Archive for February, 2009

Cell phone rings, it’s one of them geniusesses from the Glendale Apple store.

First thing out of his mouth after introducing himself is “You don’t have any RAM in your computer.”

“I mull that weirdly accusatory statement and offer a rephrasing that was more specific: “My computer most certainly had RAM in it when I dropped it off, so any RAM that the computer doesn’t have now was removed by someone there after I left it in your hands.”


Turns out what the genius saw as no RAM was in fact no additional memory chips installed beyond the 512 megs that came with the computer and are apparently a part of the motherboard, which is what needs replacing.

Good thing I could help him figure that out, though I’m sure that anyone using an Apple computer with anything less than 1 meg of RAM inspires snickers and calls of “wanna-be!” amongst the geniusesses, but that’s just how I’ve rolled this last three years.

Then he tells me that all he’s getting is the folder-with-the-question-mark icon when he boots it up and that clearly means my hard drive is done for.

So I then have to counterpoint out that after the phone session with the Applecare tech I was getting that same icon but that after a minute or two of just letting it blink it would cycle over and everything would load in fine at least until the motherboard got pissed off and put the whole machine to sleep, which is why the machine is in their in the first place.


So then he tells me he’s trying to complete the data transfer but that it’s going reeeaaaaaallllly slowly and he’s not sure if it can be done, and I envision all my files just going poof because he’s sitting there shaking the thing vigorously to see if he can’t loosen whatever’s blocking the bits ‘n bytes from being moved to a safe back-up haven.

I change the subject: “Has the motherboard arrived?”


I’m heartened by that good news.

“Well then answer me this: is it feasible to remove the old motherboard and install the new one without doing anything to the hard drive?”


My mind reels with accusatory WTFs as to why the data transfer needed to be bothered with, but I know it’s useless to get into a debate about that topic so instead I offer up what I called “Plan B,” wherein I suggested that if the data transfer doesn’t succeed, just leave the drive alone, install the board and let me have my computer back.

The genius agrees and tells me he’ll keep me posted.

That was Tuesday.

Finally! After a few weeks of upstairs demo work with nothing much revealed/discovered for it but a lot of original (read that: archaic) knob-and-tube electrical wiring, a really old rat trap (with a really old rat skull) and some equally aged walnut shells, this morning I went into the destruction zone for a peek around and while peering down into the chasm between the kitchen and dining room that had been revealed by the removal of some floorboarding I saw something laying on a stud brace against the inside of the north wall of the house, just out of arm’s reach.

Finally fishing it out with the aid of a saw blade I found it was an old bottle of musilage adhesive replete with paper label intact detailing something about a “Ca—g’s (name obscured by dried glue) “”Quick Fill” tip that “takes mucilage to the upper end of sponge at once.”

How old? Well, it could be as much as 123 years old, because below the feature description of the tip it reads “Pat. June 27, 1886. December 28, 1886.” And below that it states “and Patent applied for.”

Here’s a pic showing both sides:


As you can see there’s a lot of leakage that has dried to the bottle, which still contains a fair amount of its contents. The reason the label is relatively intact is because however it got down there in the wall, it landed label side down, which protected it while the nineteenth century progressed to the twentieth, and onward to the twenty-first. Dood.

On the other side of the bottle (pictured on the right) the labeling is  very obscured by the dried gunk.

It’s a thick and sturdy bottle with no seams (a sure sign it’s an oldie) and I’m probably going to attempt to remove some of the caked-on spillage, but at the first sign my efforts are adding damage rather than removing gunk I’m just going to leave her alone.

Inspecting the latest stage in the demolition work continuing up on the second floor, I made something of a gruesome discovery this morning while getting a closer look at the space between the kitchen and the dining room that had been revealed beneath the floorboards that had been ripped up from inside the closet that had been sealed for somewhere around the last 58 years.

As I was peering down into the wide gap trying to figure out if i was looking at what had been the original fireplace box, I  noticed old walnut shells among the lathe and plaster and then spied a piece of wood between the floor joists and recognized it as an overturned rodent trap. As Susan looked on I flipped it over, surprised to find the skull of a rat was included, held firm by the trap’s arm that lay across a portion of the poor creature’s neck.


Susan was like “Gross!” and of course I was like “Awesome!” and afterward repaired downstairs with it to snap some pix of the newest addition to my Gallery of Backyarchaelogy. PS. Any other remains of the rat were nowhere to be found, and I’m not bummed about that in the slightest.

There are a few other photos of the find in this small set on Flickr, and one thing notable is the remarkable vibrancy of the trap’s colors. It threw me at first and left me thinking the trap might not have been set at a minimum way back in 1950 when among other things:

  • the first modern credit card was introduced
  • the first organ transplant was performed
  • the first Peanuts cartoon strip was released
  • the Korean War began
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy started witchhunting communists
  • Harry Truman was president and ordered the construction of the hydrogen bomb
  • the average income was $3,216
  • milk cost 82 cents,
  • five gallons of gas was a dollar
  • buying three first class postage stamps would leave you with a penny left over for some candy.

