An Open Letter to Apple and China

Dear Apple and China,

You seem to be friends. Everywhere I look in China, I see Apple. There are unnecessarily large Apple megastores popping up on every thoroughfare in Shanghai. As we speak, the latest addition is set to open beside my Gucci cornerstore - all glass and chrome and white - not unlike the special place that Superman went to when he wanted to talk to the holograms of his parents. I get it - you’re new best friends. Maybe there’s a bit of romance there but it’s hard to tell - technology companies and communist superpowers are so gender fuzzy.

You know, also, that I am a fan of you both - despite the fact that you’re both overpriced and one of you is dirty (ok, maybe because of it). I don’t mean any disrespect and I don’t want to burst the crazy love bubble you seem to have built around you but am I the only person who sees the fundamental flaw in your relationship? You are not compatible.

China, you don’t really love Apple, not really. If you did, you wouldn’t have designed all your online banking and payments systems to work exclusively with Internet Explorer which, as I’ve just discovered, only functions on PCs. No, China, if you really loved Apple you would not have done that - either to Apple, or to me. I just spent two hours of my precious nap time (the time is mine but the napping is someone else’s) trying to find a way around this. “It can’t be!”, I thought. China wouldn’t have done that to Apple - not with all the megastores and the love and the iMadness. “And”, I further reasoned, “if China had done that to Apple, would Apple not be hurt and withdrawn rather than triumphantly constructing another useless megastore in which you can buy products THAT DON’T WORK IN CHINA!?”.

None of this makes sense, but maybe that’s love.

For my part, I love both of you a little less today than I did yesterday.

Kind regards,

A Former Sine-apple-phile.

PS - Your relationship is doomed.

21st Century Nesting

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I have heard it said that pregnant women often go through a manic period of spring cleaning in order to prepare the nest for the impending arrival. I have taken to my bed.

I have been here for three days now - only venturing afield (i.e. downstairs) for cooking and biscuit hunting. It may not look like it, but I am nesting. I am preparing my technological environment for the dramatic changes afoot. In fact, to look at me, you would be forgiven for thinking that I am attempting to remotely coordinate the global satellite network from my bed. That is if you can see me at all, so ensconced am I in a hedge of wires, plugs and Apple logos.

I have here in bed with me my new 15’ Macbook Pro - most beloved of inanimate objects. I also have my old Macbook, an iPad, two 1TB external hard-drives, an iPhone, an iPod and a pork pie (with some HP sauce). There also appears to be a calculator under my left ankle but I think Mr Oh left this there earlier when calculating my tax credits.

I have been organising my tax affairs, arranging photos into events, purging my iTunes of Bruce Springsteen albums, researching online photo storage/sharing options (I’m thinking Smugmug but would welcome views), downloading episodes of Game of Thrones and, once again, comparing my unborn child to vegetables (this week baby Hu is the size of a butternut squash). This is 21st century nesting. When my hard-drives are in order, I will be ready for baby.

There has, however, been one disturbing element of nesting that I cannot attribute to modern mothering. I have been absolutely convinced that this child cannot be born until I know how to make custard. It has been something of an obsession for the past week. Mr Oh is not complaining - he considers custard to be stand-alone food group. I bought vanilla pods and cream and golden caster sugar and rhubarb (you need something to eat with custard). I whisked and stirred and cooled and simmered. I made perfectly nice custard, but it wasn’t right. It wasn’t the right colour, it wasn’t the right texture and it wasn’t the right taste. I think it needs another egg yolk.

In my experimentation I came across an unfortunate truth - the perfect custard does exist and it’s made by Marks & Spencer. I am now going through a crisis of pre-motherhood. Do I
really need to be able to make my own custard when it’s so laborious and awkward and unperfect and M&S do it better? I have a feeling that this issue will shape many of my future mothering decisions. I have resolved to continue to try to make my own perfect custard - anything less is substandard parenting. (I suspect this parental zeal (and possibly all types of zeal) will have exhausted itself by 2013 so I might as well be a martyr to perfection while I still have the energy and will.

Incidentally, on my quest for perfect custard, I came across the perfect cherry pie (also made by M&S). I have no intention of learning how to make cherry pie and am therefore delighted with this find. Mr Oh was reluctant to buy the cherry pie at first. He said he didn’t like cherries. It turns out he just doesn’t like cherry-flavoured Jolly Ranchers which is hardly the same thing. Now that he has unearthed a deep-seated love for M&S cherry pie and M&S custard, my star is waning. Luckily M&S is not carrying his unborn child, otherwise I might find myself surplus to requirements.

[Mr Oh has subsequently assured me that he will not leave me for M&S but cannot rule out the possibility that he will leave me for S&M] [or M&Ms].


Brokeback Macbook

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I need to buy a new laptop. I think I can actually hear mine sigh with weariness when I turn it on, as if to say ‘I’m old, I’m full, and all I want is to do is nap in the drawer’. I know how it feels. Sometimes it flashes wildly for no reason and I think it’s trying to tell me to leave it alone. Go away crazy person, I no longer wish to be the enslaved vehicle for feeding your hypochondria, penchant for sleazy celebrity gossip and obsession with vacuum storage solutions. Admittedly the vacuum storage thing only started this morning but it is just the latest example of random and innane googling that I sense is breaking my macbook’s spirit. Poor Jacques (le Mac)...once so spritely and white, now kind of sticky and an unhealthy shade of eggshell.

Jacques has been on his way out for a while now. I replaced his battery last year in the hope that this would keep him going for a little bit longer and it seems to have worked. The problem is that he’s still technically motoring on, albeit in a curmudgeonly manner. Can I justify buying a new laptop when Jacques trundles on? So the button on the tracker thingy is stuck but this is because Mr Oh jumped onto the sofa beside me when I was holding a glass of orange juice. It also takes forever to open programmes, multi-tasking is no longer a viable option and sometimes it just seems to grind to a halt and take a few minutes to compose itself. When awake for too long, it sometimes just starts wheezing and whining which makes me think that Jacques might be pregnant. This would be an exciting development were it possible that Jacques might shortly birth me a new, baby macbook to bounce on my lap. Sadly, I’m not sure even Apple have yet cracked artificial procreation.

Another major stumbling block to my plans to replace Jacques with something prettier, is the fact that I won’t replace Jacques with just any laptop, I want a 15 inch MacBook Pro. I toyed briefly with the idea of a Sony Vaio - which I could get in bright green (I have fairly unsophisticated, aesthetically base predilictions when it comes to machinery) - but I also have a strong sense of brand loyalty and a deep respect for interoperable appliances. There is also the slight chance that I might be excommunicated from my family if I did not buy Apple. It would be up there with voting for Sinn Fein or wearing pyjamas to the supermarket. It has to be Apple really, but Apple’s are expensive and I’m supposed to be saving my money for things like moses baskets, tiny socks and machines that sterilise things. (We definitely need a machine to sterilise things - Mr Oh tried once to sterilise a baby’s dummy in boiling water and ended up setting fire to the kitchen, destroying a perfectly good saucepan, releasing a cloud of toxic chemical into the air and almost poisoning a 9 week old baby).

Maybe the baby doesn’t need socks?