May 2009

Blueberry Mojito and a Screwdriver

Following church and an uneventful afternoon, I went to dinner with Andrey, Patrick, David and Veronica. We went to Nine Roses on the west bank so Andrey was willing to pick me up. Before we left he gave me a broken laptop of which he said had been rained on and no longer worked. Dinner was nice. Everyone else had pho soup which they always get there. I’ve had it before and don’t care for it, especially not in the huge quantity they serve. I ordered general’s chicken instead which was decent although a cowardly selection.As we were finishing up dinner Andrey was looking on his phone to see what was playing at the movies but there was nothing compelling. We all went over to St. Joe’s Bar on Magazine Street apparently because they have a pool table. I rode with Patrick and we picked up a friend of his whose name escapes me at present. We were at the bar for two hours, maybe less. I think just about everybody including myself tried the blueberry mojito which this place is apparently known for. I would say the notoriety is earned.We left for the evening at about 10:30. Patrick drove me to the Boot where I caught a cab home. There was one parked when I arrived. I was his first fare of the evening.After I got home this evening I had a look at the laptop Andrey gave me, a worn Averatec 3280. First I tried turning it on but the power light was the only sign of life. I proceeded to completely disassemble and clean the parts. There was some evidence of water damage on the casing and DVD drive. There didn’t appear to be any damage to components, however. I installed a hard drive and RAM which the computer was missing. After a partial reassembly I turned it on again and found the notebook worked fine. Before bed I installed Windows XP and found some of the drivers for it.

Comments Off on Blueberry Mojito and a Screwdriver

Baked Silicon

Nothing of circumstance happened at work yesterday and today. Last night I finished watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This evening, I took another crack at fixing a laptop I’ve had on hand for a while.I kept Krystle’s IBM Thinkpad T40 at my house after my trip to Ruston last New Years. I was not able to fix it as I determined that the onboard video chip had a faulty connection which caused the laptop to lockup randomly and whenever the laptop was bumped in some fashion. As this wasn’t something I was able to fix at the time I sent Krystle a “new” laptop and shelved the broken one until I could fix it. I read about how people successfully repaired the video chip connection with something called a solder reflow in which the chip and board are heated, melting the solder and repairing the connections. The method described involved a heat gun and infrared thermometer. I wasn’t interested in purchasing those items to fix a laptop worth less than $200. Replacement motherboards on eBay were prohibitively expensive so I just stuck the laptop in my closet.On Wednesday I read an interesting topic at [H]ard|Forum in which someone repaired a broken video card, presumably with a chip connection issue, by heating his card in a standard kitchen oven for a couple minutes. I immediately recalled the Thinkpad in my closet with the same problem and was intrigued by the possibility of fixing the laptop with “equipment” I already have.After doing some reading online I learned that others have successfully attempted the reflow fix in conventional ovens, toaster ovens and even skillets. With a possibility of success in mind I decided to give it a shot. At worst, a laptop that only works when you don’t touch it would not work at all. I spent a good portion of this evening tearing down the laptop. I open up laptops somewhat frequently but I seldom have to gut them like I did tonight. With the motherboard stripped of everything that could be removed, even stickers, I set it up on a cookie sheet. I set it off the metal surface with three little balls of aluminum foil. I was careful to rest the foil on bare areas of the board away from bunches of little circuits. I set the board in the oven preheated to 425 degrees for five minutes. I determined the time and temperature from various estimations and solder melting points I read online. I watched the board through the five minutes just in case of some sort of catastrophe. I never saw any solder appear to be melting so my first thought was I didn’t leave it in long enough.Later after removing the motherboard and letting it cool, I started to reassemble the laptop. I first connected just the display, keyboard and battery to confirm the computer would still POST. It did boot so as I was putting it back together I at least knew I did not fry the thing. It took over an hour to fully reassemble the laptop. I was on the phone with Krystle through a good deal of the process although I was not able to give her much of my attention. I had not documented which screws went where to it took a bit longer than it could have to get the Thinkpad back together. I turned it on a couple times during the job to make sure I didn’t screw anything up.There was no operating system installed so when I was finished I booted a formatting tool from CD and did a zero wipe and format of the hard drive to see if the computer could remain working for an extended period. After that completed successfully I booted a Windows XP installation CD and tapped the touchpad repeatedly while it loaded files. Normally such activity would promptly lockup the computer but again there were no problems. I also installed Windows 7 RC without incident.Following the installation I fooled around with the laptop for a while and still no lockups. I am typing this entry on the resurrected Thinkpad right now, something I would never have been able to do. Keying 750 words is the most substantial stress test I wish to carry out at present but so far it appears baking the motherboard actually worked, which is perfectly logical and astonishing at the same time. I’m quite pleased with myself just now.

