An Apple A Day

I have no strong feelings about technology. I’m a basic white suburban lady who plays Words With Friends and attempts to be crunchy on Pinterest. I have an iPhone 6S but prefer to use Google myself than ask Siri. (She’s wrong way too often for my liking.) I like Apple products in general because they’re incredibly intuitive in their design and easy to use, but I have no need for the Apple Watch or the homepod or anything.

I’ve long suspected that with each new software upgrade Apple is nudging customers to buy the latest phone, and late last year, I found out it was true. The company was offering a discounted battery replacement program, so I read this article and like a good do-bee, I followed the directions:

1. Download the Apple Support app.

2. Schedule a phone call with Apple corporate.

3. Talk with a lovely woman in Houston who ordered the battery for me to be shipped to my local Apple store.

4. Wait for the store to call me to confirm the part was in and set up an appointment. (For me, it was six weeks. I was uncharacteristically patient about it because I don’t use my phone for work. I can see why people would be frustrated with such a long wait.)

5. Get battery replaced.

My appointment was yesterday and I should preface this by saying I don’t go to the Apple store that much; I’ve been there once in maybe six years. But I got a headache from being in the store for maybe 10 minutes total. It was a combination of being overstimulated–bright lighting; many, many products available to test and play; numerous customers and employees despite it being early afternoon on a weekday–and feeling as though Apple could be a bit of a cult.

Lots of stores have greeters. But the first person to come up to me in the store had a device in her hand and I felt she was about to read my theta signals. I was there 10 minutes early for my appointment and she said (in a very friendly manner) she couldn’t “sit” me until 5 minutes before. I left the store, wandered into a Bath and Body Works, and tried to figure out if I could make a foaming soap all by myself.

I returned, got checked in (my theta readings must have been normal), and was told to sit on a specific stool at a particular table. Another employee swooped in with another device and after I gave him my phone, he told me to check in with “his guys or his gal.”

There were roughly 20 Apple employees in the store at the time. They were all wearing Apple long-sleeved tees. He pointed them out but when I returned an hour later (only three minutes early, #lessonlearned) none of them were there. I went to the original Theta Lady and my phone wasn’t showing up yet as ready for pickup. Theta was concerned and radioed to the back of the shop and informed me my phone was in “post” phase and would be out shortly.

I hung out and did some people-watching (the majority of the male employees had untamed beards and I spent some time thinking about that: were they Apple playoff beards?) and another employee asked me if I was OK, then Theta encouraged me to play with the products on display. (To give Theta credit, she said she’d check periodically if my phone was ready and even though she examined the levels of at least three other people while I was waiting she told me immediately when it was done. Theta DID NOT MESS AROUND.) Yet another employee with a bushy beard came out with my phone, and my headache and I checked out. (I thanked Theta as I was leaving.)

I had an overall good experience, and I really can’t put my finger on what makes me so uneasy about the whole visit. Everyone was kind, knowledgeable, pleasant. No one in the store, even customers, were upset or unhappy, especially in regard to the whole battery fiasco. Maybe it was because everyone–customers and employees alike–seemed to be interacting more with technology than with each other. I know that’s the whole point of visiting an Apple store, but it still made me feel a little empty nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

 

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An Apple A Day

This Is the Craziest Article I’ve Read All Week

I lived in a dorm at college and I went through three different roommates in three years. By the time my senior year came around, I didn’t have a roommate assigned to me and I didn’t go out of my way to let Student Life know there was an opening. I ended up being by myself for my last two semesters. (It was glorious.)

I got along with my roommates freshman and junior years, but it was the sophomore roommate–the one I chose myself–who was not a good match. She was messy; I was neat. Her boyfriend hated me. My boyfriend hated her. My boyfriend hated her boyfriend, who hated him in return. She would put a scrunchie on the door when she and her boyfriend were fooling around and she would leave it on the door after he left. Once I locked her out of the room while she was in the shower. She would run out of space to put her things and end up putting them on my desk. It was awful.

(I do give her a lot of credit: she worked a great deal to repair our friendship after our year of living together. She ended up marrying her boyfriend and invited me to her wedding. I didn’t go; it was after graduation and I had to return home to hunt for a job. My boyfriend broke up with me over the phone about five days before we graduated. She was supportive and made me go out to bars with her to get me back in the saddle. She eventually introduced me to the guy I would end up marrying and even though she lived in Texas at the time and had two small children at home, she flew up alone to our wedding. She sent us Christmas cards–complete with letters–every single year. She had run cross-country in high school and when I told her I was thinking of taking up running she immediately invited me to run a half-marathon with her. She died very suddenly from an embolism a few years ago. She had four children and I wish I hadn’t been so mean to her sophomore year, but mostly because of her we ended up being good friends.)

