Friday, March 23, 2007

R.I.P. Gigabyte GA-7DX Frankenstein Box: 02/25/2000 - 03/14/2007

This paragraph is dedicated to my old computer, may it rest in peace. It lived through almost eight years of my repeated tweaking, experimenting, overclocking, obsessive component-changing, power-using, multi-tasking, repeated bumps, drops, poor soldering skills, and a few brown-outs. She lived a long, productive life (considering what she went through) and served me well. I brought her into existence with a mish-mash of parts that I acquired on the cheap from various sources. She lived hard, served me well, and died owing me nothing. Some of her vital organs have been harvested and put to use in my new Lenovo box which I just purchased from a local computer store. With the aid of a new motherboard, the rest of her will likely be resurrected again in the form of another lovely Frankenstein box who I will raise (yet again) as my own, this time being brought up in the ways of Ubuntu and SUSE instead of the corrupt and evil ways of The Dark Side, which eventually hastened her demise in the previous life. I am now in the process of teaching my current little one a balanced, zen-like approach which includes the ways of Ubuntu, Red Hat, and Windows XP so that she may learn from all of them and use what each may have to offer. (Though I am secretely hoping that she will gravitate toward an outlook residing on the side of Good).

As you may have guessed by now, old computer = dead. I am not pleased that I had to spend a large chunk of my tax return to get a new one, but I saw this coming a while ago and it didn't take me by surprise. This would also be why I have not updated the blog for a couple weeks. I am in the process of experimenting with Ubuntu Linux, Suse Linux, and Red Hat Linux; trying to decide which one I like more. I've tooled around with Linux a little in the past but never in a serious capacity. So this is a whole new confusing ball game for me but I intend to stick with it, even if it means having to peruse technical books & manuals for hours on end. For moral and ethical reasons, this is a step that I've been meaning to take for a long time.

I am in the middle of a bit of a spring-cleaning surge. The basement is still the final, scary frontier... there are relationship leftovers, abandoned hobbies, unfinished projects, furniture & household items in need of repair, and useless tchotchkes by the hundreds down there, all laying around in unorganized piles and in need of much cleaning before they can even be given away. I am saving it all for a weekend off when I'll likely get doped up on coffee and tackle the subterranean chaos with extreme prejudice. I fully expect that it will result in at least half a dozen trips to the local thrift store and a spate of new items for sale on my Ebay seller account.

Wish me luck folks!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pride Comes Before The Fall, and I Get Right Back Up

Sorry for taking so long to update. My roommate brought home the most lovely flu bug and it has kept me a bit occupied. I had just been bragging to a coworker that I have a cast iron immune system and I almost never get sick enough to be kept out of work... then WHAM!!! I get taken out by nature for a week. On the upside, I feel much better now and went out for a 14 mile cross country skiing excursion today. I slid on over to the next town and explored a side trail that I'd never been on before. I chased the setting sun up over a ridge of small mountains... only to lose it behind another ridge. The trip up was a heck of a workout and the trip back down was crazy-fun, except for the fact that older cross-country skis like mine are much harder to control when careening down steep, narrow trails at high velocity. So the trip back down, while exciting, was done to the tune of "aaah, ouch, *crash* $%##@!!! *crash* ouch, ouch, *crash* %@#!!! whew! Yeeeehaaaaw!" The sunset was a beautiful shade of peach with touches of pink (curses for not bringing my camera this time) and after the sunset the landscape took on a surreal palette of blues, it almost looked like a cross between Van Gogh's 'Blue Period' and something out of a Robert Frost poem. As much as I am frustrated with the lack of culture in this area, the scenery more than makes up for it.

And as promised three posts back, here are the pics from my last cross-country ski trip.

First covered railroad bridge headed south east, the trail that I follow is part of the "Rails To Trails" program which converts old railroad lines to recreational & nature trails. This bridge is a leftover from the era when there was still a working rail line running through this very spot. Note how high the openings are (about 22 feet), this was to accommodate the high stacks on the locomotives.

Interior of the first bridge

Shot of the river taken through a gap in the boards

The second covered railroad bridge

Interior of the second bridge

Underneath the main highway bridge in Kelleyville/Newport

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Miniscule Bit of Self-Discovery

After Meeting today, I was sitting in a coffee shop idly perusing the Faith & Practice book I mentioned in the previous post. I came across a section on bereavement and loss. I have been through a lot of loss in the past few years and this passage hit me so close to home and so powerfully that I came to tears in the middle of the shop and had to remove myself to the bathroom for a few minutes to regain my composure. I am not normally an emotionally expressive person in public situations. This excerpt very plainly describes the exact process which I endured as well as the much-needed personal growth and understanding that I've gained as a result. It is valuable reading if you or a loved one have recently experienced a harsh loss.

"Loneliness after loss is a bitter and unproductive fruit that generally has to be eaten, skin, stone and all. Meanwhile the table bearing the accustomed spiritual refreshment has vanished, as though it never existed.

In the immediate shock of loss there is help. Friends rally, nature supplies an anaesthetic, the doctor offers Valium. The crux comes later, just when you supposed the worst was past: companions consider the crisis over and return to their own affairs; the first sharp sting has worn off, and you will have decided to give up drugs. You have no idea what is lying in wait.

But now the real battle begins, the formidable adjustment has to be made. The caring and the sharing will never come back, at least in their past form, and a cold, apparently comfortless, independence has to be shaped to create a life of value. The temptation is to look round for a substitute for the one lost - but people grieving are not their normal selves, they are off balance and their judgment is impaired. A new companionship, if it is to be, is like happiness: no good searching for it, if it arrives it will be as a by-product.

The other temptation is to shirk experiencing the loss to the full when the time has come. A readiness and an openness to the approach of that dark night are necessary. Easy to fill the conscious mind with work, or a contrived 'pleasure-seeking', or do-gooding. The unconscious is preparing the pit, and down into it you will eventually be driven. Better go willingly, with all your armour on. For this is in fact the training ground of your spirit, where you will learn how much, through your own pain, you have to offer to others. And so the first and greatest step out of the dark place becomes recognisable: self-absorption begins to give way to empathy with a world of suffering you previously didn't know existed. People in the first shock of grief will be drawn to you, and you, no longer a newcomer to that world, will have found your listening skills.

As to that delicious and sustaining food you were accustomed in happier times to peck at, why, there it is again, and you haven't recognised it. The former sustenance was only fit for children, and has been replaced by helpings of insight appropriate to your increased maturity."

Margery Still, 1990