Store never looks like this when the mall is open.
Store never looks like this when the mall is open.

Consider all the negative stuff I said about Apple over the past days? week? moderated. After last night’s shut downs I waited out pile-ups on the highways and made my way to West Farms, again. I’ve been there so much it feels like commuting. I should have a designated parking space outside the Nordstrom entrance.

So I showed up when the place was only half full. Does Apple  hire people to stand around and look like they are awaiting a product or a consult with a “genius”? Don’t think that applied to the poor woman pacing with a crying baby. They arrived before me and were still there when I left.

The greeter, who stands at the entrance recognized me. He was one of the people who waited on me when I arrived last Wednesday. He directed me to the scheduler who took one look at my paperwork and said, “Well, the wait is forty minutes, but we’ll see you right away considering you were here yesterday.”

The woman across the table was returning a watch. It had become totally unresponsive — no turn on, no conversation, no nothin’. Again, I think Apple needs to step away from the new toy a year model and focus on quality.  Next to arrive, a woman picking up an Apple TV, which had been in for repair. The service person went through a long, detailed explanation of what she had to do when she arrive home. As I was leaving, another woman marched in with her TV on a luggage carrier.

Travis arrived a few minutes later. (Do they use their real names, or are they given an alias upon hire?) Besides the guy who greeted me and helped on Wednesday, he’s the only one who made eye contact. I’m betting the folks on Apple chat, aside from copying and pasting from a script, have difficulty with personal interaction.

Travis had me run a few tests and concluded it was a software problem. I’m thinking the hardware guys would never have thought to look at anything after they replaced the logic board. Don’t they have software people on Windfern Road in Houston?

One of the changes produced a log-out notice instead of the shut down notice. He called over the scheduler who said “system preferences” and then they went through some stuff and clicked off “log out after five minutes.”

In the meantime, Travis noticed that the launchpad downloading. It turned out to be iMovie update, which I thought I had killed with the Yosemite install. Stupid me.

Travis exiled iMovie to the seventh level of tech hell. We waited 10 minutes — no shutdown, no logout. I put the computer to sleep and went for coffee.

Computer was still asleep, not shut down, when I returned home. Plus various other problems seem resolved: slow loading of web pages, iTunes cutting out when browser is updating, choppy video, weird buffering. It got so bad that every time someone paused for more than three seconds, I assumed the computer had frozen.

All this chat, shipping, personal time, and waiting had to cost Apple a small fortune. Wonder how much they’ve lost on those new watches and those TVs?

I’m done complaining about the computer, for now. Everything is fabulous now, except for the shower hose that came apart last night while I was standing there …


Tech Hell 3.0


OK, so we’ve been through the Yosemite two-day download.

Then we had shut down part 1, which took two chats over about 3 hours and two days of trying the same thing over and over. Isn’t that the definition of crazy? Anyway, the “geniuses” finally admitted that it needed a hardware repair.

I took it in on Sept. 9 and was told it would take “three to five working days.” Got the call this afternoon that it was back in the Apple store at West Farms. According to the record, it went from there to Houston where it was “fixed” on Saturday.

I picked it up this afternoon and took care of business.

So we arrive at shut down part 2, tech hell 3.0.

About two hours in I stopped typing and surfing. The dreaded message appeared that the computer was shutting down in 60 seconds and counting.

I went back on Apple chat and through the Energy Saver routine (again), plus error log. Tried to download some FireWire thing but got a message the system wouldn’t take it.

Vented on Twitter. Am headed by to the Apple store. As I said on Twitter, Apple needs to stop designing new toys and take care of its existing customers and technology.

Also, can I get frequent flyer miles for my laptop?


What I’m Reading Now


Another in an occasional series and another I’ve finished, this time at 1 a.m. Alexander McCall Smith’s The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday has rested on my Kindle, since July 2014 (I think). I tend to use the Kindle only when flying but decided that it would take me years to finish everything. Plus, I read part way and have to start over because months have elapsed.

So here I am with Isabel Dalhousie, the Sunday Philosophy Club moral ethicist, sleuth, and now mother. That latter is a developing subplot through previous novels because she’s been having an affair with her niece’s former boyfriend who is 29 to Isabel’s 43.

Muddy Sunday became less satisfying as it progressed. Earlier mysteries included apparently forged artwork and a fatal fall from a balcony at a concert. This mystery appears late in the narrative and involves a very brief foray into the world of drug testing. The result seems to pat.