Anyway, I thought two 19-year-old women were experts in passive-aggressive behavior but we had NOTHING on this guy. (Worst Roommate Ever is NOT an exaggeration, it’s the most apt headline ever.)

Jamison Bachman, who apparently went to law school solely to become an expert on arcane tenancy issues, would move into someone’s apartment and eventually become a legally sanctioned squatter. Among other things, he would:

  • Take his roommates’ things, put them in his room and refuse to give them access or return their belongings
  • Clog up toilets by throwing kitty litter and argue that toilets are for disposing shit, so it’s OK
  • Refuse to pay rent because he was inconvenienced and offended when his roommates left dirty dishes in the sink
  • Dropping off his roommates’ pets at kill shelters.

Every time he got taken to court he would eventually lose but he seemed to thrive on the drama and tension that arose when people who don’t get along live within close proximity.

Read and then, if you’re like me, think back to your worst roommate experience and comfort yourself by telling yourself that you weren’t as bad as Bachman.

This Is the Craziest Article I’ve Read All Week

The Dark Tower: What I HAAAAATED (Spoilers)

In order from #waitwhat to OMFG REALLY STEPHEN?!?!?!

#waitwhat

Maerlyn’s Rainbow

In book 4, Roland describes his time in Mejis, where he met his true love, Susan Delgado, and came across a pink sphere, entrusted to a local witch, that allows the holder to observe secrets that people nearby don’t want you to know. The pink sphere is part of a collection of orbs known as Maerlyn’s Rainbow. Each has a different power, and the most potent of them all, the Black, appears in Book Five. Being in possession of any of these orbs is a trippy and addictive experience (to be fair, the people in Mejis didn’t have cable and limited resources for entertainment). Like the rings in Tolkein’s trilogy, the spheres that make up the rainbow are scattered throughout the world. When we finally meet the Crimson King we learned he had a stockpile of them but ultimately destroyed them. We don’t know anything–anything–beyond that. The pink sphere is a BFD in Wizard and Glass and the Black Thirteen allows the group to transport between worlds, but after that they’re sort of discarded.

The Rose

The Rose exists in New York and the gang finds out that they’re supposed to keep it safe in that world while they are gallivanting in other places fighting robots, wolves and outdated technology. Many, many more similar roses grow outside the Dark Tower, so we assume that by keeping the rose in New York safe, the Dark Tower is safe. Roland and friends go to extraordinary lengths to protect the rose, venturing into real estate and most likely committing insider trading to (1) start a company to buy the lot in New York where the rose is and (2) finance it by telling people when to buy and sell Microsoft stock. Roland, who comes up with this plan, still cannot properly pronounce the word aspirin (he calls it astin) as late as Book Seven.

Last-minute Characters

Roland’s posse, or ka-tet, comprises Jake Chambers, Oy, Eddie Dean and Susannah Dean, from Book Two until Book Five, when Pere Callahan hitches his wagon to their group. Callahan had been a main character in ‘Salem’s Lot, one of King’s earliest novels. Then in Book Six, we re-meet Ted Brautigan, who appeared in King’s book Hearts of Atlantis; and eventually Patrick Danville. who DIED in Insomnia. Danville eventually reunites Eddie and Susannah and helps kill the Crimson King, but Roland, Susannah and Oy rescue him in a completely superfluous episode that takes up like 150 pages of Book Seven that I can’t get back.

OMFG REALLY STEPHEN

Mia

When we first meet Susannah, in Book Two, she’s a classic case of Multiple Personality Disorder, torn between an upper class woman named Odetta and a lower class woman named Detta. By Book Three, she’s Susannah, married to Eddie and although she speaks like Detta from time to time, Susannah basically is healthy and happy.

Until.

Later in Book Three, to help reunite Roland and Jake Chambers, Susannah has sex with a demon to help distract him enough to help usher Jake into their world. For his part, Roland had sex with a different version of the same demon in Book One. During intercourse, the demon put Roland’s sperm into Susannah, who created a new personality, Mia, to carry the child.

Just, just go ahead and read that last sentence again.

Susannah has a hysterical pregnancy, which ends in childbirth in Book Six. (Book Six is a clunker, friends.)

Mordred

So like a lot of science fiction, Mia is immediately killed once she’s served her purpose, i.e., being an incubator for Roland’s son, Mordred. Coming so late into the game, Mordred–half-human, half-demon–to me just felt sort of tacked on. There was supposed to be a great big prophecy about him killing Roland, but Mordred just follows Roland across the Badlands and succumbs to sickness before being killed by Roland. He was ushered in by Roland’s enemies as the Great Answer to a Guy Who’s Lost Two Fingers and Does Not Use Automatic Weaponry, but generally speaking he came off a dud. The one thing he DID do is my biggest problem with the whole series.

