Friday, September 06, 2013

Travels With Frank #6: Inanimosity

This morning I got a call from a friend at St. Michael's, who is working with me on preparations for the church's 60th anniversary celebration later this month. We compared notes on how busy we are and how much sleep we're not getting. When I mentioned that Dad appeared not to know who I was last night, she told me not to worry. "That's just sundowning. Your dad is fine." Apparently, being more confused and memory-impaired at bedtime is a known phenomenon for dementia patients. What a relief!

So I carried on with the day, taking my computer and two external hard drives to Staples to get rid of the ransomware and adware. It's going to take 72 hours and $150 to get it done, but the work is guaranteed. John is unhappy. He's sure I must have been careless somewhere along the line. I really don't think so. The only things I can think of are opening apparently real but lesser-known genealogy sites, and a suspicious ad I tried to decline, not open, on a major site that should have been safe. And Norton 360 was running the whole time.

I dropped off the computer and went to work at St. Michael's, where my financial software stopped communicating with the server at one point and I had to reboot. Then I struggled to print some fliers, which looked exactly the same whether set for color or grayscale printing. (It turned out all four ink cartridges were on empty.)

As I prepared to leave for my third job, the Staples tech called, apologetically, to say he forgot to collect the fee in advance, without which they weren't allowed to start work. I went back over and took care of it, so the clock could start running on the 72 hours. Years ago, before iPads and iPhones, giving up my computer for three days would have been a major inconvenience. As it is, I'm writing this blog entry on my phone, which is less than ideal but doable. The thing I really need a computer for, scanning material from the church archives, I would (and will) do on my computer at church in any case. The matter of the computer being missing from my office at home seems strangely unimportant.

But what is it with me and computers today? At St. Matthew's this afternoon, I was about a minute from finishing the data entry on the weekly deposit when QuickBooks crashed with an "unrecoverable error." Really? Et tu, third recalcitrant computer of the day? Years ago, John coined a word, "Inanimosity," to describe the apparently hostile behavior of inanimate objects. That's what I experienced today.

And so did my Dad, as far as I can tell. Tonight he seemed to have no trouble knowing who I was (I got there by 6 PM) and launched into an attempted description of his day. He seems to have almost accidentally joined in on a group activity, some kind of craft project. At first he thought he had what he needed to start putting things together, but later on he felt he needed more of some things but there wasn't any more, or nobody gave him any more, and he decided he wasn't really part of the group activity after all. At least, that is my best guess about what he thinks happened today. It's hard to tell when most of his nouns and adjectives are the wrong ones, descriptions are vague and the gap between reality and his understanding of it is likely to be substantial.

But I do know that months ago he was in a painting activity, and the instructor completely ignored him for most of the class and worked extensively with others instead. Dad didn't know how to proceed to another part of the painting, and as far as I know he hasn't done any drawing or painting since. And this is a man who painted his wife's portrait, and used to build and paint detailed railroad layouts in the tiny N-scale, right down to the faces of the tiny people.


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