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text 2018-08-15 20:30
Pole Setting Crew Has Arrived

Jackhammer crew was here for 2.5 hours.  Moby barked for the first two hours and last 15 minutes.


Pole setting crew just drove in.  I had a chat with the foreman, and learned that there were even MORE errors on this project than were revealed yesterday.


1.  The map used to identify locations for the poles-to-be-replaced was incorrect.  It showed my electric service coming from a non-existent pole at the back of the property connected to a pole on the street behind it, which is where the transformer is located.  (See #4 below.)


2.  The streets were all misidentified on the map.  My account and property had the correct address but was actually marked on the wrong street on the map.


3.  The email notice that was sent -- twice -- had the wrong information regarding outages.  Accounts without email contact information -- like Patti's -- aren't always contacted by phone, because . . . . . they just aren't.


4.  The pole that's being replaced today does not have a transformer on it.  The pole with the transformer that serves both my property and the house next door is at the front of my property.  Under normal circumstances, it should have been replaced at the same time as the other OR BEFORE.  Because of a whole bunch of other errors, this pole isn't scheduled for replacement right away, but will be . . . . . eventually.  There are possibilities for more screw-ups when that is scheduled.


Supposedly, all the corrections have now been made, but I'm not holding my breath.


5.  Because I was told there would be an outage this morning, I didn't even try to do any real work.  I was informed by this second crew that the information I was given yesterday about an outage was completely wrong.  There was no reason why I should have been told there would be an outage, as there was no way the pole being replaced "somewhere else" would affect me.  It's a transformer pole, like the one at the front of my property.  The one that was replaced "somewhere else" serves other customers, not me.


So I wasted the whole morning when I could have been doing other things without fear of an outage.


BF is out of the house for the rest of the day until mid afternoon.  He offered to treat to dinner out tonight, and I'm not arguing.  My brain and nerves are SHOT.


The hole before jackhammering.



The hole after jackhammering.



The rocks in the foreground are probably in the 30-pound range, though I didn't even try to pick one up.  The one half buried in dirt is . . . . larger.

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text 2018-08-14 23:33
Why is communication so fucking difficult? (Long rant, off topic, frustrated)

This is one of those TL/DR rants.


Background --


Several months ago, the local power company Salt River Project ("SRP") showed up in my yard unannounced around 9:00 a.m.  Fortunately, we had just brought the dogs in, or they might have got out and who knows what would have happened.  There had been no notice at all from SRP, none.  No postcard in the mail, no email, no notice with the monthly bills.  It should be noted here that I have two separate accounts for this property, so I get two distinct paper bills.  One is for the house and workshop, the other for the studio.  So there were two opportunities for SRP to notify me of this planned intrusion.




The visit, as I learned after several phone calls and a 45 minute in person meeting with the supervisor, was to document whether the existing wooden power pole was due for replacement.  The pole had been installed in 1985/86; they take a lot of abuse from our severe hot weather. 


During my conversation with the supervisor, Greg, I learned that there should have been notices but he didn't know how or when they were sent out.  Interestingly enough, he gave me a door hanger card in bright golden orange that contained all the pertinent information, including his phone number.  I asked why one of these cards hadn't been hung on my gate, or even on my front door.


He didn't know.


::rolls eyes::


The determination was made, on the basis of in-person inspection as well as photographic evidence, that indeed the pole needed to be replaced after 30+ years.  That project would be scheduled "later," and I would receive advance notice.


This altered how we handled letting the dogs out during the day, since we really didn't trust SRP very much.  We even talked about going back to locking the inside gate, though this creates an additional inconvenience on top of the existing inconvenience of opening and closing the gate every time one of us leaves or comes in.  Plus, we would have to add locks to the two walk-through gates.


Last week, without any notice at all, SRP showed up and dropped off not one but TWO replacement power poles.  They unloaded them by the side of the road -- I ought to go out and take photos -- and marked them with traffic cones so no one would drive into them.  A few days later, I received an email notifying me that a crew would be out to replace the existing pole, within a window of "the week of August 15" and "between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m."


In other words, either leave the property totally accessible during that entire window, or sit around and wait for them to show up.


Now, if both of us worked outside the home, this would present a problem. Would we be expected to just leave the property accessible and not even know if/when someone would show up?


(When I spoke today with "Cristina" the scheduler, she kind of didn't quite understand that.)


Anyway, last Thursday I called one of the numbers on the door hanger card that Greg had given me.  I left a detailed message as to why I was calling -- I wanted some advance warning on when the crew was going to be out to replace the pole.  "Noelle" called me back and said she understood my needing a better schedule than just sometime next week.  She would get with the scheduler and call me back.


