What Next?

Life has been on hold around here for three months, and just got confirmation that it’s likely to stay that way into the fall.

What next? My chosen career in corporate travel isn’t coming back anytime soon, and my current hobbies (sewing and knocking around virtual worlds) don’t really fill the bill.

School? Learn a new skill? Take up where I left off? Use my chameleonic superpower for good, not napping on the couch undetected?

I shall make inquiries.

The collapse of Monarch: inside the doomed airline in its last days | Business | The Guardian

I’d never heard of this airline before last week. Then I caught a call from someone who’d been booked on them. There was no other way to help him, had to sell him a new ticket on a new carrier, and he’ll pursue refund with them himself.

In the week running up to the collapse of Monarch Airlines, one crew member noticed that something was awry. The soap had run out on a flight back to Gatwick and a request to replenish supplies was left unanswered. A few days later, on Monday this week, Monarch was no more: almost 2,000 staff would be laid off and the travel plans of 860,000 passengers would be disrupted.

Link: The collapse of Monarch: inside the doomed airline in its last days | Business | The Guardian

Global air ticket fraud sweep nets 118 arrests | Reuters

This is just one kind of airline ticket fraud – where someone intends to travel on the ticket purchased with a stolen credit card.

(Reuters) – More than 100 people were arrested worldwide this week after an investigation spanning 45 countries into the use of stolen credit cards to buy plane tickets, European police agency Europol said on Friday.

Source: Global air ticket fraud sweep nets 118 arrests | Reuters

Stressed Out? How You Handle It May Predict Future Health Issues

Uh, my work life got a LOT more stressful recently, and it’s probably not healthy to scream at my computer with my phone mic muted.

Also: not healthy to go days without leaving the house.

Must. Do. Something.

In the latest research showing just how important the handling of stress is, a new study shows that having a stress-prone personality could seriously up your risk for heart disease.The new research, conducted in a large Danish population, found that people who are "mentally vulnerable" — meaning they are more susceptible to stress — are at a significantly higher risk for both fatal and non-fatal heart events. The studys findings were presented on April 18 in Rome at the EuroPRevent 2013 congress.Researchers measured "mental vulnerability" on a 12-point scale, looking at mental and physical symptoms that measured an individuals level of stress, and determined whether they had a personality that was more prone to getting stressed-out. A statistical analysis of nearly 11,000 individuals showed that mental vulnerability was correlated with cardiovascular events, both fatal and non-fatal, independently of normal risk factors like smoking, cholesterol and age.The researchers followed the Danish cohort, which consisted of 10,943 individuals initially free of heart disease, for nearly 16 years. Just over 3,000 fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events were recorded during the follow-up analysis, and the data showed that the risk of cardiovascular events in the mentally vulnerable was 36 percent higher than in the non-vulnerable, independently of other risk factors.

via Vulnerability To Stress May Increase Risk Of Heart Disease, Study Finds.

Good news for some travelers: KLM says it’s first to connect Europe with Fukuoka, Japan

Ooh! I actually have a couple of business travelers who might take advantage of this. They head to areas of Japan near Fukuoka, or south of there.

Dutch carrier KLM says it will become the first airline to between Europe and the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka. KLM’s service will begin April 3 with three round-trip flights a week from its hub in Amsterdam.

via KLM says it's first to connect Europe with Fukuoka, Japan

Well, We Seem To Be Connected Somehow #WaitingForComcast

The technical installation has finally concluded, and I now have data and phone in my office (but nothing to connect with, that’s later). The guys who delivered and assembled my desk got here at a little before 10am and they went a little over their time estimate as to how long it would take to assemble desk and chair, but they were done by a little after noon.

Riley the cat inspects the new office, which is not strictly "his."

After the desk guys left, Riley did a tour of inspection. He’ll be quite baffled by the pet gate that I’ll put at the top of the stairway, but at least I’ll have easy access to the hall bath and he won’t be able to come in while I’m talking on the phone and do the “meow meow meow” thing.

MDF File Stacker and charging station

I couldn’t figure out what this was from the catalog pictures, but I wanted the file stacker part of it. It turns out that it’s got a vertical slot for a binder (and I have one that I refer to pretty frequently) and horizontal shelves for folders or papers. The light-colored thing with the portholes on top mystified me until I realized it had access holes in the back for power cords; it’s a multi-device charging station. The desk also has 4 USB ports built in, which will probably need to be connected only to power outlets, NOT to the computer (data security). They could run gadgets, like fans, cup warmers, and a bread printing toaster, but aren’t all that necessary for what I need to do.

The Comcast cable guy came to do battle with the house next; it was a struggle. He arrived not long after the desk guys left, at about 1pm, and left a couple of hours later, after a mighty duel with the interior geometry of the house. I had been advised to expect him between 1pm and 4pm, so there’s that. I’d been told there’d be an exterior-only inspection sometime in the morning, but I never saw anybody. Probably did a drive-by to figure out where the cable hub thing was.

