Category Archives: Things to do

Things to do

Visiting the Palm Springs Air Museum

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I went out to Indio for a visit with my sisters. My older sister had been telling me for months she wanted to take the boys to the Palm Springs Air Museum, so we of course made our way there during this visit.

Continue reading

Ways to celebrate a 35th birthday

I really enjoy celebrating my birthday, but even I had to pause when I realized I was approaching my 35th birthday. What is it about no longer being in the 18-34 demographic that makes us a little sad? Plus, my timing was totally off — with Trinity just a few months in at a new job (did I mention Trinity is designing again, now at the Orange County Register?), I was looking at a full week of cleaning the house, doing laundry and blogging. That does not sound like a fun birthday week, does it?

So about a month out, I emailed a bunch of girlfriends and basically demanded they set aside some time to hang with me on my birthday week. Yes, I fully admit that I demanded day dates with my friends; but I don’t get to see them very often, and this was a perfect occasion and opportunity. Out of the five or so friends I emailed, four initially were in but two got laid up by illnesses. But that was OK — I had a lot I still wanted to do, like prepare for a garage sale (and this gets its own post).

IMG_3999The birthday indulgences actually started on Sunday. After church, we were trying to decide what to eat, and I said, “how about Roscoe’s?” (It just happens to be a block down from church.) I don’t generally have to spend much time convincing Trinity we should eat at Roscoe’s, and the boys are pretty much agreeable to any type of chicken, beans, rice, etc. It was an excellent lunch.

So, on my actual birthday, which fell on a Tuesday, my friend Sam came out and I took her out for her first visit to Neptune’s Net in Malibu. I love me some Neptune’s Net. Any excuse I have to go out there, I’m all about it. As I regaled Sam with funny stories (I won’t tell you where they’re from), we wound our way through the Santa Monica Mountains and at our first glimpse of water, our inner fobs came out. “Look, da water!” “Ay nako! It’s so blue!” “TUBIG!” Driving down Pacific Coast Highway on a weekday (and not during rush hour) is a must for any visitor to Southern California — it’s what you picture Southern California living to be like. All the time.

IMG_4083Anyway, once we got there, we opted for the sampler platter on the steamed side (we’re both Filipino, so I knew Sam would be down with getting seafood that was not deep fried), and it was glorious — ceviche, clams, oysters, crab claws, shrimp! We also ordered French fries so we would have something to munch on before the seafood arrived. We shared a big bottle of Coke and it was awesome. We spent some time across the street taking pictures of the ocean and the windsurfers, then went back down PCH in search of some coffee. A gas station advertising Coffee Bean fooled us, but luckily, there was a Starbucks across the street. It was a wonderful, perfect Southern California lunch.

On Wednesday, the day after my birthday, I originally had plans to run around Westwood, catch a bus up to the Getty Center, then come back down and get ice cream sandwiches at Diddy Riese. But it didn’t pan out because my friend ended up having some sort of infection that warranted an emergency room visit and a few days in the hospital. I even called her on her last day at the hospital and expressed doubt she would be up for running around Westwood with me….and a day later, she messaged me on Facebook, conceding that she didn’t think she’d make it. It was totally fine; I had a Plan B.

IMG_4107First off, I needed to get some major cleaning projects done — the refrigerator and my washing machine, which had that funky smell. It took some work, but I was pretty happy with how it all turned out. I basically gave myself about two hours to get the cleaning done, then I ate a quick lunch at home, then drove my tired butt down to the Four Seasons Westlake Village to take advantage of their Wow-Me-Wednesdays deal. Basically, the deal lets you get a 50-minute massage or facial for a discount, plus entry into their very swanky spa. When I was reading it, I was like, “You mean, I can get into a really nice spa and get a massage for about the price of doing the same thing at Burke Williams — without driving 30 minutes out of my way? Heck yes!” The massage was great — I actually dozed off, which I don’t normally do during a massage, since, you know how you’re naked with a stranger during a massage? IMG_4121Not only was the massage great, the masseuse also used warmed towels on my neck, feet, head — I remember thinking, “that’s frigging genius.” The parking validation gave me about four hours to hang at the Four Seasons, which I split into: 1st hour, hanging out taking advantage of the saunas and jacuzzi; 2nd hour, massage; 3rd hour, hanging out by the pool and 4th hour, taking pictures of the grounds for a blog post. I probably should have nixed the 4th hour, which included walking around in the sun all over the Four Seasons grounds. I ended up with a raging headache due to dehydrating myself after the massage, I’m pretty sure.

On Thursday, I made my way out to Porto’s Bakery in Burbank to have lunch with my friend Iliki. I had asked for an earlier lunch date, and we ended up completely missing the lines, which was so awesome. Seriously, it was like going out onto the streets of LA at 5 p.m., and holy sh*t, where’s the traffic? I am a creature of habit, so I of course ended up getting my usual steak torta sandwich and a Parisian chocolate cupcake for dessert. With lunch at Porto’s, I think it’s literally impossible to go wrong.

IMG_4208Finally, while Trin was unable to get the entire week off for my birthday, he was able to get Friday off, so with the boys in daycare, we took the opportunity to go see a movie. Yes, I know, we’re so wild. But it wasn’t just watching a movie…it was watching a movie at Cineopolis. Quite a few luxury movie theaters have popped up in my area, and Cineopolis is probably the most luxurious. Instead of airplane-esque stadium seating, the theater capacity is small because the seats are butter-leather upholstered reclining chairs set in pairs or singly. It’s so awesome. There is a call button, and you can order from your seat — anything from normal movie theater fare to short ribs and coffee whipped up by a barista. It doesn’t come cheap — I think our total movie date cost at least $55, including the matinee movie tickets and the food and drinks — but we don’t see movies often, so its a nice indulgence.

