Sunday, April 17, 2016

Back to Basics

The return from our winter sojourn has been a blunt confrontation.  It's as though we've been back for weeks though it is but slightly more than twenty-four hours. We crossed the border (where I am pleased to report we had a very satisfactory encounter with an unusually pleasant Canadian border guard) and made a bee-line to home and by-passed the customary longer route which would have included a purifying car wash and grocery shopping. Our re-entry to the condo was (as frankly I had anticipated) instantly gratifying, re-uniting us with the serenity and gem tones of our familiar environment. There were no unsettling discoveries other than a note from our housekeeper regarding the malfunctioning of the aging vacuum cleaner.

We lugged our belongings from the car (which was shamefully stuffed) and immediately re-directed ourselves to the City where we first got the car washed, then scoped the new Cadillac CT6 at the dealership and finally re-connected with my elderly mother.  On our way home afterwards we stopped at a Vietnamese diner then proceeded to the grocery store to re-stock our neglected pantry.  The latter part of the evening was spent in a wasteful hour on the telephone with Bell Canada to attempt to resolve their failure to re-establish our WiFi and television services which we had commissioned them to do several days earlier. As usual we finally capitulated to have a technician attend today (which he did as scheduled and the problem appears to have been fixed).

Strengthened by a good night's sleep we attacked the surplusage of our closets and storage generally, a niggling task which has haunted us since we moved here two years ago.  We discarded and disposed of mountains of clothing and paper (excess from my former law practice). Meanwhile the re-establishment of WiFi precipitated endless back-up and updating of various computers (all told we have about eleven devices).

We've engaged in tepid re-connection with certain acquaintances.  We're in no rush to initiate social conventions  There remain the more compelling attendances with the accountant, dentist and physician.  I have yet to file all the paper I collected over the past five months.

So far our reconnection with home was singularly unceremonious and downright mundane.


Uninterrupted in our purpose, the next day started with similar vigorous prosecution, first to summarize and file the bundle of amassed documents, mostly stuff from banks, the financial advisor and Canada Revenue Agency. Some of it needed to be scanned and saved to our computers. That uninspiring duty effectively consumed two hours this morning.

At 11:30 a.m. I met with my contact at the Cadillac dealership and placed an order for an XTS identical to the one we have now.  The CT6 was out of sight financially (and frankly I prefer the XTS in any event). The order for the 2017 model cannot be placed for about a month and we should have delivery of it by the end of August.  So it looks as though we'll be driving it to New Brunswick when we go to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea for our autumnal holiday.  There are absolutely no plans to travel this summer.  At most we might wander as far afield as White Lake (Cedar Cove Resort), Ivy Lea Club, Gananoque and Kingston, a compassed limitation I am quite happy to observe.

After leaving the car dealership, I spent about half an hour on my mobile phone hunting down an iPhone SE ("Special Edition") which is the latest 4" device I've been eyeing since its recent release.  Actually I just measured it and it's closer to 4¾".  It would constitute utter tedium to recount the ensuing 3-hour marathon I had at the Bell store in Orleans to purchase the device.  I had called at least four other Bell stores in Ottawa but none of them stocked the 64G model I wanted. Only the store in remote Orleans had it.  Specifically they didn't have the black colour I wanted so I ended up settling for rose gold (a concession to my passion for bling I suppose). It is a miracle that I ended getting the device at all in view of the innumerable clerical obstacles at the Bell store.  But it's done now and I have spent a good deal of this evening adjusting to the new toy.

I have arranged a terribly modest social affair tomorrow. My favourite gal and I will cavort to Ottawa to visit my mother (whom of course I missed seeing today).

Now it's off to bed.  Hopefully I shall sleep.


I am unable to recollect when things started to go wrong with the iPhone SE. I suspect the problems evolved as I methodically made my way through the Settings.  In a nutshell what ensued were hours of conversation with ever-escalated members of the Apple Customer Care departments.  I became so agitated that I at last resolved simply to return the phone.  While Apple touts its "no hassle" return policy, because I had bought the phone at a Bell Canada store I was reportedly bound to deal with that retailer.  Someone at Bell had even told me I must deal with the exact point of sale, not just any Bell office.  Turns out, next day when I called a Bell store nearby in Kanata, the clerk there advised I could exchange the phone at her office rather than have to travel to Orleans on the other side of Ottawa.  Although this was incredibly good news, even after I got the new replacement phone I was still having very much the same problems as before.  Again I spent an entire afternoon talking to ever-escalated member of Apple Service, from Ottawa to California.  The California Apple office has additionally escalated the matter to their engineering department and we have re-scheduled a telephone conference on Friday at 4:00 pm.


Overnight - perhaps with the luxury of time and the concomitant benefit of complete downloading and uploading of the new phone - things appear (and I use that word both hesitatingly and cautiously) to have settled down.  What made the whole drama the more disturbing was that the problems on the iPhone rippled through to the MacBook Pro and the iPad.  I had a foot in three rivers as we attempted to navigate the seemingly circular error messages.

