No, Alex, We Are NOT Getting An XBox Too

The LIE:

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The Rogers guy came this morning and installed a new modem to replace the old Bell one. Supposedly we will now pay much less for lighting-fast speed. Hope so. Because now we are going down another dark wire-filled rabbit hole.

I know the modern rabbit hole is supposed to be all clean, bright and wireless but that’s not what the technology warren looks like here.

The problem is our speedy new modem has to live beside the TV where the cable outlet is. The old one used to live in the den upstairs out of sight. The new one, of course, needs to be plugged in to an electrical outlet. So, now, we have yet another box with flashing little power-sucking LED lights and another set of wires to add to the giant Condor’s nest behind the TV.

Thankfully, there is no new remote to go with the modem. Because we are already all crazy full up with remotes (see pic above).

The good news is I even know how to use most of them. To watch TV, I pick up the longest one (the one with the most buttons, most of which I don’t know what they do) to turn the set on. I have to point and hold the button down long enough to make sure the remote turns on the PVR as well as the TV, because the remote initializes a two-stage process. (Most of the time this process gets whacked out of sync if the lazy-ass person (ie husband or son) who previously turned off the set did not bother to point the remote at the boxes long enough to turn everything off. When that happens, I have to drag myself over to the actual set and press the correct button to re-sync the pairing. (Not that I am unable to do that, but having to sort of ruins the whole idea of a remote doesn’t it?)

Step 2. Next, I pick up the medium-sized remote (but only if I can find it, since the probability of losing one of the required remotes is exponentially increased with each successive remote added to the chain) and use it to select which feed I want: cable, new Wii, old Wii, Playstation or AppleTV. (There might even be a few dusty Atari consoles and a vintage Ping-o-Tronic lost in there somewhere too)

Step 3.  Depending on which feed I have selected, I need to choose the next appropriate remote. The long silver one is the Apple TV one. It is the one we use to listen to our music collection. This process involves making sure we are running iTunes on the computer and the computer is turned on and we remember how to make iTunes share nice and stream over to the AppleTv. (Really gludgy but a few years ago I spent a million hours ripping CD’s onto my computer and figuring out/setting up the sharing protocols. Not changing over now.)

Step 4: If we want home-theatre sound, we have to use the stereo remote to launch the receiver.

BTW, the small white remote in the pic is the old AppleTV remote that Marley chewed up. It barely works but we keep it for backup for when Marley gets hold of the shiny new one. He likes remotes so we also have an embedded dog-proof high-security program (a drawer) to protect all our remotes. We also need to maintain a giant drawer full of different kinds and sizes of batteries.

Today’s modem delivery has created a new issue: the wireless signal appears to degrade a fair amount by the time it reaches Alex’s bedroom where the Main Home Gaming center is set up (another giant Condor’s nest, this one is colourfully decorated with empty pop cans and chip bags). So now, until we can resolve this issue (the cable guy suggested yet another gadget with more wires for the nest, a “wireless” AC router, only $100) , we have installed a five-mile long blue ethernet tripwire cable running from his bedroom, across the upstairs hall, down the stairs and along the downstairs hall, across the family room floor to the modem.

And you thought all that crap behind the TV stand represented the Main Gaming Center at our house? Oh hell no. Think again. We only keep the Playstation around so we can access Netflix. Because who uses the actual TV and cable to watch TV anymore? Oh no. We much prefer to spend half an hour farting around with all our remotes to get to our Netflix so we can binge watch shows. (And since we can never remember the correct userID and password combinations for signing in to Playstation and Netflix, we always have to hunt down the dog-eared piece of paper that will reveal this important info to us before we can start eating our popcorn. All too often, Playstation and/or Netflix decide to go AWOL for critical updates before they will let us watch our shows. By then, it’s 1 am. And we are snoring on the couch.)

On top of it all, we recently installed another set of wires to mirror the laptop onto the TV screen. Yes, I know this trick can be done “wirelessly” but that process involves yet another expensive remote and complicated software programming, and like I said before, we are at our lifetime remote limit and something has to die before we can consider another one.

To mirror the laptop on our TV, we had to buy an extra-long HDMI cable, plus a mini-HDMI to HDMI connector, and since the outdated mini-HDMI port from the laptop wouldn’t transmit sound we added an audio-out cable to the stereo which means I need to deploy the stereo remote to control the receiver so I can get half-decent sound volume. And, yep, there’s another remote control needed for that set-up: it operates the splitter-switcher-gadget for the HDMI cable, since we seem to be running out of HDMI ports on the back of our TV. I am hanging on by my fingernails here. If we tied all the wires together end-to-end we could probably use them to perform a high-wire act across Niagara Falls. If that ever happens, you can watch us on TV. Or Youtube. As long as you can find your remotes. (Hint: one is buried in your couch, one is in the cupboard beside the popcorn and the dog is eating the other one. You’re welcome.)