But then I remembered the trap as I found it was overturned most likely by  the rat in its death throes, so the face of the trap was left down and protected a bit from the dulling dust and stuff. On top of that, like I said earlier, this trap was set in a corner of the upstairs beneath floorboards and between joists below a closet space that has been walled off and pretty much inaccessible to humans for 58 years, at minimum.

So it’s no real surprise to find the rat so bare and its killing machine so relatively pristine.

img_5117I rolled into my favorite bikeshop, Orange 20 in East Hollywood on the way home one night last week and queried co-owner Jim C. about stem options for Le Noir. I’ve been riding with the stock long-reach stem the bike came with and it’s been fine, but the last couple months I’ve been noticing a little residual achy in the shoulders and upper back left over from a feeling of being a touch over-extended. Wasn’t sure why it was manifesting now after more than a year, but I decided to explore my options.

Jim gave me some ideas and price ranges and I rolled back in a couple nights later and left with a clean-looking brushed aluminum shortie made by some company called Nitto that’s a full two inches less in length (pix’d at right), which I put on this Saturday.

Riding only my mountain bike the next day and opting out of the rain and wind Monday and instead driving to work, it wasn’t until this morning when I could realize the benefits of the new component.

Boy howdy whadda diff the new stem makes!


My mountainbike and I climbed the Verdugos again today. Third straight weekend I’ve paid a visit to Tongva Peak. Guess I’m making up for lost time seeing as three years had gone by since I’d last cranked up them.

Crank indeed. My math is shaky but with a 1,400-foot elevation gain over the 2.8 miles between the Beaudry trailhead and Tongva, that seems to roughly translate into a 9% grade. Given the stormy conditions, I had the trail mostly to myself and it didn’t take me long until I was granny-gearing through the clouds.

It was nice up there at Tongva. I’d expected visibility to be nil, but the storm was beginning to break up and one could see all the way to the coastline and the sunlit waters of the bay beyond it. Beautiful.

In a perfect world, Apple Store Genius Bars would be populated by actual geniuses with ready access (or at least minimal delay) to whatever part was needed for repairs.

In reality my almost 3-year-old G5 iMac’s need for a new logic board installation (thank goodness the ‘puter came bundled with Applecare protection) will now be a week in the waiting as of tomorrow, and the best  knowledge the “genius” I spoke to at the Glendale Galleria branch could drop on me yesterday was that it’ll be a “couple more days at least” until the part arrives.

Why did I call to check knowing the news wouldn’t be good? That would be because the “genius” who received my desktop for repair last Monday evening told me the part would take no more than three days to arrive and it should be ready for pick-up by “the end of the week.” Guess not.

And here’s the kicker, I’m being dinged a $50 data transfer fee so that they don’t actually wipe away — among many other things — the 90,000 images in my iPhoto library.

“Did you back up your files?” the genius asked me.

“No, I couldn’t back up my files because the computer’s failing logic board won’t leave the computer operating long enough to allow me to complete such an intensive task.

“Oh. Well, that’ll be $50 if you want us to do that.”

“But why would I be charged for something that couldn’t be done because of the failing component of the computer?”

“Because data transfer is not covered under Applecare protection.”

“Right, but the back-up is a direct result of the failed part that’s covered.”

“But it’s precautionary, not required.”

“I understand that, but why would my files be at risk if it’s a hardware issue and not a software issue.”

“That’s up to the tech to decide.”

“But it’s already been decided.”

“But the tech may decide to wipe the drive.”

“But why? I did a full drive/software check over the phone with the support guy and the drive’s entirely OK.”

“It’s up to you.”

“Can’t the tech just take out my drive and put in another during the logic board install?”

“You want us to give you a new hard drive?” the “genius” asked sarcastically enough that I had to take a deep breath and stop myself from losing my cool and instead repeat myself using smaller words and a slower speech speed re-explaining my idea of a temporary alternative that would prevent my data from being touched — especially when it was already proven that it needn’t be.

Silly me. The look on his face was textbook: Does Not Compute. So insead the “genius” simply reiterated that it was my choice whether or not I wanted to utilize the precautionary option for a $50 fee. I considered one last query as to how the tech might be able to back-up my disk when I couldn’t, but I had a funny feeling the answer might be that the back-up — if at all — wouldn’t take place until after the logic board was replaced. Not wanting to laugh myself to death I just authorized the option, and got the hell away from all that intelligence.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Shawshank Redemption. Twenty? Thirty? I’ll probably see it that many times again before I shuffle off. It is one of my favorite motion pictures. It is one of the best ever made. Out of all of its magic — and every freakin’ frame is nothing but the stuff — the one slice that never fails to break my heart and reduce me to a blubbering snuffling wreck no matter how many times I see it is this brilliant, brilliant one — a short film in and of itself, starring James Whitmore:

The actor died today in Malibu at the age of 87. Rest in peace.