She never did.


Over the weekend, BF and I decided that it might not be a bad idea to go ahead and start locking all the gates, especially when both of us are gone.  We happened to have three padlocks in the workshop, all of which opened with the same key.  And we had the three keys for them.  So Saturday morning, locks went on all the gates.  It's a major inconvenience, but we felt it was necessary.


Nothing happened yesterday.  No phone call from SRP, nothing.


This morning (Tuesday) I received another email, virtually identical to the one I received last week.  I read through it to see if there were any more specific information, and there was not.  I still had received no return call from the scheduler after last week's conversation.


I had no errands to run today.  I had a lot of little chores around the house, including laundry.


At 10:29, the phone rang.  I don't answer it if I don't recognize the number.  A minute or so later, the phone beeped to let me know there was a voice mail.  Because most of the 25-second voice mails I get are from scam IRS calls, I almost didn't listen to this one.  But I did, and it was from the SRP crew letting me know they were on their way and would be here in 10 minutes.


I wasn't fully dressed.  I could have been in the shower.  I could have been not at home.


I barely had time to throw on some clothes, grab my keys, and go out to unlock the gate.  I chewed the guy out for the short notice and almost sent him packing, but it really wasn't his fault.


Now, remember when I said they dropped off two replacement poles last week?  Well, it turns out they're not going to replace both of the poles on my property.  The second new pole, according to the crew leader, was to go "on the back" somewhere.  He didn't know exactly where.


I told him there are no poles on the back of my property.  There are no power lines back there.  This didn't seem to bother him.


As it turned out, however, is crew wasn't going to actually replace the pole or poles.  They were only there to drill the hole into which the new pole would be dropped.


I asked him when that was going to be.


He didn't know.


So now here I am faced with ANOTHER potential interruption at some unknown point in the future.


I got on the phone again.  I had to leave a message with "Noelle," and it wasn't easy because by this time the crew had driven in through the gate and Moby was barking his very loud head off incessantly.  (He did that until they left an hour later.)


A short while later, Cristina called me back.  She was very nice, very sympathetic.  She apologized that I didn't get more notice.  I went through the whole timeline of what had happened.


She now gave me yet another version of what's going on. 


Yes, there are two poles to be replaced.  One is on my property, the other is "somewhere else."  There will be a separate crew to install the poles.  My power will be off after they replace the pole on my property and the power lines are switched from the old pole to the new one.  This will take two to three hours, but because it's summer, SRP guarantees that it will be NO LONGER than three hours.


What do they do if they can't finish in three hours?  Well, Cristina didn't know.


She asked, however, if 24 hours notice would be sufficient for me, and I told her yes that would be great.


A short while later, she called back and said she had talked to "Glenn," whose crew would be installing the poles.  He had another installation to do tomorrow morning, so would noon tomorrow (Wednesday) be good for me?  I told her that would be fine, as I had nothing scheduled for Wednesday at all.  I'd make arrangements for the power being off in the afternoon.


I also told her that in the event that weather -- always a consideration around here during monsoon season -- altered the schedule, I would be less flexible on Thursday and not at all flexible on Friday.  (I did not tell her that BF might be here and able to handle gate minding duties, because he wasn't home at the time so I couldn't confirm anything with him anyway.)


During all this time, the crew was still working out there with their big drill/auger, their huge truck filling the entire driveway.  Moby was still barking.


I had tried to convey the essentials to BF via text while all this was going on.  He finally returned from his morning socializing around 11:30.  Whether the crew had moved their big truck before then or not, I don't know.  But BF came in and said there was a problem.


::rolls eyes::


The auger had encountered too many rocks and couldn't finish the hole.


The property is literally at the base of a mountain.  There are rocks EVERYWHERE.



This is the "retaining wall" along my driveway that terraces the slope between my yard and my neighbor's.  It's roughly 18 inches high.  All the rocks here, and all the rocks in her yard, are from the ground here.  We have very little soil.  We have lots of rocks.  Some of them are pretty good sized.  They're everywhere, they're everywhere.


Why the crew didn't come prepared to encounter rocks is beyond me.  They informed BF, however, that their auger wasn't going to be able to complete the hole.  They were going to have to come back in the morning. . . . .




They wanted to know what was a good time.  I said 9:00 a.m.


Now, remember that there is another pole to be installed somewhere else.  The crew leader didn't know where.


When BF told me this -- I didn't talk to the crew leader myself -- I took it upon myself to call Cristina at SRP and let her know, just in case this was going to affect the installation of my pole scheduled for noon tomorrow.


Needless to say, NO ONE had notified her of the delay in drilling the hole.


