Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oldies But Goodies

I'm still not turning on the television, but figured there would be some bible themed movies during this Easter season and did catch a few. I just finished watching Barabbas on a Christian broadcasting network and it was great!

I don't think I've ever seen this movie all the way through because I don't recall much of it. That evil laugh of Jack Palance's did make an impression on my mind because I remember that maniacal face. He's such a great villain.

The movie runs 137 minutes and had me glued to the tube. I don't think I took a drink or even stirred during the entire movie - it was commercial free. Anthony Quinn does a spectacular job as Barabbas. If you watch the trailer below, you'll note that the crucifixion scene was shot during an actual solar eclipse. I didn't know that until after I looked up some info on the movie, which was released in 1961. Get it and watch it if you haven't seen it. Some good gladiator scenes too.

The other night I also saw The Bible: In the Beginning. There are all kinds of good actors in this one. John Huston plays a superb Noah - all his scenes are quite enjoyable. I believe he also does God's voice. And Peter O'Toole plays an angel that goes to Sodom and Gomorrah. He was one handsome man in his prime. Oh, those blue eyes...

Anyway, I love all the old bible movies and they always make me cry. In the classic, The Ten Commandments, when Charlton Heston as Moses stands on that big boulder, holding his staff up high and God parts the Red Sea - I start sobbing - every time. I do cry at the oddest times. Speaking of Charlton Heston, Ben Hur is my favorite movie of all.

It's hard to believe that Hollywood actually made movies like that at one time. They'd be out of business today if most people were like me. The last time I went to a movie theater was to see The Passion of the Christ in 2004 (and I made an atheist professor, with whom I was working on a project, take me - he was much too infatuated to not grab this rare opportunity to spend some time with me outside the lab - ha!). I have zero interest in the mostly mind-warping trash Hollywood spews out these days.

Barabbas - trailer

The Bible: In the Beginning - trailer

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Case Of The Crying Fan - Conclusion

[As promised, here is the conclusion to the riveting tale I began in the previous post. Part II will not be as detailed - the feeling of triumph that inspired Part I is gone. Good feelings are fleeting. The ego seems to have a "What have you done for me lately?" attitude about life.]

So there I sat, reconnoitering. Well, not really. I first beat myself up a bit, thinking - you had to go and mess with that fan even though you knew it wasn't going to help anything. You bumbling idiot! Now you've got two problems. Then I proceeded to more constructive thoughts.

Contingency plans begin racing through my mind in situations where it seems I'm getting cornered. I'm thinking, I've got that dinosaur desktop in the other room. I could get online with dial-up access on this DSL account and search for this part. It's a stupid fan. Couldn't be hard to find. Even if the blade is missing, that noise is still there. Perhaps there's no fixing this part, it needs to be replaced.

Still, my stubbornness would not let me go that route. I saw nothing wrong with this piece. A little voice was screaming to me: Lubrication! It just needs a little lubrication! But my big voice was saying: Nah, this isn't a car. Computers aren't oily things. Do you see any sign of oil anywhere? No. If you go and put oil in that part you could totally ruin everything! Shut up, little voice.

But after several more hours of tinkering and microscopic analysis, it was obvious that I was getting nowhere. I had to change my course of action. It was late on a Sunday night, stores weren't open so I couldn't call anywhere to locate the part. I finally decided to get online with the dial-up and ended up struggling for hours with that as I've never used dial-up with this high-speed account.

My ISP's tech support are a bunch of third world monkeys sitting in a third world shit hole, who couldn't care less about helping anyone and are too fucking stupid even if they could bother their lazy, shiftless selves to try. At one point this Latin idiot told me my modem wasn't working and I should contact the manufacturer! Seriously. Another tech retardo told me they don't support Windows 98 - I may or may not be able to connect. I will say no more about this, except that I hate, detest, loathe, abhor every single of one those motherfuckers. Companies who hire them, like my ISP, should be bombed.

Anyhoo... it was 3am, I was tired, utterly defeated and there was nothing more I could do so I crawled into bed, not even bothering to take my clothes off. Then just before I closed my eyes a brilliant idea popped into my head - use auntie's dial-up account! I had that ISP before and knew all the settings. Get her username and password first thing in the AM.