TMI About My Left Boob

Brandon Martin-Anderson cc-by-sa-2.0
15 years ago I went through a brief cancer scare. My left breast developed a tender, sore spot (pain level: 2 out of 10). My GP sent me for an ultrasound which revealed a small abnormal area. One mammogram later I found myself in an office with a surgeon who spent all of 60 seconds on me to insist that I undergo a surgical biopsy.

As the doctor spun on his heel to exit the room, I flung myself on the floor and latched onto his ankles to prevent him from escaping. Okay, not really, but I did bark out a quick round of panicky questions: Hang on a sec! What will happen to me? Is a biopsy necessary? What is a biopsy? How much time have I got left?

He spent five more seconds on me to say that he would chop out a portion of flesh from my left breast; a chunk approximately the size of an egg. His body language said, Can’t you see I’m busy? Can I go now already? Let go of my ankles.

I thought, wow, this little knife trick of his is going to make my little sore spot way more hurty than a mere 2 out of 10.

Not liking the surgeon’s reluctance to communicate with me beyond the use of terse statements and snorts of impatience, and definitely not liking the idea of losing a big hunk of my left breast, I asked my GP to refer me to another doctor, preferably to one practicing at the highly regarded Henrietta Banting Breast Centre at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.

The friendly and reassuring Dr. McCready reviewed my scans and said that a biopsy didn’t appear to be necessary. He tracked me for a couple of years and then finally said, go home, forget it, there’s nothing to worry about here. Phew.

Flash forward to today. I have a brand new GP who recently succeeded in convincing me to go for a long-overdue routine mammogram screening. And away down the rabbit hole we went again: the result indicated another abnormal scan on the left breast. I said okay, fine, send me back to Women’s College Hospital. They have all my old records on file. It’s probably the same trouble spot we dealt with before. They can compare the new images with the old, and all will be well.

Wrong. Guess what? They threw out all my records.

Yup. Gone. Apparently, my old GP did the same thing with all her old records. Archives? Nah. Get rid of it. Out with the old, in with the new. That revelation sure put my bra straps in a snarl.

If I were to travel back in time and ask the doctors to let me look after my own records I am pretty sure I would’ve had some major resistance on my hands. They would probably have said, oh no, YOU will lose them. WE are the best ones to manage all these important records of yours.

Right. They managed them right into the trash can.

Anyhow, the specialist at WCH reviewed the new scans and promptly ordered a second round of images on my pesky left breast, pending a consult with the radiologist.

The radiologist concurred. Meanwhile no one seemed particularly interested in my history. Never mind. Due to the wonderful advances of technology, all those old images are worthless anyway. Think apples to oranges. Or melons in this case.

I sighed and booked another appointment to get another set of scans done. And yesterday I arrived in the x-ray suite only to be told by the technician that she was going to take a good look at my right breast. I said, hold on, you mean the left.

Nope, the right.

I said, Sorry. But we better sort this out, or I’ll have to respectfully decline.

She went away for a long time, and came back with another specialist who said the radiologist was actually only interested in the right breast all along.

News to me. And the big ugly scary fear monster reared its fanged face. No one mentioned a problem on the right before. How come no one mentioned this before? What exactly are you seeing in there? I need a hug.

After a great deal of questioning, fussing and fuming, I gave in. Even though they started out only interested in the right side, they proceeded to scan both my girls again.

Two minutes later, the radiologist sailed in to say, All clear, you are free to go.

First of all, my deepest gratitude and kudos to Women’s College Hospital for being fast enough to slay the fanged monster within moments of its birth. But the radiologist was so fast I thought maybe she had tripped into the wrong patient’s room by accident. However, I ran straight to records and insisted on a complete set of reports to confirm the verbal results. I keep checking them because my head is still spinning.

Here’s where I stop and dance another wee jig of joy to know that I am cleared for takeoff. I am well aware that all too many women do not get such happy news. And I have no right to complain. So please don’t get me wrong: the staff at Henrietta Banting are awesome, patient and respectful professionals, and I am extremely happy that we have such an excellent health care system here in Canada, one that is super cautious with women’s breast health. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know early detection is key.

But. I did not come here to moan about lost records (even though I am still kind of irked), and small mix-ups. The takeaway point is: obtain copies of all your medical results and records, and keep them on file for yourself, at home. These days, patients have that important right. Use it.