Comments Off on Baked Silicon

DMV Adventures

After getting a proper night’s sleep, I got up early this morning with Mom to go get my driver’s license. It’s something I should have done years ago but it was never a priority. Mom had me drive to the DMV office in Gretna for a little practice before the road test. It was my most circumstantial bit of driving since taking the 36 hour course back in 2004.

When we arrived I got in line and after a few minutes I spoke to the woman up front who said I had the wrong copy of my driving course certificate. I brought the pink one and she wanted the original white one. More than somewhat miffed, Mom and I went back home. I found the appropriate copy and returned to the DMV, arriving back sometime after nine. The line was a lot shorter this time. In about 15 minutes my number was called. After presenting some paperwork, answering a few questions and taking a quick eye exam I was directed to a computer to take the “written” portion of the test.

I did well enough on the test. However, after question 37, three from the end, the test failed to load. I made the staff aware of the problem and they had me sit and wait while they sorted it out. I had missed too many for them to just mark the last three wrong and pass me so I was asked a couple questions orally. The lady who administered the question disappeared for about 15 after asking the second one. By the time I actually “passed” the written exam it was 10:50. As there is no road testing between 11 and one, I would have to wait a couple hours to finish the process. I was instructed to return as close to one o’clock as possible.

With two hours to kill, I offered to buy lunch someplace. Mom and I ended up at Zea Rotisserie & Grill on Manhattan. I was not particularly hungry but I skipped breakfast so it was nice to get something to eat. I had the shrimp etoufee which was decent and Mom had a chicken sandwich of some sort. Lunch only killed 40 minutes so Mom and I went to Barnes and Noble and Best Buy respectively. We left at 12:30 to be sure to be early.

One o’clock came and went and I didn’t notice people getting called for road tests. I wasn’t called until 1:50. I took the road tent in Mom’s Taurus with a pleasant woman of about 50 years. She had me drive through a couple of the surrounding residential streets and across the expressway around West Jefferson High School. After the road test I had to wait a little while longer to pay and have the license printed.

By about three, I finally had my first driver’s license in hand. Mom dropped me off at the office for the remainder of the work day in which I didn’t do all that much in the two hours I was there. Dad and I left the office for the day at 5:15. We stopped at the uptown post office on the way home. That evening we had red beans and rice for dinner. Later I watched Sunset Blvd. with my parents as I didn’t have anything better to do.

Comments Off on DMV Adventures


This year I was committed to writing entries for every day of Jazz Fest 2009. As my limited time management skills are practically non-existent during the summer, it took three weeks to get around to it. Consequently, what little time I spend on this log was spent on the Fest. Now three weeks behind on the log I need to catch up. Unfortunately I don’t have photographs, notes and a festival schedule to help we remember things between Jazz Fest and today. The remainder of this entry will likely be a smattering of memories of the last three weeks.

On May 4th, the Monday following the festival, Krystle and I had lunch at Mandina’s before she left for home. I wanted to take her to a place on Cleveland Avenue called the Ruby Slipper but they were closed on Mondays. Since Krystle isn’t here much I like to take her to new places but if you have to repeat a restaurant, Mandina’s certainly isn’t a bad choice.

