Archive for October, 2010

Libbey Bowl-Progress Photos

Reconstruction of Ojai’s Libbey Bowl is on schedule.  You can follow the progress by viewing each of these images.

To enlarge an image, click on it.

To see all of them in person, visit the windows in Rains Department Store.

Old Bowl


July 15


 September 10



October 15

Adventures in Pakistan

We had our first blackout of the season Monday night.  Around 8pm the house went dark.   We scurried about, grabbed flashlights, shut down the computer and wondered what we would do now that the mindless programs on our TV were removed from our grasp.

We live up the mountain and are lucky enough to have a generator.  Doesn’t power the whole house.  Just enough to keep the food from spoiling, the water pump running and a couple of live outlets.  One is perfect for a floor lamp that we seem to use only at times like these.  And so we spent a blissful ninety minutes reading,  just like the old days.  Then the lights came back.

The next morning started innocently enough.  Coffee followed by marveling at the media’s manipulation of so-so news into doom and gloom.  Sat down at the computer and switched it on.  It told me that today was Mikey’s birthday.  On to American Greetings dot com.  Found a funny card that featured some guy wearing imaginary gold boots and boogeying his way to happiness.  But there was no sound.  Tried turning up the volume.  Nada.  I thought, must be the website.  Try another site.  Eerie silence.

Donning my diagnostic duds I tried everything I knew.  Downloaded new drivers, unplugged and replugged cables, moved the power cord to another suppressor socket, booted and rebooted.  No luck.  I wondered when we had purchased the speakers, a combination of two desk top thingmees and a floor woofer.  I really need that kind of setup, using it primarily to be entertained by Bill Gate’s start-up Welcome ditty.  Found the invoice.  Just under eleven months ago.  What a break.  HP here I come.

Dialed HP.  Hello, this is Pakistan.  I have no problem talking to Pakistan or Uzbekistan or Stan Musial as long as they solve my problem.  Yasmeen, after taking my name, address, social security number, three levels of genealogy and blood type, was quite helpful.  Took control of my computer and wowed me as she scooted about my desktop all the way from Islamabad.  Finally, after exhausting her mouse and some of my patience, Yasmeen admitted defeat and said “you need new speakers.”  Success.  “However”, she continued, “you need to call our accessories department.  Just dial the same 800 number and wait for that prompt.  Oh, and I’ll call you back later today to see how things turned out.”  Ominous.  I thanked Yasmeen and reminded her to avoid men with beards.

Dialed HP.  There is no prompt for “accessories.”  Back to tech support.  “I have this incident number and I’d like…”  No way was that going to work.  At least not until I repeated every bit of personal information that started my original encounter.  Plus.  After assuring Hamid that I was not trying to game the system, he agreed to transfer me to accessories.  “Mr. Rothenberg, don’t hang up during the silence.  Don’t worry about the clicks, buzzes and whirs.  You’ll be getting to the right place.”  Silence was followed by two minutes of unbearable screeching.  Blissfully ending with a dial tone.  Islamabad had checked out.

Dialed HP.  This time I figured I had them cornered.  One of the menu options is “purchase stuff.”  I tried that one and, before I could be asked for the name of my third grade teacher, I reviewed the events of the morning at mach six.  “Sorry” came the sweet voice, “I only route calls.  You need to speak with someone else.”  Fine, I said.  Just don’t cut me off.  Turned out that task was left to the next speaker.  After regurgitating the same intimate details including my favorite color, latest book, and the name of my first dog, I was asked for the speaker serial and product numbers.  Smashing my skull under the bottom of the desk produced the desired information.  Just as the finish line came into view, Islamabad checked out once again and was replaced by the now familiar dial tone.

Dialed HP.  Visions of two mad dogs gripping Carly Fiorina’s throat danced through my head.  OK, I said, one more time.  My name, my address, my shoe size and just about anything else sprang from my mouth before the startled Bashir could even ask.  He knew I was not to be trifled with.  He asked a few more questions like “have you tried this, had I tried that.”  Yes, yes and yes.  Now give me my new speakers.  Bashir asked me to hold on while he transferred the call to his “accessories supervisor.”   I waited.  Thirty-six minutes had passed since beginning my friendship with Bashir.  “Hellooooo, anyone there.”  Bashir was there.  One small step for…  “But, I’m sorry Mr. Rothenberg, my supervisor’s line is busy.”  No doubt.  The entire western hemisphere must be salivating to speak with him.

Another ten minutes expired from my already limited life span.  Bashir came back.  “Can we call you back?”  What a novel idea.  “When”, I queried.  “Whenever you want, Mr. Rothenberg.”   Knowing full well the perils of accepting such an offer, I said “how about exactly three hours from now?”  Bashir was relieved.  And I went about my business, speakerless.

Three hours passed.  Then another hour elapsed.  They can’t do this to me.  I’m an important guy with important things to do.  I stared at the phone.  Dare I dial the same 800 number that was now as much a part of my memory bank as the names of our kids.  Screw it.

Dialed HP.  A strange voice came from across the airwaves.  Jeff.   Jeff?   What kind of Pakistani name is that?  Why bless you Jeff.  You love baseball, not cricket, and we are men who wave the same flag.  You’ll give me my new speakers, won’t you, Jeff?  After a short silence “have you tried the power button?”  Huh.  What power button?  Beginning to suspect that Jeff was a party to the plot, I assured him that there was no power button on the thingmees on the desk nor the woofer on the floor.  “But what about the remote?  Didn’t your speakers come with a remote control?”

And there it was.  Not twelve inches from my left elbow.  With a big blue power button right in the middle of it.  Staring at me.  I pressed it.  Sound filled the room.

Why thank you, Jeff.    “Anything else I can help you with, Mr. Rothenberg.”    Yes, you can help me get my head out of my ass.



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