Monthly Archives: February 2012

apple store two

So , I went to the Apple Store again today . Ada said they probably see me coming , by now , and cringe or hide . I explained to her that there are so many Apple Store people there that I might never run into the same one twice . Besides , if the geniuses had known what they were talking about the first three times , then I would not have had to go again . The first three diagnoses : Everthing’s fine ! Go home and enjoy !

Nope . Everything’s not fine .

By the third visit I was familiar with their slick little routine : Get out the little device to plug in to the Mac and say , ” I’m just going to run a few tests .”  They must learn that particular bedside manner technique in genius school . ( And you thought that geniuses are born geniuses ? ) .

The first two geniuses , very friendly guys , didn’t find a problem . Well , I won’t blame them , necessarily . They rely on the technology at hand . The third genius found the problem : Faulty hard drive .  ” We sell them here ,” he said . ” We’d  have to order it , though . It takes about a week . Hundred and fifty dollars .”

He wasn’t much a salesman , though . No hard sell . ” If it were yours , what would you do ? ” I asked him .

” I’d go buy one for under a hundred dollars and put it in myself .”

” I think that’s what I’ll do .”

” You have everything backed up , right ? ”

Yeah . Hundred bucks for the device that sold for sixty bucks four months  ago . Hundred bucks for the exact device I already have but which I formatted for my PC . No one told me then that it would work for the Mac , too , had I not formatted it for my PC when I bought it a couple of years ago . No one told me until I was shopping for another external hard drive a few days ago . No one told me and I didn’t attend genius school . So I lose !

Anyway , I bought a new hard drive . I unscrewed the laptop and popped the faulty drive out and the new drive in . So far so good .

Where’s the installation disk that came with the Mac ? Not where I keep such things . Not where Ada keeps such things . Nowhere .

Back to the Apple Store . They were all smiles and welcomes . When the Mac fired up the genius told me that all systems were go . I was told by him that I had correctly installed the new hard drive . Wow !  Then he set my system up in a few minutes . ” Go home and enjoy ! ” he said . ” Do you have any questions ? ” he asked .

Yeah , I had a question but I kept it to myself : Will I have to come back here again tomorrow ?

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union rep

Hull came down the hall and asked me in hushed tones ,” How do you join the union ? ” In those days a teacher had to join the union to be an official member and not many wanted to join and pay union dues . The union represented teachers in collective bargaining if they were member or not .  I happened to be union representative for one year .

I told him how to join the union . Then I asked him what happened.

” I’ve got a conference with the principal after school today . I grabbed a kid .”

I took Hull aside and told him that I would go with him to the conference if he wanted . Yeah , he did . He told me that ” This asshole kid kept pounding on the door , several times throughout the period , so finally I opened the door and grabbed him and pushed him away .”

I stopped him there and gave him some union rep advice : Don’t use the incendiary language . He didn’t grab the kid ; he took hold of the student and directed him elsewhere . I told him to keep his mouth shut as much as possible . The principal would have to put any accusations in writing and Hull could them respond in writing .

” Try to keep your mouth shut , ” I advised him .” Just answer the questions matter-of-factly .”

” Okay,” he said .

When the conference started the principal asked Hull if he was aware that a student had accused him ……………”

” That little asshole ! ” Hull jumped in  ,” I had to grab the little jerk and………………..”

He was dead in the water in the first two minutes . Dr. Marshall , the principal , was a fair-minded man . He kept a poker face as he continued with Hull , but I know that his eyes were rolling back in their sockets behind his principal mask. Mine were doing the same thing .

At some point Marshall dismissed Hull . After the teacher walked out of the office Marshall looked over at me and asked ,” What do we do with that ? ”

What I did with it was contact UTLA headquarters and get some suggestions . With  official backup from the union I worked out a deal with Marshall that Hull could remain teaching if he entered an anger management program of six Saturdays . Dr. Marshall was bending over backwards to go for this deal . He had to sell the agreement to his supervisors .

” I’m not crazy !” Hull said when I laid out the plan to him . ” I won’t do it . ”

I tried to talk him out of his refusal but he wasn’t going for it . It had taken me quite a lot of cajoling  to get the agreement for him but he’d rather lose his job than sign up for anger management classes because he thought they would make him look ” crazy”. I had to slink back into the principal’s office and tell him that the deal we had hammered out over the last week was out .

” Maybe it’s better that the guy’s out of education ,” Marshall said .

” Yeah ,” I agreed .

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apple store

I took metro over to Pasadena to the Apple Store because we were having some problems with the laptop . The store is right in the middle of Old Town and so parking is an issue . There are parking structures but I hate to pay for parking. Metro one way is $1.50 .

