Thursday, August 25, 2005


This was going to be a comment on Kelly's Tech Support post, but it was too long, so I made it a post on my own blog.

I once fried my hard drive. I called Sony support, as I was still under full warranty. I'll never forget this one. The conversation went like this:

ME: Well, I seem to have fried my hard drive.

GEEK: (chuckling) Now, let's not jump to conclusions! First, is the computer plugged in?

ME: Yeah, um, listen, I'm pretty well versed in computer stuff, so I, no offense, think we can dispense with all of the idiot questions. I can tell it's the drive because it is making a horrible noise when it attempts to read and write. (thinking: much like you, I imagine.)

GEEK: (as if I'd never spoken) Now, let's turn the computer on and see what happens.

ME: OK, I know what will happen. It will sound like a wookie in a meat grinder, and will do nothing.

GEEK: Let's try turning on the computer now.

ME: (defeated) OK.

GEEK: Have you turned it on?

ME: Yes. It's making a wookie noise, as I've said, and the screen is the monitor's default screen. It says "no signal."

GEEK: Hmmmm. OK, then let's go to the Control Panel. Go to the START button on the lower..

ME: No, we cannot. See, the computer will not boot. Look, I'm not trying to be rude, but can we step away from the script now and have a conversation?

GEEK: So the computer will not boot? Not at all? What are you seeing on the screen?

ME: No, it will not. The screen says, "No signal." That's the monitor talking. You see, the monitor is waiting for something from the computer. Something the computer just can't give it. Ever have that feeling?

GEEK: Let's turn off the computer now.

ME: Did already.

GEEK: It sounds to me like your hard drive may be down.

ME: (now at John Cleese-level deadpan) Really. What tipped you off?

GEEK: Now, I'm checking our stock. We have those backordered right now and it will be six to eight weeks, but we'll get a replacement out to you. A service rep will call you when we have the part. Let's get your serial number so we can get the process started. Look on the back of your computer...

ME: No, I'm sorry, I will not. How is it, how, that a computer company could be backordered on hard drives? This seems incomprehensible to me. I mean, you guys like MAKE computers. Computers which will not work without this essential component. Six weeks, nay six hours is too long for you guys to be out of hard drives. What, I ask you, am I supposed to do for six to eight weeks without a computer?

GEEK: Please calm down. There's nothing I can do until you give me your serial number. Let's look at the back of the computer...

ME: No. NO. Let me speak with your manager.

GEEK: He will tell you the same thing that I am...

ME: OK. Let me tell you how this is going to happen. I'm going to disconnect my computer right now and take it to Best Buy, where I purchased it. I will have them put in a new hard drive today and bill Sony.

GEEK: I'm afraid that's not the way your service plan works.

ME: Starting today, it does. Trust me.

GEEK: Well good luck, and your incident number is 654-143647-M

ME: M? As in moron?

GEEK: Yes, M as in Mary.

ME: Thank you. You've been a tremendous help.

GEEK: Thank you for calling Sony.

Cut to Best Buy. I am standing at the counter, peering into the smug, dead eyes of one of their technicians.

ME: (speaking as quickly as possible to make sure I get it all out) So, here's the thing. I've fried my hard drive. I KNOW for certain that it is fried because the computer will not boot. When it tries to boot, it makes this sound: Booooorrrrrrrrhpppp! boooooorrrrrrrhpppp! The Sony dude agreed that it was a dead hard drive. I want a new one put in under the terms of my warranty. Sony is backordered, and so they have violated the contract into which we entered, together. They cannot hold up their end of the bargain by sending a service guy to my house within 48 hours. Therefore, I need you to do this for me. I have brought the machine to you. Please replace the hard drive, and bill Sony for it. Here's my receipt.

BB GUY: (plugs it in and puts ear to case) That's a fried hard drive alright. (looks at my receipt) We have this problem with Sony sometimes. Give us four hours?

ME: Yes. Four hours. I love you, you know.

BB GUY: Yeah, I get that alot.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I love ya, DA BURGH.

I have commented on other blogs, and I admit that I do get miffed when I hear Pittsburghers complain about Pittsburgh. I often think that if all of the people who complained about it would half as much energy into improving it, it would be a much nicer place. I'm not saying I don't have issues with it as well. So, first, the good news:

Pittsburgh has all of the cultural benefits of a bigger city: great theatre, a world class symphony, an opera, and a ballet. If you do not choose to take advantage of these opportunities, that is not the city's fault. Theatre seats can be had for a song, if you know how to go about it. For a city of our size, I would say we have quite a nice selection of productions and venues. For myself, I like The Public and PICT (Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre). I also subscribe to Symphony with a Splash. It's super-cheap, the programs have really cool themes (works by certifiably insane composers, music about weather) and they give you a spread of pre-show snacks that amounts to dinner. It's one of the best entertainment deals going.

We have three major league sports teams. The Steelers. Need I say more? If you've never been to a Steeler game on a crisp fall day, if you've never smelled the barbecue wafting out of Gate A of Heinz Field, if you've never warmed up in The Great Hall and made fun of Bob Pompeani behind his back, if you've never tried to call your friend across the stadium, thinking for a minute you might really be able to wave to her, if you've never tailgated next to a drunk guy named "Stush" who kept trying to kiss you, and if you've never been there when the Steelers take the field to a deafening crowd roar, then my friend, you've never BEEN to Pittsburgh. I don't want to hear it. I don't care whether you like football or not. This is not about football.

Now, in spite of all of these big-city perks, we suffer few of the big-city ailments. Our crime rate is relatively low and the traffic, while annoying, is not as bad as that of larger cities. And because we are smaller, and a little bit behind the trendy, opportunity abounds. Every fresh idea is eaten up by the younger (and younger-at-heart) folks around here. I'm now making my living off of this little fact. When there are many voids, YOU have the chance to fill them.

