Computer Troubles And A Mini-Vacation

Seriously, you need to just touch base with all the fans out here.  No explanation necessary, just “I’m still here, just crazy busy” will do. I couldn’t stand it another day.

I received that note in an email today. Yeah, I guess I’d best explain the absence. The brief story is that my Mac Pro finally died a couple of weeks ago, so I ordered a new Mac, then went on a little vacation in Chicago while waiting for it arrive. Now I’m back and crazy busy getting set up to work again.

The Mac Pro that died is the same one I used when I made Fat Head in 2008. Yup, it’s been around for 10 years. I also used it to produce Fat Head Kids … well, almost. We got the film rendered and sent off to the distributor, but there are lots of other files they need soon: dialog, sound effects and music on separate audio tracks, for example.

Almost two weeks ago, I walked into my home office one morning and noticed that while the Mac’s power light was on, the monitor was dark. I fussed around with connections and whatnot for an hour or so, then gave up and took the thing to a Mac repair shop. The repair guy called an hour later and told me the mother board was fried. Probably not worth replacing in a 10-year-old machine.

So I went through all the stages of grief for my deceased buddy … anger, denial, bargaining, etc. When I reached the acceptance stage a few minutes later, I brought it home and removed the hard drives. Truth is, I was planning to get a new Mac at the end of this year. Fat Head Kids is mostly animated, and the ol’ hoss was painfully slow when I was working in After Effects. I couldn’t watch many of the animations in real time until I rendered them. Often that meant going back to adjust the timing after viewing then rendering again. I knew I’d have to move up to a younger, sleeker model someday soon.

Soon turned out to be right now, since we’re almost but not quite done with the film. The next day, I went to our local Apple store to order an iMac Pro. I can’t just buy off the shelf – well, I could, but I wouldn’t get what I need. Film production is heavy-duty stuff, especially if there’s animation involved. When I buy a computer for production, I pretty much max it out. That’s why the old Mac Pro lasted 10 years.

The special-order model finally arrived yesterday. Now I’m busy reinstalling all my software. The next step will be to copy all my working files from backup drives, which will easily take 24 hours or more. Then I’ll finally be able to finish the film.

While waiting for the new Mac to arrive, I took a mini-vacation in Chicago. Specifically, I went here:

With these guys:

Those boys are my life-long best friends. I’ve known Bob (in the black hat) since sixth grade and Mike since the summer after high school. Back in the day, we were all in a band together. Some of my fondest memories are of being on stage with them. Some of my other fondest memories are of being offstage with them after our band days were over.  We’ve been threatening to have a reunion in Chicago for years and finally got around to it.

Anyone watching me over the weekend wouldn’t believe I just produced a film on diet and health. Friday night, we had stuffed pizza and beers at Giordano’s. It’s the best pizza in the world, in my humble opinion, and worth the carbs once in a blue moon. Stuffed isn’t the same as deep-dish, which has a thick crust. Stuffed means stuffed with meat and cheese and other ingredients. A slice looks like this:

On Saturday, went to Wrigley and drank more $10 beers than I care to count. I also ate an Italian beef sandwich and an Italian sausage for good measure. Amazingly, it was just 70 degrees in Chicago that day. The Cubs were down by five runs after three innings. Back in the day, they would have gone on to lose 10-0. But these guys ain’t your father’s Cubs. They stormed back and won 8-7, thanks to a four-run rally in the eighth inning. I’m still hoarse from all the yelling.

Here’s my bad attempt a selfie:

On Saturday night, we ate at a restaurant called Three Forks, which is near Mike’s office. It was quite expensive. It was also quite wonderful. I had the biggest and most flavorful filet I’ve ever eaten. And wine. And scotch. And some creamy dessert drink the waitress brought to us on the house, probably because were happily spending a small fortune.

After a weekend of eating foods I almost never eat and drinking more alcohol than I consume in a typical month, I flew home exhausted and fuzzy around the edges, but happy. Like I’ve said before, I’m okay with the occasional indulgence. It’s bad daily habits that screw up our health, not once-a-year blowouts.

