Geek stuff yesterday: first, I finally took a broken computer monitor of mine to the offices of Free Geek, which restores computer equipment or recycles it per strict EPA guidelines if it can’t be recovered or reused. Out of curiosity, since I like seeing interesting businesses show up in Southeast Portland, I also took Free Geek’s daily noon tour.
The facility’s loaded with stacks (and, sometimes, haphazard piles) of mostly off-white plastic tech-boxes in various states of testing and/or disemboweling. Disc drives and CD-Roms stacked like coasters, wires snaking about, shelves and shelves of keyboards, bulky diagnostic equipment hooked up and making sure computers’ guts are working properly…visually, it’s all beautiful chaos. The facility was relatively quiet; there are focused people working there, amongst its volunteer-heavy staff. (And, hey, geek-babes are there, too. Score.)
Adding to the chaos: remodeling! A clean-room is in the works for really sensitive tech work, and one large space is planned as a cyber-café, allowing low- or no-cost computer access like a library. (In fact, Free Geek is getting advice from the Multnomah County Library on how to regulate the use of its computers and its space, so patrons don’t abuse the system to look at porn in public or to get some indoor sleep.)
One neat tidbit: some of a computer’s innards are made of gold – tiny, tiny, pieces of gold. Free Geek clips off those pieces, collects them in a box, and, when that box is full, sends it to a jeweler who melts it into a single gold blob and buys it. “You’re literally making money,” I said.
Then there was the night, when I again reached Ringler’s at S.W. 14th and Burnside, in the same building as the Crystal Ballroom, for another night of movie trivia, again courtesy IFC Film Fanatic. It was a wilder night than the night before: more demonstrative contestants, including a guy who kept yelling in something like pain when he got answers wrong; the MC’s cards giving the wrong answers to the questions; score discrepancies in some matches so the contestants had to keep track of their scores themselves. The MC was very apologetic, plus mad at the mistakes by whomever put the questions together. We all kept our sense of humor: we figured it was the screw-up night and let it slide.
I did both worse and better than the night before: worse at first, losing my first two matches, then, heh heh, better in my third. How much better? I battled Oregonian film critic Marc Mohan (who also owns a video store, by the way) to a tie, and beat him in the second round! Yay me! Like everyone else, I didn’t Dance The Gloating Dance when winning; we all applauded each other and shook hands and congratulated them for doing well. Very civilized, and fun. Portland politeness at work, folks…
David Walker, the lead film critic at Willamette Week, held court during the contest to talk about flicks: he’s put on some film festivals and aided local productions, on top of his critic duties, so he knows his stuff. So it was painful for him, and for us, when he seemed unable to do well in the trivia contest. He tried twice, but his gaming abilities seemed to desert him. He shrugged expansively after one loss, and I understood enough of what he was feeling: It’s harder than it looks. We can’t all be Ken Jennings in the gaming department.
I can go again tonight, if I so choose, but the current slick-and-freezing weather socking Portland might nix that. It’s time to keep warm and sheltered. I’m so glad I have both.