Even so, she didn't think it would make much difference.  So the Wednesday noon installation was still on.


I then began explaining some of the other relevant details to BF regarding how the wires would actually be moved, and so on, and that I would have to notify the cable company to get their act together so they can move their wires from the old pole to the new one, after which I would then notify SRP that they can remove the old pole.


It was at that point that I realized my neighbor, Patti, also has wires attached to that pole.  She also has a landline phone.  Not knowing if she had been notified, I thought I'd be neighborly and check with her.




She didn't know anything about the wires.  She's 80 or 81, a widow whose husband took care of everything.  "I don't understand that stuff.  Ernie took care of it and I don't know anything about where the wires are or what they do."


Despite the temperature being in the upper 90s, I agreed to meet her out at the fence to take a look at the pole.


For some reason or other, the power lines for both of our houses come from the street to a pole at the front of my property, then from that pole to the one that's being replaced.  But even though my house was moved in two years before Patti's, my lines from the "inside" pole are then buried, where hers are strung from the top of the pole to the house.  (Very likely this is why she has more problems with her service than I ever have, but that's neither here nor there.)  She also has her landline phone strung from pole to house.  (She has a cell phone for emergencies but doesn't trust it.  She doesn't trust anyone or anything.)


Patti has no computer, refuses to have one.  (She doesn't trust them, either.  Someone could get her bank information and steal all her money.)  But she does have a phone and an answering machine, and she is very diligent about answering the answering machine.


I asked her if she had received any notification from SRP about this pole replacement and related power outage.


She had received none.


I explained everything to her, including that the power would be out for about two to three hours starting at noon tomorrow.  She said she has a doctor's appointment in the morning but would be home by noon.


I then came back in the house and called Cristina again to let her know that my neighbor hadn't been notified.  Cristina insisted there was no one else affected by this pole.  I said I was just outside and looked at it with Patti, and there is no question that her power line and my power line are on the same pole.  How is that mine will be out, but hers won't?


Cristina began looking. She had my address, XX77 East (street name, which is no big secret).  She asked what Patti's address was.  I told her it was XX55, right next door to me.  I gave her Patti's name, her full name, her late husband's name.


Cristina had no record of Patti at that address.  Could the account be in someone else's name?  She suggested a name, which she had on her records as being at that address.  But I informed her that Patti only has one son, so the last name would be the same, and no other relatives.


By now I was starting to lose what little faith I had had in Cristina.  She's supposedly looking AT A MAP of the properties that shows where the poles are to be replaced.  She has identified my property ON THE MAP.  But Patti isn't there?


I explained to Cristina that Patti is elderly and this isn't her area of expertise.  How could SRP possibly have failed to notify someone of a pending outage?


Well, Cristina explained, SRP sends out letters and then they follow up with email.


I told her -- again -- that Patti doesn't have email. 


Well, Cristina said, maybe she had an email on file at one time.


No, I told her.  Patti has NEVER had a computer, NEVER had email.  She has a cell phone she won't give anyone the number to because it's only for emergencies, and she has a landline.


Well, Cristina asked, does she have an answering machine?


Yes, and she checks it religiously.  "She never got a phone call from you."  I even gave Cristina Patti's phone number to see if she had it in her records.  She didn't.


She had no record of Patti at all.


Starting to lose my temper, I said, "So this elderly lady would have been just sitting there minding her own business at noon  tomorrow, probably sitting down to have her lunch, and her power would have gone off and she would have had no warning?"


That's when Cristina informed me that . . . . .


My power is going to go off at 9:00 a.m., not noon.  It will go off when the OTHER pole, the one we don't know the location of, is replaced.


That's not what she had told me before.  That's not what anyone had told me before.


I had always been told that my power -- and of course Patti's as well as anyone else who might be on the same pole -- would go off when MY pole was replaced and MY lines were transferred to the new pole.


Oh, no, that's not how it works, Cristina said.  The power will go off when the OTHER pole is replaced and the lines are transferred.


At this point, BF is standing there making gestures like he wants to butt in.  I ask Cristina to hold on for a minute and BF butts in.


"The guy who was digging the hole told me the power will be off when they replace the pole here," he says.


"The pole they're digging the hole for that they need the jackhammer for?" I asked.


"Yes," he confirmed.


"Not the other pole that we don't know where it is?"


He shook his head.  "Not the other pole.  They don't know anything about that one."


Okay, put everything on pause for a minute.


There are two new power poles lying on the ground by the side of the road in front of my property.  They were delivered last week.


One of those two poles is to replace the rotting, 30+ year old pole on my property.  The other is to go . . . somewhere else.