I suppose I should now know after all these years that every time I get a new device (or car for that matter) problems can be expected.

The final refinement in our readjustment to native living has been the re-installation of the Bose mini sound system in the living area and setting up the Harman Kardon mini sound system in the bedroom.  It has been a wrestling match to tame these computing devices and associated WiFi and internet connections.


I won't feel I've put the lid on this account until I report as well that today - Thursday following our Saturday return - marks the first day here that we recommenced our ritual bicycling.  As you might expect we chose the same route (along Country Street, down Rae Road, back on the 8th Line Ramsay and down the hill by the Town Hall) for our daily exercise.  While it sounds pusillanimous to say so, the "hills" are an evident alteration from our recent sea-level jaunts.  The round is however less enduring than our regular 2-hour outing on the beach.  We consumed a mere 45 minutes roughly from start to finish (though we interrupted our journey to chat with two different people whom we hadn't seen since last autumn, catching up on as much news and gossip as possible).

Though of course I am delighted to have begun the exercise routine again, I confess I derive more than considerable solace from (apparently) having resolved what transpired late this morning as additional problems with my new iPhone SE.  What developed was a palpable and highly identifiable problem connecting to the internet.  Specifically, the APP store was inaccessible; I couldn't open any sites on Safari (for example my blog site or the GM Cadillac site).  Just about anything connected with the internet was either severely retarded or mercurial (connection would occur from time to time but then evaporate almost as quickly).  The first call this morning to Apple's StarShip Command elicited a plausible attempt to Reset Network Settings by disconnecting the WiFi then re-opening it.  That initially worked but soon failed as a sustainable perfection.  Subsequently a senior advisor had us wipe the entire phone clean and re-open it as a "New Phone" (as opposed for example to opening it by re-installing from an iCloud Backup).  That gambit produced little if any improvement and we were therefore escalated to one of the head advisors who pointedly diverted the attention from the phone itself to other factors affecting its performance; viz., the modem.  Because - knock on wood! - the phone (and all other Apple products and computing devices) now seem to be performing well and normally, I am inclined to accept this as the remedy even though with a degree of trepidation.  The head advisor questioned us about our modem which had been installed by Bell Canada on the weekend after we called to complain that we had no internet service upon our return home.  We ended calling the same Bell technician who in turn directed our attention to what he speculated to be a competition for the internet information by the many computing devices we have (2 iPads, 2 MacBook Pros, 2 iPhones, 2 PC Computers, a scanner and 2 mini-sound systems).  Through a scheme which I won't pretend to comprehend, we now have three modems directing traffic on the information highway - the main Bell modem, a "guest" Bell modem and the Apple Tower modem.  This triple modification was orchestrated by the Bell technician in answer to our dilemma.  After a number of trial and error attempts, my iPhone is now connected through the Apple Tower modem to WiFi (instead of the "main" WiFi network I normally used).  This appears (note the deliberately cautious use of that word again) to have relieved the other modem transmitters of their congestion and dedicated a less obstructed path of communication for my iPhone SE.  In retrospect I am attributing the resolution of the initial problems of the iPhone SE to the enormous burden suffered by the internet when we first returned home; namely, all computers were engaged in massive updates and backups which had been entirely neglected for five months during our absence.

Naturally I am reluctant to jump too high for joy at this time but the alleviation is irresistible. It quite surprises me to discover the inherent sensitivity I have to the proper functioning of these mechanical devices. Of course I obsessively re-visit each of my iPad, MacBook Pro and iPhone SE to verify all seems to be working as it should. To this point I have not been disappointed in my investigations.  I am relieved to have abandoned what I was beginning to develop, a cavalier attitude to the necessity of certain functions on the iPhone, attempting to convince myself that I could somehow live with its inadequacies.  For example, I argued with myself that as for the iPhone (as opposed to the MacBook Pro) I hadn't any pressing need for use of the App store or even the internet, just email and the telephone.  This of course is utter codswallop!  Frequently in the middle of the night I read articles on my iPhone, stuff that I access through the internet. I have even profited by a sleepless night to amend the composition of certain of my articles on my blog site.  It would constitute an outrage to have the latest Apple iPhone with the least capacity for performance.  Hopefully that threat has now been extinguished.

I complemented the advantage of our assiduity by tweaking my MacBook Pro and calling my physician's office to book an appointment for a general checkup.  The ultimate refinement of a pedicure and haircut can await another day.  We have I believe closed the circle of necessary activity upon our return to normalcy - things are unpacked; groceries have been bought; the car is washed; I've reconnected with mother; the devices are working; a new car has been ordered; I finally got the iPhone I've been yearning for months; mother's "movie" is showing tomorrow; the medical stuff is in gear; the mantel clock, carriage clock and grandfather clock have been wound; a watch battery and a light bulb replaced; and what remains is merely cosmetic - literally!  We're home!

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