All in all, it was a productive birthday week — not exactly a relaxing vacation, but I suppose when you have kids and you work full-time, there’s really no such thing until the kids are in college. And, now, I’m 35. While getting older physically has its drawbacks — gosh, now I have to moisturize! I can’t eat anything and everything I want! I get tired so easily! — for the most part, I feel the same as I did when I was 15. And I hear I don’t really look much different from when I was 25. So, happy birthday to me!

This is the last day, unfortunately, but I was glad to have been able to take advantage of Discover Los Angeles’ “Savor a Masterpiece” 50 percent off deal at least twice. That’s kind of as good as it gets with kids, and living where we do. Not only did the boys have a spectacular time each time, we got a chance to hang out with a couple of their daycare buddies and moms who also took advantage of the deal and I got out to do what I do best — enjoy what LA has to offer. It was a win-win situation.

Last-ditch effort to save a MacBook Pro from liquid damage

I have a MacBook Pro. Correction — had a MacBook Pro. It is still hard to believe I don’t have it. I feel a little lost without a laptop, having had one for nearly the past 10 years.

It feels a little poetic that, not only have I documented the buying of a MacBook Pro, I will also document the saying of goodbye to that MacBook Pro. Poetic in a kind of tragic way.

Let me start from the beginning….of the end. In August, all of a sudden, my laptop just stopped working. The battery, like many Apple laptop batteries, had stopped holding a full charge long ago, but all of a sudden it just drained and the whole laptop went dark and unresponsive. First thing we tried was buying a new battery.


Obviously, that didn’t work out well. After cracking it open, the Genius Bar told us unequivocally that the logic board had liquid damage and there was corrosion. Since it was not covered under warranty (we’d bought it in early 2009) nor Apple Care, Apple repair would have cost $1,300, including the replacement of the logic board and other connectors that were damaged. So I got a referral from a trusted friend to a Mac specialist, who brought it to an Apple repair shop called Dino Computers in Pasadena, who came to the same conclusion — logic board corrosion.

I was still not ready to give up on the laptop. I found a service by the Mac Geniuses that touted a no-risk MacBook Pro liquid repair service — they offered free shipping and a flat $299 fee for what they called was a “proprietary restoration process.” But Trinity and I had misgivings about sending the laptop (which at that point was a very expensive paperweight, but one we were loathe to send to complete strangers) to Texas, plus we were also leery of paying a $299 fee, after the $50 inspection by my friend’s Mac specialist and the $50 we paid to Dino Computers.

Finally, in November or so, after much research, I decided to try and take the laptop apart myself and wash the logic board, following tutorials from Believe me, I didn’t want to do it — I would much rather have a professional do it, but I had to do everything I could to save the laptop, and every other professional I’d consulted told me to just buy a new one. So, I figured, if I was successful — great! I’d saved myself $300 and having to buy a new laptop. If not — no skin off my back, everyone said the laptop was dead anyway.

IMG_1811First, I needed a few tools, just to be able to remove the hard drive and put it in an enclosure. I needed the T6 screwdriver to remove the hard drive, and I bought the screwdriver kit with multiple bits for the Phillips #00 at Fry’s Electronics. If you’re buying a hard drive enclosure for a MacBook Pro, make sure you get a SATA hard drive enclosure, because regular ones won’t fit. Yes, I made that mistake.

Here’s what I did, in gallery mode:

(I do want to note that I was inspired to use tupperware to hold the screws at each step by Eric of MacTechLA. When he came to my office to fix my phone in September, I was probably openly staring as he used a ice tray to hold the screws and various small parts as he replaced my screen. It was very low tech and quite ingenious.)

Long story short, the effort did not work, I’m sorry to report. It’s not to say that attempting this yourself will never work — it could be that the corrosion was on the logic board too long (it did die in August, and I didn’t crack the laptop open till December) and/or the corrosion on the connector was too damaging. I don’t know; I’m no electronics expert. Either way, I was left with 1. a non-working MacBook Pro and 2. a brand new, never used MacBook Pro battery that I could no longer return to the Apple store, even for credit, because I’d bought it in August and finally came to the conclusion that I could no longer use it in December.

On Twitter, my cousin had suggested selling my poor laptop off to — totally sounded like a scam, but they quoted me $189 for my MacBook. I told them I’d be keeping my hard drive, so that took $39 off the quote, leaving me with $150. It took about a week for my laptop to arrive in their facility in New York, but as soon as it did, they sent me $150 via PayPal. I was very happy about getting the money, until I remembered that it meant my laptop was truly dead and buried. Sad face.

There was still the issue of the battery. Initially, I tried to sell it on Craigslist for $80, but some joker beat me to it, selling their brand new MacBook battery for $40! So I had to do the same. I finally got a kid out of the South Bay to come out to my work in Studio City to pick up the battery and give me $40 for it. He hasn’t contacted me since, so the battery is apparently working out for him.

So that’s it. It was an ignominious end to a laptop that saw me through the birth of two boys, my gallbladder surgery and a couple of really great vacations. I hope you will be able to learn from my sad example. Also good to note: I got the full quote from Cash4Macbooks because the laptop’s shell had been protected with a Speck case pretty much the entire time I had it. It’s a good investment for future resale value. (Mine is used, but I’ll sell it to you for $10, if you’re interested.)