The Thousand Dollar Tecate

Plot twist!

We drove into San Felipe in order to get some water and food to prepare for our New Year’s Eve celebrations at the contradictorily charming post-apocalyptic trailer park, and stopped by a beachfront restaurant that had wifi for patrons, and disarmingly inexpensive beer.

I ordered a Tecate, logged in, and began to check email.  The girls flanked me, and ordered a little food.  My beer arrived and the bottle was set down beside me, and a plate of rice and beans ended up in front of Sylvie.

Leonie, hungry, reached across the table to steal a forkful of beans, and her hand grazed the bottle of beer.  It tipped, and the liquid spilled into two places: my lap, and the keyboard of our little MacBook Pro.  I reflexively leapt back from the table and then my gaze refocused on the puddle of Tecate right in the middle of the keypad, slowly seeping in to the machine, and my jaw dropped as I myself slowly filled with a cold, numbing horror.

The screen went white, then a hundred colors, then… black.

Val looked at me, I flipped the computer upside down onto a napkin but you can’t even take the battery out of these new unibody MacBooks so, basically, we all just sat there staring at the machine and waiting for it to short out.

Which it did.

So we all sat staring at each other, our minds each racing with the consequences of what had just happened, Leonie’s perhaps racing the most of all.

I pulled myself together and decided that I would not disown my firstborn, yet.

We’ve had a bunch of laptops over the years, and two kids, and in all those years nothing really terrible has ever happened to them.

This, though I really wanted to be able to blame someone, anyone, for the sleek aluminum paperweight that lay in front of me, was really just old fashioned bad luck, and it would only compound things to make poor Leonie feel somehow like it she engineered it.

Val and I decided we’d go the homeopathic route first, and pack the thing in rice (a natural desiccant) overnight and plug it in the next day.  If the computer worked, great, if it didn’t, we accepted that it was a really important tool and, luckily, we could be in San Diego within a day of hard driving and see if Apple could fix the thing.

You know what didn’t work the next morning?

Our computer.

We made some strong coffees, overcame our headachy New Year’s Day torpor, packed the truck up and started driving toward San Diego (not before we said goodbye to new friends Patrick and Ashley from Mississippi who pulled into the RV Park at sunset the night prior and joined our wild New Year’s Eve celebrations, making it a party of four, and which lasted until almost 8:47 pm).

We had the extended care plan for the computer, and I was hoping that Apple would magically sort things out for us.  Val scored us a cheap room at a frankly plush golf club north of Del Mar on Priceline (a nice enough place that I was instantly self conscious when I went to check in and realized I had been wearing the same pants for a week).  Critically, it was twenty minutes away from the Apple Store.

The next morning at the store we got the diagnosis, which was basically, if you or your firstborn spill a beer on your computer, warranty or not, you’re screwed.  Apple would fix the thing, but it would cost north of $750 and take maybe five days and they would not guarantee our data, nor would they even return the hard drive to us if they replaced it so we could try to save it.

Now, a new computer is $1000, and I could have one in ten minutes, and hang onto our old one on the off chance it came back to life, or at least I could try to salvage the hard drive myself.  Considering the cost of staying in San Diego for five days, even on the cheap, and the decision was pretty clear.

So, while the girls went berserk at the Lego Store, I took a deep breath and bought a brand new machine and kept the old one.  On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at a Radio Shack and bought a bunch of those little tiny screwdrivers for electronic devices, and then I got four cold cans of Guinness from the grocery store next door.

At the hotel, we threw the kids in the pool and I went to work.  With a can of cold Guinness in me to steady my nerves, I got to it and within about half an hour I had several thousand dollars’ worth of computers disassembled and laying open on the desk in front of me.

I pulled the hard drive out of the old machine (and there was visible corrosion on the logic board where the liquid had caused a short, but magically, nothing apparent on the hard drive) and installed it, gingerly, in the barely three hour old new computer.

I replaced all the cables and connectors, and plugged the battery in.

I took a deep breath, and pressed the power button, and… it turned on.  It worked.  Every last bit and pixel, alive and well, thank you very much.

So, we now have two laptops, and we’ll hang on to the old one as a donor machine, I guess, but I have to say I managed to impress myself with this switcheroo to create our FrankenBook.

And, since I am so damn happy to have our pictures back, here’s a smallish gallery of our shots from Mexico where we’ll be returning tomorrow morning, via Tecate, with a functional laptop.

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