Category Archives: Administrative

The Calm Before The Storm

The shutters and plywood are back up, except for one patio door that lets us get out to the grill and pool. We’ll cover it tomorrow, as the winds start to develop.

But there’s no wind tonight, and a three-quarter moon, waning. The temperature is pleasant. There’s no hint that there’s a monster lurking three hundred miles away, preparing to wreak havoc on us (or more hopefully, at least for us, those north of us) on the morrow.

The winds should pick up in the morning, and we’ll have to check the storm track to see if it’s going to continue on its present path toward the counties north of us, including the Cape, or take a bad (again, for us) turn toward us, in which case we’ll have to decide whether to stay or run from the flood waters. The winds don’t concern us per se, but we don’t want to have to be in a position in which we’re seeking higher ground within the house, and running out, with the only alternative to get outside in hundred-knot winds.

For now, the forecast is encouraging for us (and proportionately discouraging for those north of us, who also took the brunt of Frances only two scant weeks ago). All the good wishes that you’ve sent to me, broadcast now to them. Unless, of course, the storm whimsically changes course yet again.

Light Bloviating Today

And perhaps the weekend, depending on the whims of Jeanne.

Hey, if it’s a weekend in southeast Florida, it must be time for a hurricane!

It looks very much like we’ll have to put the storm shutters and plywood back up, and prepare for a whole lot of shakin’, rain and wind goin’ on sometime in the next forty-eight hours. We filled the cars last night–the lines weren’t bad, but the Mobil I went to was already out of regular (didn’t matter, since the Bimmer takes high-test, though I cheat and only give it 89 octane, with nary a knock).

Off to the store this morning to get the last scraps of food, amidst the panicked hordes. We’re actually not in bad shape, since we restocked after Frances in anticipation of Ivan, who on his long excursion seems to have obligingly hit everyone in the southeast except us, and so we still have supplies on hand. We even still have a few bags of ice in the garage freezer. The main thing is perishables (I’d like to pick up a frozen roast and chicken, which serve as ice-chest coolers until they thaw, after which they can be thrown on the grill).

I’ve decided that this is one more reason to be unhappy with Florida living (not that I didn’t already have enough), but it probably is unusual.

I hope. I do know that I’m starting to get stressed out from hurricane fatigue.

Computer Problems Continue

Which is one of the reasons that blogging is light. I ordered a new motherboard that arrived today. It was the same as the one that failed (only thirty-six bucks plus shipping), so I figured it would be a painless swap.

Almost. It loads Windows, and then prompts me for name and password. Shortly thereafter, it bluescreens with a bunch of hex and a message:


The problem is with a file called portcls.sys

I tried reinstalling Windows, to no avail. I cannot get the system up. Does anyone have any theories? I’m wondering if it’s a memory problem, but I don’t have any spares of that type to test with.

[Update at 5 PM EDT]

Never mind.

I found the problem. It was some new audio de-vice on this version of the board, that I apparently installed the wrong driver for. I uninstalled it in safe mode, and got the machine up.

I should add that one of the things that added to this joyful computer experience was a relatively new keyboard on which the F8 key didn’t work…


That post title is a vague comic-strip rendition of the curse I emitted when, in attempting to get my machine to reboot after freezing, and getting only a series of long on/off beeps, and repeatedly removing and replacing the half meg of RAM in an attempt to get it working again, one of the end clips popped off the socket.

So much for that mobo.

I didn’t need this. I particularly didn’t need this after moving to Florida, thousands of miles from the nearest Fry’s. I even more particularly didn’t need this after considering that a new mobo will require a Windows reinstallation, and the disk is still packed away somewhere.

But I suppose this is a good excuse to finally finish unpacking office stuff, and attempt to organize it.

Fortunately, it’s not my only machine, but it does have some data on the drive that I’d like access to pronto.

Anyone know a good place to buy a motherboard in Boca Raton and environs? I haven’t noticed any computer places here that hold a candle to Fry’s (or PC Club, or other similar places in California).



That’s half a gig, not half a meg of RAM. The machine isn’t that old.


