Olive Oil on Bread, Rollerblading, and Roseanne

Rollerblading.

I still do it.  I have skated over 21,000 miles.  I’m still trying to get a feel for the trails here in South Florida, and I have to say skating here could be better.

When you build a path that is due East/West and due North/South, you’re going to have one direction that you are with the wind on your back, another that it is in your face.  Just the way it is when the winds come off the ocean pretty predictably.

But, it’s here, and I’m in paradise, and I can skate.   So I do.  Push myself with a heart rate that feels like I am slacking if it is only at 160, and I have seen it peak over 200.

Sounds excessive?  Maybe.  If you hear “He went while he was skating” just think “He went doing something he loves”.

It wears through wheels quickly, and since you can’t really find proper racing wheels easily these days since the sport died around 2003…

(Hey!  Where did everyone go?)

The idea of going to My Favorite Skate Shop is done.  I didn’t like paying $6 a wheel when I would have to replace 2 after two workouts and I’d do 4 workouts a week.

I know… blah blah blah.  It’s safe to say that I easily have more skate parts in Wilton Manors than any other place in town.  That box has enough bearings to last into the next millennium and it’s packed solid with replacement wheels of five different sizes.

I had this conversation with myself without realizing I was actually vocalizing it the other night.  I was sitting on the couch half watching Roseanne trying to write in her basement and commiserating with her character that no matter how good it is, sometimes you just can’t do what you love. 

Then I realized I was having that conversation with someone in the house.   Writing can be hard.  You hit a writer’s block and you need a topic.  It’s what others call A Muse, but I am not really good enough for a Muse. 

“Why don’t you write about Olive Oil in restaurants.  You always complain about that and you haven’t had a good Rant in a while”.

Nobody really wants to hear about that.

You see I have a major problem with being presented a small dish of olive oil and sometimes herbs or balsamic vinegar with the implication that I’m expected to put it on a piece of bread. 

First off it looks like something I drained from the crankcase of my Jeep. 

Who ever got the idea that it is oh so very wonderful to dip a piece of bread into a puddle of motor oil and yard sweepings needs to sit over there in the corner with their face pointed into the wall.  Now, just wait, I’ll go get my baseball bat and re-enact a scene from The Godfather.

No.  Just no.  Not ever.  Bring me the butter.  period.  Unsalted if you have it, Salted if you don’t.  If you don’t have butter, take the damn bread away.

I actually said the motor oil comment in a posh restaurant once.

Excuse me, but do you have any butter?
“Sorry, No.”
Then can you take the bread away?
“Sorry, No.”

She sniffed and spun around on her heels and left.

I think she may have had an idea when I insisted on our leaving a pointedly small tip.  I haven’t been back.  I won’t go back.  Rudeness is never an option in business or in clients.

I don’t care if you personally think it’s the best thing on your sliced bread since sliced bread.  I don’t care if it is trendy.  No.  Just, No.

The idea of sticking a piece of bread into a “Fine reduction of balsamic vinegar, herbs and spices, and extra virgin olive oil” leaves me cold and a side order of wanting to lose the last particular meal I was fortunate enough to eat.

Yes, I understand it is a first world problem.  There are people starving, even in the same city I am in.  There are more important things to concern yourself with than someone’s affectations.  But, in a restaurant, I know somewhere there is butter.

Bring it or the waitress’s tip dies.

Is it old school?  Last Millennium?  So very last century?

Who the hell cares, bring it.  It’s called Service.  Not Motor Oil on a plate.  I’d rather eat that push-wheel off the back of the skate than put that glop on a piece of a baguette.

“So why don’t you write about that?  I would love to hear about it!”

No, it would just sound like a rant about how food trends are annoying and distracting from the actual quality of the preparation and the food itself.

“But why not?”.

We will see.  Let the mind roll and see what spills out.  It was exactly what I was saying to the TV.  Write what you know, you will get something better out of that than if you forced yourself to write to someone’s affectations about what you should or shouldn’t do.

That whole controlling thing.  People don’t want to be controlled, especially when they are paying for the privilege of it all.

Just like a little porcelain bowl filled with Fine Herbs, Spices, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a Special Balsamic Reduction.

I’ll take whatever the chef’s got for butter, please.

Thanks.

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How I Killed My Computer. Or Not.

Maybe it’s a story of the Cobbler’s Kids having beat up shoes, or maybe it’s just a bit of a joke I played on myself far too early one morning.  If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.