Later that week on Thursday the 7th, Dad, Andrew and I went to see the new Star Trek movie. I was not happy with the premise of the film as I find it imprudent to “reboot” the franchise and recast the original series cast. However, preceding the film’s release was a wave of critical adulation which made me cautiously optimistic about the movie. However, I left the theater feeling ill. The franchise I have enjoyed for years has been reduced to generic summer blockbuster garbage with lots of explosions and a minimum of story. The main villain was just a plot device for a script that made no real sense. I could go on for a while. Let it suffice to say that I am hard pressed to think of much anything I liked about the movie. I know my opinion isn’t widely shared as much of the press and the public enjoyed Trek’s accommodation of the lowest common denominator.

The following week, the lamp in the radio dial of my Panasonic RC-6551 alarm clock died after 40-something years. Luckily they still make fuse lamps which is what I needed. Replacing it was as close as I care to get to making a ship in a bottle. The following day I brought another flip clock of mine home from the office to clean.

On Friday the 15th, I got a call from Andrey during work inviting me to join him and some family and friends for the Wave Goodbye party at Tulane. The event is put on by the university president and is held in the Gibson Quad. Andrey picked me up from the office at about five this afternoon. His father who is visiting from Russia and his younger brother were with him. We went to Andrey’s house for a little while and then walked to campus, meeting up with David along the way. At the party we also saw Patrick, Jason and Andrey’s mother. It was a rather large gathering that spanned the quad from Gibson Hall to the environmental science building. There was plenty of food including grilled oysters and Bonerama was performing. We were there until about eight o’clock.

Later that evening Andrey, David and I went to Patrick’s place in River Ridge for his sister Taylor’s graduation party. We were “early” but several others arrived in due course, many of which were Taylor’s relatives in friends I was not acquainted with. It was a nice little affair with pizza and beverages. I think we were there until sometime after 10.

On Sunday the 17th after an uneventful afternoon, Andrey invited me to join him and a few others at D.B.A. Washboard Chaz was playing that evening. It took quite a while to get a cab to my house to everyone was there when I finally arrived after 10. Andrey, Patrick, David, Andrey’s father, Veronica and Ella were there. The girls are usually gone by this time of the year but they were still in town because they are traveling to Spain for a summer semester with Tulane.

The next day, my 25th birthday, I saw the same crowd at a barbecue at Andrey’s house. That got off to a gradual start as some of them had been strolling downtown that afternoon and Veronica lost her phone on the way home.

I can’t remember what day it was but Jeff returned for a brief stay around this time. On Thursday the 21st, Jeff and I went to the Westbank Palace to see Terminator Salvation. There were lots of ‘splosions but the plot left a lot to be desired… in that there wasn’t one.

Yesterday, the 24th, I went to Patrick’s place in River Ridge with David again for a little barbecue at his place with Andrey, Veronica, Ella and Liz. Again, I caught a cab uptown and rode with David the rest of the way. It was a pleasant gathering although it did rain that evening. After enjoying our hamburgers we settled down and ended up watching Superbad. Later after David dropped me off in front of the Boot I decided to browse the Mushroom record store. I ended up walking out with a copy of The Dark Knight on blu-ray.