The guy who is going to install my pole at noon tomorrow is going to install the OTHER pole at this OTHER site before he installs mine.


The crew digging the holes for these poles does not know where the other pole goes, but it has to be installed before mine.


Are you getting a sense of FUBAR about this?  I certainly was.


So, back to real time.


I tell Cristina that it's a good thing this is all screwed up because if I hadn't called her back, I would have been under the impression -- which was given by everyone I had talked to -- that it was the replacement of my pole that would require the outage, NOT the replacement of this somewhere-or-other second pole.


By this point I was losing it.  I got off the phone with Cristina and called Patti next door to tell her she didn't exist, according to SRP's records.  I gave her Cristina's number so she could call and find out what was going on.


I actually asked BF if it was just me or if this was completely fucked up. 


He said it was completely fucked up.


A few minutes later, Patti called back.  More or less everything is now straightened out.  Sort of.


Cristina had my address correct.  She was looking at the map that had my address and my property on it, both listed correctly.  But when Patti called Cristina, Cristina realized she was looking at the wrong street!! 


Our street has a name, but most of the other parallel streets here only have numbers.  I could understand if she mixed up, say, 26th Street and 28th Street, which might look similar on a map.  BUT NOT A WORD AND A NUMBER.


But the change in times also mattered.  Patti has a doctor appointment tomorrow morning, and she worried that if the power was off while she wasn't home, it could come back on and blow out her circuit breakers and cause a fire.  Or that her alarm system would be off and someone would break in and rob her (in the middle of the day with neighbors watching).


Patti is very paranoid.


So she was going to cancel her doctor's appointment and reschedule.  Of course, if the planned pole replacement and power outage doesn't go as planned, I don't know what she'll do.


BF has a doctor appointment, too, tomorrow, and I have one on Friday.  Mostly there will be someone here during the normal SRP working hours one way or another.  But this has just become stupid and a half.


I have now lost almost all of today on this crap.  Some will say I should have just brushed it all off and done . . . . . something else.  No, not gonna happen.  This is the way I am.  I can't stand being forced to deal with gross incompetence.  What if there were essential medical devices that needed electricity?  What if I were working from home and had an important project going on the computer when suddenly the power went off?  Yes, these things happen unexpectedly, and we try to be prepared for them.  But there's no excuse when it's "planned maintenance" and no proper notice is given.


I hate stupid people.


I'm in a bad mood.





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text 2018-07-05 17:05
More photos!

This is the project that doesn't require any time outside or in the studio or in the workshop.  I can stay where it's cool!



This is labeled "Uncle Arthur's Summer Camp."  Taken early 1890s.


From the left:  George Joel Wheeler (1860-1911) was my grandfather's father.  Seated in the print dress Grandma Wheeler, Pamelia (Turner) Wheeler (1821-1903), was George's mother. Cousin Louis (in hat) is Louis Arthur Wheeler (1878-1960), my grandfather's cousin.  Uncle Arthur Leroy Wheeler (1851-1930) was George's brother. Aunt Sarah is Sarah (Crow) Wheeler (1854-1941), Arthur's wife and Louis's mother.  Nina Wheeler (1884-1968) was Louis's sister.  Mabel is Mabel Pamela Wheeler (1889-1968), George Joel's daughter.  She's my Great-aunt Mabel who compiled and labeled all the photos, my grandfather's older sister.  "Mother" is Mabel's mother, Alphronia (Drury) Wheeler (1865-1946), my great-grandmother.  Charles is Charles Joel Wheeler (1885-1941), Mabel's and my grandfather's older brother, and therefore my dad's uncle.  My grandfather wasn't born until 1901, so several years after this photo was taken.


Until I scanned this photo and began figuring out just who everyone was, I didn't realize that Pamelia Turner was in it.  Then when I put in the dates, I realized she was born almost 200 years ago! I have a spoon that, according to legend, she cut her teeth on, literally.  There are small dents in the bowl supposedly from her teeth.  It's badly tarnished and I should clean it up and seal it.  I was able to get a couple of fairly decent photos, including one with her name -- it's Pamelia, not Pamela -- engraved on the handle.  The metal is very soft and bends almost to the touch.  I don't know how it survived a baby's teething!



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text 2018-07-05 15:49
I was up ridiculously early

Weather forecast is calling for a high this afternoon of 112.  It wasn't even very cool at 4:30 a.m., but I decided to take advantage of the dogs' needing to go outside and spent about an hour in the studio.  I had two objectives.


One was to continue work on this major crafting project that I really want to finish before I leave for my little vacation in Seattle.  The project has reached the stage where it puts stress on my fingers and wrists if I work too long at one time, so I try to get in short sprints here and there.  It seems to be working, as I am seeing significant progress.


