Sunday, March 21, 2010

Now Who's the Genius?

I love my iPhone. I really do. But recent behavioral problems have challenged our normally peaceful and drama-free relationship. You know what I’m talking about—dropped calls, more dropped calls and general “noodginess,” as my mom would say.

But there are only so many times you can hang up on someone within one conversation before everyone simply loses track of who was saying what before the interruption. “Oops, sorry. My fault again. Ok, so what were you saying? Wait, you already told me about the guy with the tapeworm. What were you saying after that?”

After several failed fix-it attempts, I decided to see what all the hype was about and booked an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar. I was kind of hoping the experience would be like some science fiction movie where my phone would be scanned and I’d be able to see its inner workings, in 3D, projected on a touch screen futuristic display that hovered in the air. And the person helping me would be clad in a crisp white lab coat, conducting his side of the conversation in auto-tune!

From the minute I arrived at the Genius bar, my vision of futuristic customer service gave way to what felt like the pediatrician/parent service model. After the gay genius receptionist entered my name into the digital queue—via iphone, of course—he directed me to the waiting area.

As the minutes ticked by, everyone just sat there silently, in all their Apple-customer glory, staring longingly at their ailing devices. I overheard one hipster break the silence to commiserate with another. “What’s the haps, man?” he questioned, to which his bench neighbor responded, “Oh, we got it bad over here, dude. Water damage.” The first threw back, “Ouch, bro.”

Once they call your name, you and your technology device head up to the bar where the real, live Genius is waiting to help you. My Genius was named Andrew, and I could just tell he truly cared about making things better. “Let’s take a look, shall we?” he asked using a calming tone of voice. He then pulled out one of those ear inspection devices that doctors use and inserted the pointy end into the iPhone headphone hole. “Hmmmm, he uttered. I’ll need to look further.”

His next move was to hook my phone up to a computer and run some program that calculated the number of dropped calls over the last week. This was kind of sciencey, but not as futuristic-feeling as I had hoped. Notable about this part of the exam was that all my phone pictures popped up on his screen, automatically, and the set began to cycle through.

Luckily, I had JUST transferred most of my iPhone pics to my home computer so only a few choice ones remained—one of Heb’s baby looking cuter than ever and another of Marisa and Jen eating marmalade at the ski cabin. I asked Andrew if he’s ever seen anything shocking pop up, and he responded that I “could not even begin to imagine” the kinds of things that flashed across his screen. I encouraged him to post the most mortifying and/or fabulously awkward photos on an anonymous blog (now who's the Genius?!), but he felt it would be breaching customer privacy. Damn.

Based on what he saw on the monitor, Andrew broke the news to me that we were going to need to wipe my iPhone clean, since the software seemed to be corrupted. “Now, Lauren, I want to be straight with you on this. If we reset your phone, you’re not going to lose your contacts but you will lose all the texts message conversations stored on this device. Take a minute and think about whether or not you're comfortable with this.”

The decision felt heavy, reminiscent of a scene from a hospital show where a terminally ill patient needs to choose if she wants to try an experimental treatment, billed as her only chance for survival. Once I decided that I was game for the reset, Andrew walked me through it, step by step…and I started having vivid flashbacks from my tonsillectomy, many moons ago.

“OK, Lauren. I’m going to count backwards from three to one. On one, I’m going to hit the reset button. At that time, all content will be removed from your phone and it will return to its factory settings. As we discussed, you will not lose your personal contacts. Are you ready?”

Andrew spoke in a very soothing tone, never breaking eye contact for a second. I thought to myself that if he ever gets tired of this Genius routine, he definitely has a career in suicide prevention hotline work…or perhaps playing a doctor on TV.

I gave Andrew the go ahead and he began the countdown, slow and steady. On "one" I was waiting for something startling to happen, but just like in surgery, it was all very quiet. And then everything went black.

Friday, March 12, 2010

High Altitude Excellence

Not only is my friend Jen a badass paramedic, driving shrieking ambulances at mach speed to the scene of tragically injured San Franciscans in high drama scenarios, but she's also really good at hosting ski parties. I'm not sure what the correlation is. It could be that both involve adrenaline. Mostly, I think it's that she's just good at everything--baking, maps, ballet, German, boats, cocktails, you name it.

When I find something she's not good at, I'll let everyone know. I'm thinking I'll be able to stump her with ceramics or maybe the circus arts, although she probably has a high-power kiln in her basement...and 10 years of tightrope training under her belt, somehow.

A few weeks ago, Jen (pictured above, middle) brought a few of us up to her family's cabin in the Sierras. Under her professional leadership, we engaged in quality mountain time, upgraded with organic cocktails (note: Jen used frozen strawberries for ice) along with breakfast featuring home-made marmalade--not to mention a back country snow shoeing expedition (see above pic), second-hand glasswares shopping and Winter Olympics viewing while cozied up in hand-knit blankets next to the wood burning stove.

I wish I had thought to call up my extreme mountain firemen friends, although they were probably IN the Olympics for one death defying sport or another and therefore otherwise occupied.

I took this picture while tree skiing, my first time ever veering off the groomed runs. Renegade blue square skiing at its finest.