Far more interesting is Isabel’s moral dilemma over whether to accept for publication a paper written by a rival who had tried to evict her as editor of The Journal of Applied Ethics. She managed to foil him and now holds the upper hand. That result suits Isabel’s character exactly.

The relationship with the beautiful Jamie, father of Charlie, falls somewhere in between in terms of engagement. Isabel is suitably insecure, but the events that give rise to her trepidation feel artificial.

Me thinks AMS wrote this one too fast. I’m switching over to Precious Ramotswe for the next one.


New Tech Hell Part II, Update


Stuff I omitted from yesterday’s list:

  • Web pages load at the speed of a dial-up even though things had been speeding along like the wind since the router upgrade, which was the subject of the previous tech hell.
  • Computer fan began running this afternoon and wouldn’t stop. I had to put the computer to sleep and let it sit for a half hour. I had open exactly one window on the browser and iTunes. Had already shut down word processing.
  • I can’t choose places to save/download files.
  • Revision from yesterday: Icons look like Skittles .
  • Won’t save any passwords except Facebook.

New Tech Hell, Part II


After my conversation with Miguel, I cleared the cache, went back to Netflix with no results and so contacted Apple. Got a guy whose name was Michael/ (Miguel, Michael, same guy?) No results. Here’s the next episode.

‪Robert: Thanks for contacting AppleCare chat support. My name is Robert. Please give me a moment to look over your information. Hello Liz! I see that you’re having issues with a specific website, is that correct?

Yes. Here’s the no. from my previous session. Nothing worked.

Robert: Thank you for that information. I see that you have an issue with using Netflix as it asks you to update Safari. Is that right?

Me: ‪Yes

Robert: ‪Oh no! I am so sorry to hear that you are having this issue. I know that if Netflix wasn’t working it would be a huge inconvenience for me. I actually use Netflix myself . I assure you that I will do everything I can to resolve this for you today Liz. ‪For this, it would be best if we screen share. Are you over the age of 18 so we can screen share in order to better assist you?

Me: ‪Wayyyy over 18

Robert: ‪At this point, I could help you better if I could see what’s on your display. We could use screen sharing for this. Screen sharing is completely secure and you can end the session at any time. Interested? [This link] explains how to set it up: After you download the application, I’ll be able to see your screen, but I can’t access your files or control your computer. If there’s anything that you don’t want me to see on your screen, remove it from view before your session begins. Your session will be recorded for quality purposes.

Me:‪I write about really boring things from the early 20th c. and publish it. not a problem.

: love history! 🙂 haha [note from me I DESPISE emojis but Blue included it] when you are ready, click that link and after downloading the application, open the downloaded application.

Me: It’s downloading…

Three minutes? later

‪Me: ‪Should be working

After about thirty seconds, “Robert” said I needed to download Yosemite. I had resisted because the download was supposed to take days, not hours. So I logged off and began the download. That was at 10 p.m. on a Friday. On Saturday afternoon I tried to check email and was told the download time would be three days. I finally reclaimed my computer at around 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Yosemite sucks.

  • It wiped out my photos
  • My bank doesn’t recognize me
  • I had to reconnect the wireless printer
  • The colors on the icons look like a little kid’s snack time. I was able wipe out some of the color but the rest is still hideous
  • Every time I play iTunes internet songs and open a website with photos – pretty much all of them – iTunes freezes
  • The downloads on my email account disappeared

Based on my online searches, I’m not alone. There will be more, I’m sure.

New York, Part Deux


Pretty much everything else about the trip was a massive letdown. I boarded the train with about a minute to spare because an idiot wide-load escort and transport pulled in front of the ambulance (no lights, no siren) in front of me. We followed the numbskulls at 20 mph in a 45 zone for about fifteen miles until they blew through a red light. Then a school bus cut off the ambulance. It turned off a few hundred yards farther along. There were no cars behind me. Did these people think it was safe to crash into a vehicle that was carrying people who might save them?!

A few sips of coffee and a few lines of reading and  I nearly got bonked by a selfie stick wielded by three people – two women and a boy (I think he was). No one apologized.

The woman who boarded at the next stop and sat in the same row talked on the phone in Creole (again, I think) until we pulled into Grand Central Station.

After a glorious excursion through “One-Way Ticket,” I ventured into the Yoko Ono “One Woman Show 1960-1971.” If you choose to view both  exhibits, go to this one first. Next to “OWT,” this one is frivolous, self-indulgent, and pretty much irrelevant. It also drew more of a crowd, perhaps because I arrived after 2 p.m. “Apple” stood mounted on clear plexiglass. Obviously someone replaces the fruit every day or so. A more interesting perspective might be the original withered apple.

