Saturday, September 1, 2007


Labor Day: This is supposed to be the last hurrah of the summer, but I now find myself yearning for winter. Maybe I ought to rethink my belief that I like it hot. My dreams of paradise are always tropical, but then, tropical is always experienced neck deep in blue water or lying in a hammock holding a tropical drink in your hand. Not exactly real life, or all of real life.

I didn't really plan to go anywhere. I did do a way-too-late cursory Internet glance at various beachfront hotels to see if anything really grabbed me (San Simeon, Cambria, Ventura, Carlsbad, San Diego) but naturally everything was fully booked and beyond high-priced anyway. The truth is that I am globally-spoiled enough to not get too excited about the California coast or think it is worth a lot of trouble or expense. My beach dreams are Hawaii or the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean, or the Caribbean. Or Florida. I'd gladly pay $400 a night to be in Fiji, but $200 a night in Cambria seems too expensive.

But suddenly with this heat wave, I found myself yearning for cool mountains. Unfortunately, this weekend, there are none. Anywhere on a three-day weekend I could drive beyond Los Angeles would only take me to places that were going to be even HOTTER--various deserts or sweltering inland locations. Being right along the coast ended up being the coolest spot available, and even then, temperatures would still be on the cusp of 100 degrees.

At the school all week, it was over 100 degrees. My car's "outside temperature" gauge was probably exaggerating due to having been parked on an asphalt parking lot under the direct sun all day, but it said "111". My body agreed. This was the hottest I had ever been since I made the mistake of going to Las Vegas for July 4, 1976, the "bicentennial". In Las Vegas in early July, it was what I call "brain damage" temperature (what a dog is subjected to if you leave it in your car with the windows rolled up). Los Angeles at the end of August this year wasn't quite brain damage weather, but just one step down. "Pre-Alzheimer's weather," perhaps.

While I did accomplish all that I HAD to do (concerning start of the school year and new hire insurance deadlines), I really wasn't able to accomplish a whole lot more. We suffered continual power failures and brown-outs, so that most of the day we spent with our lights all off, our windows wide open, and various irritating non-stop "power's out" fire alarm tones beeping. The various air conditioning units kept blowing fuses until we had no fuses left. Also, anything that fed through a computer was non-functional, due to too-hot temperatures, power failures, or both. That included server-accessed computer files, e-mail, Internet, network printers, telephone voice mail, fax machines, and even some of the xerox machines that are also scanners and printers. I managed to do some filing and a little xeroxing, that was about it. Spreadsheets, memos, data updates, et cetera, forget it. I kept trying to do stuff on various computer systems that seemed to be working, but that was an illusion and ultimately I gave up on it, to try again next Tuesday.

Fortunately due to this heat we didn't have to dress up, at least. Ties for the men may as well have really been nooses, but we were saved from that. Still, I couldn't keep from sweating as if my office were a New Orleans sauna bath in August; I was a walking flash flood.

I have no idea how the teachers managed; I'm sure the kids were thinking this was the school's punishment for starting so soon. It not only WAS still summer, it was the hottest day of the year. By Friday afternoon, they gave up on trying the teach anything. The kids were let outside to run around through the sprinklers and play on the waterslides that were still left from the summer's camps. I thought they should have let everybody into the pool (I volunteered to be one of the lifeguards), but I guess liabilities blah blah blah prevented that. See, this is what happened with only P.E. teachers taking the lifeguard training last week. I'm the only extra they've got to call on at times such as this. I know they had hoped that several other teachers would have wanted to do it, too, but I suppose if you are going to let the whole school into the pool, you'd have to have about 20 lifeguards (instead of 7), so ultimately I guess it didn't matter. Too bad.

I felt like it was a bad time for computers all the way around, because not only did none of the school's computers work, but I finally got a call from the computer repair shop where I had taken my Dell desktop nearly a month ago (meanwhile, I have been using my reliable iBook laptop). They told me they had given up on my computer. I had tried myself, and failed, to install a new 200 GB hard drive and upgrade my operating system from Windows 98 to XP. But there was nothing I could do to get it to work (it could never see the new harddrive, or even see the old harddrive with the new one in there, even with the addition of a highly upgraded ATA166 controller card, and XP would not load) and now the shop had that same trouble. They thought that perhaps the motherboard was damaged and figured a computer this old (7 or 8 years) wasn't worth the time and expense to keep working on it. I agreed.

They felt bad at keeping my computer so long and never solving my problem and told me they wouldn't charge me anything. In turn, I felt bad about not paying them anything, but told them they could keep the new Seagate 200 GB harddrive and the brand-new Windows XP software that I had bought; I had no use for them, now. I knew by then that I was going to buy a new desktop with at least 500 GB on its internal harddrive and that stupid new Seagate had left a bad taste in my mouth, and my computer certainly would NOT be a Windows machine, so I had no use for the XP software. Ultimately, all of it was going to be taken to the dump, anyway (to be more accurate, to the "Hazardous Waste Site" at the dump). The guy at the shop said he was happy to have the harddrive and the XP software.

I'm pretty sure what I am going to buy will be an iMac, but I think I ought to look at one of them in person, first. Also, I am tempted to get one with a 24-inch screen, but that seems HUGE to me, perhaps too huge (even their other model, the 20-inch, seems huge), so I want to see one of them first. Frankly, I'm not quite sure why one would want such a huge screen (the very first computer I ever had, a rented KayPro, had something like a 5" screen!), but for editing movies I can see it and maybe for having various document windows open, it would be like having two monitors side by side. We will just have to see.

But today it's too hot to go to the Apple store, so I will save that excursion for later.

Meanwhile, the fans are blowing on high and I'm contemplating a cool-off dip in the pool. At least for this holiday I didn't plan to go to Mexico. I understand that striking Mexican teachers (and by this I mean citizens of MEXICO, striking along the border IN Mexico) had planned to block all the tourist road entrances into Mexico. That's a wierd one, Mexican citizens working like "Minutemen" to keep AMERICANS from crossing the border INTO Mexico. I don't see how a move like this will help their cause at all, and in this heat, this just might be what finally sparks a pent-up race war between Americans and Mexicans. I'm awfully glad to be keeping well clear of it. Anyway, Mexico never lured me for this holiday. But the Yukon, I wish I had thought of that one before.


Dearko said...

Hi Pitbullshark,
Sorry about the miserable weather you’re having. I personally cant stand hot weather and doubt I could live in California. I live in New York and love the change of seasons, though I’m not one of those crazies who travel to see the leaves change.
New York didn’t go through its usual sweltering summer, when the asphalt on the roads softens. We did have a few hot days but nothing like we’ve had in the past.

With Labour Day comes the promise of autumn. Looking forward to it!

Tom (UK) said...

I'll swop some of your heat for some of our rain! Good luck in selecting your new computer. I threw caution to the wind recently and bought a new tv, researching remorselessly to maximise value for money. What a nightmare!

Go soak in the pool.

Pitbullshark said...

Dearko--I love the change of seasons in the east, although New York was too cold for me in winter. Of course, in the apartment I had sublet at the time, the heat failed to work half the time. Still, it was one of my favorite places I ever lived.

Tom (UK)--Apparently we're having rain, too, not too far away from here, but I guess it all turned to steam before it got here. What kind of TV did you get, wide-screen, HD, etc.? Caution to the wind, but I hope you really enjoy it.