Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've had one of those months today

Or to be more honest, there's been a bunch of little things that have conspired over the last few days to drive me right round the bend.

There was the feed store incident. Possibly incidentS, depending on whether you choose to view it as a series of bad decisions or one major CF that extended for the better part of a month.

Mind you, up until recently I realllllly loved this feed store. Here I was, ordering tons of exotic foodstuffs for a bunch of backyard quackers and these people never turned a hair. I could put up with the occasional misstep between the people working the counter and the people in the back lot who actually knew what was going on. And dealing with a woman with an IQ lower than my chrysanthemums was actually kinda cute for a while. Anybody over the age of 22 could have seen that this was going way too well, right?


Well, I didn't see it coming and I probably should have. Heck, one of my friends and fellow duck-wranglers stepped all of about once into the place and decided to buy her feed elsewhere. At the end of June I dropped by and ordered a couple of bags of the usual, expecting to pick them up the next week in the usual manner. Come next week and the feed isn't there. I'm not unduly worried because I always keep a bit on hand for emergencies, and I was assured up, down, and sideways that there had been just a teensy error and that the feed would be coming in the next week. Yah, sure, and remind me never to step up for a friendly game of three-card-Monty either. But I bought, at least I was trying to . I wasn't terribly happy; my reserves were wearing thin and I was going to have to put the ducks on a feed they weren't ready for, but hey, the friendly people at the feed store said that it was just an oversight. How bad could it be?

It didn't arrive yet again. This is when the infamous word "Minimum" first cropped up -- as in, "We have a minimum amount we have to order from the distributor" -- but the food was going to be in within a very short time. Trust us. The woman at the counter even promised, cross her heart and hope to die, that she would order it week. So it would be there the following Friday. Before her order date had rolled around I was out of everything I could in good conscience feed a duck, so I came in a couple of days early looking for a substitute to tide me through. It isn't a good sign when the person who told you just five days earlier that she would personally order that feed for you and that it would most certainly be in fairly soon gets a panicked look on her face when you walk in the door. It seems that there was more to this "Minimum Order" than met the eye; evidently they needed to order three pallets' worth of feed at one swell foop or they couldn't order at all and, for the kicker, they only had two pallets' worth of order right then. But, but, but, she hastened to say, she was going to try to stretch that and get the order in Tuesday and if she couldn't she would call to say there was a problem.

Yeah, I know I should have gone to another supplier at this point. But I really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, ya know? I'm a grade-a, boiled in the wool sucker for that sort of thing. I didn't get a call. I called back Friday, got Ms. Dumber Than A Chrysanthemum who asked me to call back in 15 minutes so she could go check. And the telephone stayed busy for more than the next hour....

At this point even I am beginning to get suspicious. So I tromp my weary bones down there and find a bright and chipper woman behind the counter that I've never seen before, who announces in cheerful tones that the order had gone out late the last Tuesday and so it wouldn't be in for another week. She was very astonished when my voice dropped a couple of decibels and about half an octave (it does that when I see red) when I announced in NO uncertain terms that they had just lost a customer. Ms. DTAC was handling another customer and she seemed to think that I was out of line for being just a wee bit irate so she replied in an irritable, what is YOUR problem voice that the order had gone out late and that it would be here next FRIDAY. Um. Yeah. And what are the ducks supposed to eat in the meantime, lady, cake? After all of my care and planning and research and a couple of months of feeding them what I've determined to be the best I can feed them, the whole shebang has been whammied by a bunch of people who can't find their backsides with both hands and a map. I've been feeding them chicken scratch, turkey crumbles, and in desperate moments, cat food. I'm sure most of them will be just fine but that isn't the point.

So yes, I did go find another supplier. They're farther away and more expensive, but I'll put up with a lot for a reliable source. I also found a back-up supplier just in case. My learning curve may be a bit steep, I could be called a tad slow, but I do learn eventually.

But I worry, especially now. One of my Silver Appleyards, a heavy-weight breed, has gone lame on one leg. He has a swollen joint that is starting to balloon into a swollen leg, and I wonder if this would have happened if he'd gotten the right nutrition at the right time. I don't think I would have been so stressed if these ducks were over six months old; that's pretty much as grown a duck as you're going to get. It's just because they do grow so quickly and have so many thing to develop in such a short time that this situation has gotten under my skin. A couple of the other heavy breed ducks are showing a little wobbly on their pins. It could be that this is just a condition endemic to the bigger bodied ducks; it could be that the Appleyard somehow got injured and is just not recovering the way he should be. Either which way, I've got a hard decision to make here soon if he doesn't start improving.

Did I mention that the more I deal with Windows the more I love Linux? Even though I'm pig-ignorant of even the Linux basics? A little while ago my favorite anti-virus software announced an upgrade. I've never had a problem with this company before, so I go ahead and upgrade. Only it won't work. It suggests that maybe I need to update my windows software, so okay, I do that even though I haven't in forever and three days because every time I do I have problems forever with the things little and large the update manages to screw up. The anti-virus still refuses to work -- it's now suggesting that it can't play friendly with a couple of other programs I have -- and a couple of days ago I realized that the Windows update removed my financial program. Gone. I can see the files, I can even find traces of links on the computer, but I cannot, cannot get the program to run. Windows giggles coyly and says that I can't get there from here. In fact, there doesn't really exist. Agh.
Since I only use the program as a glorified checkbook balancer, I wondered if there was anything out there that would work as a patch until I got my new system (ha! considering the current financial situation) put together and running. Well whaddaya know, financial freeware. It's double-entry, which takes some getting used to, and since all my backups are worthless (something about the computer seeing but not seeing my former financial program) I'm having to type each and every financial transaction I can find...but you know, I could get used to it. I'm still going to have to spend the next two months faithfully glued to a monitor to figure out every glitch and gotcha -- but hey, that's how I learned most of what I know about computers and the internet to begin with.
But O for the day when I'm finally confident enough to ditch windows altogether. I am going to party so hard DBS is going to nickname me Britney.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Whereupon I Pick Up My Jaw Once Again

Really, when you ignore children's education as much as I do then the general expectation is that they're going to grow up dumb as earthworms. I'll admit to being a mom who uses the Visual Lobotomy for a little peace and quiet to get other things done. When the Banshees howl that they're bored, I tell them that they have four choices: Reading, Writing, Math, or Laundry. I got a lot of laundry out of that before they wised up. (I've sinced added "Running Like Fiends Around the Front Yard i.e. P.E. They aren't naive enough to go for the weeding-as-fun routine.)

So when did EB turn into a voracious bookworm? We live together, don't you think I would have noticed that going on under my nose? MB's obsession with history (as long as it's Titanic's history), geology (as long as it's a volcano or a black smoker), and the Solar System is phenomenal (Got Black Holes? No? Darn!). LB is still unable to read but appears to be making a bid for Family Bard. Or possibly author for soap operas. Sometimes the boundaries are a little fuzzy.

No, no, no! They aren't supposed to be this...well, well-educated. They're supposed to have the IQ of a philodendron.

Of course, then it hits me: my initial philosophy of teacher as facilitator as opposed to prison guard is working out just fine and the doubts that I'm having are just the internal scripts left over from my public school experience. I gathered together the resources and had the wisdom or the infinite degree of addled luck to let them be bored out of their noggins every once in a while. The Banshees aren't picking it up in the linear fashion that I did, but it's trickling into their brainpans nonetheless. I feel all puffed up with pride and infinitely humble all at the same time. My kids. Wow.