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Category: family

How Many Family Members Does It Take to Fix a School Chromebook?

Screws are falling out of my son’s middle-school Chromebook, and this is the result. Help! What’s a dad to do? It’s time to find my inner MacGyver!

My 7th grader casually informed me the other day that he was missing a couple screws on the bottom of his school Chromebook, and the casing was beginning to separate. (Both holes were in the same corner.)

When I took a look, I realized the problem was more than just a little separation. The entire body and screen misaligned when I tried to flip it open, and the guts of the laptop almost spilled out from the hideous opening like a fresh gunshot wound. I couldn’t even close the screen for fear that I would snap off the hinges.

My son had been dealing with this?!

No Amazon to the Rescue
So I immediately looked up “Chromebook replacement screws” online. There had a be a quick fix for this. But in fact, there wasn’t.

I found that screws dropping out of Chromebooks was a well-documented problem, but there was no one-stop solution to buy a replacement screw for 20 cents. Sure, I could buy hundreds of different-sized laptop screws on Amazon and hope that one of them would work. But that looked like a painful needle in a haystack scenario.


Time to Get Creative
I turned my head and looked at the calendar: Two weeks to go until the end of the school year. Hmmm…Then it hit me.

I just had to keep that computer together for another few days!

Duct tape? No, that’s a silly idea (though I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first to attempt it).

Did I have another old laptop lying around that I could grab a screw from?
Nope… not one that would fit. (I tried.)

Wait! Maybe I could move out one of the other screws on the back of the Chromebook to fill in one of the corner holes. And then I would keep my fingers crossed that the band-aid maneuver would be a sufficient fix to reseal the body.

Does the Chromebook Survive?
So right before breakfast, my son and I cleared off the dining room table and began the surgery. I let him play the role of Dr. Strange. (This would take a delicate touch and a good dose of magic.)

And guess what? It worked!

The body held shut, and the screen opened up and closed like nothing was ever wrong (though the computer was still missing 2 screws).

For good measure, my son then tightened up a few of the other screws that were loose and also about to fall out. (Whoa!)

Yes, the operation was a success. My boy treated it like an easy homework assignment, and I was slightly stunned that we had seemingly just opened up a Lester father-and-son computer repair business.

A Good Lesson
Sure, he had just moved one screw to a different location on the laptop’s back. You might think this to be an obvious fix. And in hindsight, it was.

But in this computer-centric world we all live in with AI on the cusp of changing everything, just the idea that we can still fix a computer at home with a screwdriver feels refreshingly analog.

And it’s an important reminder of who still runs this planet… for now.

How to Make a Bar Mitzvah Video

Here’s an outtake from the video I created to celebrate our son’s bar mitzvah. I followed a process that prioritized keeping it simple. Here’s how I did that.

Over the years, I think I’ve recorded hundreds (thousands?) of little family video clips. So if you’re wondering, yes, of course I created a video to celebrate our son’s bar mitzvah.

It was a highlights reel of sorts, containing some of his greatest hits to date… at least the ones that I happened to capture on video.

Fortunately, I’ve been diligent over these past thirteen years to label each of my family video clips and organize them into folders by month and year. (That’s a lot of folders!)

Over time, I’ve also created a variety of little ‘finished’ family videos that reflected different moments in our family’s story (birthday parties, vacation trips). These particular videos were especially useful to identify the clips I needed for the bar mitzvah video.

Not a Documentary
So years of good digital organization set me up nicely to begin my project. (I’ve got all of my video files stored in an external G-RAID drive.)

But really, any way I looked at my task, it was still absolutely overwhelming. (And I wasn’t even considering using any photos.)

So instead of trying to accomplish the impossible and somehow jam in every perfect clip to tell the ‘total’ story, I decided instead to enjoy my trip into the past and simply use what I uncovered in my digital archives over the course of several hours during three separate research sessions.

Capture the Spirit
Sure, there were a few video moments that I had specifically remembered and searched for. (My wife also had a few clip requests.) But for the most part, my process of rediscovery organically led me to the clips I used. If I had repeated my exercise the following month, I could have easily collected an entirely different grouping of clips that were just as delightful.

