We are sick again. Not really sick like last time but sick. The computers are sick. Not really sick but infected with PUPs. The laundry is dirty yet again and yet again the house needs cleaning. We are experiencing small cascade failures.

More than a few decades of research indicates that people under stress, or those who have experienced multiple stressful events within the previous year are more at risk for all sorts of illness and maladies. We are poster children for that. After a week of respite from it, here comes my bronchitis–the third round since the fire. My poor spouse, after two weeks free of what my mom used to call the epizoodics is feeling puny and we are running of tissues.

Epizoodics are actually outbreak of disease affecting many animals of one kind at the same time. The epidemic of dog flu that passed across the US a few years back probably qualified as an epzoodic. I don’t think my mom actually knew the meaning of the word but when we were kids it sounded just right for things like an ongoing cough or croup of other mystery maladies of the not-really-threatening type. We could explain that we could not go to school because our epizoodiac was in trouble.

Our computers seem to have the epizoodiacs. I have spent nearly three days trying to rid one of the computers of “potentially unsafe programs” or PUPs. I had no idea what a PUP was until I had one. I had a virus too but a PUP is, well, like a neighbor’s puppy irritating you to death and on occasion doing something amusing. Like the pup with a furry body and wagging tail can do to your trash or your garden, a PUP of the electronic kind can do bad things to your computer. From what we can tell they are often ad related and sometimes are hijacking rides on legitimate programs. Sometimes the ads are not too bad but I had one that kept sending me to porn sites. I could not click off fast enough. Once I just reached over and did a hard shutdown on my poor computer who seemed as shocked as I.

Each time I clean one one of those PUPs off another seems to appear. Each time we think we are through coughing another cough appears. Each time we think we have the details of the house nailed down another one appears. Each time we think we have the laundry all washed, something ends up dirty.

So, little cascade failures. The cough keeps reappearing, the PUPs keep reappearing, the house still proceeds at a crawl and if you can believe it the clothes have the audacity to pile up on the laundry hamper!

Coughing all the time makes it hard to keep house and to do laundry. It should be ok. I had the cough before the fire but it turned into a long-lasting aftereffect of breathing the ash from the fire. I should be able to beg off PUPs and housework. On top of that, I still don’t understand why I have to clean house and do laundry if my house burned. Is there no cosmic justice? Why can’t we live in this giant 6,000 square foot house and never have to clean it? When we were trying to find housing after the fire everyone was scrambling for housing at once. When it became apparent we were going to end up with the 6000 square feet of green, gold, orange and red shag carpet everyone was confused. My mother-in-law asked me what we were going to do with 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and 2 1/2 baths. I said, “oh, that is easy.” We spend one week in each so we only have to clean once a month. Of course, that did not quite how it worked out.

WE don’t do much cleaning on the lower level floor where the large party room with a bar, two poker tables, a big screen TV and a karaoke machine is located. I heard a noise down there late one night and then again a couple of days ago. I am not a weenie but I see no reason to traipse down three levels with a poker from the fireplace in hand hoping to scare off a skunk or some other forest creature that got in thought some nefarious way. It dawned on me later that we go down there so rarely that there could be squatters living there and we would not even notice.

So from cough to computers to laundry to housekeeping we have these little predictable cascade failures. I have to think of them as something other than cascade failures since some of them, the house keeping in particular, are things that are supposed to happen. The fact that 99 out of 100 residential experts reported that (a) it was perfectly normal for houses to get dirty and (b) 99 of 100 of their clients hated housework should give us a clue.

So here we are, coughing, cleaning PUPs and facing the reality that we have to clean house. Situation normal, the reactor has cooled down and there is no cascade failure.


photo of a closet