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Mar 1, 2012 - Daily life, Random, Sucks    No Comments

Happy New Year, me

I’ve decided that today is the first day of 2012. Yup. The first two months were pretty horrid – new year itself wasn’t that great, then my mom and dad left to go back to SA, and then I just felt down for a while. Also, I was busy recovering from being hit in the face by a ski lift just before Christmas. I was just getting my mojo back when we went to Italy for a weekend for a friend’s birthday/skiing trip, and I had a bad fall while snowboarding and dislocated my shoulder. On top of that, a week later, I started having really terrible stomach pains, and spent more than a week in bed. The doctor reckons it was a bout of hepatitis.

So. My shoulder is feeling a lot better though still a little sore and weak, and I’m still tired from the hepatitis, but instead of hating 2012 as a whole, I’ve decided to give January and February the finger and say “Happy New Year, me” today.

Please, universe, let that be the end of it?


Ups and downs

So, wow, yesterday was a day of ups and downs!

It started off really well with Cabhán sleeping all the way to after 7am before he woke up for his morning bottle, and he went back to sleep again afterwards while I showered, got dressed and left for work.

Every morning for this week and next, I have a meeting at 10am with some others from our group for a particular analysis that we are working on. There is an ATLAS workshop coming up in two weeks at SLAC which we want to present some results yet, so a bunch of us are working solidly now to get some good results. It’s good to be working under pressure like this, and I’d made nice progress on Minday, and I hit the ground running so I was able to show some nice plots at the meeting. We went through them and I had a list of things to do that I knew I could complete by the end of the day, so I could show the results on Wednesday.

So far so good.

I then got an email from Standard Bank, which really annoyed me, and I replied. (Still no response, by the way).

On top of the Standard Bank email, I had another rather frustrating one about UJ paying invoices from cern, and how we need to split invoices to go to separate funders but this cant be done by UJ (some South African act to reduce corruption that is coded into the UJ accounting system). It’s something we need to figure out, and we are hitting up against brick walls on either side, so we need to figure out how to get around it and which ultimately means more work for us. Well, just one of those things.

I got a third email then, which was good news – the school we went to look at two weeks ago has officially offered Cabhán a place in their nursery!! It is a wonderful school, and he will start in November. (I will write more about the school later).

I made some minor changes to my code that we discussed at the earlier meeting, then went to eat my lunch as my tummy was cramping.

After I’d got some food, around 1pm, I finally got stuck into my “to-do list” for the analysis we’re working on. I added in a bunch of new plots I wanted to make. Compile, run, look at output, and then was like “WTF” because four completely unrelated plots had changed, and I couldn’t figure out why.

I missioned for three hours trying absolutely everything to get them back to what they used to look like – even went back to what the code was doing before, to no avail. I had absolutely no idea why these plots looked different.

Then I got another email.

When we moved in we had to provide a monetary guarantee on the apartment. This is a deposit of 3 months rent – so just less than 6000 CHF (over R 50 000). Instead of paying this directly, if the regie approves you can pay another company a hundred or so CHF per year, and they write the “guarantee” for you. When we signed the lease the regie said we could do this, so we signed up and paid. Today, we heard that the regie has now decided that we’re not viable for this because of the type of residence permits we have. So basically please can we pay the 6000 CHF directly to them now. We’re going to see if we can sort out the problem.

By this time I walked outside because I was just about in tears. I emailed back asking for some clarification, and cc’d Chris, who thankfully wrote back to me all positive and proactive, because if he had got mad and upset as well I really think I would have just crawled into a hole at cern and stayed there.

This calmed me down a bit, so I decided to look at the code again, and I finally felt, well, there must be something completely ridiculous and pathetic that I wasn’t seeing.

I asked David – one of the post docs in our group – if I could run it by him, because I know usually what you need is a fresh brain to be like – oh, here you go. And that’s just what happened. It turned out that I’d forgotten about one of the minor changes I’d made before lunch, and so I was comparing two plots that were actually the same, only I had changed their axes.

I had just wasted 3 hours trying to fix a problem that wasn’t even there. Complete brain fail, right there, and I felt like such a tit.

So at least I got that stupid thing sorted out, only I wasted a couple of hours on it which I am now behind on.

At this point it was almost 5, I was frustrated, a tad upset, and basically just had enough of the day. I decided I would head home and take Cabhán to a park to let him run around and play and explore, and just to let me have a little bit of different perspective on life.

There was a lovely view of Mont Blanc when I walked outside, which made me feel a bit better.

When I got home Cabhán had just woken up and was, well, miserable (he hadn’t slept enough). But I managed to get his bag packed, and took along some spaghetti for him for dinner, and headed off with him to the park.

