agreed upon, and I set out to fix this laptop. Upon booting, I get assaulted with Windows errors, spamware and adware running, tying up the quad-core processor like it was running 6 instances of Adobe Photoshop all trying to render at the same time. 3.5 hours, 469 individual malware entries, a few security updates, and reworking Chrome and Internet Explorer, I got the Lenovo running like a top. There were some bastard programs like Conduit and Iminent, plus two trojan viruses really putting the screws to this machine.
Now why would I charge my own mother to fix a laptop?

1. She doesn’t actually own it, it’s company property
2. Her boss thinks guilting her into calling me for tech support during my work hours is OK.
3. I told her I didn’t want her money. I want his.
4. #2 happens all the time.
5. She’s mortified to use his PC for anything she has to do, well, because porn.

I also strongly advised her to back up any important documents on a weekly, if not daily, basis. The laptop is not that old. But considering the strain it’s been under, it is a safe bet the hard drive will crash sooner than it should.

To help them understand what I actually did for 3.5 hours, I logged my every activity in a convenient spreadsheet printed to a PDF file. I realize average PC users take an IT tech for granted, “because they watched Bill from IT fix Sandra’s computer with a few clicks here and there” once. Thank God this laptop was running Windows 7 64 Bit. If it was running Vista I would have thrown it right in the garbage. I’m serious.

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It begins to rain, as if on cue; a last, desperate, futile attempt to wash sin from the city – J. O’Barr

Morning, all. *takes a sip* As I sit here with Squishy (the baby) snuggled against my side and the Wife taking the other two to school, I can’t help but be in a constant state of concern. Most every parent would easily lay their lives down for their children (and some have made that ultimate sacrifice). I often truly wonder what goes through a person’s mind when they decide to hurt a child. I assume you know I’m referring to things much more significant than swatting their hand away from a hot stove or grabbing them so quick to avoid them running into a busy parking lot. I mean the unthinkable abuses that we hear; whether it be someone you know, or what we hear on the news. Children’s trust constantly being broken by a family friend, a family member, or a person in a position of authority. I will say this. I was raised Catholic, and honestly I never had an issue with any of the clergy in my churches. Same with scouting. Sadly, this happens all too often as we are now aware. But, instant news aside, did this all happen in many years past and was a blind eye cast instead? I seem to think so. I feel there was a stigma of shame and ostracization that occurred, say, if little Jimmy or little Suzie went to mom and dad (or some other family member) and told them that Scoutmaster Bob, Father Smith, or Aunt Jane (wow, I’m so creative with names, aren’t I?) or whomever had violated them. There was this element of keeping it quiet and dealing with it behind closed doors. Now with voyeuristic fervor at an all-time high in our culture, not only are these long closeted issues out in the open, EVERYTHING is. And I think that’s what I’m really trying to get at. We’re learning that there’s a huge problem with child abuse in all forms all around the US and beyond. In one sense, law enforcement can use the internet and social media as a way of tracking down the scum of the earth that feels it necessary to nearly destroy a child for their own carnal depravity. Yet, in another sense, these very sick twisted individuals can rely on the internet to find such things with more ease than before. So we’ve traded secrecy for openness…but is it backfiring? Just so I’m clear…as a parent who loves his children more than life itself, I would absolutely want to know if someone was hurting my kid. I cannot be with my kids 24 hours a day, but I’m damn sure I’m around them as much as possible, and if someone hurts a hair on their head, well, I’d probably end up in jail myself. To come back from that “noble darkness” that most parents keep locked away until needed, I feel parents really need to focus on their children’s well-being. It’s an incredibly difficult task, having to vet each person (young or old) that their children come into contact with. We cannot possibly possess 100% infallible judgement. But we can come damn close to it. There’s some kids and their parents that I regret allowing my children around in the past (as has every parent, and if they say they’ve never done that, they are liars). Yet, it’s a risky lesson to learn. I don’t encourage people to go “Oh hey, this guy and his family, they’re repeat convicted felons currently awaiting trial and the State is taking the kids away from them; let’s go have a play date so we can learn a lesson!” Please. Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Wise people learn from others’.

Crap, that’s what I was going for. COMMON SENSE. Sad thing is, I heard common sense is on life support these days. As a coach, I can’t even begin to explain how senseless people have gotten over the years. I’m a young dad. Most of the parents out there have 5 – 10 years on me. I learned very quickly this does NOT correlate to having more common sense or actually learning from experience. Case in point (professional): Years ago in the construction field, I, a young inexperienced construction equipment rep, had to explain to a mid-career construction manager (with over 10 years in the industry) on a MAJOR heavy civil works project that the 190,000 lb construction machine they were going to use on a particular type of work would absolutely CRUSH the pieces of spiral steel corrugated pipe that was no thicker than a soda can. He couldn’t fathom why or how the machine would do that. When I went back to my boss (who was very experienced and had survived MANY lessons in the field), he goes “This is why contractors like XXXXX XXXXS scare me. Stupid doesn’t hurt, it kills.” Parents seem to be the same way. Everyone has to be an expert. Everyone knows ALL there is. Yet about 25% of these parents don’t even know which end of the bat to hold (no seriously, I had that happen). This is what scares me. They show ignorance in seemingly minor things (fine, be mad at me, not everyone is a sports parent, I wasn’t even a sports type kid until my sophomore year of high school) so where is their concern with other things? I see parents let their kids out of their line of sight, or just randomly drop them off “oh they’ll be fine, they can call me”. Meanwhile the kid comes up to me “hey Coach Cup’o’Dad (they don’t call me that, haha), mom didn’t give me any water or snack.” or “Hey Coach, I don’t have my cup on.” Meanwhile it’s 86° out, 86% relative humidity, you can chew the air, and they’re on a baseball field with zero shade for 2 hours in full baseball gear. Seriously? Might as well lock them up in a car with the windows rolled up while you’re at it. THIS is why I thank my wife. She keeps a stash of bottled water in the car, in a cooler, plus a few boxes of granola bars and fruit snacks. Every season, it costs me. But, I’d gladly pay for some bottled water and snacks instead of having a kid go down on the field from dehydration. And I bench the boys without cups. They aren’t old enough to choose to have an inadvertent sterilization from a line drive or a missed pitch. All of this worries me. If I knew that these very parents were extra vigilant about other things, yeah, I wouldn’t stress out. But they DON’T. Can you see my morning cup is making me more rabid by the sentence?