It’s a Saturday . I expected a crowd . As soon as I walked in I made an appointment . The soonest would be two hours later . Okay , I don’t have to fret that the parking will cost more , or that I will have to move the car if I’d parked in the two hour spots on  the street up near the Norton Simon Museum .  ” Sure , make the appointment ,” I told the Apple guy in the blue shirt .

I walked on up Colorado to Barney’s Beanery and had a beer and a bowl of clam chowder . This Barney’s is a copy of the original Barney’s Beanery in Hollywood . I guess there’s nothing wrong with that . But , I can’t kick the notion that a remake is never as good as the original . The chowder was good . I was counting TVs on in the place , though , and stopped at thirty . 

Mike McNeilly and I used to sometimes go over the the original Beanery in the middle of the night when he got off work . Mike was a good mime who wanted to break into acting . He worked odd hours and would often show up in the middle of the night . ” Want to go to Barney’s for chili cheese omelets ? “

I was a college  student at the time . Need I say more ? The night waitress at that time was usually drunk . She stumbled along , stepping on toes and sometimes knocking over drinks . She could swear eloquently and profusely if , for some reason , you lit her short fuse by attempting  a complicated order or by asking too many questions about the lengthly menu . She was part of the ambiance of the seedy old Barney’s Beanery .

There were matchbooks on the tables , still , in those days that said ” Faggots Stay Out “. Old man Barney evidently was seriously homophobic . The matchbooks were fire engine red with bold black printing . A  lawsuit later kicked Barney’s lack of toleration in the pants and the matchbooks and accompanying discrimination ended .

In the copy cat Barney’s on Colorado Boulevard I didn’t read anything  of the seedy history of the original beanery . On the back of their menu was a one page long glorification of the original restaurant . Marilyn Monroe ate there , and Jim Morrison drank there , and this famous guy and that famous  guy hung out there .There should be an addendum paragraph , at least , telling about the ” Faggot Stay Out ” matchbooks and the subsequent lawsuit .

Barney used to  put license plates donated by customers on the walls during Great Depression years , Oklahoma plates , and Texas plates , and Arkansas plates . He would trade , it was said , a meal for a license plate . The worn out plates eloquently symbolized the struggles of the Dust Bowl days . The copy cat place has license plates on the walls , too . But the essence of the meaning of the plates is non-existent . It’s an empty gesture , a soulless imitation .

But the beer was good and the clam chowder was surprisingly tasty and it was a good way to wait until my Apple appointment . I went up to what Apple calls the “genius bar ” and Jason the genius did his genius magic on the laptop and I left . There were two guys on the sidewalk outside the store soliciting attention from passers-by : ” A Minute to support gay rights !”  they called .


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today’s mish-mash

Earlier today I started a post about going last night to Northridge to see the philharmonic . The orchestra was from Wroclaw , Poland .The venue was the fabulous Performing Arts Center , like a  mini Disney Concert Hall , on Nordhoff in the San Fernando Valley .

But , of course , as soon as I started I got sidetracked and began writing about CSUN , ( California State University at Northridge ) which is nearby on the same street . Seeing the school brought  back memories of taking education classes there in the seventies on my way to a teaching credential . Someday I may write about that , about Ron Sima’s exceptional class on teaching methods , and about the other useless classes .

Someday I may write about finishing the credential work at Loyola-Marymount University and about the bogus history test there . I might mention going over to Pepperdine University to see if I could finish up there . My first attempt at writing the post got bogged down in the same bureaucratic mire  and misdirection as I encountered back then on my way to a credential. So , I will spare you the details here .

As I was writing the post earlier today Tom drove up in his old Ford pickup with a couple of worn out chairs that a friend of ours was throwing out . There are two footstools , too. They’re Danish  , from the 50s or 60s , and ” are worth a thousand ” Tom said . He’d found the chairs  prices on a website .

They’re not worth a thousand now . Maybe the friend should have thrown them out . I need to refinish the wood and Ada needs to take the rest of the things to the apolsterer . They’ll be worth at least the hundreds we will have to spend for the work on them .

As Tom and I were trying to figure out how the chairs come apart so that I can refinish them our buddy Willie called to invite us to dinner . He called just after the window guys called to set up an appointment to do a couple of repairs .

And then Ada began asking if I’d seen the cat , Woodie . The cat had evidently peed on the CD collection . Again . ” Are you writing your blog ? ”  Ada asked .

I’m trying too .

” No. Not any more .” By now Tom and I were sharing a beer and he was handing me a set of his wrenches to dismantle the chairs .