Now it's Monday morning, stores are open. I would first call Fry's or Micro Center. No luck. Then I called some HP repair/parts service. It seems I'd have to replace the entire heat sink and two fans (see image above) - the single fan was not sold separately - $160 and they'd have to order it. $%#%$#@#$@%*!!! I wanted this part NOW!

Time to get online. With auntie's username and password I got connected immediately. Yeah, stick that modem up your dirty ass, you useless piece of third world garbage. Eh, this is how I feel about those third world losers being shoved in our faces and lives - I'm not going to pretend. And until I see evidence that I should change my attitude, it's going to remain this way.

Searching around didn't help me at all. I found the part - $78 - again, the whole cooling unit. I called the company's phone number. The guy said it was on back order and would be at least a couple of weeks. $%#%$#@#$@%*!!! I explained the noise to him and he confirmed that, yes, it was time to replace the part.

Uh huh. The hell with that. I wasn't going to wait, I was going to fix this. GAWD, this dial-up was soooooooo slow - 28.8. I would end up having a nervous breakdown if I had to work with this for any length of time.

Surely, my problem was not unique. There had to be some info about noisy fans somewhere out there. So I searched on something like "noisy fan"+repairing+laptop! I stumbled upon this forum where these guys had been discussing the very problem. And their solution? LUBRICATION!!!! Like my little voice had been telling me almost from the start of this ordeal.

I immediately got up, marched straight into the garage, looked around at all the different oils on the shelf and decided on a tiny can labeled "Household Oil". With trembling hands I took everything apart for the umpteenth time, dropped a few drops of oil into the area where the bearing was and spread it all around, then put it all back together again. I didn't care about that missing blade at this point.

The moment of truth. I pushed down the power-on button... and waited... ... Not a screech, not a whimper, not a moan nor a groan, not the tiniest odd noise to be heard. HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! HALL-E-E-E-LU-JAAAAH! Praise God Almighty! Oh, sweet victory was mine. I give all the credit to my awesome God. I always do in these cases because I can tell He's guiding my blind, pathetic self along. He knows that I could not afford to pay for a new part and needing to be online for my work. You would not believe how many times He's bailed me out of bad jams. Thank you, merciful God.

Now if the noise returns, I will take one of the forum guy's advice and use graphite powder and oil. He said it's the best and lasts forever. And thank God for all you wonderful guys! I should get one for myself one of these days.

Here it is, Friday - 5 days of quiet and normal operation. Actually, the laptop is running smoother and quieter than ever since it got a much-needed cleaning - that it would never have gotten had it not been for the crying fan.

The end. (This turned out longer than I expected.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Case Of The Crying Fan

This post has nothing to do with Mr. Darcy, but since I can't think of any image to go with it, well... I like looking at him and now he's way down on my page.

I am back online after being incommunicado all day Sunday and most of today.

My laptop, the machine I always use, had been rather asthmatic for a while. It was making some noises - like a wheezing of sorts and some grinding and groaning every now and then. I ignored its cries for help - until yesterday morning - when it made such a horrible screech upon powering it up that I thought the whole thing might break apart. I immediately reached for the power-off button. I waited a bit and tried again. Maybe it was a freak thing and whatever the problem was had magically gone away. Right. It was worse.

Oh Lordy! No 'puter, no Internet, no nothing. I had work to do, blogs to read, emails to ignore! What to do? And with no access to the Internet, how could I search for a clue? I was completely and utterly on my own. I am not a hardware type. Like most women, I just want the thing to work so I can go about doing what I want to do. You know, the same attitude they have about their men... But, unlike most women, I will take things apart when they don't work, hoping that something obvious will present itself. Starting out without a clue, but then with much study, patience, and stubbornness, I will often find the problem and repair it. I have surprised myself at how many things I've been able to fix. Stubbornness can be a virtue.

Having nothing to lose, I turned the thing over and started it up so I could at least locate where the screams were originating from. Aha! It appeared that the injured party was a fan. But to get to it I had to unscrew all these tiny little screws holding the cover in place. I tried everything - tweezers, knives, all sorts of pointy objects - a corn on the cob holder, tiny appetizer swords, various manicuring tools, etc. Dammit. I turned the house and garage upside down. Then at last I stumbled upon an eyeglass repair kit containing the cutest little screwdriver you ever saw.