Tired and hungry, I tried to honor Sushi Friday, but the only nearby options were fusion and lacked good reviews. I walked back to GCS – looked at the insane food court and made my way to the Oyster Bar.

It was the worst meal I’ve had in NYC. I should have taken my cue from the fact no one else was speaking English and all looked as though they were worth a fortune wherever they came from.

The waiter was New York abrupt, in a rude way. The oysters – it is the Oyster Bar – were stuck to the shell with shards buried inside. They did not taste like Blue Points. The lemon slice possessed up more seeds than juice. The tasteless mignonette did not help. Since my bluefish supplier is no longer with us, I decided to try the OB version. What a dry, tasteless mistake. The vegetable mélange possessed weird variations: tough green beans covered with plastic cheese, strands of thin chewy aspargus, brocolli rabe that approached decent. Only the coffee met any sort of standard.

The return trip became an epic in itself as I made the mistake of taking a local to Stamford and then had to transfer to the Shoreline East, which lacks the newer more comfortable cars of Metro North.

‘One-Way Ticket’

I’ve read The Warmth of Other Suns and “The Weary Blues,” heard Billie sing “Strange Fruit,” looked at scenes of Harlem in the 1930s and 1940s – and of sharecroppers, former slaves and younger folk, in the fields of the Cotton Belt. Pieces of “One-Way Ticket” have touched my life over the years. Nothing prepared me for the impact of seeing it all in one place, all at one time. The mix of music, paintings, photographs, books, video, overwhelms. The MoMA exhibit leaves no doubt about the horror and privation that drove African Americans from the South. At the same, it creates an image of their sometimes harsh, occasionally welcoming experiences in northern cities, mostly Harlem.

The exhibit offers us all a much better understanding of what my father went through  when he arrived in Harlem from the Bayou as a boy, and what my mother saw when she arrived nearly twenty years later from sea- and wind-blown lily white O.S. My parents encountered buildings that seemed to lean in on one, a cacophony of noises and chaotic transportation, smells of rotting garbage and excrement. But it  also offered up jazz clubs and exotic food and a mix of people beyond just black and white. The whole scene makes far more sense now.

The anchor for the exhibition is Jacob Lawrence’s “The Migration Series.” They are sixty panels painted on hardboard with cassein, which gives them a more granular texture, very different from oil or water color on canvas. The block-y figures balance with delicate detail to create magical realism, though the magic is often of the ungentle sort. All of them are haunting, often silhouettes against earth and sky, or packed tight in waiting rooms and train cars.

The rest of the exhibit includes photographs of musicians with a discription of their lives, works by Romare Beardon, and other artists, along with evocative and startling photographs.

They were taken by men and women, some famous, some less familiar to the general public. I found the work of Morgan and Marvin Smith appealing because they were friends of my parents. The two men (nothing distinguishes who took what) captured Adam Clayton Powell Jr. leading the “Do Not Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign in the streets of Harlem. It is a chaotic, energetic contrast to the simple starkness of Ben Shahn’s “Picking Cotton Pulaski County, Arkansas,” (1935). This photo depicts a sad-faced young woman, caught in the act of straightening or bending to the boll.

Two things startle: With few exceptions the travelers in the “Migration,” no matter how poor, dress formally in coats and ties or dresses. Likewise the photographs of people in Harlem show people clad in much more formal wear than we see today. And, despite the latent and blatant violence of much of the work, I don’t recall a single gun except in the hands of law enforcement.

While nothing can rival the impact of viewing all sixty of Lawrence’s panels at once, I’ve singled out three that gripped me. Lawrence wrote a caption for each panel when he painted them and  updated the text for an exhibition in 1993.

Two panels contain no figures, just mute tributes to what the migration left behind. The third needs no comment.

No. 13 Due to the South’s losing so much of its labor, the crops were left to dry and spoil. (1941) The crops were left to dry and rot. There was no one to tend them. (1993)
No. 25 After a while some communities were left almost bare. (1941) They left their homes. Soon some communities were left almost empty. (1993)
No. 25 After a while some communities were left almost bare. (1941) They left their homes. Soon some communities were left almost empty. (1993)
No. 15 Another cause was lynching. It was found that where there had been a lynching, the people who were reluctant to eave at first left immediately after this. (1941) There were lynchings. (1993)
No. 15 Another cause was lynching. It was found that where there had been a lynching, the people who were reluctant to eave at first left immediately after this. (1941) There were lynchings. (1993)