In case you’re wondering why the Insolence is so light today…

…the reasons are threefold.

Reason #1 is my iPhone. As I mentioned the other day, the microphone mysteriously stopped working while I was in Phoenix. At first I thought it was a network thing, as on less rare than I would like occasions I had had difficulty with AT&T in which I might have trouble making a phone call or people I called couldn’t hear me even though I could hear them. But the problem persisted after I got home. (In restrospect, I wonder if the occasional problems I had had when people couldn’t hear me after I connected were the canary in the coal mine for this total meltdown.) It was all very frustrating, as everything else about the phone appeared to work fine.

So yesterday evening after work I made a stop at the nearest Apple Store, which, unfortunately, is not nearly as near as I would like, if you know what I mean, having first made an appointment at the Genius Bar. The Apple dude was attentive as I explained my problem. He had a hard time verifying it because the store was so noisy and in fact had to take the phone into the back of the store where it was quieter before he could verify that, yes, in fact the microphone didn’t work. He then tried doing some sort of super-duper reset that only a technician can do and then completely reinstalling the iPhone software.

No go.

So, your friendly neighorhood Apple Store swapped out my non-functional old iPhone for a new one. The whole process, including analysis, reinstalling the software once, and then initializing and activating the replacement iPhone took close to an hour. By and large, it was relatively painless.

I was, however, seated next to a poor soul for whom I felt very sorry. It was a very young man, either high school or at most college age, sitting there with his very nonfunctional white MacBook that apparently had ceased to work after close contact of the wrong kind with some sort of liquid. The story was unclear, as I only caught snippets of it between interactions with my “Genius” or when I was waiting a seemingly interminable time for the new software to install on my phone, but apparently a friend of his had spilled a drink on the hapless machine, a story that only came out reluctantly and after the Genius looking at the computer for him noted signs of water damage apparent after just taking the battery out in preparation for opening the case. The poor kid was clearly screwed (as was his trusty MacBook) and definitely looked as though he did not have the hefty amount of cash necessary to repair it, much less replace it. The Genius glibly suggested that he beat the crap out of his friend, which to my mind was not exactly helpful, although I realize he was probably trying to cheer the kid up or redirect his anger.

All of this led me to remember myself at that age and contrast that kid some 30 years ago with the man I am now. Although I’ve had my share of pain and problems (and recent deaths of both relatives and a pet don’t help that), overall I’m incredibly lucky. Not only am I married to a fantastic woman, but even in these harsh economic times I’m relatively well off. I’m by no means rich, and I certainly suck at managing my finances in a savvy fashion, but I can afford a decent house in a very nice neighborhood, a very spiffy car, and (mostly) all of the computer toys I could want. If my MacBook Pro were to suffer the fate that poor kid’s machine suffered, I could afford to repair or even replace it. It would hurt, and I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I could afford it.

All of which brings me to another reason why I’m lucky. Last year, our dog Echo died unexpectedly after being diagnosed with a particularly nasty form of cancer. The total time from our first noticing the hard lump on her flank to her death was less than three weeks. She was only eight. Afterward, we wondered when, if ever, we could get over her death and find another dog.

That time was this weekend.

Before I went to Phoenix, my wife brought me by the local Humane Society (the real Humane Society, not the fake one) to look at a special dog that she had found. I had to agree that he was incredibly even-tempered and sweet for a five month old puppy. So, while I was in Phoenix, the Humane Society neutered and microchipped him, and my wife picked him up on Friday. Meet Bailey:

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He’s some sort of smooth Collie mix, but with what we’re not sure. He’s very sweet and well-behaved except for two things. Having lived in the shelter for a while, he is not house-trained, although he appears to be learning very quickly. There were no “accidents” yesterday, and he has even gone to the door a couple of times when he’s had to pee. His other problem is that he loves to chew, and he has not yet learned what is and is not acceptable to chew. For example, here he is, demolishing a tennis ball:

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Here is the result:

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And here is a dog who is very satisfied with himself and looking for more things to chew:

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Unfortunately, Bailey also likes to chew on rugs and furniture; so we have to keep a close eye on him until we manage to teach him not to do that. In any case, he’s a load of fun and a lot of work, mostly for my wife, who has not yet gone back to work after having taken care of her dying mother. Unfortunately I only get to see him after work, and he’s still a little bit afraid of me, having totally bonded with my wife, but we have time to work on him. He doesn’t yet realize that I’m the one who’ll be teaching him how to catch a ball and Frisbee, starting this weekend.

Now, you’re probably wondering what the final reason I didn’t come up with anything substantive today, other than self-absorbed navel-gazing and posting cute dog pictures. One word: 24. After a crappy season last year, Jack is definitely back, and the show is better than it’s been in a while. Come on, terrorists first almost shut down our nation’s computer infrastructure and then invaded the White House and held the President hostage–all within the first 12 hours, which means all of that was just a warm-up for the real threat, a particularly slimy government official who’s at the center of a massive conspiracy to corrupt the government and appears to intend to launch a new terrorist attack with massive fatalities.

What more could you ask for?

Thus endeth the random brain droppings. It’ll be back to the usual topics tomorrow. In the meantime feel free to spar with an antivaccinationist straight from Age of Autism (really!) who thinks he can pull an especially stupid version of the pharma shill gambit and an alt-med maven who is pulling out the old “rich doctor” tropes.

Have fun!