Apr 29 2015

Odd email

Adel Gabot

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9:10AM

I got a very interesting email yesterday afternoon.

It purported to be from the assistant to the Ambassador of the Czechoslovakian Embassy To The Philippines writing in behalf of the Ambassador, and the assistant was asking about an old translated-to-Czech short story of mine from 1989.

They were collating stories translated to the Czech language for a collection, and they didn’t have a copy of one of mine but had the title in Czech: “Darovanému koňovi sa na zuby nehľadí”. Could I perhaps remember what it was?

At first glance, it seemed like one of those spam/scam emails we frequently get. It was couched in formal-speak and had the usual niceties, which was what constituted 95% of those spurious spam/scams. I almost trashed it out of hand, but gave it a closer look when I noticed they had included titles of my other work available online, and the sender addressed me as Mr. Gabot, not the usual Mr. To-Whom-It-May-Concern.

It also said that the Ambassador was a fan of the sci-fi genre, and would like to meet with me one of these days to have a “healthy discussion” of the topic.

Hmm.

I reluctantly replied, because I was still unsure if this was a scam or the real thing.

I told the assistant that I honestly couldn’t remember which of my stories it was, it was so long ago—over 25 years now. I do remember some stories I wrote that were translated into European languages back then, but I couldn’t remember the circumstances nor the details. I told her that I would try to recall them, and would write back if I did.

I ended my reply with an equally polite “yes, I would love to meet with the Ambassador one of these days to discuss the genre”, and sent it last night.

I don’t expect a response, but it was a weird letter just the same. Also, it was kind of nice to know that some people outside my little world here appreciate my writing.

But still, how odd.


Apr 24 2015

Shhh…

Adel Gabot

10:58AM

…I’m doing a short story.

Quiet.


Jan 27 2015

Phone/Net woes

Adel Gabot

This morning, a repair guy from PLDT appeared, and he tried to fix the phone, in preparation to fixing the internet, which had gone on the blink early Sunday morning.

I called them yesterday on my cell to see what what wrong with the internet, and they asked me the status of our landline. Dead, I said. Since early December. No, sir, we have to see what’s wrong first with your landline before we can see what’s wrong with the internet. They’re just one connection you see.

I tried to call them to fix the landline when I discovered it broke a couple of months ago, but nobody came. Seeing that we don’t really use it much any more, I just let it drag on.

But the net was working just fine (except for when the Pope was here, of course; that was iffy at best—for good reason, I think). But it resumed the day after he left, and worked fine, at least until I woke up Sunday morning and found it dead.

The operator told me that there were separate services for the landline and the internet, and the former had to be fixed first before the latter could see what was wrong with it. Sheesh. Ok, I said, send someone to fix the phone first then.

The guy came the morning after (surpringly fast; I was thinking he’d come later in the week), and after dicking around with the lines and connections, told me that the physical cords were screwed up, and had to be replaced. Turns out the connection was fine, but the lines were old and tangled and messy and in the way, and I had to do something about it. He neatened up the connections as much as he could, then left me to my own devices.

Dammit.

So I went and bought a couple of long extension cables and a two-way splitter in Ace Hardware, just to be sure, and rushed back home to fix the tangled mess.

Took me an hour or two, but I finally got it sorted out.

At first, I wanted to change all the wiring to newer ones, and string them up on the ceiling where they wouldn’t be in the way. But it turns out I made a mistake and got shorter cables than I really needed (and they were a bitch to untangle and wire up, let me tell you), but I tried to make do with what I had.

In the end, I only used one of the cables, and used old, existing stuff to fix the mess. Some of the older cables, a connector, and an old two-way splitter with a long wire. I had to figure out to arrange the wires so they’d end up where they were supposed to.

Now, the phone is working fine, and the internet is back and pretty reliable again. I didn’t need to call the internet part of the service, I fixed it on my own. And I had an extra new cable, and the splitter which is still sealed in its packaging. I’m sure they’ll come in handy one of these days.

But damn, that was hard.

*grumble*

 


Jul 12 2012

Big scare

Adel Gabot

I had a shock yesterday afternoon with my iMac, but things ended well enough (I think; remains to be seen if it will happen again).

It all started when I gave my home drive a look-see, diagnosing it using Apple’s homegrown Disk Utility. It found something wrong, and it halted mid-check and told me to reboot in recovery mode and use the app to repair the disk.

So I shut the ongoing apps off, and tried to restart it. The damned bluetooth keyboard refused to be recognized by the computer and it wouldn’t proceed from the reboot screen, and I got stumped. The computer told me to switch the keyboard on and wait for the computer to recognize it. Nada. Did it over and over to no avail. I even got my brother’s wired keyboard to try and use it with the iMac, but the damned thing had a different plug altogether.

So I gave up and restarted it to run as usual, but tried the diagnostic again just to be sure. Same error message, but I read the full message this time very carefully, and noticed that I had misread the rebooting instructions as ‘press Control-C on restart’. It was actually ‘Command-C”. That’s the last time I assume anything again. So I did it one more time, and this time it worked.

But it was fine. I used Disk Utility and repaired the drive, but there was nothing wrong with it. I did it over and over, and it kept telling me that the drive was perfectly fine. But rebooting it into normal mode showed the error message again. I’ll be damned if I could figure out what was going on.

