June 2nd, 2006

ozarque figure

Best laid plans, ganging agley....

We -- George and I and a deleriously happy little dog -- got home late yesterday afternoon, to the usual. Grass a foot high in the yard, mail a foot high in the post office box, many sacks of laundry to be washed, 387 e-mails in my inbox.

["No problem," you are thinking. "It's mostly spam, and can just be deleted." No. Almost no spam gets past the Postini utility at our server, and what does sneak by gets caught by my filters. We're talking about 387 e-mails, 380 of which have to be read and many of which have to be answered. All the back posts from the listservs I belong to. All the back issues of the newsletters I subscribe to. All the back posts from the family blogs. Many many questions from assorted persons, about linguistics and science fiction and verbal self-defense and dissertations and newsletters and Topics Various, all of which have to be answered. Many book reviews from Linguist List, all of which -- except the ones on phonetics, which I can in fact delete, hurrah! -- have to be read carefully. Stuff from my agent and my publishers and my relatives, requiring answers. And more. And then there's all the snailmail business correspondence to be dealt with.]

All of this is the usual, and we were pleased not to be greeted by any of the UNusual. There was not, for example, a snake (a copperhead) inside the house, which did happen once and is something you don't forget. There was not a mysterious pile of empty sunflower seeds sitting in the middle of the livingroom floor. There were no plagues and no pestilences; there had not, apparently, been a major power failure while we were away. So, I thought to myself as I went to bed last night, tomorrow morning I'll just do a brief post to get the WisCon report started, and then dive into the mess headfirst and try to get as much of it taken care of as possible, as quickly as possible.

Well. It didn't turn out that way. When George turned on the computers this morning there was an immediate high piercing microphone-feedback-type tone that took over the place. Horrible. Suitable for controlling large crowds. The one thing I needed to do about that tone was flee (me and the dog), since it was literally making us both sick.

However, George -- thanks to years of working on jet engines and on carrier decks and on speedboats and motorcycles and ultralights -- couldn't hear the damn tone himself, which meant that I had to stay in the room with it while he unplugged, one at a time, the scores of electronic gizmos and widgets and doodads that go with all our computers and printers and scanners and DVD players and radios and televisions and duplicators and so on and so forth ad infinitum. Since he couldn't hear the tone himself, he couldn't tell whether it had stopped when he unplugged something; I had to tell him, each time.

It took us more than twenty minutes to discover that the problem was the backup power unit to his Macintosh, and to put an end to the tone, after which I was in a state of total disarray.

So. Laundry now, and cleaning, and business correspondence. And tomorrow -- I sincerely hope -- I'll start the WisCon report.