Mercury Retrograde Watch

Three times a year, Mercury goes retrograde, or appears to be moving backwards, for 20 days or so. (It’s an optical illusion from a change in the relative orbital speeds of Mercury and earth). During this time everything ruled by Mercury tends to go flooey:  communication, the mail, phone lines, electronics, cars, traffic, travel. The fun begins a couple of days before the retrograde begins, when Mercury’s speed slows noticeably.

The current retrograde officially began on Wednesday, Sept 24. Won’t you join me in cataloging all that goes awry?

Sept. 23:  My sister’s Facebook account is terminated without notice. The FB FAQ says this is done for something “egregious” on the page, like pornography or pretending to be someone you’re not. We can’t think of anything that even had a glimmer in its eye of vaguely thinking of wandering anywhere near the universe next door to “egregious.” [The FAQ gives no way to contact FB about a take-down. I send a request from my own account inquiring into an appeals process. More than 36 hours later, there’s still no response.]

Sept. 24. And we’re off!

  • My phone line can not send outgoing faxes.
  • Each time I “wake up” my laptop, it shuts itself down.
  • Although my DVR is set to record “Sordid Lives” and shows “Sordid Lives” in the list of recorded programs, what my DVR plays when I select “Sordid Lives” is … “Cartoon Planet.” Which hasn’t aired for about 3 years. And is not in the listings at TV Guide.

Sept. 25:

  • I am told that the code is showing in my Election blog post.  Of course it doesn’t display in my preview pane. But when I switch to HTML editing mode, why, there it is! Or was.
  • My fax machines work if I unplug the splitter they’re in from the wall jack. I tell this to someone and she says I’m not making sense. I can not explain how the fax machine dials out if the splitter it’s plugged into is out of the jack. But it does.
  • A neighbor’s phone, Internet and cable go out. My first two do, too, but only because…I’ve unplugged the modem while untangling a nest of cords.
  • WordPress automatically generates “ideas” below this post, all of which link to electronic products for sale. There appears to be no way to delete this feature.
  • My mother asks if I got any of the 12 photos she emailed me. Guess the answer.

Sept. 26:

  • I learn that someone tried to post a comment to this yesterday and the site wouldn’t take it. When I report this to WordPress, someone responds quickly and posts a test comment…which shows up.
  • Every time I wake my computer up it…shuts down.
  • Someone asks why I didn’t respond to an email message she sent. The reason would be what now?
  • My insurance co. sends email at 10 PM stating that my payment will be posted on September 25. As in yesterday. After sending a confirmation message at 3 PM stating that the payment will be posted on September 26.

Sept 27:  My computer goes to sleep. I wake it up. It … shuts…down.

Sept. 28: I learn that one of the invitees to a brunch never responded because she didn’t get any of the group email messages about it.

Sept. 29:

  • The NYSE bell fails to ring when the exchange opens for business. Does no one get the metaphor???
  • Another neighbor has calls in the cable guy because her phone, cable and Internet are going out intermittently.

Sept. 30:

  • FB restores my sister’s page without explanation (but with an apology).
  • I phone a few minutes early into a lecture conference call. Other participants are talking on the line; this is not supposed to be possible. A man strikes up a conversation with a woman and asks for her phone number. A song starts playing, “Guantanamera,” with the volume going up and down and drowning out his action each time it goes up. Someone from the moderator’s office comes onto the line and explains that she’s testing it. The call doesn’t start for another hour.
  • I call in 10 minutes before the correct time. After I enter the passcode, there’s no hold music on the line, only the sound of two women talking as if they’re trying to get something to work. I call another number. Once I dial in, there’s no sound. I call a third number. This one doesn’t even ring. So I call a fourth and get hold music. Four minutes before the call is to start, the line goes silent for a good 30 seconds. The call does start on time and continues without problem for more than 30 minutes. As one of the speakers is making the final descent into answering the last and really important question, a young female voice interrupts to apologize for technical difficulties and cuts off the call.
  • I try to save a document as a PDF and get an error message that a required .dll file is missing. The program worked fine a few weeks ago. I uninstall the program, download the latest version, install it, and try again. Windows Installer launches and asks for the Dell Resource CD. The request is unprecedented. I cancel the request box. PDF Creator launches and works just fine.  I try to save a second document as a PDF. Windows Installer launches and asks for the Dell Resource CD….
  • After yesterday’s repairs, Neighbor #2’s cable and Internet return to going out intermittently.

Oct. 1:

  • One of the fax machines that worked last week loses its ability to send.
  • My DVR resets scheduled recordings to 30 minutes, shaving off the extra minutes that had been programmed at each end for early starts and overruns.

Oct. 3:

  • I learn of more e-mail with attachments that had been sent to me but never received.
  • I watch my e-mail program download two messages and disappear them.

Oct 7: I watch my e-mail program download two messages and disappear them. From the same person. When I write her back, her response comes through.

Oct. 10:

  • Two dozen messages download with dates from a week to two weeks ago. All missing messages are now accounted for.
  • My fax machine has no dial tone. The phone line is fine. The cords are plugged in. No tone.