So I continued on my merry way, leaving it to ‘just one of those things that I’ll never figure out’, when an hour later the computer slogged to a halt. It had been hiccuping and giving me odd non-responses since I restarted, and now it damned froze on me. I had no choice but to physically turn it off from the back button, but when it tried to restart, it hung on the opening screen there was a repetitive clicking noise coming from it.

A cold stab of fear went through me; I knew that faint sound: a failing hard drive. At first I couldn’t tell where it was coming from, I thought it could’ve been from one of the external drives, but on inspection, it came from inside the iMac.

It had just gone through its first-year anniversary a couple of weeks ago, dammit. It was practically new. Well, relatively new. It shouldn’t break down this early.

I physically turned it off again and tried to restart. Still the same freeze and click-click-click. Tried it several times over, and by the third or fourth time the click-click-click had progressed to a click-buzz-click-buzz. Oh no.

I weighed my options. Obviously I had to take it to the service center. I had already figured out how to do that – lug it out to where I could get a cab to Trinoma, and take it from there. If I was lucky, they’d keep it for a couple of weeks to replace the hard drive. I can have the screen cleaned while they were doing it too. It was a good thing I kept an up-to-date Time Machine backup of my system, and kept a separate data backup of my stuff on the new Thunderbolt drive. I could use my Air as a replacement in the meantime, suffering the 11″ screen in the meantime. Everything should still be fine.

But I didn’t give up yet. Working on the assumption that it was a fixable glitch, I restarted with my USB Recovery Disk inserted. It showed the spinning globe and a progress bar that told me it could take a while. Still had the same click-buzz-click-buzz noise, but at least there was hope. I could yet fix this thing without going to the Apple Service Center.

Half an hour passed, and the progress bar had from 20 minutes to an hour and a half, and it was increasing. An hour later the noisy click-buzz-click-buzz had finally stopped but the progress bar had gone up to two hours, and rising. I finally gave up, and took the USB drive off the system.

So I was going to take my year-old iMac to the shop. For the first time. Oh, well, it was bound to happen.

Just for the heck of it, I restarted the computer normally – and was surprised that it did!

It started up the way it usually did, and came on without any drive noise or any other odd thing.

After that, everything was normal again. For the whole evening, up to this morning. It ran like it usually did, fast and reliably, with no sign that anything was wrong (save for that damned Disk Utility diagnosis, which still showed errors; I tried that recovery thing this morning again, and it still didn’t show anything wrong).

Now here is the quandary: should I still bring it to the service center? No telling if that was a momentary glitch, or a sign that something was truly wrong and would continue to worsen. Only time will tell. For now, everything’s the way it should be, and I hope it continues to be. In any case, I still have two years of Applecare on the iMac should things take a turn for the worse.

 

 


Feb 28 2012

Model-making

Adel Gabot

My daughter Ea just gifted me with a 1/72 scale F-16 scale model kit last week. Complete with kit glue and assorted paints.

I don’t really know why she gave me that kit. She probably picked up on past conversations that had me talking about assembling model kits when I was a teenager. She was probably trying to think of a birthday gift, and she came up with that. Good, actually, but I’m not sure I have the patience to complete a kit these days. Or the concentration. I’m still in a funk most of the time, and can barely get by. But I’m grateful that she took time to look for a kit for me, and for trying to think of a way to get me to relive my past, in however a small way.

I remember making these kits as a teen in college: another, more complicated F16, that large F4 Phantom, that attack helicopter whose designation eludes me at the moment, the space shuttle Enterprise (complete with a 747), that Star Trek Enterprise ship with the little lights, that big German tank, that X-Wing Fighter that I loved to pieces or all those many little kits I can’t even remember doing (they’re coming back to me now – the LA Dart car, that Charlie’s Angels van…so many).

I really wasn’t very good at making them, and was always in a hurry to finish, barely leaving time for the paint or the cement to dry before moving on with the next part. It was more of a quick race to complete the kit, hopefully as much as possible within a day, when in truth it should have taken weeks to complete each kit properly.

I remember buying the Tamiya catalogue and staring at the pages for hours, dreaming of that next kit. I bought with my meager allowance all the different colors of paints I could get my hands on (nowhere near enough, unfortunately; the stores around here never had a complete set). I bought different sized brushes, tubes and bottles of glue (which for some reason always dried up on me and I ended up buying more), x-acto blades and different tools: vises, tweezers and all that stuff. I got a couple of airbrush kits, using spare tires to run them, and later on, a motor. I even thought of making a complete little workshop, which I worked towards, but I never quite got there.

I think it was the planning and precise, exacting steps that got a model built that appealed to me more than the model itself. I liked that you followed specific instructions in a precise order, and there was nothing left to chance. There was always a place for each part. You build, for instance, an engine in stages: you assemble this section first, then you set it aside while you build another section, which connects to the first section, and so forth, until you had the whole engine. Which you situate inside the hood which you previously built. And so it went. It was marvelous.

Painting the thing was an afterthought; I just got impatient waiting for the paint to dry and hurried it along. Paint got mixed with other colors because I couldn’t wait for one layer to dry before putting on the next one. Sometimes I wasn’t sure things got glued on properly because the paint on the part I was gluing on wasn’t completely cured. But I loved following the instructions. Yes, I think that’s what I loved.

So thanks, Ea, for that 1/72 F16 kit. I’m going to follow those instructions to the letter, and I’m going to paint and glue all the parts together. With patience and care this time. I’m going to start building it this week.