TCB: Replacement Parts and Sweethearts

Saturday was Shoe-Cleaning Day in my childhood home. We’d get out Dad’s wooden shoe-shining box, which I always loved; fish out the right polish and the perfect rag; and set to work taking care of our Sunday shoes.

Dad had to have been so patient. I mean, think of it: little kids and shoe polish? Yikes! I do remember putting down newspaper to work on, to spare the carpet — another example of taking time to care for what we had, as modest as it might have been.

a typical wooden shoe-cleaning kit

Such a simple thing, yeah?

You could say that it was instilled in me early on to take care of what I had and make it last. It didn’t surprise me at all, decades later, to see Steven Covey write about “PC,” or production capability. In short, he says you have to take good care of your resources, be they things or relationships, so that they can keep taking care of you. I get that, definitely. For example, I’ve arranged my work schedule to reserve Friday and Saturday as my weekend with Karen.

But things come up, other things that need care and attention too. In the weeks leading up to that demanding theater production I was just in, I’d noticed my laptop — the one I perform with and compose on — complaining very, very loudly. The fan would regularly work itself into a fit that sounded something like an animal sacrifice on an airport runway: whirring, shrieking and imminent takeoff. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out that if the fan was suffering, eventually the rest of the machine would suffer too and that I’d better do something about it before a meltdown occurred.

But… did I really want to open up the laptop the week before a major paid gig? I decided I had no choice. I had to take care of my PC. (OK, it’s actually a MacBook, but I couldn’t resist the Covey pun.)

Bad MacBook fan. Bad, bad fan.

The gutted MacBook and the offending fan, quieted for the moment...

I found a great site called that not only sold the right replacement fan but had open-source, step-by-step instructions for performing the surgery. I did a practice run, pulling everything apart and coming up with a screw-tracking method to ensure that everything got put back in the right place. It did. So I ordered the part.

The part came — on a Friday. Not just any Friday that I should be spending with Karen instead, but the day of the show’s $100-per-ticket opening gala, and the start of a whirlwind that would keep me out of town and away from Karen for most of the next two weekends. No choice, though. I got out the scalpel and commenced the lobotomy on my beloved little MacBook. Karen looked on from her own perch at the kitchen island and kept me smiling through some tense moments.

Out, vile fan!

The bullet, pulled from the gaping wound. (Yes, the fortune-cookie strip affixed to the screen margin says, "You are working hard." True to my Presbyterian roots.)

It went great. I gave new life to a 6-year-old laptop (that’s 90-something in people years).

And when I finished sewing the patient back up, I took care of the most important resource of all: I spent the rest of the day with my sweetie. And thanks, honey, for taking such good care of me, because I too plan to be around for a while.

About CK Barlow

I'm a composer and music-technology instructor. In the summer of 2011, I decided it was time to give full-time music-making a shot, so I left my corporate job (I've always had one). That's part of what inspired Composing Kitchen, the blog I publish with my incredible spouse, Karen Milling. View all posts by CK Barlow

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