The second was to initiate another major project, but one that has no urgency.


There are all kinds of little bits of "stuff" scattered around the studio.  Stones and patterns and bits of fabric and notes on scraps of paper and tools and what-not.  I knew I had a good-sized rectangular roaster pan in the workshop what was perfect for this new project.  Once I washed it out and let it dry, I began collecting all these bits and scraps and what-nots into the pan for later sorting. . . and disposal.  Just in the process of collecting the stuff, I found a few things that ended up in the trash, where they should have gone months ago.


By the time I brought both myself and the dogs in the house roughly an hour later, I had accomplished my two objectives.  Neither project is finished, of course, but I'm well on the road.  However, in gathering up the odds and ends, I stumbled upon some truly ancient paperwork -- the manuscripts brought to the last meeting of my last real critique group, probably somewhere around 1994.


I knew some of them were out there, so this wasn't a shocking discovery.  What surprised me was how many of them I still had.  There are at least a dozen, maybe as many as 20.  I called on what little discipline I possess and resisted the temptation to sit down and read, so I didn't even go through the binder to see how many actual manuscripts were there, but it's a bunch.


With one exception, none of the writers in that particular critique group ever went on to be published as far as I know.  One of the books has been digitally published by the author on Amazon.  I picked it up for free a couple years ago when I recognized the plot line; the author used a pseudonym that I would never have recognized.  At the time, it had a few reviews, and most of the reviewers agreed with my original assessment: the story was cute but just too far-fetched to be believable.


I'm not sure that that particular manuscript is in the collection I found today.  If it is, it should have some interesting observations (mostly mine) written on it, because that implausibility was one of the main reasons the critique group never warmed up to this story.  I was distinctly reminded of it while I was reading Breaking the Rules the other day.


It's now going on 8:00.  I still have a ton of work to do before BF announces he's heading home from California, so I'd better get my butt in gear.  Old critique group manuscripts may be interesting, but chuckling over them won't pay the bills!

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text 2018-07-01 21:48
As the neck stiffens. . . . . .

Yesterday was not a good day.  I managed to push through the pain of a stiff neck to get a few things done, but it wasn't easy.


One medium-sized project is crossed off the list, completed.  Because it required an extended stint at the computer, I suspect that didn't do my stiff neck any good.


I continued to make progress on the family photo project as well.  It, too, requires substantial time at the computer, not only to crop individual photos from the pages they've been securely glued to, but to zoom in on faint penciled captions and then to decipher unfamiliar handwriting.


A large crafting project also contributes to the physical strain, but it's something I really need to finish and get out of the way.  It's taking up considerable space in the studio, for one thing.  For another, it's an item I sell fairly regularly both online and in bulk to a local retailer, so I need to keep a supply on hand.  After having let my stock dwindle to barely a dozen, I'm now working on replenishment, slowly but surely.  Again, it's something that requires some physical strain and I know that's part of what triggered the stiff neck.


I was tired last night and went to bed around 10:00, but woke up at 2:00 a.m. in excruciating pain.  Both sides of the back of my neck were screaming to the point that I had severe difficulty getting out of bed.  I thought about taking some ibuprofen, but I couldn't even push past the pain enough to get the bottle out of the cabinet or find a drink of water.  I collapsed back into bed.


When the dogs woke me at 4:30 to go outside, I was even worse.  I don't even know how I got out of bed, but I did.  The dogs would have stayed out longer, but I got them inside with a promise of cookies.  Before I fell back into bed, I did take some ibuprofen.  By the time I next woke up at 6:30, I could at least move without screaming aloud.  Yes, that's how bad it was.


I was able to take care of the major early-morning chore, which was to change out all the tumbler barrels and move the stones along on their weeks-long journeys to being polished.  Even though it's not a taxing job -- the barrels are small so they only weigh a couple pounds each -- I could feel the strain to my neck and shoulders.  I finished about 7:30, then headed once again for bed.


Though I hadn't really expected to sleep, I dozed off into dreamland and had a completely terrifying nightmare that my bottles of Levenger fountain pen ink had all been smashed to smithereens and my Ultra-Tec faceting machine stolen from the studio.  Fortunately, it was only a dream, and a beep from my phone alerting me to an incoming text message woke me up.  It was 10:15.  I could move without significant pain.




I got up and took more ibuprofen.


It's now early afternoon.  I have accomplished certain objectives for today, crossing a couple more small items off The List.  I logged into the public library's ebook system, intending to finish reading a non-fiction book I started several weeks ago, but something else popped up and I'm going to try a frothy little bit of fun.  I need a few hours without controversy and angst.

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