THE MAN IN BLACK

The very first sentence in Book One and the last sentence of Book Seven is the same: The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

The Man in Black shows up in The Stand and In The Eyes of the Dragon, two wonderful Stephen King novels. He’s got many different names in this series, too. Roland considers him the main enemy, and once he’s confronted The Man in Black at the end of Book One, we know, we just know, that’s not the end of him.

As the series goes on, Roland fights a lot of people, but King subtly shifts the main antagonist from The Man in Black to the Crimson King, who left a perfectly nice castle and took up residence in the Dark Tower. (He also changes the main goal of Roland’s quest from saving the Dark Tower to preserving the Beams that hold up the Tower.)

I was looking forward to a fantastic showdown at the Dark Tower, with The Man in Black, who had an affair with Roland’s mother, who was responsible for so much death and devastation throughout all worlds. It would echo The Stand, which was literally Good Versus Evil. Roland was flawed, mostly because he had no sense of humor and his singular focus on the Dark Tower cost him a lot of friends, but he was mostly good. The Man in Black was bad.

The Man in Black was killed in Book Six when Mordred ate him.

(Please enter any basic cliched white woman expression of anger and frustration here: YOU GUYS. I can’t even, etc.)

Mordred ate him because he was trapped at the time and the Man in Black knew a way out. So Mordred, an infant demon, was scared of remaining trapped and by absorbing the Man in Black, learned how to get out and all about Roland the same time. His death was all of two paragraphs. It was gross–Mordred hypnotizes him and forces him to pull out his own eyes and tongue–but it wasn’t a fitting end and I was furious on Roland’s behalf.

 

I could write a lot more about what annoyed me–I couldn’t keep track of everyone they were fighting against, we don’t quite know what happened to a few of Roland’s gunslinger buddies, but these are the lowlights. I also could write a lot more about the series’ influences, but I think it’s time I returned to writing about other things.

 

 

 

 

The Dark Tower: What I HAAAAATED (Spoilers)

The Dark Tower Series: What I Liked Best (Spoilers)

I’ll limit it to three.

Favorite Book: The Wizard and the Glass

Roland treats his friends to a romantic, epic tale that takes place when his quest for the Tower was brand-new–and when he wasn’t the only gunslinger. The story explores the beginning of a recurring theme in Roland’s single-minded quest for the Tower: all the sacrifices he makes along the way. In this case, it’s his true love, their unborn child and his closest friends.

This is my favorite book because it’s immensely satisfying: Roland is sent from Gilead to learn more about a rebel who’s stirring up anti-government forces in the world’s outer lands. Roland and his fellow gunslingers are essentially Knights of the Jedi here: ostensibly neutral but with the training to take down dark forces should the need arise.

Wizard and Glass echoes The Stand: In the beginning of the book, before Roland begins his story, his group is in Kansas, where they encounter newspaper clipping and other signs of the virus that wipes out more than 99 percent of the population in The Stand. When he tells of story of Mejis, the outerland on the brink of rebellion, and mentally disabled man named Sheemie plays a significant role, a la Tom Cullen of the Stand. And, as always, Randall Flagg, here a general in the rebellion, is always lurking behind in the shadows. The buildup is worth the payoff: Roland, even as a teen, is a brilliant tactician and leader; and although his relationship with his fellow gunslingers is irreparably harmed when he chooses a local women over them and what they see as their mission, they all band together to fight evil and don’t rub it in too much when the girl doesn’t make it.

Favorite Passage

From Book Seven: Roland unleashes the most grand shoutouts as he finally reaches the Tower:

He watched as Roland walked among the roses, and sat shivering in the shadow as Roland began to cry the names of his friends and loved ones and ka-mates; those names carried clear in that strange air, as if they would echo forever.

“I come in the name of Steven Deschain, he of Gilead!

“I come in the name of Gabrielle Deschain, she of Gilead!

“I come in the name of Cortland Andrus, he of Gilead!

“I come in the name of Cuthbert Allgood, he of Gilead!

“I come in the name of Alain Johns, he of Gilead!

“I come in the name of Jamie DeCurry, he of Gilead!

“I come in the name of Vannay the Wise, he of Gilead!

“I come in the name of Hax the Cook, he of Gilead!

“I come in the name of David the Hawk, he of Gilead and the sky!

“I come in the name of Susan Delgado, she of Mejis!

“I come in the name of Sheemie Ruiz, he of Mejis!

“I come in the name of Pere Callahan, he of Jerusalem’s Lot, and the roads!