Like a mad woman I rushed back to the table, teeny screwdriver in hand. I was determined to get a look at that fan and no frickin wee screws were going to stop me. The screwdriver head fit into the tiny groove! Yeah! My glee was short-lived as I couldn't get enough torque on it to budge a single one. Arrghhh! Having watched Cousin work on cars, I remembered something. I grabbed a pair of pliers, tightly gripped the mini screwdriver's handle with it, and slowly turned. Movement at last! Victory was mine!

Finally, the bloody cover was off. Now, to get to that fan. More screws. Ha! No problem. I lifted the fan out. Oh my. The dirt! On the fan and everywhere. I could also see mossy-looking brown gunk sticking out here and there from under another covered area. More screws to unscrew. Yikes! The vents were almost completely covered with a matting of lint, dust, barely visible cat hairs, and who knows what else - that could be lifted off in almost a solid chunk. The cat is forbidden from ever again sitting next the laptop. It's a wonder the poor machine managed to survive this long.

Even after removing the big pieces of filth there remained too much dust and dirt, so I grabbed the vacuum cleaner with its handy-dandy attachment in place and sucked out every little piece of everything - after first making sure that nothing important would be swallowed up. That's better! I then proceeded, slowly and thoroughly, with q-tips and alcohol, to clean off the fan blades and all other visibly icky surfaces.

And after all that, I was dismayed to discover that the original problem was still there. Oh, I didn't want to admit it, but there was no denying the reality. I could turn the fan with my finger and hear it making a noise, which logic told me would be greatly amplified at its much faster operating speed. The other fan was fine - spinning absolutely noiselessly. There was something inside this fan that wasn't right. But I had to prove it to myself anyway by putting everything back in place and starting it up. Yep, the screech from hell was still there.

At this point, I am an expert screwer/unscrewer of itty-bitty screws, so I had it all apart again in no time flat. But, I have to admit that I have a problem distinguishing between things that are meant to come apart and things that come apart only when sufficient force is applied - never to come together again. It gets kind of tricky when you really don't know what you're dealing with.

Being mindful of my propensity for oops-ing up things, I gently pulled at the center piece on which the fan blades were attached. There was some resistance. I pulled slightly harder. And wouldn't you know it, it slid right out. I quickly put it back in to make sure it wasn't permanently out. Whew! Now, I had the fan taken apart as much as I was going to dare. I carefully inspected both pieces with a magnifying glass and flashlight, sucked the hell out of them with the vacuum attachment, q-tipped every reachable tiny surface with alcohol. I could see absolutely nothing wrong and the q-tips weren't even dirty. But, there was still a little dirt on the blades and since there were no electronic components on it, just a simple piece of plastic, 13 blades and a metal bearing - a shaft-like thingy - I decided I'd clean it more thoroughly.

Subconsciously I knew that further cleaning of the blades wasn't going to make any difference because my mind was going over what the hell must be the real problem and thus not paying attention to what my hands were doing... Next thing I know, snap! A single blade goes flying off. This was NOT supposed to be a detachable part. It was immediately obvious that I had just done some irreparable damage. One thing about me, I don't cry over spilled milk. I go catatonic. Everything shuts down and I freeze - all thoughts and emotions cease. I just sat very still, eyes fixed on that single, tiny, black blade lying there, far away from the main piece still in my hands, now with 12 blades and a little stub.

After a few minutes, I got up and made myself a cup of coffee. Clearly, it was time to reconnoiter.

Will she fix the fan? How can she after mutilating it? What was causing that noise? And how ever did she get back online?

Find out next time as The Case of the Crying Fan continues on the next post. I did not expect this tale to go on so long. I've had it for today.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Birthday Wish

My birthday is just about here. And if I had one wish... Mr. Darcy, as portrayed by Colin Firth in this 1995 adaption of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, is probably as close to my dream man as there ever will be.

I really must get out more.

But so long as I'm here and online, with my blog page open, this post will do very nicely until I can think of something to write about. It may be a while...