I have a ton of loading and copying and resetting to do on the new Mac before I’m ready to resume normal work, but I hope to have it all wrapped up this weekend. Then I’ll get back to blogging. Promise.

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36 thoughts on “Computer Troubles And A Mini-Vacation

  1. Walter

    I can sympathize with a fan of a club that went a long time being not very good. 108 years without a title is a long time to wait.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      It made the title all the sweeter. But of course I thought about people I knew who were lifelong fans and never got the chance to see them win it all.

      Reply
  2. Firebird7478

    Good thing you got a sausage sandwich at Wrigley because you won’t be able to get one at Costco anymore. Vegans went in and demanded “healthier options”.

    And thanks for letting Jake Arrieta go. He’s done virtually nothing for my Phillies. Harumph.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Back in the day, it was the Cubs who took on the free-agent duds. Now they acquire guys who win. I hardly know how to deal with rooting for a successful team.

      Reply
      1. Dianne

        Remind me how it feels. I root for the Rangers no matter who they’re losing to, but it can get pretty discouraging.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          I feel ya. I used to live near Wrigley and regularly walked to the park and bought a ticket for the bleachers. That was back in the day when the Cubs were known as lovable losers, and boy, I saw them lose rather a lot.

          Reply
          1. Firebird7478

            Outside of Chicago, when we heard Ernie Banks say, “Lets play two,” the rest of us asked, “Why?” 😉

            Reply
  3. BobM

    That is one amazing looking pizza. It’s the antithesis of what we get in New England/NY, though, which is thin crust pizza. I live near New Haven, CT, which I think has some of the best if not the best pizza in the world. (In fact, do a search for “best pizza in Chicago”, and you’ll find a lot of them that advertise they have “New Haven-style” pizza.) If I have a downfall, it’s pizza and ice cream. Pizza causes chest congestion and allergy flareups for me, though, so while I’ll eat it at times, it reminds me that wheat and I don’t get along.

    Next time I’m in Chicago, I’ll have to find that restaurant.

    I just had my Windoze, fanless (uses copper piping to heat sinks) computer die on me after 8+ years. I didn’t have time to build one myself, so I bought an HP from Costco. Holy crap, that thing was loud! I had to get an SSD and two replacement fans to make it reasonable.

    Good luck getting your new computer up and running. For me, that takes days. I forget how much software I have.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yup, I’m days into the reloading process and still not finished.

      Some years ago, a co-worker was heading to Chicago and asked for restaurant recommendations. I mentioned a few, including Giordano’s and told him to order the stuffed pizza. When he returned, he told me he ate dinner there five nights out of seven. That’s how good the pizza is.

      Reply
      1. Walter

        What?! You don’t have a full backup? Just remembered I haven’t backed up for over a week. Copy Cloner will make a full bootable backup and Time machine once an hour if you have an external connected.

        I don’t have hourly incremental backups because I use a laptop, but a Mac Pro is usually stationary.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          I keep three copies of my work files. But no, I’ve never set up a system to make a bootable backup of the entire system. That would probably be a good idea.

          Reply
    2. Firebird7478

      I lived in Ct. and made it to New Haven many times but never had a chance to try Frank Pepe’s. My friends that are still up there rave about it!

      Reply
  4. Dianne

    Thanks for letting us know you’re still in the land of the living and haven’t been kidnapped by aliens or vegans or whatever — I was starting to wonder. Sorry to hear about your computer troubles — I don’t speak Computer (if hitting Ctrl+alt+delete or turning mine off and turning it back on again doesn’t solve my problem I have to call my sister, who recently retired from Microsoft and is very fluent in Computer), but it all sounds very frustrating, time-consuming, and probably expensive. But so glad to hear you had a great time with your buddies in Chicago — old friends are the best!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Old friends are definitely the best. I’ve had plenty of friends over the years, but it’s only those two I consider my brothers. We’ve been together through it all … breakups, marriages, career changes, the births of our kids, the deaths of our dads, you name it.