Last night we were sitting in the Performing Arts Center listening to Chopin and watching the orchestra play . We were listening to the music bounce off the blonde -wood walls and  down from the curved wood panels hanging above the stage . For me listening to the music was like floating on a cloud for awhile , like a meditation , like an emotional yoga exercise for a couple of hours . It was musical massage .

I walked over to our bank after Tom left  to be assertive with the loan officer who seemed to be giving us the run around again on the refinance . I had already called the 800 number to try to register a complaint and I had been told pleasantly by the woman on the line  that she couldn’t help me . ” You need to complain at your local branch , ” she said .  ” This is customer service . We don’t do that here .”

” But I’m a customer, ” I said . ” Give me the name of someone to complain to  above the branch level .”  It was no use .

Maybe if I had written the blog post while sitting in the auditorium last night in Northridge  I would have finished with something amazingly ethereal and flowingly cohesive .  That didn’t happen , though .

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the mountains

There is something reassuring about a mountain .  We have them as a backdrop to the neighborhood , just up the street .

I often watch the shadows change the hues up there on the hillsides  as clouds pass slowly overhead and also on cloudless days as the sun moves along on its daily pilgrimage to the sea . The mountain changes constantly from a deep shade of blue , some might say purple , to a cardboard -box   brown and then , sometimes , to a delicate embroidery of white . Sometimes , on the higher peaks , there sits a thin blanket of white  when snow levels fall . Mount Baldy is the star snow-gatherer in the area .

But  our local mountains are not the exhibitionists that some other mountains are . Go to Zion , for example , and look at the massive rock formations ostentatiously called  ” the patriarchs “.
  Or gaze up at Sugarloaf from the valley in Yosemite . These are show-off mountains . These formations  have a right to show off , of course . They are spectacular .

Our mountains are much more sedate , with an unpretentious dignity .

One time long ago an older couple from Ohio came in to Redman Van and Storage in Santa Monica while I was working there . They had moved from Ohio and their belongings were waiting for them in the warehouse . They had driven from Ohio by way of Seattle . They had come down all the way to Santa Monica along the coast highway .

” Four days of mountain and ocean ,” the woman complained .” That’s all you have here ,” she whined , ” mountains and ocean .” She was disgusted and exhausted from the long drive on the winding  Highway 1 . ” We should have stayed in Ohio . We had everything there !”

I said , ” Except mountains and ocean . ” 

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blah blah blog

Start writing a blog .

Don’t start writing a blog .

I started this blog a couple of months ago . Maybe a little longer ago than that , but not much .

I don’t have a focus yet . Probably never will . I write stories from randomly returning memories as they pop up somewhere in the recesses of my brain . Some people write political blogs . Some  post only photographs . Some focus on travel , or family events , or religion , or sports . Or literature . My friend Joe writes a literary blog . He makes reference to literature and music and he posts another one every so often . I try to do one every day . So far .

It’s good practice posting  a blog . Practice writing . Practice writing for the world , world access , even when there might only be one reader . I have one faithful reader , at least . Six people have signed up for an e-mail notice when my blog pops out another post . I suppose they read a post of mine now and again .

One of the six , however , died a few weeks ago . I think that he was one of the six . He had a chance to read a few posts before he passed  . No , I’m sure there is no cause and effect here because he had been having health problems for years . Nothing to do with my blog . Wherever he is now , I can hear him making a joke about it , though : ” If only I hadn’t started reading your blog ! ” and then making that one noise that he made instead of laughing . It was kind of a single burst of air exhaled all in one full baritone ” huh “. That was it . And then his eyes laughed and you always knew he was having a laugh in his own particular way .

I grow a deadly hot pepper from Guatemala . I have only two plants now , but in the past I had several . My former  home , Holly wood , has  a better climate than Arcadia for them . These peppers are too hot even for my Mexican friends . I found one Central American guy at Virgil Middle School , though , who would use my peppers in his cooking . I was his regular supplier . I had plenty to give him since no one else was interested in taking any . A few months after I discovered that this guy liked the peppers he died . Again , no cause and effect , I’m sure .

So , I’m working out a conceptual connection between reading my blog and eating the Guatemalan peppers , but it’s only in the infant stage . That rare reader / eater is somehow the key ingredient to the conceptual soup . Needed ,  as well , is the spice of the story / pepper ; but the writer / gardener is a fairly insignificant ingredient , I think .  Necessary , of course , but not essential .

So , I shirk my responsibility in the whole matter . I just grow it / write it , and send it off into the world .

Write a blog . Or don’t write a blog . Read a blog or don’t read a blog . Eat the pepper or don’t eat a pepper . I think I will continue writing them and growing them for awhile . It’s fun and it makes it all more fun to find someone who appreciates the product .


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