Friday, March 27, 2009

Bad Day (and SEPTA Hate, Pt. 3)

Sometimes, these posts write themselves.

I was having an ok day yesterday, not great but not bad either. It was just like any other work day. Sure, I don't enjoy going to work, but I also don't loathe it. Most of my weekdays are just... days. As was yesterday, up until about 2 pm.

I was surfing the web in the little free time that I had yesterday, checking my Google Reader rss feeds and chatting on Google Chat, when all of a sudden a slew of system errors started popping up on my screen. Here is what I saw:


Now, I'm an IT guy, but even this message doesn't mean too much to me. I thought I would try the "Check online for a solution" option since I had never seen this error before. So I clicked that option and here's what I got:


Whoa. At first, I thought it was funny, hilarious even. I report a problem and get a message that Windows Problem Reporting stopped working. Ha ha, funny. My next question was: "if Windows Problem Reporting has stopped working, can I check for a solution?" This was all very comical to me at this point. So I tried clicking "Check online for a solution" again and got the same message. The answer to my question was a resounding "no". So of course, I had to copy and paste these screenshots to post on the web. This was just too funny to let go. So I tried to open Paint to paste my screenshot. Crash. I tried again. Crash. Ok, so Paint isn't opening. Now what? How do I get this hilarious screenshots saved? Microsoft Word? I tried to open that and... crash. Now I'm getting a little concerned but I still thought that I could reboot and everything would be a-ok again. But I still needed to save these screenshots. And then it came to me. My Outlook was already open so I should be able to send an email. I pasted the screenshots into an email and sent it to myself. Success! Now, to get my laptop back to normal (it's about 2:30 at this point).

I rebooted my machine, thinking it just needed a memory dump or some such. I log in to Windows and... nothing. Just errors. "Windows Explorer has stopped running", "Windows Module Installer has stopped running", etc., etc. Uh-oh. At this point, I am not longer finding this comical. I am now thinking there may be a serious problem with my computer. What could I possibly have done to cause this to happen? I was doing NOTHING out of the ordinary. Surfing the web, chatting with friends and colleagues, etc. I rebooted again and booted in Safe Mode this time. Everything seemed fine. I ran a chkdsk to scan my hard drive for corruption. No issues detected. Ok, let's try to reboot again. I logged in and bam! more errors. Services shutting down all over the place. Plus, I can't even launch any administrative tools to investigate. Even Task Manager was shutting down when I opened it to try to launch/end processes. I started Googling on my work computer at this point. I found a few useless solutions. I finally rebooted and ran system diagnostics, thinking the problem could be rooted in corrupt memory or hard drives. Memory can become corrupted out of nowhere and this memory is two years old so who knows?

After about an hour of running system diagnostics, all the tests come back as passed. My memory was run through about 15 different tests and passed all of them with flying colors. At this point, I am stumped. I am taking stock of my applications at this point and formulating a plan to re-install Windows, chalking this all up to a Vista issue. I am actually planning, at this point, to downgrade to Windows XP Professional and say "to hell with Vista". Then I get a bright idea. This just started happening about 2 hours ago (it's about 4 pm at this point). I should have a recent restore point. I boot up in Safe Mode and start System Restore (I had a restore point from Wednesday morning, luckily). At this point it's 4:15 and I normally leave work at 4:25. Crap, why didn't I wait until I got home to do this? I have a green and blue screen that simply says "Please wait while System Restore Initializes". Initializes??? It hasn't even started running yet?! It's 4:23 and I have to get going. I think that maybe just closing the lid of the laptop will keep system restore running while I'm on the train.

It doesn't. Instead, it shuts the computer off. Great, now I screwed it up. I boot up the computer again, starting Windows normally, and log in and... everything is back to normal. No errors, all my applications are loading up properly. I get a popup saying that System Restore completed successfully, which baffles me because it just told me 2 mins ago that it was still initializing. I'm afraid to do anything more at this point and I really can't deal with all this right now so I shut down and head for the train station. Feeling victorious, I head down to my platform and hear this over the loudspeaker:

"Attention all R5 passengers. Service on the R5 Lansdale-Doylestown line has been indefinitely suspended. You are advised to seek an alternate means of transportation."

All aboard the Express to... oh nevermind

I stand shock-still for a few minutes looking at the other equally shocked R5 riders that I recognize before swiftly heading upstairs and grabbing a few train schedules. I know that the R5 going the other direction makes stops past Center City, but where or when the trains get into the station is voodoo magic to me. I called my fiancee and ask her if she can possibly pick me up. She has to tutor at 6:30 but she calls the kid and is able to reschedule. I tell her to meet me at Lansdale station at 5:44. I head down to the platform for the R5 Thorndale and ask a guy there if any of the R5 Thorndales go through to Lansdale. He tells me that I have to take the R5 Lansdale line to get to Lansdale. Thanks, Captain Obvious. I remind him that the R5 Lansdale line is DOWN (you dumb f*ck, but I didn't actually say that) and I need to find an alternate route. He says he needs to find out what to do in this case so he asks the rather important-looking guy in a reflective vest sitting down at a desk-like thingy and this guy snaps that he's "not a route advisor" and orders the other guy to find so-and-so and he should be able to tell him which route to take. So the guy walks away and doesn't come back.

So I go over to map again to look at the lines. It would seem that the R2 line goes to Hatboro, which is really the best I'm gonna do at this point. The next train arrives at 5:02 on the same track as my usual train. I get down there and it seems like a lot of other people have the same idea. I actually was able to procure a seat towards the back of the train, but I was one of the last people to do so. The train was packed with not only R2 passengers but also the displaced R5 passengers. I text my fiancee and tell her about the change of plans. I got to Hatboro at around 6:00, so it wasn't too bad. Turns out, all hell was breaking loose because of the light rain we got yesterday (yes, light rain). The root of the SEPTA problem was actually a PECO power outage in Ambler, thus suspending the lines. There were traffic lights out and apparently flights, both arrivals and departures, were delayed up to 2 hours at Philly airport. Seriously, it was just rain. And it wasn't even heavy rain. It was just plain old normal rain. No thunder or lightning. Very little flooding on the roads. It was barely even raining in Center City.

So we went out to dinner after I got back and the only good thing to happen to me all day happened at Ruby Tuesday. I ordered a 12 oz. beer and got a 21 oz. Woot! And, they didn't charge me for the bigger beer. Double woot! As we drove home, the electricity was still out in places. Two lights were out on 309 and the entire Wal-Mart shopping center looked to be without power. Seriously, it was just rain, nothing else.

Just... rain. I guess sometimes, things happen that are completely out of my realm of understanding.

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