Misaligned cable box, with newly installed cable running across lawn

He connected a complete whole line from the cable hub thing in the neighbor’s back yard, across a bit of his lawn and this corner bed containing gnomes (GNOMES) before crossing our lawn to the back of the house.

The neighbors aren’t too keen on the cable wire running across their lawn, they’ve got a big kid’s birthday event this weekend and one of their grandkids was actually injured once by tripping over a loose cable like this, so they are understandably concerned. We worked it out; they’ll probably bury or cover the line themselves temporarily, and I offered the use of a rather nifty turfcutter gadget we have, and some spare mulch for the, er, gnome area.

UPDATE: There won’t be any turfcutting until the Village of Hoffman Estates signs off. My neighbor had a visit from 2 apologetic techs, and was assured someone should be out tomorrow (Friday 22JUN12) to take care of the cable burying. I’d be fine with just making sure his little bit of the cable is buried; ours really should be done as quickly as they can as we’ve got the corner lot and kids cut across our lawn (grr, separate issue).

Cable and Telephony on our side of the fence with drain cover

Just pointing out the cover for the drainage we had put in last year; ever since then, no big Lake Gibbs in the low part of the yard after a storm (and we had a gullywasher the other day).

I just can’t seem to kill off those damn daylilies. Oh, well.

Here you can see the “work” cable snaking (and curling into big loops) along the line of the existing “home” cable.

2 different cable lines entering house

He ran it up the side of the house and along the roof line under the bathroom window – fairly neatly. He at least tried to tuck it under the vertical edging, but the line is clearly along the roof diagonal. Then it goes around the chimney and into the attic, then straight down inside the wall (it’s partly an exterior wall so there’s insulation to deal with).

Kind of left a mess, but nothing a little vacuuming won’t fix. There’s insulation here and there in the guest bedroom, too, as the attic hatch is in there. The cover is jammed on there tightly, but it’s a little warped with the strain. We’ll probably have to fix that later so that it completely covers the rough edge of the cut. He was in a little bit of a hurry when he left.

The hard part, after all the clambering around on ladders and drilling, was getting the line down to the office from above. Since it’s an exterior wall, he had to use fiberglass or plastic rods to push through the pink insulation, rather than drop a weighted fish. I could tell he was pretty glum about it. When he called me up to advise me of this challenge, which required a pretty big hole, he was trying to hook the rod with something that looked suspiciously like a coathanger. OUR coathanger. Pretty comical; even cable guys resort to coathangers in a sticky situation.

There was a lot of back and forth, up and down. He had me knock on the wall when he first drilled down from above, then came down and could not hook the rod. So he went back up to the attic and I tried to get the rod as he wiggled and pushed it around from above. So frustrating! The second time, I could get my fingers on it, but not grab it. I kept yelling “Pull it up! Pull!” so I could nick the end and bend it into the access, but he couldn’t hear me. He eventually got it with his customized coathanger tool (after I bent the other end into a 90-degree angle, since the hook was too… hooky). He also borrowed a tape measure for a while, to check the offset from the corner wall, and a stepladder.

I offered him our fish spool and a jingle bell, too. We had good luck with that when we were getting the speaker wire to cross the family room. He declined, and so did not get to experience the whimsical joy of hearing a jingle bell clunking around inside the wall (admittedly, this would not have been practical with all the insulation in there today).

At last, success! He gave me this look over his shoulder, like “You thought I couldn’t do it” and pulled it into the room. It was a triumphant moment for him.

Once the line was in, it had to be tested, which was a problem, because no signal, oopie. Back to the cable hub thing, which is apparently infested with wasps, and at that point the second guy showed up. The installer left the house to make a call, and very quickly, there was a second truck in the drive. Must have been nearby doing another installation (probably not one of ours), as he helped with testing the line connection at the house end and calling out numbers when he started getting a signal. Whew. Then the modem(s) were hooked up – there’s a data one, and a voice one that has a battery that will apparently act like a UPS. If we lose power, though, I won’t be too worried about not being able to use that phone. The “test” phone I brought in normally lives in the basement in case of power failures – it’s directly plugged into the phone line, so no auxiliary power needed.

There were a few more tests of both the data and the voice part of the connection, during which I learned that cable guys have to listen to the same annoying hold music we do when they call in to do a line test (although they probably don’t have to wait on hold as long as we do).

I don’t know when I get the rest of my gear and “come home” permanently, but probably not before the end of the month. There’s a new computer base to be set up, including all my files and even my programmable keys, and there’s a special phone/headset gadget. This all has to be hooked up correctly, and we’ll be getting training on that.

