Monday, January 14, 2019

The Rain | Lefsetz Letter

It doesn’t rain the same way in Southern California as it does on the east coast.

The same way it doesn’t snow in Colorado like it does in Utah.

In Utah, it dumps, oftentimes four inches an hour, you can barely see in front of you, you’re in a cocoon of flakes, it’s quiet, you feel like you’re removed from the rest of the world and that feels good.

On the east coast, rain is a regular feature. Make plans outdoors and you can be sure they’ll be interrupted by Mother Nature. Whereas rain is rare in SoCal. And oftentimes brief. Just when you’re curled up with a book, the sun will come out. God dang it. I was just getting ready to break out the board games, now I’ve got to go outside.

My Mac fizzled out. Just after I upgraded it to 10.14.2. I was convinced that was the problem, software. But Apple was convinced it was RAM. But that seemed unlikely, since the computer had booted up in safe mode before it bit the dust completely, and the RAM had come from Apple itself. And the machine was only four years old, and had never ever been moved from its perch. I’d purchased the warranty, but of course it had expired a year earlier.

Turns out you can converse with Apple tech online for free. Not that I was looking to save a buck, but after all my troubleshooting failed, I gave it a shot.

Ultimately, after wasting ninety minutes, they don’t type so fast and are busy looking up knowledge base articles, the tech made an appointment for me at the Apple Store. In Santa Monica. I preferred Century City, because they lend you a cart to carry your machine, but Century City was a day later, and I was worried about it conflicting with my radio show, so I made an appointment for Monday at four p.m. on the Third Street Promenade.

I had to schlepp the damn thing myself, there is no back door.

But there were a ton of employees.

The Apple Store has changed. First of all, there’s no Genius Bar. Just a bunch of tables. So you’re not sure who to talk to, even though the space is inundated with help, as if they’d drafted a community college class and forced it to stand around against its will. Everybody’s wearing a red shirt, and they’re not lookers, and they come in every race and shape and age…yup, they even have a sexagenarian for oldsters, and I cornered someone and told them I had a reservation, and they said to park my ass at a nearby table and then nothing happened.

Thank god I didn’t make the appointment in Century City, I ended up being there for an hour and a half. I kept asking if they knew I was there, they kept telling me to sit at my table and be quiet.

But ultimately they gave me Julia, who they said was one of their best techs.

A graduate of Occidental, she was an Apple lifer. She started in Pasadena and had transferred to Santa Monica only five months previously. She was living in Culver City, and at these wages she had to have a roommate, but boy was she into her job.

She knew what she was talking about.

This was very different from AppleCare, where unless you get booted upstairs, you know more than the techs.

And she too thought it was the RAM.

But she called me later and said it was not.

But then I got a call on Tuesday from Christian telling me it was the RAM SLOTS! Two of them were dead, I needed a new logic board. $600 and change, which sounds expensive until you realize the computer itself cost $4600, actually a bit more, and of course I said yes.

Today it was ready. I asked for help carrying it to my car.

They said no, that employees could not leave the store. But if I waited fifteen or twenty minutes, they could call a cart from Promenade management.

I wasn’t gonna wait that long.

So I lifted the machine, I’d saved the box, that’s the kinda guy I am, and carried it and when it came time to turn the corner, to the parking structure, there was a young woman on her phone and I ever so gently told her I was coming, she wasn’t looking up, and I didn’t want to bump into her.

She then raised her eyes and put me down, telling me to walk around her.

And I did, but she didn’t know how heavy the computer was, and it ruined my whole day. I’ll never see her again, but when people yell at me I think it’s my fault.

And the computer worked, it was fixed!

But some of the bookmarks had been changed.

And my messages weren’t synching.

Eventually I got some of the past week’s messages to synch, but certain ones wouldn’t. I was gonna call Apple, but then I got carried away and it was too late and I was chatting online with help once again.

I’d already done an hour’s worth of research. To no avail.

And to tell you the truth, the hour I spent in chat was worthless.

And I got frustrated, I wanted the problem solved, I didn’t want to waste time another day.

But when you’re in this situation, you cannot stop. You keep thinking you can make it work, even though you’ve done everything twice or three times. And your brain is foggy and you can’t tear yourself away, even though I know from experience that perspective is a good thing, and sometimes the problem’s unfixable.

But in the process I was developing theories.

It was only the SMS messages that weren’t synching.

And then I plugged my iPhone into the charger, it synched with the cloud and it all worked.

Oh, there’s much more to the story, but the point is upon solving the problem I felt so good. After tearing myself away for a late dinner, I was getting new insights, I felt I knew what was going on, and when I checked my machine and it all worked, I felt fantastic!

And then I went out hiking.

I upgraded to an Unlimited Plan. There are three of them on Verizon, I know it makes no sense. But I kept on having to buy more data and then they said for five bucks more I could go unlimited, so I went for it. And have been using data like crazy ever since.

Which means I streamed while I hiked.

And I’m going from playlist to playlist, queuing up gems from the past, and then…

I feel a raindrop on my arm.

Hmm… Did I spit?

But then it happened again.

The iPhone Xs Max is supposed to be waterproof, but are my headphones? And I’m starting to walk faster, and it’s raining harder. And I make it to the bathroom whereupon I find out from Dark Sky that not only is it going to rain for hours, it’s gonna pour many days next week.

Which reminds me of 1998, when it rained for seven days straight. I remember having cabin fever and driving out to Norm’s, a cheap eats place that got torn down, worrying about getting stranded in the deep water.

You see there’s nowhere for it to go. Too many hills, too much concrete. Just a little bit of rain and L.A. is inundated with rivers finding their own way.

But I made it back to the house tonight. And wondered what to read while I was icing my knees. I’d finished the Sally Rooney book the night before, and I was just starting a new one when…

I heard this sound.

I figured it was industrial. The fridge or something.

But the dishwasher wasn’t on, it was two in the morning, it was quiet except for…


I jumped up, figuring it might stop soon and I wanted to see it. And I opened the front door and it was a veritable curtain, like being high on a mountaintop, in the elements. Could my car wash away?

And you wouldn’t play in this rain, nor would you sing.

You just stay home until it stops.

But it’s not supposed to stop for a while.

And Barbra Streisand famously said she wished it would rain. But the irony is, unlike in the movie, she stayed in SoCal, because living is too good, as is the weather.

But every once in a while, less now than in the past, it starts to pour.

Kinda like the snow turning into rain, in that old Dan Fogelberg song.

It’s coming down heavy now, I’m in for the duration. But through the magic of the internet I can connect with you.

It wasn’t like that back in 1998.


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