Second point, always question everything. Obtain a second, maybe even a third opinion. Get informed and advocate for yourself.  If I hadn’t been a less-than-compliant patient way back when, today I would be missing an egg-shaped chunk out of the side of my perfectly healthy left breast.

Third, try not to let the fear monster rule the nights in between an abnormal test (mammogram or otherwise) result and a final diagnosis. In recent weeks, a few of my women friends described having to endure same kind of unsettling scenario that I just went through. And they all turned out to be fine as well. If I had let the crazy-making what-if’s get to me, I would’ve spent the past 8 weeks sleepless in terror. Instead, I am glad to say that I shoved all the panicky thoughts  out of my head and decided that it would all be okay.

Finally, I apologize for not taking a quick selfie to share while wedged tightly into the clutches of the mammogram plates yesterday. My bug-eyed expression would no doubt have been entertaining as it screeched: holy hell, someone get me out of this pancake-making machine, stat.

I Need a Moment to Rant

Okay. Every now and then, the scroll bars at the side and bottom of the window for Word go MIA. I did NOT tell them to go anywhere, they took off all by themselves. Why? WHY?? It’s always a mystery.

And each and every ever-loving time, I have to Google around for the instructions on how to get them back because my brain can only hold on to so much arcane computer geekery.

When I finally find a user-friendly website that will help me out, I am told there is an easy solution — go into preferences, then view, and then check off the options I want. Okay, but thanks for nothing. Trouble is, this procedure only fixes the document you happen to be working in. To reset the preferences so they operate globally (to set things back to the way I had things in the first place), I have to do all THIS:

Step 2: Remove the Word preferences and reset the Normal template

To restore the preferences and Normal template to the default settings, follow these steps:

  1. Quit all applications.
  2. On the Go menu, click Home.
  3. Open Library.
    Note The Library folder is hidden in MAC OS X Lion. To display this folder, hold down the OPTION key while you click the Go menu.
  4. Open the Preferences folder.
  5. Look for a file that is named
  6. If you locate the file, move it to the desktop. If you cannot locate the file, the application is using the default preferences.
  7. If you locate the file and move it to the desktop, start Word, and then check whether the problem still occurs. If the problem still occurs, quit Word, and restore the file to its original location. Then, go to the next step. If the problem seems to be resolved, you can move the file to the trash.
  8. Quit all Microsoft Office for Mac applications.
  9. On the Go menu, click Home.
  10. Open Library.
    Note The Library folder is hidden in MAC OS X Lion. To display this folder, hold down the OPTION key while you click the Go menu.
  11. Open the Preferences folder.
  12. Open the Microsoft folder.
  13. Locate the file that is named
  14. Move the file to the desktop.
  15. Start Word, and then check whether the problem still occurs. If the problem still occurs, quit Word, and then restore the file to its original location. Then, go to the next step. If the problem seems to be resolved, you can move the file to the trash.
  16. On the Go menu, click Home.
  17. Open Library.
    Note The Library folder is hidden in MAC OS X Lion. To display this folder, hold down the OPTION key while you click the Go menu.
  18. Open the Application Support folder.
  19. Open the Microsoft folder.
  20. Open the Office folder.
  21. Open the User Templates folder.
  22. Locate the file that is named Normal, and move the file to the desktop.
  23. Start Word, and then check whether the problem still occurs. If the problem seems to be resolved, you can move the Normal file to the trash.

What??? Seriously Microsoft?!? SERIOUSLY??????? Yes, I have stepped through this ridiculous and overly involved procedure in the past, too many times to want to count. Because it is the way many things are fixed in WORD. The normal template is always blowing itself up. WTF. It takes up valuable time to reset that template, and each time I have to do it again, I want to fly straight to Silicon-fooking-valley and torture a few of those highly paid Microsoft geeks who can’t seem to get it together enough to give us an easier way. I’d like to corrupt their templates. I’d like to give them a swift kick right up their .plists. At the very least I’d like to send them a bill for all the productive time I’ve lost.

Is it too much to ask that when I set my settings, they STAY set? Please, Microsoft, give me a way to globally reset that template without having to shut down everything I am doing to search out the invisible Library on my computer (which Apple has carefully hidden away from my prying interfering eyes for some damn reason).

Nope. It’s just too much to ask.

And one more thing: how did my normal template get “corrupted” in the first place? Did it stay up all night partying with Rob Ford?

I hate the normal template. It is obviously having a better time than me.

Back to work now. I don’t have time to reset the normal template today. Because I spent all my time whining.