Comments Off on 25

Jazz Fest Draws to a Close

Krystle and I went to the final day of Jazz Fest this afternoon. Again we didn’t get there as early as I would have liked. I was planning on see Lionel Ferbos open the day at Economy Hall but we didn’t arrive until about noon. Having just seen him at the French Quarter Festival I wasn’t broken up about it. We arrived shortly before the New Orleans Jazz Ramblers began their set. The traditional jazz band started the show playing down the aisle in front of the stage with the “Ladies of Unity” second lining behind them.Following their lively performance, I went to get something to eat. I got the pecan catfish meuniere combo. Krystle said she wasn’t very hungry so I just her some crawfish bread. Ultimately that wasn’t a good choice.After lunch, The New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra got started. This revival orchestra is a real treat every year and I was glad Krystle was here to see them as I’ve raved about them in the past. As always they put on a great show with performances of songs like Egyptian Ella. “…if you hear of a gal who can quake and shake ’till it makes you think of a nervous snake, they’re speakin’ … of Egyptian Ella”The next highlight of the schedule was Ellis Marsalis in the jazz tent at 2:55. We got there pretty early and managed to score a couple seats up front, but they were on the left fringe so the view wasn’t spectacular. As always, the jazz family patriarch put had a great performance although I was slightly disappointed that more of Ellis’s sons weren’t present. Drummer Jason Marsalis was present along with a sax and bass player I did not recognize. This seemed to be the high point of the fest for Krystle. She didn’t express interest in taking any other musicians home with her.With nothing else compelling on the schedule after Ellis, we took a walk to get some ice cream. On the way we passed one of the mardi gras Indian parades. With strawberry shortcake ice cream cones in hand, we went to nearby economy hall to sit and relax for a bit. Bob French and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band were playing. I wasn’t planning on staying very long but shortly after we got there it started raining heavily and the tent was suddenly very popular.Eventually the rain let up and we walked over to the blues tent where Buddy Guy would be performing in a little while. Even though we were stuck for a bit we still arrived well before the closing act would start. Unfortunately the rain flooded the tent with bodies and you could barely navigate the aisles, much less find a seat. We were not carrying chairs so I was not interested in watching the whole set from outside the tent. However, Buddy Guy is pretty much a legend that I wouldn’t likely have an opportunity to see in the future so I decided we should at least stick around for the first few songs. Luckily it did not rain again so we were able to wait outside without ill effect. Eventually he got started and did sound pretty good but not so much that I felt like standing outside the tent for an hour and a half. Shortly after six, Krystle and I left the fairgrounds and made our way home.Mom, Dad and Andrew were at the house when we got home. They had just returned from their trip to Michigan for Jeff’s graduation. I got to talk to them for a while about their trip. Apparently it was not especially enjoyable but they came home with some good stories.Later this evening, Krystle and I went to Snug Harbor for dinner and a show. We had nine o’clock dinner reservations and tickets for the 11 o’clock performance by Astral Project. I had a ribeye and baked potato which was quite good. Since we were early and it was the late set we had fine seats for Astral Project. Their performance was quite good but we didn’t stay for all of it. By midnight I was quite tired and Krystle didn’t mind leaving. I’ve never left a set early at Snug but I’ve also never stayed out late after a full day at Jazz Fest.

Comments Off on Jazz Fest Draws to a Close

Day at Economy Hall

I was not up and about as early as I would have liked this morning but there were no dire consequences. When Krystle and I left the house this morning, we did the illogical thing and went out to eat before heading to the fairgrounds. We stopped at IHOP because it was still plausibly breakfast time when we first thought of the idea. After eating more than enough pizza last night I was not very hungry so I just got a small plate of eggs and pancakes. Following “breakfast,” Krystle and I drove to the fairgrounds. Armed with a little trick I learned from a cab driver last weekend, we found a respectable parking spot on Laharpe, a couple blocks from Broad Avenue. It was a four or five minute walk from the Gentilly Street entrance. We got in at about 12:30. I did want to see Otra this morning which was the opening act on the Acura stage but both of us have seen them before so I wasn’t broken up about it.When we arrived we went to Economy Hall where we would remain for a good while. The New Orleans-Helsinki Connection had just begun their set when we took our seats. The band consists of a few local musicians, a couple folks from Finland including Katja Toivola on trombone. The star of the show was vocalist Tricia Boutté, a New Orleans native that has spent a great deal of time in Europe.We stuck around after the Connection to hear Hot Club of New Orleans. They play a sort of “gypsy jazz” and they do it quite well. I saw them a few weeks ago at the French Quarter Festival. It’s not a sort of jazz I listen to at home but I thoroughly enjoy hearing it live.The main event followed Hot Club, the Treme Brass Band. Their annual performances in Economy Hall are always a lively and memorable affair complete with a big crowd, the band parading down the aisles and a lengthy and enthusiastic second-line following behind. True to form, Treme played host to a great party and it was a lot of fun to see with a friend. I shot a lot of pictures during the performance but sadly I screwed up the camera setting again like last year and underexposed most of the pictures.Afterward, we walked around for a while. I wasn’t planning on seeing any bands at Acura this weekend but I figured she should at least get a look at the huge crowd that’s often there. Bon Jovi was playing as we walked the track around the stage. I can’t say I was impressed by the performance but maybe it was just bad acoustics. Krystle was even more unimpressed.A couple weeks ago I was browsing the Jazz Fest website message boards looking for suggestions and one act I saw mentioned frequently was the New Orleans Bingo Show. With no other particularly compelling closing acts, I decided to check them out. They were performing in the grandstands which are a convenient place to eat. We both had the crawfish etouffee puff/cajun rice. The Bingo Show is more of a theatrical cabaret than a band. Their act was certainly interesting and fun to photograph but Krystle was not amused. After we had our food and I took my fill of pictures, we made our way back to the car.Later this evening after cleaning up and recovering from a day at the fair grounds, we went to the Westbank Palace theater to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine. To be generous, the movie was “shallow.” To be honest, it was complete garbage. My good company was the only consolation.