We’ve got full power. The air conditioning is on, we have hot water, I’ve got my computer network back up, and I don’t need to run my laptop and DSL modem off my car battery to get on line. We’re doing a huge backlog of laundry.

I was afraid that it would take much longer than this, because there are still many in south Florida with no power at all, and I didn’t think that there would be any priority for people who at least had lights. Fortunately, one of the trucks from the Cincinnati power company that are among the many from other states helping out drove down our street, and had a spare transformer for us.


The power just came on, for the first time in five days.

Just in time to be knocked out by Ivan on Monday…

Time to shut down this jury-rigged laptop/car-battery setup and get the network back up.

[Update a few minutes later]

Good news: we have power.

Bad news: the air conditioner isn’t coming on. I’ve checked the breaker, and it’s closed. Any ideas?

[Update at 5:30 PM EDT[

Since the AC was working before the storm, and we turned it off before it hit, while we still had electricity, I’m guessing that there’s nothing wrong with it. My working hypothesis right now, based on other flaky behavior of other appliances (I still can’t work the internet off the house power–I’m plugged back into the car again), is low voltage. I measured out at the fuses of the air conditioner, and it was lower there than it was one of the 110 sockets in the house (I think that it’s supposed to be 240). The neighbors are having similar brownout issues. It may be that we’re only getting voltage on half the line.

At least we have light now, and ceiling fans. We’ll see if the fridges get cold.

Checking In, Tentatively

OK, I’m blogging from the house now. I’ve got a power converter plugged into the cigarette lighter of the car, and am running my laptop, DSL modem and wireless router off it. I’ll have to go out periodically to start the car to keep its battery charged.

It turns out that I could have done this yesterday (and Monday, too), but when I tried it then, I couldn’t get a DSL connection. Today it occurred to me that in an attempt to get phone service, someone may have plugged in a phone that didn’t require AC power, and forgot to use a microfilter. Sure enough, that was the problem. Once I fixed it, I got a steady light on the DSL.

Anyway, I’m sort of back in business, with a telecon this afternoon for some consulting, and I have a computer again, for now. There’s no word on when we’ll get power back here, but with our recent luck, I suspect that it will be just in time to knocked out by Ivan (the Terrible?) this weekend.

Time to go out and restock the water supply.

Checking In, Temporarily

Thanks to Bill for updating all y’all yesterday (see, I’m starting to pick up the local lingo here, except that it should actually be New Yorkese, not redneck).

I’ve a lot to tell, but not a lot of time to tell it, because we still don’t have power, or internet. I’m posting this from Patricia’s trailer at the Tri-Rail project, which obviously had higher priority for power restoration. Much of Boca Raton remains without electricity. As Bill said, the house is fine. We have telephone and water, but no power. I hooked up a power converter from the car to the DSL modem, and we don’t have connectivity to the net, else I’d be blogging from home via the car battery.

We lucked out, because the storm both weakened and hit north of us, eliminating any risk of flooding from the surge. We have a few shrubs broken, but are otherwise unscathed. However, we will keep most of the shutters and plywood up until we see what the ultimate disposition of Ivan will be.

In short, we dodged a bullet, but we may not be so lucky next time, and our hearts go out to those who were hit much harder to the north.

Much more when we get power and bandwidth.

Frances Update

Hi, I’m Bill Simon, webmaster of Transterrestrial Musing. I have just spoken with Rand and I want to let you know that Rand and Patricia are doing okay in the aftermath of Hurricane Frances. There was minimal wind damage to their home and no flooding. I am writing this because, as of this post, they are still without power and have no estimate as to when it will be back on. As such Rand’s computers are down. The house is still boarded up, however, as they keep an eye on Ivan.

That’s it for now. Rand will post as soon as he gets a chance.

OK, Really Outta Here This Time

We’ve got a room west of I-95 in Del Rey, for three nights. On the current track, the storm will be coming in late tomorrow and Saturday, though the initial bands will probably appear sometime tomorrow morning. Our biggest concern in the house is storm surge, so I’m packing up computers and other documents to take. There’s an 8 PM curfew, so we need to get everything over there before then.

I’ll check back as soon as I can.