I realized as I went along that the video would mostly reflect these three factors:

  • Our son’s growth across the years
  • His family and friends
  • Some fun moments

It would never be a complete reflection on his life to date. And that was fine.

Keep a Simple Structure
This understanding freed me to focus on creating a video that was simply enjoyable to watch. And it was ‘relatively’ simple to make.

It ran seven and a half minutes. Each clip was 10 to 15 seconds long. And I organized them chronologically (using Final Cut Pro on my iMac) with a date stamp graphic in the bottom of the frame. I think the dates were useful to show the passage of time. I used a couple of his favorite pieces of music to support sections that were more visually oriented. And I popped in a title at the top and a ‘congratulations’ graphic at the back.

Finally, my wife and I recorded a short video message to our son that I included towards the end of the video.

Make a Few Drafts
That was it. I made three drafts before locking the final cut.

The first draft was a just a long string of clips in the right order. The second draft was a shorter version. (Everything can’t make it in. Always remember that less is more.) The third draft added a few more clips that my wife had remembered. (Don’t forget to collaborate!) And the final cut was where I polished it all up.

There are any number of ways to make a bar mitzvah video. This was the path I took.

A Video for the Past and the Future
We showed my finished video to our son, and I think he enjoyed it. He did smile a few times. To be fair, I can understand how he may not be as excited to see his toddler clips as we were. (My wife and I were delighted with the trip down memory lane.)

But beyond celebrating an important milestone for our son, I also see this video as a piece of family history that reflects our son’s first thirteen years. And I hope it’s something he can return to years into the future and enjoy.

My wife and I certainly will!

A Father’s Reflections after his Son’s Bar Mitzvah

Yesterday reflects a course adjustment for my family that’s three generations in the making. Here’s why.

Our son had his bar mitzvah yesterday. He was amazing, even if I am a little biased.

He was prepared. He was relaxed. He hit it out of the park. For someone who doesn’t exactly crave the spotlight, he appeared relatively Zen.

My wife and I are so proud of him. This was his day in every way.

A Return to a Family’s Tradition
It also represented a major shift in the timeline for my family. It’s the first bar mitzvah in my immediate family in three generations. I didn’t have one, and neither did my father. But both sides of my family came from observant Jewish ancestors. So yesterday was a definite reset.

I couldn’t be happier.

Our son now has the foundation that I never received growing up. And as a young adult, I began to recognize the gap. That choice my parents made for me to not have a bar mitzvah is part of a much larger conversation about their perception of Jewish identity during those decades.

Suffice to say, it’s usually best to fully embrace who you are so you can fully become who you are meant to be.

I’m the bridge. My son is the future. What he decides to do with his foundation is up to him. But now he’s got it…

Seven Minutes of Pure Joy
At our son’s party, my wife and I wanted everyone to dance the traditional hora with us and lift up our son on a chair like you often see at Jewish celebrations. And that’s exactly what we did.

Watching him float up there was glorious. Then my wife went up, and finally it was my turn.

It was magical. I felt weightless. Time slowed down as I spun around in the clouds.

Family and friends were laughing, clapping and smiling. All of that love and support flowed around me and through me.

I will never forget the feeling.

Taking It All In
Yes, the feeling of an entire community’s warm support at our Congregation Beth El earlier in the day.

That knowledge that you were participating in one of the happiest days of your life.

And the love of family and friends, some who drove far through an all-day pummeling rain storm to be with you.

It was a special day.

Positive Momentum
Oh yes… Did I mention that we got an inch of rain yesterday? And of course, it derailed our outdoor plan A for the evening party. But we had a great indoor plan B.

There was simply too much momentum going. There could be no wash out.

As the evening party rocked inside, I occasionally glanced at the torrential rain outside.. And I smiled.

It was exactly as it was meant to be. And it was perfect.

My Message to the Universe
I don’t think you get many days like yesterday. So when they come along, it’s important to be as present as you can be to take it all in. That’s the advice I received, and I followed it!

I’m also finding it useful to write about it a bit to help seal in all of that joy.

So, I sat at my desk during my magic hour this morning. I reflected with my cup of Joe to the left of my keyboard. And the above is what flowed out.

And now I upload my story to the universe. I send it to the past. I send it to the future.

Everything feels right.

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