And the result is, I have a desk, a data and voice connection, a chair (which still needs to be adjusted), and some debris to tidy up. Note paper coat hanger cover, which came out of our closet. All that in a little over two hours; given the challenges the house offered, I’m surprised he got it done today at all (although a second tech came over to lend a hand).

My husband David had been worried about his servers losing connection – a lot of people depend on his archives to get information about techniques for programming in his world. But we never lost connectivity (and believe me, this was weird to the cable guy, that we already had our own business-grade connection).

Cable plate entering via the wall

At least this part is done; two of my teammates are already home, and two more besides me had installations recently but are still coming in to the office until we get our gear and our “go-home” dates. So I’ll wait and see what happens next.

I’m planning on getting some kind of tea tray in there – have electric kettle and selection of teas – so that other than lunch time I’m in good shape for beverages during my work day. I’m looking forward to this, and also to decorating the wall behind my desk with pictures I took on some of our trips. Maybe I’ll blog a gallery selection later.

Sitting All Day? Head-To-Toe Tips For A Healthier Workstation – The Huffington Post

By now we’re sure you know that sitting all day isn’t doing your health any favors.
Spending too much time seated at a desk has been linked to all sorts of negative health effects, like an increased risk of diabetes, cancer and, yes, even death.

Link: Sitting All Day? Head-To-Toe Tips For A Healthier Workstation – The Huffington Post

Dusting It Off, Coff Coff

Yes, yes, Ginny Who? here.

It’s been a busy and eventful few months since our vacation in Hawaii… whoa, really. There’s a lot going on in the family (can’t blog about that) and there’s a lot going on at Holy Moly (hey, Faddah Manny is our vicar now!).

My husband David had a little contretemps with a local streetlamp the other day while riding his bike, and now sports a nifty scrape on one of his legs. He pointed the lamppost out tonight on our way back from dinner with his brother Dan and said “That’s the lamppost. I’m plotting my insidious revenge.” It’s something to do with pink paint and humiliations galore.

My new computer is running pretty, okay really quite REALLY REALLY well after I stepped back from the latest nVidia driver – I was getting something called the “Pink Screen of Death” when I’d finish watching a YouTube video or log off of Second Life and had run across references to a driver conflict on a support page. So that’s all good and fine, and I hope to be doing more regular blogging and stuff inworld and outworld again.

I tried to get the old Express App working with the Woo Tumblog plugin – this is just so I can easily blog links and photos and quotes from my iPhone, all of which are possible but not easy with the “official” WordPress app for iPhone. However, the instructions for getting it working don’t relate at all to the structure of the NomNom theme I now use (and lurve, lurve, lurve).

The church website at Holy Moly looks great, needs some updating with some content stuff Faddah Manny sent me – we’ve got videos now! I’ll be doing some better graphics on the main page; what I have now was a stopgap from back when I was under… some design constraints from above (not from Above, just… above).

Family stuff… well, things proceed with all deliberate speed (both happy things and sad things). That’s about all I can say about that. David’s diabetes ride training is going pretty well except for the evil lamppost incident, and I’m coughing my head off with a stupid spring cold that’s settled into an annoying barking hackfest. Am now on prescription meds that have worked in the past to head off the dreaded “bronchitis that does not quit even for summer, nyah nyah.”

It started a week ago Sunday, suddenly; I thought it was allergies because I’d been dusting and fooling around emptying the Roomba, because I just started coughing, sneezing, and had runny nose and eyes. Nope, it was a cold. I even stayed home for 3 days last week.

Speaking of staying home, next week I’ve got the week off, and toward the weekend, I’ll be… heh heh, blogging from a magical kingdom. And later in the summer, if things go well, I’ll start working from home (using the smallest bedroom as a home office).

Whee! Well, I’m hoping that it’ll mean that some of my “allergy triggers” from the poor air circ at work will be a thing of the past. The room has a real, openable window, and a ceiling fan. So, YAY! At least during reasonable weather, fresh air won’t be a problem. And during winter and summer, there won’t be the stuffy “bad air” triggers that have been getting worse and worse for me at work the last few years.

If the technology can be installed properly (the internal structure of the house might make the install tricky), it’s going to be really great. One of my co-workers is already working from home and loves it (another co-worker actually relocated to Phoenix and kept her same position and team, she REALLY loves it).

That’s about all there is to that. This is the public knowledge part, anyway, and I don’t know much more about it than the bare bones. Looking forward to it and hoping that there won’t be any hitches or glitches.

United Airlines to ax Oakland service

Well, if it was a loser, what took them so long? I don’t know how this will affect my team’s account, but it’s possible there will be changes for them.

I rarely book anybody to/from Oakland now, but used to when my main account was a large retail outfit. I expect Southwest and their low fares are a big reason for United’s losses.

United Airlines will shut down its operation at Oakland International in June. The airline connects Oakland to its Denver hub, but those flights will operate for the last time June 3.

Link: United Airlines to ax Oakland service