      Reply
      1. Dianne

        I know exactly what you mean. My closest friend and I have been sharing experiences and seeing each other through them since 1974, and it’s eerie how similar our lives have been. For example, both mothers died of lung disease, both fathers died of cancer, each of us has a younger sister who has had major health issues for years, each of our sisters has one boy and one girl, both of us have undergone major religious conversions (Catholic to Protestant for her, the exact reverse for me), and after years of her comforting me through my husband’s progressive Alzheimer’s, I’m now doing my best to comfort her through her sister’s recently-diagnosed Alzheimer’s. Nothing can take the place of this kind of thing when it comes to forming close bonds. When you share decades of life-altering experiences with a contemporary, you both understand the world in the same way. You speak the same language, even without talking.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Absolutely. We’re all pushing 60 now, and I’ve known Bob since we were 12 and Mike since were both around 19 (he’s a year younger). Nobody who comes along later in life can ever relate quite as well.

          Reply
  5. Kathy in OK

    I don’t think I’ve ever been quoted on line. I’m so flattered . I live a very simple life.

    Anyway, glad to hear you’re okay and that you had such a wonderful time in Chicago. Sorry about the Mac, but for all you do, you deserve a shiny new model. And it must have been brutally expensive.

    Looking forward to your being back on something of a regular schedule.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The shiny new model was probably overdue. I just don’t like changing horses in the middle of a project.

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Now that you mention it, it is. The monitor is so much bigger than my previous one, it’s almost overwhelming.

          Reply
  6. Mike

    I’m more of a Lou Malnati’s enthusiast. Between once a year blowouts they offer a crustless pizza that I like fairly well.

    When you finish the days of software installation, are you planning a disc image backup of the whole thing?

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Never done one before, but I’ll look into it. The software installation isn’t too bad. That was pretty smooth. It’s restoring files from backups that’s taking forever. Film files are huge.

      Reply
      1. Walter

        Just think how long it would take over the internet. Even moving video files from one disk to another took a long time over Firewire II.

        Reply
  7. Donna C.

    I don’t want to seem rude to your friends, but you look so much younger than either of them. It’s not that they look older than they are, but you look years younger! I know some of that is genetics, but I suspect it is mostly due to your healthy eating and lifestyle. I’ve recently started a LCHF way of eating to try to get my blood sugar down. It is working. If this way of eating can keep me wrinkle free, too, that would be a super bonus.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Thank you. I think it’s certainly genetic to some extent. I come from people who live well into their 90s if they don’t kill themselves with alcohol or cigarettes.

      Reply
  8. B. Reynolds

    I find watching baseball as fun as watching grass grow, except with baseball players in the way. However, that sounds like a fun outing! Enough alcohol can make even baseball fun.

    Speaking of alcohol, how many liquor stores did you have to hold up to get that new Mac? 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I wasn’t a baseball fan until I lived near Wrigley and started attending games with a friend who pitched in high school and college. With his insights as to why you bunt now, why you send the runner on this pitch but not that pitch, etc., I developed a real appreciation for the game.

      No liquor-store robberies, but yeah, the souped-up iMac Pro was expensive. On the other hand, I didn’t pay for animation and post-production this time around. Compared to what I spent on Fat Head, this film is a bargain. And I got a kickass new Mac out of the deal.

      Reply
  9. Brandon

    One of my favorite “debates” to have with friends in the Midwest and particularly those from Chicago is what deep dish pizza joint is the best. Whatever pizza I’ve had most recently is generally the one I argue for. Chicago bars also have awesome craft beers, many from the east coast that don’t distribute to St. Louis. Obviously, being from STL not a huge Cubs fan, but Wrigley is an institution. Haven’t been there since the renovations, hoping to do so next season.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Anyone who enjoys baseball has to appreciate Wrigley, fan of the team or not. What a beautiful ballpark.

      Reply

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