I see a correlation. And it’s been around for ages. Complacency. Something happens. Everyone reacts. Call to arms. Turn every leaf, every stone. Write new laws. Then it doesn’t happen again for a while. The incident becomes a memory. Maybe there’s memorials. People occasionally utter “never again”. More time passes. Other things draw attention (o0oo0o0oooo look at what that reality star is wearing). Complacency returns to it’s wrongful place at the helm.  The watch over our children should NEVER take a backseat. Ever. Should you be a nervous wreck 24/7? Nope. But you can be an AWARE parent, an INVOLVED parent (without being obtrusive), and an ACTIVE parent. Throwing a GPS tracking cellphone in Jimmy and Suzie’s backpack is great, but the GPS doesn’t parent the child. You do. 

Late morning, early start?

Morning. Today started out a lot earlier than usual. The baby woke up around 5 am which isn’t really bad, considering. So i got up and made her a bottle and got her settled back down again. Within minutes, she was content and cooing, falling back asleep. I got into my typical early AM routine (when I need to be on the move before everyone else). Started the coffee pot, grabbed a hot shower, shaved my neck but not my face (while showering), threw on some shorts, button up, and my sneakers. Office days don’t demand steel-toes, the usual PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and work clothes. My 3rd grade son was already stirring upstairs, and my pre-K daughter, again, passed out on the couch. I’m sure you guys and gals can attest to a child who refuses to sleep in his or her own bed, but will absolutely fall asleep ANYWHERE else. Aside from 5 am, this is pretty typical in my household.

Alright, hold up. You guys don’t even really know me. Before I confuse the ever-living crap out of you, I’ll give you a rundown:

I’m a married father of three. You know how old my older two are now, but the baby’s 8 months old. 4 year spread between kids. And it was absolutely NOT planned that way or in ANY way, they all kinda happened, hahaha.

I work in the construction industry (been here almost 10 years). Big commercial and public projects. I push pencils, fix machines, pull on some steel and wire imbedded in concrete with 300 ton jacks, tell people what to do who make a lot more money than I do and can probably engineer my demise, yet I find myself correcting them all the time.

I don’t have a college degree. This is probably one of those rare times my field experience and street smarts, plus some REALLY good industry mentors actually paid off.

I coach kids baseball. Not little league. A local league that is independent (and cheaper to moms and dads). We kinda play by our own rules, namely the kids have fun without getting screamed at or having fanatical parents you read about in the news. It’s pretty cool.

I grew up on Staten Island, NY. I live in Eastern PA. Big surprise there. A lotta us New Yorkers migrated west to get out of the city, but close enough we can go back and actually get good Pizza, bread, cold cuts, pastries, (food in general, notice a theme?)

I didn’t play normal sports as a kid. Probably explains my aches and pains. I was busy beating the crap out of my body on a skateboard, rollerblades, dirtbikes, rock walls, and somehow i was a band geek too.

Alright, I guess that’s enough for now. The rest you can learn. Back to my morning grind today. *sips now cold cup from earlier*

The wife and I got ready together, making sure the kids are set for the day, packed up, and we left together. For the life of me, I couldn’t find my freakin car keys. Figures. We needed to take one car anyway, so that’s a mission for later. Drop the boy off at school, drop the girl off at pre-k up the street, and head into town. We’ve got a 945 with our pastor so he can baptize the baby on Sunday.

WOAH. Wait. I just got all religious. Nope. Not really. Relax. I’m a recovering Catholic (notice I said pastor, not priest). *swigs more coffee* Listen, that’s another post for another day.

So yeah, today wasn’t a “typical” day. Usually I stay in bed till the last minute, savoring every second of sleep, get up, check on the baby, get the kids ready, throw them into my car, my morning cup of coffee in tow, and get my ass down to the schools, drop them off, get to the office, and get cracking. If I have my “typical”  early AM routine, I’m out the door before the sun’s up, and I call the wife to make sure she’s up and moving to get the kids to school.

Ugh, coffee’s getting colder. So I need to do this every day. People have habits. I’m making this mine.

Parting thought: I don’t know how ANY parent, male or female, is NOT active in their childrens’ lives. Just think about that for a second. No, I don’t have a trumpet in my hand, blasting in your face. I just want to know. Seriously. See you guys in the morning. I’ll let you know how the rest of the day turned out.