Feb 19

The iPad story

Oh look, more snow and rain to run and play in …

That was at the end of this evening’s too-cold-for-a-5K neighborhood 5K. I’m now writing fancifully self-indulgent mini-essays on Instagram about it. The theme is: I’m ready for it to be warm. And, if we’re lucky, in six or seven weeks, it might be!

Yesterday looked like this, all day:

It was an almost-bitter cold on Saturday, but it was sunny, which was nice. And we took the day to take a trip to Indianapolis. Another trip, incidentally. Do you want the whole story? You want the whole story.

The week before last I finally said aloud that my iPad, which is now five years old and a refurb, was having trouble charging. We took it to a local place, where we have had the occasion to spend too much money for minor repairs. They looked it over and could not help.

So I called on Friday, a week ago, to set up an appointment at the genius bar at the Apple Store in Indianapolis. That Saturday was much like this one, cold, with stubborn snow piles everywhere, but dry, so it was a good day to take the 70-plus mile trip north. At the Apple Store we met a guy named Scott. At first he thought my iPad had died, so after I convinced him that it was the glare and the brightness turned way down, Scott ran his diagnostics. I’m having trouble with the charging port, but the battery was pretty much toast. He said as much, and showed us the diagnostic results. Scott said it is a batter problem, then, and not a charging port problem. The solution was a new replacement iPad, for $99. Same model, but a new battery and no charging port problems, and a 90-day warranty.

Great! Good deal! This is what I want to do. Of course they don’t have this particular model in the back of the store. It’s several generations behind and it would be unreasonable to expect they have it on the shelf.

So the solution, to avoid having to make another trip up to Indianapolis, is to have them mail one to me. This is how that process didn’t work.

On Sunday, right on time, someone from Apple Support called me. She consulted the file, and I had to explain everything. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) Kim was her name, and she was lovely. I was her first call that day, we talked for 40 minutes. She is a retired school teacher out west and was just upbeat about how this whole experience was going to set up her shift. She had an even better solution than the mail procedure. It turns out there is an authorized service provider here in town and only slightly removed from my regular route. She set up an appointment for Tuesday morning and I could go and do this whole thing. They’ll get the replacement iPad in, $99, I can transfer everything and we all go about our day. Wonderful.

On Tuesday morning, I went to the local authorized service provider. The time for my appointment arrives. They open my file. I have to tell my story again. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) The guy says “We can do that, but it will be $149 because our prices are — ” and I said I’ll just work with Apple instead then, thanks for your time.

So I call Apple Support again. I didn’t catch the name of the lady I spoke with on Tuesday, but she opened my file and I had to explain the whole story for a fourth time. Turns out Apple can’t do the mailing option in the way that was described to me in the Apple Store or by her counterpart at Apple Support. That’s if you’re under a warranty. I am not. The method she can offer me is for me to send mine in and they send it back. Well, that might fix only half of my problem. And why is it that every person in this take has a different solution? And why do I have to keep explaining this story to every level of the organization?

The lady on the phone asks if I’d like to talk to the senior supervisor. No, I said, but if you could give me a direct line to the Apple Store in Indianapolis that’d be great. I’ll just deal with them. I don’t want in the national system, I want the local store. She tries to forward me, but no one answers. OK, fine. I ask her if she could just give me that number. She can. I ask her if she can email that number, because I am walking across campus at this point and I don’t have a pen. She can’t email me the phone number.

You know what? I’d like to talk to the senior supervisor now. Without a fuss she says OK. And I’m put on hold until Wade comes on the phone. Wade has been briefed a bit. But I have to tell Wade the whole story again. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) Wade agrees this story is now ridiculous and should have been resolved.

So Wade gets me the direct Apple Store number, and after two tries, Amber answers. I explain the whole story one more time. She sends me to the repair shop in the back of the store, where I speak to someone who also wants to know the story, which is amazing because I’m bored with it myself now. This person orders my new iPad. So nonchalant was she that I spent most of this week wondering if they’d actually, you know, done anything.

Anyway, during Thursday’s tornado warning the Apple Store called. My iPad was in. They also sent two emails. And on Saturday we went back up there, the thing I was originally trying to avoid, for the second time in eight days, and did the swap. I made sure my machine was backed up. I met Randall, who was easily the least cheery person in this story, but maybe he was just having a long afternoon. Nevertheless, he got the new iPad, we restored my old device to it — like not missing a beat, after eight days of watching Apple miss beats all over the place — reformatted the old one and managed to not get emotional about handing it over. And it cost the $99, as I had been promised. (Take that, authorized service provider!)

Also on those two trips we stocked up at Trader Joe’s and failed at one other errand. On the second trip we saw Bohemian Rhapsody. On both days it was sunny and I was with The Yankee. Easily the best part of the deal.

Incidentally, my father-in-law bought a new iPad online Monday. It was delivered on Tuesday. The lesson? Buy new.

Jan 18

Winter is actually coming

It is going to snow tomorrow. It is raining and will continue to rain and then the rain will turn into snow. We are properly provisioned. We have visited the stores and braved the crowds. I saw a Cadillac parked in a handicapped parking space at the grocery store. The driver had cared in equal parts about driving the right direction up and down the parking lot lanes, parking in the actual space and in displaying a handicapped sticker or hangtag, which is to say not at all.

