Is it the same computer?
Friday, April 20 2001
Yesterday was pretty hard to top in terms of excitement, so today I didn't even try. Even though the date was 4-20, I didn't even smoke any marijuana, mostly because I don't have any and didn't socialize with pot smoking friends. It's hard for someone to smoke pot when he stays at home, doesn't have any pot-smoking friends, and doesn't have any pot. I should probably buy some just to have it around for those recreational pot smoking moments I occasionally crave. I much prefer to be stoned by myself, so it makes sense that I should have my own pot instead of smoking other people's pot and then feeling compelled to hang out with them afterwards.
After I came home today, my housemate John took me and his houseguest Kate out to a Baja Fresh in Santa Monica for his favorite restaurant indulgence, fish tacos. It was a cold and dreary evening with a spitting rain falling.
While I was at home trying to put together a new computer from mail order pieces, John was driving into the San Fernando Valley on the 405 to drop off Kate at her collegiate destination. On Fernando's bad advice, John made the mistake of coming back via scenic Topanga Canyon Blvd. and I didn't see him again for some time.
The big problem I faced with my archipelago of mail order computer parts was how terribly mismatched they were. My Athlon motherboard was too big for my micro-tower case in such a way that prevented me from inserting the CD drives to anywhere near their proper depth in the drive bays.
After John finally returned from the Valley, I realized the solution was to put all the innards of the downstairs Gateway 2000 into the too-small micro-tower, where it would probably all fit, and then put all my new innards into the larger Gateway 2000 box. But first John had to quit playing that violent computer adventure game he's been playing of late, something one of his tutoring pupils loaned him.
For the next several hours I found myself performing a great and miraculous act of component transplantation, ending up with a computer that looked nothing like the old Gateway 2000 but which contained, for lack of a better word, its soul. For me it wasn't any big deal but for John it seemed to raise certain philosophical questions. "Is it still the same machine?" he wondered.
Getting all the Gateway 2000 stuff into that smaller box was not without its own set of problems, the biggest of which involved the fact that the huge Gateway 2000 fanless Pentium II heat sink wanted to occupy some of the same space as the new non-Gateway 2000 power supply. So I decided to cut a large hole into the side of the metal power supply case. Lucky for me this case was made of aluminum; still, my tools (a power drill and a hacksaw) were not up to the task.
At this point John went upstairs and dug up a graduation gift his father had bought him, as scene on teevee, the famous RotoZip. It's a drill with a depth limiter and special blades that are able to cut sideways like a jigsaw. Was it ever noisy, but it did the job well (unless too much sideways pressure was applied). John was delighted. Finally, an actual use for the RotoZip!
The hole in the side of the power supply had a dual purpose. Not only did it allow the Pentium II heatsink to intrude into the power supply case, but it also created a place for the internal vacuum of the power supply to suck hot air out of that same heatsink, provided I sealed up the other competing air vents in that power supply case.
When I was all done, the old Gateway 2000 booted up happily from within its flawless new body. John lay on the couch fast asleep.
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