Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Karmic Malfeasance

Everything was going so well, too.

That's why I was worried.

The furnace is chugging right along and my concerns over another relapse were waning. I'm banking the $300 or so that a professional would have charged. I'm off of the paying job for another fourteen days, and as of yesterday I have an RV-12 powerplant kit in my basement, willing and ready for the lengthy installation process to begin. The timing of the delivery couldn't have been better, and the assistance from Cadillac Pete and his son Warthog made the normally onerous task of breaking down the package and moving all of the pieces/parts to the subterranean assembly shop almost enjoyable. The pizza and beer that followed put the whole thing over the top, well into "truly enjoyable" range.

With things going that well, it came as no surprise when co-pilot Egg came to be with a problem. Her laptop computer, her pride and joy, her non-sentient yet well-loved baby, her very reason to exist (yeah, teenage girl = drama) had rolled over and died. Bought the farm. Met its maker. Gone to its final resting place. Her laptop, sad to say, is now pushing up daisies. And only 366 days into its one year warranty, too. What are the odds??

For some reason, she thought that I could fix it. What an amazing reversal from the girl that was convinced that not only could I not fix the furnace, but was also more than likely going to blow the entire neighborhood to smithereens in the effort.

Still, I am an IT Director, and people may be forgiven for thinking that a lofty title like that makes me all-powerful in the ways of computers. That, and a nerdy demeanor. And there are a few things that can be tried, after all. The most common cause of the type of mid-flight death she had experienced is droppage, but in this case I thought that it was more likely the second most common cause: a dead hard drive.

One of the nice things about laptops is how accessible the parts are, so I went through the normal routine of removing and re-seating the memory cards and hard drive. No luck. I invoked the built-in 'restore' function, which completely lived down to all previous experiences I've had with those, which is to say, it failed.

The next reasonable step is to start replacing parts, but without knowing the exact cause of the premature demise, it quickly can get expensive to troubleshoot via Visa card. Still, BestBuy.com listed a $69 replacement hard drive, and furthermore assured me that the local retail outlet had one in stock if I was willing to brave the just-a-few-days-before-Christmas retail frenzy. It was early in the day, though, so I thought it might be worth a try.

There were none of the $69 drives to be found.

A recent run on them from other people that bought the same laptop 366 days ago, I presume.

They did have a $100 variant that I could try, but to do so would be placing a 25% wager (of the cost of a brand new laptop) that the new drive would actually fix the problem. That's a steep bet. I decided to just bite the bullet and buy a new laptop, albeit one of a different brand.

Ah, just the thing! A nice Samsung, marked down from $579 to $429. Good enough!

I waved down one of the plentiful PFBS (pimple-faced blue shirts) to make the sale. "Nice choice, Sir!" he gushed. And then came the up-sell.

"You know, these manufacturers put all kinds of stuff on there that you don't need and it just slows them down. We'll open it up, test it, and remove all of that stuff for just $159."

Uh, no. Not interested. In my defense, I was still a little testy over the non-existent hard drive and the impending re-balancing of my Karmic (and literal, for that matter) bank account(s), so I wasn't really in the mood for the hard sell.

"Listen, I'm an IT Director. I bought my first computer thirty-five years ago. I know how to remove extraneous crap from computers. No thanks."

I don't often play the IT Director card, and for good reason. No one cares. But in this case, I think it short-circuited what surely would have been five more minutes of trying to sell me on this "valuable service."

The reason for the obdurate failure to take no for an answer soon became apparent.

I grabbed one of the two boxes underneath the display model.

"Oh, those have already had it done," he told me.

"Ah, I see. Well, I'll wait here while you go find an unmolested one for me," I replied.

"Well, there's a problem with that. These are the last two we have."

This is when I put on my best IT Director face and said, "Well, I want this laptop, and I want it at this advertised price. Feel free to put all of the stuff that you removed back on there, if it helps." The finger that thirty years ago would have been poking him in his sternum was instead forcefully poking at the advertised price card on the shelf.

A pause ensued.

"I'll check with my manager, but I think we can give you one of these at that price."

"You damn betcha you can!" I didn't say, but it was a near thing.

So, a holiday disaster averted (poor little Egg would have been devastated at the loss of her trusted Japanese companion - I hope she can accept a Korean replacement) and Karmic balance restored, for whatever that's worth. Now I can (hopefully) shift my attention to the engine waiting patiently in my basement.

Which came in a big box:

Which contained another big box:

And a cardboard box full of all kinds of interesting things:

I let Pete deal with the precision Austrian-engineered box in his inimitably precise manner:

Our first glance at the treasure within:

There she is, proud and tall:

The propeller blades are works of art:

This is the cooling shroud. I've been reading ahead in the plans; the entire top of the engine has to be removed to install it:


Throttle and choke cables:

A ludicrous tool kit:

This is the P36-esque spinner. The hole in the middle is for the pitot tube, not a cannon as it was on the P39:

The muffler:

The mount:

Wiring?? No one said there was going to be more wiring!

The oil tank:

Two radiators - one for water/glycol, the other for oil:

And, as always, plenty of little metal bits.

First step: inventory.


Anonymous said...

Dave, In regards to the lap top, I would have shelled out the extra money and bought the MAC. Just saying.

Jeff Turton

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience buying a laptop for my son. They only had a version that the Geek Squad had opened up and messed with. I had to talk with three different people and the manager only offered to give me the Geek Squad service at half off. I had to threaten to walk out of the store before they gave it to me for the original price. That is why I hate shopping at Best Buy.

Matt Williams

Jeff said...

Dave Dave Dave...you know as well as I ( or anyone else for that matter ) that when you become frustrated with something on the engine , you're going to attack that poor little laptop . We both know that it mustn't be permitted to simply SIT there doing nothing . It just doesn't compute and besides that it will only cost...

Keep having fun and best of the season to you and your family. Jeff

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