“I come in the name of Ted Brautigan, he of America!

“I come in the name of Dinky Earnshaw, he of America!

“I come in the name of Aunt Talitha, she of River Crossing, and will lay her cross here, as I was bid!

“I come in the name of Stephen King, he of Maine!

“I come in the name of Oy, the brave, he of Mid-World!

“I come in the  name of Eddie Dean, he of New York!

“I come in the name of Susannah Dean, she of New York!

“I come in the name of Jake Chambers, he of New York, whom I call my own true son!

“I am Roland of Gilead, and I come as myself; you will open to me.”

The Ending

The Dark Tower is the nexus of the time-space continuum, but it turns out to be a virtual episode of THIS IS YOUR LIFE! for our favorite gunslinger. At the top, he is thrust out into the desert, where the very story begins all over again.

I sympathize that people would be upset after Roland coming all this way, only doomed to repeat the journey all over again. As he unwillingly steps into the desert, he immediately begins to forget everything he just experienced, and his alarm is replaced by the need to chase the man in black.

We’re left wondering how many times Roland has journeyed to the Dark Tower, if he’s changed at all, and how the next trip will affect him and his friends.

It reminds me of one of the best episodes in Peter Capaldi’s run as Doctor Who. After his companion’s death, the Doctor is locked in a castle, fleeing an enemy. He eventually dies himself, only to come back alive in the same castle with the same enemy. He figures out, over billions of years and dying many times, to finally penetrate a diamond wall and escape his prison.

It’s just a shame we don’t know how Roland escapes the Tower and a fully self-actualized gunslinger.

 

 

The Dark Tower Series: What I Liked Best (Spoilers)

Reading Bucketlist: I (Finally) Finished the Dark Tower Series

My parents gave me The Drawing of the Three, the second book in the Dark Tower series, as a gift when I was in high school. I didn’t get around to reading the first book until after college. Amazon had the whole set (including a novella written in 2012 that takes place between books 4 and 5 that is not pictured above) on sale and I began, at the beginning, and binge-read the whole series, 4,250 pages, starting late last year.

After writing the first two books, King took a long break (20+ years) before working on the other novels in the series. He says he went back and edited the first two books, which he thought didn’t quite match up with the end of the story. I can tell: what I remembered from the first two stories—especially the Gunslinger—was a sparse, minimal style of writing, emblematic of King’s earlier work from the 1970s. He finished the last book, The Dark Tower, in 2004, right around the time I gave up reading any new Stephen King novels; his work had gotten way too bloated for my taste at that point. (I read 11/22/63 in 2014 or so.)

My favorite Stephen King novel is The Stand, and even though King considers The Dark Tower series to be his defining achievement—and what all his OTHER work circles back to and reflects—my opinion hasn’t changed.

However! It’s given me a lot to think about, and this is the first in a series of posts about what I thought of the books, their themes and influences. Spoilers abound.

The Dark Tower is the physical and metaphorical destination of Roland Deschain of Gilead, the last gunslinger in Mid-World. The Tower, held up and supported by invisible Beams, keeps all worlds and time in order. However, the Beams are either disintegrating or being destroyed, and worlds are blending together and time is no longer strictly objective. Roland assembles a small group of people to help him fulfill his quest and vanquish his enemies.

Order of Series in Terms of Quality

1. Book 4: Wizard and Glass

2. Book 3: The Wastelands

3. Book 5: Wolves of the Calla

4. Book 7: The Dark Tower

5. Book 2: Drawing of the Three

6. Book 1: The Gunslinger

7. Book 6: Song of Susannah

Next post: What I Liked

Reading Bucketlist: I (Finally) Finished the Dark Tower Series

An Open Letter to the Ladies of My Son’s Fourth Grade Class

Gals,

Your Valentines explicitly mention an Anna and Elsa tattoo that you will quickly discover is nonexistent. Bear with me while I explain.

What started out as a simple combination of procrastination (and a sincere but ultimately disproven belief we had leftover Valentines in the junk drawer) on my part and overall disinterest on Olly’s part (he only cared about making a Valentines box that looked like a spaceship) ballooned into a full-grown crisis when Olly let me know about the dearth of tattoos last night.

Olly decided to tape (on-brand) Frozen pencils on the Valentines. He completed all the cards himself. Please feel free to use the pencils to draft blog posts complaining about the oversight. If it consoles you, I bought my husband three loaves of gluten-free bread and a card for Valentine’s Day. A high-five is under consideration.

Enjoy the upcoming President’s Day weekend that was cut short because the school district doesn’t build snow days into the calendar and now has to make up time.

All my best,

Online Offal

An Open Letter to the Ladies of My Son’s Fourth Grade Class