Like Having Your Own Genius Bar

Richard was home for a few days last week.  It was great to see him and catch up on how he’s doing — and it was also great because I got to tap into our very own “Genius Bar” and solve a problem that had flummoxed me for weeks.

Any parent with kids under the age of 30 knows what I mean.  They’ve grown up with technology, are wholly comfortable with it, and seem to know, intuitively, how to fix any problem.  Richard and Russell have solved countless technology issues that have perplexed me — whether it is setting up wireless networks or explaining cell phone functions or diagnosing computer problems.

I was trying to deal with fallout from the demise of our old iMac.  My iTunes were on the old iMac and my iPod was synced with it.  I had the Apple folks remove the hard drive, bought a shell to store the hard drive and allow it to be connected to the new iMac, and was able to do that — but I couldn’t figure out how to transfer my iTunes from the old hard drive to the new computer.  The prospect that I would not be able to do so really sucked, because it meant my old iTunes were lost forever, I couldn’t sync my iPod with the new computer, and ultimately I probably would have to rebuild my iPod and its playlists.

When Richard was home I asked for his help.  He took a look and immediately figured out what to do, transferred the music, and this morning I was able to sync my iPod without losing everything on it.  Thanks, Richard!

And, incidentally, I disagree with those who will contend that this means I have officially moved into the “helpless and clueless senior” category.  I would argue that there is, or should be, a technology exception.

Another Masterful Masters

I don’t watch much golf on TV.  I like to play the game — at least, usually I do — but watching it typically doesn’t have much appeal.

The Masters is an exception, however.  Every spring I tune in to watch CBS report, in whispered, measured tones, on the unfolding drama at Augusta National Golf Club.

Everything about the tournament reeks of tradition.  Every hole has a special name, like “Golden Bell” (number 12, for those who don’t have the names memorized).  The broadcast features lots of old black and white photographs.  The winner doesn’t just get a trophy, he gets a green jacket that means he will forever be invited back every spring to wear his coat and eat with his fellow champions.  And the Masters is one of those signs of the season — when the best golfers in the world are gagging in the vicinity of Raes Creek, you know spring is here.

Of course, the best thing about the Masters is that the golf usually is spectacular, because Augusta National is perfectly set up for a major championship.  It doesn’t attempt to overwhelm the golfers, as the U.S. Open courses often do.  Instead, it offers opportunities for birdies and eagles — but always with an accompanying risk that a bad shot will produce bogeys, double bogeys, and other scores that can knock you out of contention.  The course lets the pressure have its effect on the golfers and invites viewers to watch who can best control his nerves.

Yesterday’s round was no exception.  Some golfers hit tremendous shots and posted great rounds that have put them high up on the leaderboard; others faltered and dropped out of contention.  It’s just wonderful TV, whether you like golf or not.  When today’s round starts, and the leaders start sweating over those tricky six-foot putts on Augusta National’s lightning-fast greens, I’ll be watching.

Searching For The Elusive Easter Basket

On Easter morning 45 years ago, the Webner household would be a beehive of activity.  When the go signal was given, five kids ranging from 11 to 4 would thunder down the stairs and fan out through the household, looking for their Easter baskets.

My mother had this down to a science.  She had scouted all of the good hiding spots, ranked them in order of difficulty, and then assigned them to the kids in order of age.  Jean therefore always got the easiest hiding place — usually somewhere pretty much out in plain sight, perhaps partially behind a chair.  The bright pinks and greens and yellows and purples of the plastic eggs and marshmallow chicks and cellophane wrapping of the chocolate bunnies were like neon signs against the subdued decorations of our home.  We’d hear Jean’s happy cry of discovery, chuckle at the lack of challenge, and redouble our efforts.

Then a second discovery would be made, then a third — and suddenly things started to get a bit more desperate for the remaining searchers.

No one wanted to be the last person to find their basket, searching with increasing shame while Mom gave embarrassing “you’re getting warmer” hints and everyone else was gobbling their goodies.  But some of those hiding spots were awfully tough — like inside the dryer, or under the top of the piano, or tucked away behind the coats in the front closet.  When you finally found your basket, you felt a warm sense of achievement, and then tore into the goodies, scattering the fake plastic grass from the basket across the floor.  The speckled eggs with a hard outer shell and malted milk inside were my favorites.

Then it was time to put on your best Sunday outfit and head off to Sunday school, stoked with an awesome chocolate rush pounding in your ears.

In retrospect, I imagine Sunday school teachers of the day dreaded Easter.