Comments Off on Day at Economy Hall

Second Weekend of Jazz Fest

Mom, Dad and Andrew left the house before I was out and about this morning. They flew to Ann Arbor this morning for Jeff’s college graduation tomorrow. I could not miss Jazz Fest so I stayed behind.

After feeling a bit ill for the last two days, I felt a lot better this morning and had a normal temperature. Dad wanted me to cover the office phones for a while. It was just as well as I was more certain of my health if it held out through the morning. I talked to Krystle on the phone and told her I was well. She’s been planning to come here to New Orleans for the weekend.

I made it to the fairgrounds just before one this afternoon. My first stop was the gospel tent where Glen Davis Andrews was putting on a rather lively performance. Trombone Shorty was a guest on stage and Mr. Andrews came down off the stage at one point and walked through the audience while singing. It was quite a photo opportunity but I had the wrong lens on my camera. I later saw an impressive shot of him in the crowd appear in the New York Times.

I left shortly before the show ended to get some lunch. I got the catfish almondine and brought it back to the gospel tent. I stuck around for the Leviticus Gospel Singers but I didn’t care for them so I walked to Economy Hall and saw Walter Payton and Gumbo File. I left a little while before they finished to get a seat for John Boutte in the jazz tent. It was already pretty packed but I did find a chair in the back on the right side. I was able to hear fine although I had to take a walk to get any pictures.

After John Boutte I walked to the grandstands to catch the end of Twangorama’s set. It may have just been the name of the band that attracted me but they were entertaining. When they finished I went to Economy Hall for Tim Laughlin at 4:35. As always he put on a great set with the help of his ensemble of local musicians.

Following Tim Laughlin I walked to the gentilly stage. I was able to get pretty close but not as much as I would have liked. Tony Bennett was the closing act this evening. I have not seen him in person before. Before Tony took the stage, his band and daughter Antonia Bennett took the stage. Antonia is an aspiring jazz singer and not a half bad one. After a few numbers, Tony Bennett took the stage. It’s apparent he need only show up to command the crowd. He put on a fine performance and sang a number of familiar standards.

I started making my way out of the fairgrounds shortly before seven to try and beat some of the rush. I walked past Stallings playground to catch a cab home. I had a couple hours to clean myself up as well as the house before Krystle arrived this evening. She didn’t get here until after nine. I ordered pizza for dinner. After she got settled we watched Baraka. I’ve been wanting to show it to her since I watched it myself for the first time a couple months ago.

Comments Off on Second Weekend of Jazz Fest


The intervening days between the first and second weekends of Jazz Fest feel like a long intermission. I know I went to work on Monday and Tuesday… I think. On Wednesday, I woke up feeling a little ill with no significant symptoms but a fever of 101. I felt much improved on Thursday but decided to stay home from Jazz Fest as a precaution since I wasn’t 100%.

Comments Off on Intermission