I have laundered all of the clothes. If the power goes out and never comes back, my wardrobe will be in decent shape for a while.

We are prepared to salt the driveway. For not the first time I wondered if they colored this salt a blueish-green to keep people from trying to eat it. Fortunately the cars are already set for cold conditions, which we’ve been in for … oh some amount of time not yet approaching demoralizing.

But there’s no need to worry about all of that. We’re going to have a weekend of peacefully reading and doing nothing and loving every bit of that.

We won’t wake up to a winter wonderland tomorrow, it is going to appear all around us as we work and play.

Jan 18

Things you write in and on

I bought some new notebooks the other night. I have many notebooks and notepads, you see. Some I use. At the office, I work from a stack of legal pads, with each one corresponding to a different role or set of running concerns. At home I have a nice stack of old notebooks and pads and things that I’ve accumulated over the years — and years isn’t overstating it. None of them are of an special high quality, they were meant to be scribbled and written on, but for whatever reason I find I seldom use them. And when I do find a need to write in one, I have the worst time deciding which one I’m going to mark up.

But when I’m on the go I’ve found that I enjoy the one-subject, 100-page, seven-inch by five-inch spiral notebook. They fit in my bag, they are inexpensive, they come in many colors and so I can use one for each subject and they are spiral bound, which is just easier somehow.

And so, having purchased a new handful of those to compliment the two older ones, I can pare some stuff down. I have lecture notes and interview notes and random notes to myself and scribbles between me and whoever I was sitting next to at the time and all kinds of things in those two notebooks. Some of that information is still useful. Some information really needs to be separated, which I spent a bit of this evening doing. (My life, now featuring a notebook of things that just needed to be separate unto itself, in a notebook that might one day see eight percent of its pages put into use.)

While I was leafing through the pages, trying to decide if I should keep this section, or tear it out or transcribe this specific page into a new book, I ran across this page:

I’ve no idea what I was going for here.

As ever, the web helped me figure it out:

I thought that, somehow, someone’s guess might jog my memory, but I’m still at a loss. Leave your theories on what this note could possibly mean in the comments!

I visited the surplus store this evening. This is where the entire university system sends its gently and heavily used products when they’ve reached the end of their time on campus. You can find deals on clothes to cleats to sheets to desks and chairs to high quality picture frames there. So it is good to visit every once in a while, and they have later hours on Wednesday, so I can stop in on the way home and, tonight I was going with a purpose. We basically needed a computer stand and I thought I’d start looking for something I could halfway modify.

And wouldn’t you know it, they were having a half off sale tonight. And wouldn’t you know it, right by the door:

So I consulted with HQ, we took some measurements both of this lectern and of where it might need to go and, long story short, we now have a lectern at home.

What, you don’t?

I was standing in line, beating out some random rhythm with my fingertips and the couple behind me called me out on it. I thought they were trying to get me to stop, but they were just making idle talk while they stood in line with me. They were a little surprised a random guy would purchase a lectern. And they were pretty close to buying my story that I wanted it so I could practice classroom lectures at home.

In retrospect, if I’d told them about the notebook thing they would have absolutely bought that story.

Jan 18

Stiiiiiill frozen

I walked back out to more-or-less the same spot I took the picture from yesterday’s post. That was actually something I shot on Wednesday, after the Jordan River, which is really a stream, had been frozen for a few days. And today:

It is melting this weekend. We’re finally getting above 20 degrees for the first time in weeks. And then the ice will come.

But that’s for Sunday night and Monday morning. Tonight there’s a trip to the grocery store for drinks, and then another grocery store, for different drinks. This is a thing that happens for us discerning shoppers. One store simply won’t do.

So I headed north, to the next little town, to get a tea brewed from back home. The tea is made nine miles from where I grew up, actually. They ship it up here by the miracles of interstate commerce and it is sold in exactly two places here. So its a bit of home I enjoy too much. So that one out-of-the-way store has the tea. But I must also pick up some Coke. And this store doesn’t carry the proper variety.

The very large grocery store, the annoying one with the unseemly parking lot and the large crowds, has the right Coke. It is hecho en Mexico. And you can get it for a bulk rate, and use the self checkout system, which is a lifesaver, when you can catch an open unit. If they’re full, you may as well find the longest line with a human checkout. Also, you can get flowers at that store, which I did this evening, because it was Friday and that seemed like a good enough reason for a small bouquet for the kitchen counter.

Outside, in the shivering, blistering cold, there are six gas pumps and a bunch of people in cars who don’t know how to drive around gas pumps. And now I have drinks for a week, a month of fuel for the car and a few days of colorful petals to enjoy over breakfast and chicken pot pie for dinner tonight. And, also, a weekend.

Next week classes begin, there will be a lot of new stuff on Twitter and Instagram, the return of a great site feature and a lot more. Do enjoy your weekend, but come back soon.

Dec 17

December announcement

The trees are up. The ornaments will become a multi-day affair, starting over the weekend. The greenery is wound around the bannisters. A tasteful amount of Christmas decor has been displayed. December is here.

And now we have to go shopping, too? And then get ready to travel? And finish the semester in the next few days?

So site activity will be reduced this month. This is not a hiatus — I just added a cool new video to the front page, for example — but it won’t be an every day thing. Please do stop by from time to time, though.

I will be continue to be active on Instagram and Twitter, however.

See you sometime next week.