I thought I’d get my monthly post out of the way early here in March.  I know that’s not how I usually do things, but here we are.

Since we last chatted, I’ve been to Milwaukee and back, destroyed a Macbook by spilling hotel-brewed tea and taken a couple of trumpet lessons.  Among other things, of course.  I’m a vibrant and fascinating fellow.

The Macbook incident was particularly galling.  I’d done this before - coffee vs. Dell laptop.  The Dell warranty I had, however, covered stupid stuff that owners did as well as hardware failures, and I got a free motherboard replacement.  While my Macbook was still covered under Applecare, I believe that Apple presumes that Macbooks are all operated by Geniuses® who would not under any circumstance fuck up the liquid/gravity/Macbook relationship.  I got a “D” in high school physics, however (I lied about it when I filled out my application to own a Macbook), and there’s a fine-print Applecare exception for people like me.  The repair was estimated at up to $1200 if the system board had to be replaced (likely).

This happened on Tuesday of the week I was in Milwaukee.  I limped through the week working on various desktops at my client’s, and lugged the corpse home Friday night.  I spent a day dithering about whether to repair or replace, which sounds like I was engaged in critical thinking, but I was just wallowing in the Grief stage. Then I started looking around Craigslist for a replacement.

I ended up finding a 17″ Macbook 2008 vintage (the dearly departed was a 15″ 2008), stopped at the bank for a wad of Benjamins and made a UW student’s Sunday night. I had done a Timemachine backup in early January, so I was able to get my system, including my Windows VMWare machine, back as of that point.  I had determined that my old hard drive was undamaged, so I looked up detailed instructions on how to extract it from my old Mac (the Internet is the best thing since people learned to make arrowheads out of flint).  I put the drive in a casing and brought my system pretty much up to the Milwaukee Valdez incident. All of that took me up to last weekend.  Little fires flare up now & then, and I’m behind on my billing and a few other things, but life is pretty much back to normal.


The trumpet lessons have been an interesting turn of events.  I haven’t had a trumpet lesson since I was a sophomore in high school.  Since I’ve been playing regularly, however, I find myself wanting to improve a bit.  I found an instructor and signed up for an initial session.  It helped quite a bit, as she espied some bad breathing and embouchure technique I’d either fallen into or always had, and I got a nice handful of new exercises to practice.

She also got the idea to hook up with another of her adult students and have the three of us play trumpet trios.  I’ve done that twice now, and it’s fun - I can hear myself in a way I can’t when I’m playing with the full band, and it pushes me into higher ranges, as we trade off parts.  We may try to do some performances if things proceed.

In band, our Russian concert on the 19th and 20th looms.  We had an “extra” rehearsal Saturday (we usually rehearse Tuesday evenings), playing 1812 and Sheherazade, and I thought the wheels fell off in a few places.  There are a lot of solo bits and “bikini note” exposures where intonation is critical.

A couple of funny bits from rehearsal:

  • We were stopped for a bit, and the conductor was admonishing us to play as loudly as we could during a crescendo, but not to lose control of tone quality or intonation. Once we got outside our control envelope, he said, “it’s like a little old lady walking a Rottweiler.”
  • We were rehearsing 1812 Overture, and really working on some passages, always approaching, but never playing, the triumphant climax. About the fourth time we were locked & loaded to drive Napoleon back to Europe, but stopped just short, a woman trumpet player next to me said, “this is Tantric music.” (Her point was that the whole piece is just an extended tease until the ending, but the rehearsal situation made it all the more humorous)


  1. My recent notebook purchase was preceded by fits and starts of “Macbook vs. Sony Vaio” but the Sony won. My decision was made when I learned of the physics requirement. I failed without coursework by dropping my old Dell from a 2 foot cliff onto the dangerous carpeted floor below, killing all the tiny little physicists and mathematicians who lived inside the silver box.

  2. Oh man, you had a time of it! The only thing worse than a car wreck is losing your computer. Glad you were able to restore.

  3. Phil:

    Springer - I knew the little fuckers were in there, but never could visually verify. It’s sort of like Horton Hears a Who. But even if he heard it, would he know how to deal with Teenage Wasteland?

    Kathleen - only a car wreck where I’m not physically hurt - only the damn car. I think I have the important stuff in control.

  4. Your cautionary computer tale is both painful and hilarious. I drink my coffee/water/wine/martini at my computer all the time. And I don’t back up. Shame on me. I am inviting the universe to sucker punch me in the gut…not really — NOT REALLY.

    Your colleague’s quip sent me into spasms of laughter — I’ll have to pass that on to my BIL, band/orchestra/string ensemble director extraordinaire. He will know just what she’s talking about!

  5. I LOVE it when my computer goes kaflooie. Then I can start over.


  6. Carroll:

    I am wildly envious of your musical talents, Phil. How marvelous to be able to parlay that hobby into a life-long ability to have fun.

    But Phil…that Teresa person??? You have some *weird* friends, Mister!

  7. Phil:

    Thanks, Carroll. And if you haven’t been exposed to Teresa’s writing be sure to pay her a visit. It would be worth the airfare, methinks, to fly to Syracuse to hear her read her exquisite poetry.