I took him to Meyrin’s Moon Base, which we hadn’t been to before. It’s in a park on top of a hill, and besides the trees surrounding it, it really looks like a moon base. There are nice climbing frames which Cabhán enjoyed exploring, and the ground is gravel stones which adds to the moon-iness, though there aren’t any benches for parents to sit on. Spot the Cabhán:

Enjoying his view out from the “spaceship”

Since there wasn’t much in the way of seating, I took him across the road to Jardin Alpin to have his dinner. He got so excited at seeing another playground that he refused to eat any food when I tried to feed it to him. Eventually after 20 minutes and a grand total of 3 spoons of food that mostly went on his face I just gave up and left the bowl and spoon on the table. He promptly grabbed the spoon and shoveled 3 or 4 spoonfuls into his mouth as if he hadn’t eaten for days (monster)! Since he was already a mess I just let him feed himself the rest of his meal himself, occasionally helping so that the spaghetti didn’t slide off the spoon. He also tried to eat it out of the bowl but I don’t think the results were as fast as he would have liked.

Eventually I managed to clean him up and get him heading back home. We stopped for a brief look at the ducks, geese and goats that are also there, and then headed back home. Cabhán had his bath and went happily off to bed, and Chris cooked the most wonderful dinner of duck breast medallions in a red wine & foie gras sauce, with rosti, which was wickedly divine and rich.

So the day ended on a high after all.

 


Sep 6, 2011 - Life in SA, Sucks    7 Comments

Dealing with a bunch of idiots (yes I’m talking to you, Standard Bank)

I got an(other) email from Standard Bank (my South African bank) today which really pissed me off.

When you try to do a payment or make a change to your profile or something via internet banking, they send you a once-off pin number that lasts only 15min and you have to enter… it helps to avoid scams, etc. Fine. The problem is that this was set up to go to my cellphone in SA, which I no longer have. So I had to get it changed.

Luckily my dad took over my phone, so we were able to skype over the weekend, and I was able to update my profile (by going onto internet banking and doing ABC) to send me these pins via email. I got a confirmation email, so I know the email address was correct, and it wasn’t being trapped by the spam filter. Sweet.

Monday morning comes, and I try to do a payment. The system says it’s sent me a pin via email, only nothing arrives.

*sigh*

I send their internet banking support team bunch of fools an email detailing the problem, telling them I’m overseas and cannot come in to a branch which is often a default solution for them, and asking what has happened to my emails with my pin.

I get a response later in the afternoon from a guy whose “pleasure it was to advise me regarding my pin query”. He then goes into great detail explaining the steps I need to take to deactivate the pin facility. Which was not what I had asked.

I reply saying that I don’t want to deactivate my pin, I just want to find out why the emails aren’t coming through.

Today I received an email back (from a different guy), apologising for the inconvenience.

And then, he proceeds to tell me to kindly note that pins can be sent via email or sms, and details the method to follow on the website to switch from one to the other.

The method that I followed on Sunday, and have since told them twice, and which is completely irrelevant to my question about where my pin email was.

At this point I had had enough.

I really just need someone to say either “I can see that our system has sent you a pin, at such-and-such a time, to such-and-such email address”, or “It seems that the system has not sent you a pin”. So I know whether the problem is on my side or theirs. Is that really so bloody hard?

It was obvious that whomever it was hadn’t actually read what I had written on my email, or if they had then sorry for them because they really need to go back to school and do a grade 2 course on English comprehension.

If there’s one thing that pisses me off, it’s not reading/listening and going off in a direction that is completely orthogonal to the issue at hand. I mean, it’s quite funny when you’re chatting about crap with friends/family at a party on the weekend when everyone’s a little bit drunk. During business hours when you need to sort out a problem, not so much.

I sent a reply, written with one sentence per line just in case the person who read it can only handle one concept at a time (if you can’t handle a minimum of one per line then really you should be in a facility somewhere where you do arts and crafts all day).

Dear …
Is anybody actually reading the emails that I am writing???
know that the OTP can be sent via SMS or email.
I want it via email, I do not want it via sms.
I have already changed it, via the process you mentioned, to receive OTP via email.
I received a confirmation email, sent to my email address, so I know that the address is entered correctly.
However, when I try to do a payment, I do not get an email with my OTP.
I want somebody there to figure out WHY I AM NOT GETTING MY OTP VIA EMAIL.
Regards, Claire

Really, if I am not being clear, please let me know.

I have yet to receive a reply.


Aug 23, 2011 - Sucks    12 Comments

Very sad face

I just realised today, that on the phone I lost, along with all the photos, was the memo where I had written down all of Cabhán’s milestones on… Things like, first steps, first chocolate, etc… all those special dates, gone.

It is my own fault for not backing it up, but I am still crying as I sit here at my desk.


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