Thursday, January 27, 2005

Born Again

On Saturday my computer died. I hadn't even touched it or moved it for hours. It was playing some music through iTunes. Perhaps the Mail app was open. Then it started making a crunching noise. Not a good, "wow, my CPU is really churning through some data" kind of noise. But a "wow, that sounds like my hard drive is eating itself" kind of noise. Without running through my complete list of tech repair maneuvers, let's just say it was the first time in my computing experience that it truly seemed dead.

Enter Apple Computer tech support. If you're a gambler like me, you don't buy the "extended care" plan you're always offered whenever you buy a piece of tech gear. If you gamble and you lose, what Apple wants you to do is go down to your nearest Apple Store and belly up to the "Genius Bar". You can sign up online for a place in line, so you can limit your waiting to 2 hours or so. During which, you watch helpless souls try to figure out why their iPod doesn't play anymore. You watch a friendly "Genius" explain to an elderly couple how to set up and use a Mac - which is slightly more difficult than plugging in your VCR and setting the time. You check your place in line on the iMac G5 nearby. You check it again. And again. And again. At this point you start to wonder where you can buy the new Apple "ProCare" card. Only 99 bucks for the ability to actually schedule an appointment with the "Genius" of your choice, instead of waiting in line with cheap bastards like me.

And then... my name was called. I told the Genius who called himself "E" that I ran the hardware test CD and it said my drive was dead, so I wanna use my warranty while it's still in effect and put it in the shop. He told me to hold up and then plugged in his firewire drive. He couldn't find an OS. He asked me if I backed up my computer recently. I had done so, and he promptly erased my drive. He had me install the OS right there at the bar. Voila! Good as new. E is a goddamn Genius.

The moral of the story is this: Back up your computer as often as possible. So DO IT NOW. If not, I'll look forward to reading your rant in the near future.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

living large

Some people think that if you're taking business trips and living out of a hotel, then you've like hit the big time or something. You check into a room and stay there for weeks at a time. WOOHOO! High-rollin' playa. I used to think that. Then it became a reality for me. The only thing that's posh about hotel living is the fact that you can get out of bed and not do anything about its messyness. You come back from work and the bed is made again. Sweet. Other than that, hotel living kinda sucks. I have to reconfigure my mind to which channel ESPN is on. There's no stereo. And I feel like I'm fighting housekeeping about keeping a glass on the nightstand for water.

There is a strange phenomenon going on with the current hotel though. It's this weird game I'm involuntarily playing with housekeeping: Every day I come back to the hotel and find a new bar of hotel soap, wrapped in this hotel chain's paper, and there's another hotel-sized bottle of shampoo. It's always sitting on the edge of the tub on top of the bathmat, which has been folded in that weird hotel way to emphasize its girth. So I take the soap and shampoo and put it next to the tissue box. As of today I have 6 bars of soap and 5 bottles of shampoo. I can't remember how the numbers diverged, but it doesn't matter.

I can't honestly understand how somebody who takes so much care to fold the towels in such a way as to do the "fannning out in a clamshell shape" day after day wouldn't notice the growing mountain of soap and shampoo next to the tissues. Do they think that I can possibly use a whole bar of soap and an entire bottle of shampoo in one day? Why don't they take them back? I'm really gonna mess with their minds by putting all the stuff back on the edge of the tub when I leave. Apparently these things are invisible to them unless it's on the edge of the tub. Or maybe it's their way of letting me know I've hit the big time.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Fly the Friendly Skies

I've been on far too many airplanes recently. So much so that it's becoming less like a rare treat and more like getting on a bus. I've become aware of the power of alcohol for making the bus ride a little less nerve-ridden. On my most recent adventure, I made my way through the throngs of suits to find a bar in the "B-travel" section (which includes ATA, AmericaWest, and AlaskaAirlines). It was the only bar that had sports on the TV. I promptly ordered a pint of Anchor Steam. The guy sitting at the table next to mine slammed his pint, then followed that up with what I could only guess was a Jack n' Coke. Another woman bellied up to the bar and was there for about a minute and left a bottle of Heineken behind. What a magic trick! After looking around at all the people who looked like they travel more regularly than I do, and seeing how many drinks they had, I figured I better have another Anchor.

Time came to get aboard the flying bus, so I went down to the gate and boarding had already begun. I got into my seat and we took off. As we were passing through ten-thousand feet, the thought of urinating started becoming an obsession. But the "fasten seat belts" light was still illuminated, so I counted to 10 countless times. Finally the light went off and I turned to head to the closet in the rear they refer to as a "restroom". The beverage cart was already coming down the aisle, so I started toward the restroom in the front of the plane. Occupied. The first class attendant (named Cathy) ordered me to wait at row 6 - the first row outside of first class. Luckily there was nobody there, so I took a seat and tapped my foot for about 2 minutes.

One of the pilots exited the cabin and tapped Cathy on the shoulder. She took a key from her pocket and unlocked the restroom which was marked "Occupied". He went in. Okay, so I'd been had. The restroom was never occupied at all and Cathy knew this. I had to go to the little zen place in my mind to get over this. Meanwhile another stewardess (named Theresa) came to the front to sub for Cathy, who had just gone into the cabin to provide a little naughtiness to the flight crew I'm sure. The pilot who had just dropped a load went back into the cabin. I waited another minute and started toward the bathroom, which I was now sure was free. Theresa blocked my entry and said, "No, you have to wait". I said "But there's nobody in there." She told me to go back to row 6. I saw that the beverage cart was still blocking my way to the restrooms in the rear. I was about ready to make a break for the front restroom, but instead I went to that little zen place in my mind again and politely said to Theresa "I have to use the bathroom." This really set Theresa off so she got in a huff and told Kirk (our other flight attendant) to move the cart so I could get by to the rear bathroom. I wonder if I should start wearing Depends to the airport. Live and learn.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

An Ant's Life

Remember that movie "A Bug's Life"? Remember all the cute little ants you rooted for to beat the grasshoppers, and when they won at the end you yelled "Hooray"? Is that the way you really feel about ants? I sure as hell don't. Especially after the rains brought an infestation into my kitchen this week. They creep me out to no end. I look at the minions scrambling around aimlessly to find a scrap of food (or a dead ant) to carry back to the colony and it gives me the willies. I certainly don't go "Hooray!"

Lily and I did a little research on how to rid ourselves of the heebie-jeebies, and we discovered that vinegar is a deterrent. And then through trial and error I found that it's not actually a deterrent as much as it throws their scent trails off; hence they don't make ant trails and gather. So after making a little playpen to contain them out of vinegar-soaked paper towels, I did some research on the web on how to make sure they didn't stick around.

Terro looked like the winner ant solution, so off I went to the local Ace Hardware to buy it. I also bought some traditional baits called "MaxAttract" just to make sure I covered my bases. Terro is some gel-type stuff that looks like the bottled hand sanitizing gel you might see people rubbing their hands with after getting off Muni. Especially the number 19 Polk. Terro gives you paper discs about the size of a quarter that state "PLACE TERRO HERE" so the ants will know where dinner is served.

Terro is to ants like shit is to flies. They circled around and on top of the globule I set out for them. And because it seemed so popular, I dropped a bunch onto the tops of the traditional ant baits as well. About 2 hours later there were probably 20 times as many ants in the paper towel pen as before. A day later, the ants dropped off to about 1/3 of the original bunch. I felt so proud that I'd done my husbandly duty of keeping the house safe from intruders that I showed Lily as soon as she walked in the door home from work. She said "aw". She felt bad that we had done this to them. I can't win. Hooray!