The stuffy, pretentious art world in Pittsburgh is less stuffy than in other cities. A young artist here will have a far better chance of getting a showing than in other places. And, even if you, dear reader, think this is minor, the busy galleries in town and the artists do not.

Even if you live in the far west part of the city, you need only to drive for an hour to reach the Laurel Highlands. Ligonier, Somerset, Mount Davis, Linn Run, Ohiopyle. These are beautiful places for picnics, camping, or autumn foliage drives. There are wineries to visit, apple cider to sip, and caves to explore. What more do you want?

Here's a fact that many native Pittsburghers don't even know: You know those fish sandwiches you get at firehalls and local bars? The ones bigger than your head? Guess what. That's ONLY in Pittsburgh. Next time you are in another city, order a fish sandwich and see what you get.

Take all of that, add in some pretty friendly locals, some nifty ethnic nieghborhoods, and a very unique dialect, so thick that you could use it as "code speak" in other towns, and you've got a burgh.

As if all of that wasn't enough, I have a few more words for you:

Mineo's Pizza
Mad Mex
East End Food Co-Op
Carnegie Museum
Dinosaur Exhibit!
The view when you exit the Fort Pitt Tunnel
The game of "Spot the Wiseguy."
Eide's Records and Comic Books
The Church Brew Works
Penn Brewery
Carnegie Library System (so efficient!)
Three Rivers Arts Festival

Now that I'm tired of typing, I'll let the oversimplification begin. What's wrong with Pittsburgh? Two words: Tom Murphy. How did he get there? How did he get elected again? Is it his personal mission to make Pittsburgh as inhospitable and uncomfortable for businesses and commuters as he possibly can? Get him and his cronies the hell out of here, and we may just have a chance.

A lot of what else is bad has more to do with the state "government" than the local. I have much to say on this, and a big, impossible plan to do something about it. As I've said before, you're all coming with me. But that's for another post, another day.

In the meantime, I do love ya, da Burgh!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Oh, Lawdy. How I wish I could blog some photos right now. But it seems unlikely at this time. You will have to rely upon my miserable writing to help you feel my angst and joy. With no further ado, I borrow shamelessly from Name Hidden, and give you the ten things I learned on vacation this year. Admittedly, vacation is not over yet, but a close is drawing near, and I wax pensive, and also just a little drunk.

1. A girl like me should never leave the house without the following items: wine, folding chairs, a knitting basket, the big bag of watercolor supplies, and chocolate.

2. I have a sinister, secretive side. I am fantasizing relentlessly about buying a very modest beach home without the knowledge of my husband. One never knows when one might need to escape. If you've read my blog before, you know my toothbrush is already packed.

3. The Outer Banks of North Carolina are truly the opposite of every other beach. Other beaches get more hotels. The OBX get hotels being torn down to build houses. Life is good.

4. I will never be happy until I've had a high-seas adventure.

5. I am completely turned on by the disparate and unpredictable moods of the ocean. You go to bed and there's no wind, and the sea is calm. You wake up to blue water, choppy white waves, and a brisk onshore wind. Heaven. I am totally into the fact that right at this very moment, I am listening to the ocean and typing on my laptop. Each and every night, I am moved almost to tears, by the simple smell of salt air. I was never meant to be a landlubber. This trip is so important to me each year that I mentally keep track by it. In my mind, the year is about to end.

6. Tomorrow night, I have reservations for a sail aboard The (schooner) Downeast Rover. We will sail the same waters as Sir Walter Raleigh. I am actually nervous about it because it may be TOO MUCH LIKE KRISSY FANTASY WORLD. I hope I recover. Real sails, wildly historic waters. DOOMED.

7. On a mundane note, it has become clear to me that I need to give the hell in and get a mouth guard for hopeless tooth-grinders. I gnash day and night, and something needs to be done, lest I become a toothless old hag. My dentist told me that she could see "the wear facets"starting to develop. I thought that sounded nice. Now I see that it is not. I'm giving myself headaches. I'm doing it right now.

8. Ocracoke lighthouse is the oldest on the OBX. HA! I knew it! Take that, Cape Hatteras, you big thunder-stealer! You think that just because you're bigger, you can beat up on everyone. But I'm not buying!

9. A person who is 90% vegetarian should not have a field day by eating a whole pound of crab legs. One who is not used to such things cannot digest them. One gets ill effects. One's stomach makes absurd noises. One gets real bad gas. I'm glad this never happened to me.

10. On a visit to Ocracoke, and a super-informative visit to Teach's Hole, I learned, in great detail, about the demise of Blackbeard the Pirate, and also about the treachery our government is dishing out to residents of Ocracoke island. Memebers of Blackbeard's crew scuttled at the time of his death, and spawned families on Ocracoke. This was back in the 1750's, my friends. The descendants of these people still live on the island. But thanks to tourism, and me, apparently, their property taxes have skyrocketed, and they are scrounging to make a living. Many have already had to sell their ancestral properties. Others sell handicrafts and the like to keep up. My disgust knows no bounds. Let's just say I emptied my pocketbook on local pottery, woven items, and snacks. Screw you, tax man. Do you hear me? Descendants of Blackbeard's crew are leaving because they can't pay their taxes. This is beyond repulsive. The beautiful, simple existence is being taken away because of TAXES. Grandfather them in, motherfuckers!

For the love of all things holy, when I go to Ocracoke, I eat at Howard's pub. Howard was Blackbeard's quartermaster, and the pub still exists. But the Howard family can no longer pay THE MAN? Am I going liberal or super-conservative? I don't care. Leave these people to their beloved island!

I'll post pictures when I get home!