Sunday, October 09, 2005

Elements of Style (Acronyms Aplenty)

With the torrential rain in the Northeast last night -- and the subsequent postponement of Game 4 of the American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (hereafter referred to as the "Disneys") -- there were other equally unfortunate happenings occurring elsewhere.

First and foremost, I experienced yet another hard drive crash. Considering I've got three separate drives attached to my home PC -- the main one at 80GB, the second internal of 120GB, and the third -- an external Maxtor of about 250GB -- one crash shouldn't be that big a deal. However, this is the fifth crash I've experienced inside a three-year window. The machine is a Dell Dimension 8200, and I've done just about everything except replace the entire motherboard. I finally opined that that's going to be the next step -- especially after discussing the situation for a half-hour with a Dell tech with a decidedly Texas-based accent.

To expound on this, hard drives are like tires -- unless something is wrong, most drives have a 20,000 hour MTBF rating ("Mean Time Between Failure"). Essentially, this means that -- unless something weird is happening -- you should figure on having a hard drive crash once in, at most, twelve months. The norm, however, is about four years between crashes. I've had five such episodes in 36 months. In layman terms, that fargin' sucks. The thing is that when you open up a PC and install a third-party drive -- whether it's manufactured by Seagate, Maxtor, or any other hard drive vendor -- the warranty (and the PC manufacturer) doesn't usually apply if said third-party drive fails. In other words, it's sort of like buying a Blaupunkt car stereo, having same installed in your BMW 330i, and then, when the Blaupunkt breaks, going to BMW for service on the radio. BMW will tell you you're SOL ("shit outta luck").

So when the first incident occurred -- with a third-party drive -- I didn't complain to Dell. It wasn't their drive and I assumed -- naturally -- since it's a Dell, I probably did something to screw it up. So I replaced it and went about my business. Problem was, six months later, the next incident -- this time involving the main (boot) drive Dell supplied with the system was bad. So I called tech support, spoke to Rahid (aka Rusty) and Dell sent Pete (aka Punjab) to my office to swap in a new drive. Six months later, another bump in an otherwise less-than-smooth road.

Fast-forward to today: the tech guy I talked to suggested the motherboard and power supply be swapped out. "And while you're at it," he drawled, "you might as well swap out that Pentium and get more RAM." So Monday I need to call a specific branch of high-end tech people (that only show up during the week) and arrange for a quasi-warranty repair. Problem is the machine is about 368 days out of warranty. But since I've had all these issues, and we've been buying Dells since 1995, I'm hoping they'll work with me and at least hook me up with the necessary parts to get the machine to where it should have been when it landed on my doorstep from the orphanage in the first place. Aside from the bullshit and the hassles, consider the loss of data I've endured -- it's hard to back up a drive properly when it's not working properly, natch -- and the nagging suspicion that I can't really and truly rely on the machine. It's sort of like trying to drive a car on a daily basis -- highways, rain, traffic, etc. -- when you suspect, deep in the recesses of your mind -- that something will go wrong and that likelihood is not only inevitable but approaching quickly.

Aside from that, I've had another mystery with which to contend -- the owners of my building decided to do work on the facade of the building (pointing, waterproofing, etc.) and, as a result, we've had to keep our windows closed so all the schmutz coming off the building doesn't come into our apartments. Since I've been running my A/C as a result, the air isn't circulating -- and since someone forgot to put a cover on the A/C unit outside my window, the crap falling off the building has, apparently, found its way into the unit itself and my apartment has been inundated with some sort of allergen(s) that have messed me up big-time. I've had welt-like hives on my hands and wrists now for about three weeks, and while it's less than pleasant to discuss it herein, it certainly a) explains my lack of entries here (how to type when your hands feel like they're on fire); b) my less-than-Boogie-esque mood, for the most part; c) clarifies the symbiotic relationship of staying alert and being able to sleep comfortably. It hasn't been debilitating, but after the physical manifestation of it -- the aforementioned hives -- which I thought were the result of drinking Vitamin Water -- it turns out it's probably the facade-work they're doing. And if my body's reacting physically, that means I've been ingesting the crap as well, which explains why it feels, on occasion, like my throat is closing up a bit. Not fun.

So, in response, after seeing my GP ("General Practitioner," aka my doctor) and he sending me to Lenox Hill Hospital for a nebulizer treatment (to assist breathing) and an x-ray of my lungs, I was advised to pick up one o' them thar Ionic Breeze devices from The Sharper Image. So right now, atop my scanner, the tower of healthy air silently chugs away all the crap in the air in my apartment. It seems to be doing a decent job; my throat feels better and I have obsessively checked the grid-thing (where all the crap collects) and it has had stuff on it. But the bitch is that each device is $450 -- kinda pricey for something that doesn't let you watch two football games side-by-side and that doesn't feature six distinct channels of digital audio. The nice thing is they offer the second one -- when you purchase two at the same time -- at half-price. But I figured that one would be we shall see.

Meanwhile, the other item on my personal agenda is the coming party a friend and I are throwing. We have assembled a guest list of about 150 people, but since a bulk of the people we are inviting we know mutually from an Internet chat room, and some of those people are people with whom we don't want to associate, we decided to do a private party rather than an "anyone can come" shindig. Problem is, while many of the people we invited are fine with our privacy policy, there are a small number -- five or so -- of people who have been complaining both privately and publicly (ie in the chat-room itself) about our decision to omit two or three people, one of whom is the freak to whom I was once engaged. We explained -- briefly -- that we are throwing a party to hang out with our friends, not to entertain anyone who feels like showing up. More and more, I am reminded why these people are in an Internet chatroom -- and why they behave so poorly therein, as well as beyond those four virtual walls. A lack of maturity, style, class and intelligence have been the norm for the half-dozen or so complainers, so it shouldn't shock me that they're behaving, if one can call it that, in this particular manner.

When all is said and done, we expect 100 or so people to be there, and it will be fun -- but why I find it all so intruiging is that I am a proponent of the "quality, not quantity" theory, and am disappointed in myself that I even bothered arranging this instead of just privately inviting a bunch of friends to get together. The party is next weekend, so I'll be sure and post a link to pics once they are up, but as of this writing, I don't expect much beyond briefly seeing some friends, exchanging some handshakes and hugs, and soon thereafter leaving with Kaia to spend some quality time. But it once again confirms and explains the reason why the people complaining and providing their opinions without being asked spend so much time in a chatroom.

I guess it all comes down to a combination of intelligence, common sense, respect and class, and if these pages haven't clarified same for the reader yet, I tend to not have patience for people who are devoid of the aforementioned qualities. I guess it all comes down to style, and until the actual party happens, the people without any have been and will continue to dominate the issue.

And then the party will arrive, everything will be cool, and I'll have some good stories (and pictures) to share.

Unless my hard drive crashes again...

1 comment:

LisaBinDaCity said...

YIKES! Only good stuff from here on out ok?!

Stay well and no more crashing ;-)