I settled in at Stupid O’Clock one morning.  Had my coffee in hand.  It was a solid hour or two before sunrise.  The skies weren’t even purple yet. 

Look out the front window and all I saw were the neighbor’s party lights on their doorway glowing in the pre-dawn gloom.

They really should switch to LEDs if they’re going to keep them going all night, but as far as I am concerned, they’re pretty and I won’t say too much about that.  After all, there’s a neighbor a block away who has a permanent holiday display going.  She swaps the Easter Bunny for Santa or for firework like sparkly bits depending on the time of year, and I do appreciate it.

Especially at a quarter past five in the morning.

My own house was quiet.  The kitchen light was on after I finished with it, as it is the only light in the house.

I start up the two computers.  The windows machine is off doing tasks until I need it for graphics work later.

My older machine, by about six months, is a Dell.  Beast of a machine.  A Dell Precision M4500 if you are curious.  I think the case of it is carved out of granite since it would work as a projectile in a theatre of war.

Yes, that solid.  I got it used off lease, and paid less than a cheap tablet computer is today.  Since it’s an i7 processor, it’s going to be around for quite a while.

Ok, I like the thing.

They threw a copy of Windows 7 32 bit which had me scratching my head.  i7?  32 bit?  Nope.  I’ve run a couple different operating systems on it and I have settled on running mostly Xubuntu Linux at the moment, with Windows 7 64 bit in a dual boot, if I want to slum on Windows.

The thing is that it’s pretty stable, and great hardware – especially for the chump change I got it for.

I don’t expect problems with it at all.  Chugging along at breakneck speed, I was doing my thing.  Opening windows, consulting with friends and business contacts, and basically going through my normal morning routine.

I was in the middle of doing something specific.  Looking into a Project Management position with a local company when all the sudden…

I saw the shutdown window pop up.

Huh?

Then SNAP!  The power relay shut down.  The computer turned itself off.  The room was silent, or what passes for it in noisy South Florida.

I pressed the power button.  Whirr went the cooling fan.  Fweep went the DVD burner.  Blink went the LCD panel.

SNAP!

Uh oh.  She’s dead, Jim.

Immediately I panic.  I’m thinking, I’m down a computer, the one I depend on for all my professional correspondence.  All the data is on the servers, I don’t have to worry there.  My pictures are safe on The Chip. 

DamnDamnDamnDamn WhaddamIgonnaDo!

Delay.  I stood up and made a second mug of coffee.   I was midway through the normal morning crap, sun was now just coming up.

I figured that I would take the high road.  I got out the screwdriver.  Maybe it is a heat issue.

South Florida gets dust from the Sahara Desert.  The winds come from the East here, drop dust, as well as pick up sand from the beaches in the Bahamas and our own beaches.  The sand eventually drops out all over everything.  You have to wash the car fairly frequently to get rid of the sand and sea salt.

So the fan in the laptop?  Could that be the issue?  Get the vacuum.  “Hey Kevin, I’m running the vacuum, the Dell Died.”.

I fill him in. 

First I pop the bottom off the machine.  Professional or Business grade machines, even laptops, are designed to be repaired by us end users.   The monkeys behind the keyboards.  If you know what you’re doing, you can really upgrade the machines. 

One screw removed later, the bottom is off the machine.  Hmm, fan’s clean.  May as well run the vacuum through it.  Very little dust.  The heat sink was cool.  Can’t be a heat issue. 

I delayed more thinking about the mystery.  May as well vacuum the house.

I cleared a chihuahua worth of dog fur out from next to the emergency water in the laundry.  Crappy housekeeper that I am, there are some pockets that this 6’4″ frame doesn’t get to easily.

After telling Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) that all is well, and the vacuum is stowed, I settle back in.

One screw and the bottom is back on the laptop.

I flip the thing over and plug the power back into the back of the machine.

I hope I hope I hope this works.

Wait.  It’s not freaking glowing!  Is it that simple?

Yep.  I’m going to take a bullet for comedy. 

All that grief.  It turned out that I didn’t plug in the power brick. 

Blue light came on on the power plug and the Dell whirred back to life!

Sometimes, you get the gator.
Sometimes, the gator gets you.
Sometimes, the gator gets your shoe.

I think the the gator got my shoe on this one.

Moral of this story?  Watch what you’re doing in the morning before your coffee.  You may make yourself crazy when the laptop snaps you off!