Seasonal confusion -- 11/26/06

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, Christmas lies straight ahead... but we've practically returned to Indian Summer type weather. It was in the mid fifties today (13° C) and the forecast is for roughly similar temperatures through most of the week -- with Thursday bringing a chance of hitting 60° F (16° C).

Nancy and I talked about getting a Christmas tree either this weekend or next -- it now being Sunday evening it would appear that it will happen next weekend. The extended forecast says that it will be in the low to mid forties (7 or 8° C). Having lived in upstate New York until we moved to Rhode Island eleven years ago, I still associate getting a Christmas tree with having snow on the ground. Well, we have had snow for some of our tree expeditions since moving here -- in fact, I can remember at least one year when it was uncomfortably cold -- but mostly early December weather in Rhode Island is not very harsh. (Looking at the weather for the Binghamton, NY area, I see that their weather today was just about the same as ours, but looking at their extended forecast, they have a chance of snow next Saturday and their Sunday high will be about ten degrees colder than ours, holding just a degree or two above freezing.)

I did dash off for a bit of shopping on Friday morning -- not Christmas shopping, just had my attention caught by a good sale price on a router at Staples. Our router has been driving me crazy for weeks now. It will work fine for hours, sometimes even all day, but more often it will fail two or three times during the day -- sometimes two or three times in an hour -- and then I have to go upstairs and reset it. So I've been in the market for a new router and this was my chance to grab one. (Okay, so routers aren't really very expensive at all -- but since they are frequently on sale, I could see no reason to pay a non-sale price unless the existing one were to have stopped working completely.)

I installed the new router Friday afternoon and it worked fine. My personal computer has no problem accessing the Internet. Nancy's computer has no problem accessing the Internet.

I tried to check the corporate e-mail program (Lotus Notes) on my work laptop. Nope. I can access the Internet from that machine with no problem, but I need to be able to access our corporate intranet -- which is done via a VPN (a virtual private network) for which we use a software client to access the VPN and maintain the connection. My VPN client software does not seem to be able to establish a connection -- it dithers about, accessing digital certificates, negotiating keys, authenticating to a VPN, and around and around, trying VPN server after VPN server, all without ever establishing a connection.

So today I accessed our corporate telephone help line (which means that I was talking with someone who was probably in India) and spent time adjusting settings on the client -- nope, didn't help -- and then reinstalling the client software-- nope, that didn't work either. Finally I was told that I should download the latest version of the client software -- which, of course, means I have to go to the office so I can connect directly with our internal network so I can download it -- and then come back home to see if that has helped.

Of course, what puzzles me is why using a new router (which works) should make the client software not be able to negotiate a connection. I'm half tempted to plug in the old router just to see what happens, except that would be pointless since that router is no longer reliable in terms of not losing track of the modem. I suppose I shouldn't feel aggrieved just because I actually have to go to the office.

Watched An Unfinished Life (DVD) last night. It's the story of a woman (Jennifer Lopez) who (with her daughter) is fleeing an abusive boyfriend. She seeks temporary refuge with the father (Robert Redford) of her late husband -- a man from whom she has been estranged since the death of her husband in a automobile accident (she was driving). Redford was not even aware that he had a grand daughter. He shares his ranch with his best friend (Morgan Freeman), an aging cowboy who is still recovering from the injuries suffered when he was attacked by a bear. It is a rather slow-moving film but I must admit that I liked it, if for no other reason than to watch Redford and Freeman work together. It was directed by Lasse Hallström (who also directed The Shipping News -- another slow-moving film that I nevertheless liked -- and Chocolat, which I really loved). The daughter was played by a young actress named Becca Gardner (who has previously been in a low-budget horror film and a few episodes of TV shows) -- I thought she was delightful and it will be interesting to see if she gets future chances. No explosions, no high speed car chases -- and, despite having a gun fired in anger and Redford punching out the abusive boyfriend, this really is a movie about people and their feelings. If you like other movies that Hallström has directed, you'll probably like this one.

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