Even with the evidence before you, I'm sure you will not believe my account of my own suicide. Or rather, you'll believe that I wrote it, but not that I wrote it after the fact. You'll assume that I wrote this letter in advance, perhaps not yet sure that I would squeeze the shotgun between my knees, then balance a ruler against the trigger, pressing downward with a surprisingly steady hand until the hammer fell, the powder exploded, and the tumult of small shot at close range blew my head off, embedding brain, bone, skin, and a few carbonized strands of hair in the ceiling and wall behind me. But I assure you that I did not write in anticipation, or as an oblique threat, or for any other purpose than to report to you, after I did it, why the deed was done.
You must already have found my raggedly decapitated body seated at my rolltop desk in the darkest corner of the basement where my only source of light is the old pole lamp that no longer went with the decor when the living room was redecorated. But picture me, not as you found me, still and lifeless, but rather as I am at this moment, with my left hand neatly holding the paper. My right hand moves smoothly across the page, reaching up now and then to dip the quill in the blood that has pooled in the ragged mass of muscle, veins, and stumpy bone between my shoulders.
Why do I, being dead, bother to write to you now? If I didn't choose to write before I killed myself, perhaps I should have abided by that decision after death; but it was not until I had actually carried out my plan that I finally had something to say to you. And having something to say, writing became my only choice, since ordinary diction is beyond one who lacks larynx, mouth, lips, tongue, and teeth. All my tools of articulation have been shredded and embedded in the plasterboard. I have achieved utter speechlessness.
Do you marvel that I continue to move my arms and hand after my head is gone? I'm not surprised: My brain has been disconnected from my; body for many years. All my actions long since became habits. Stimuli would pass from nerves to spinal cord and rise no further. You would greet me in the morning or lob your comments at me for hours in the night and I would utter my customary responses without these exchanges provoking a single thought in my mind. I scarcely remember being alive for the last years -- or, rather, I remember being alive, but can't distinguish one day from another, one Christmas from any other Christmas, one word you said from any other word you might have said. Your voice has become a drone, and as for my own voice, I haven't listened to a thing I said since the last time I humiliated myself before you, causing you to curl your lip in distaste and turn over the next three cards in your solitaire game. Nor can I remember which of the many lip-curlings and card-turnings in my memory was the particular one that coincided with my last self-debasement before you. Now my habitual body continues as it has for all these years, writing this memoir of my suicide as one last, complex, involuntary twitching of the muscles in my arm and hand and fingers.
I'm sure you have detected the inconsistency. You have always been able to evade my desperate attempts at conveying meaning. You simply wait until you can catch some seeming contradiction in my words, then use it as a pretext to refuse to listen to anything else I say because I am not being logical, and therefore am not rational, and you refuse to speak to someone who is not being rational. The inconsistency you have noticed is: If I am completely a creature of habit, how is it that I committed suicide in the first place, since that is a new and therefore non-customary behavior?
But you see, this is no inconsistency at all. You have schooled me in the arts of self-destruction. Just as the left hand will sympathetically learn some measure of a skill practiced only with the right, so I have made such a strong habit of subsuming my own identity in yours that it was almost a reflex finally to perform the physical annihilation of myself.
Indeed, it is merely the culmination of long custom that when I made the most powerful statement of my life, my most dazzling performance, my finest hundredth of a second, in that very moment I lost my eyes and so will not be able to witness the response of my audience. I write to you, but you will not write or speak to me, or if you do, I shall not have eyes to read or ears to hear you. Will you scream? (Will someone else find me, and will that person scream? But it must be you.) I imagine disgust, perhaps. Kneeling, retching on the old rug that was all we could afford to use in my basement corner.
And later, who will peel the ceiling plaster? Rip out the wallboard? And when the wall has been stripped down to the studs, what will be done with those large slabs of drywall that have been plowed with shot and sown with bits of my brain and skull? Will there be fragments of drywall buried with me in my grave? Will they even be displayed in the open coffin, neatly broken up and piled where my head used to be? It would be appropriate, I think, since a significant percentage of corpse is there, not attached to the rest of my body. And if some fragment of your precious house were buried with me, perhaps you would come occasionally to shed some tears on my grave.
I find that in death I am not free of worries. Being speechless means I cannot correct misinterpretations. What if someone says, "It wasn't suicide. The gun fell and discharged accidentally"? Or what if murder is supposed? Will some passing vagrant be apprehended? Suppose he heard the shot and came running, and then was found, holding the shotgun and gibbering at his own blood-covered hands; or, worse, going through my clothes and stealing the hundred-dollar bill I always carry on my person. (You remember how I always joked that I kept it as busfare in case I ever decided to leave you, until you forbade me to say it one more time or you would not be responsible for what you did to me. I have kept my silence on that subject ever since -- have you noticed? -- for I want you always to be responsible for what you do.)
The poor vagrant could not have administered first aid to me -- I'm quite sure that nowhere in the Boy Scout Handbook would he have read so much as a paragraph on caring for a person whose head has been torn away so thoroughly that there's not enough neck left to hold a tourniquet. And since the poor fellow couldn't help me, why shouldn't he help himself? I don't begrudge him the hundred dollars -- I hereby bequeath him all the money and other valuables he can find on my person. You can't charge him with stealing what I freely give to him. I also hereby affirm that he did not kill me, and did not dip my drawing pen into the blood in the stump of my throat and then hold my hand, forming the letters that appear on the paper you are reading. You are also witness of this, for you recognize my handwriting. No one should be punished for my death who was not involved in causing it.
But my worst fear is not sympathetic dread for some unknown body-finding stranger, but rather that no one will discover me at all. Having fired the gun, I have now had sufficient time to write all these pages. Admittedly I have been writing with a large hand and much space between the lines, since in writing blindly I must be careful not to run words and lines together. But this does not change the fact that considerable time has elapsed since the unmissable sound of a shotgun firing. Surely some neighbor must have heard; surely the police have been summoned and even now are hurrying to investigate the anxious reports of a gunshot in our picturebook home. For all I know the sirens even now are sounding down the street, and curious neighbors have gathered on their lawns to see what sort of burden the police carry forth. But even when I wait for a few moments, my pen hovering over the page, I feel no vibration of heavy footfalls on the stairs. No hands reach under my armpits to pull me away from the page. Therefore I conclude that there has been no phone call. No one has come, no one will come, unless you come, until you come.
Wouldn't it be ironic if you chose this day to leave me? Had I only waited until your customary homecoming hour, you would not have come, and instead of transplanting a cold rod of iron into my lap I could have walked through the house for the first time as if it were somewhat my own. As the night grew later and later, I would have become more certain you were not returning; how daring I would have been then! I might have kicked the shoes in their neat little rows on the closet floor. I might have jumbled up my drawers without dreading your lecture when you discovered it. I might have read the newspaper in the holy of holies, and when I needed to get up to answer a call of nature, I could have left the newspaper spread open on the coffee table instead of folding it neatly just as it came from the paperboy and when I came back there it would be, wide open, just as I left it, without a tapping foot and a scowl and a rosary of complaints about people who are unfit to live with civilized persons.
But you have not left me. I know it. You will return tonight. This will simply be one of the nights that you were detained at the office and if I were a productive human being I would know that there are times when one cannot simply drop one's work and come home because the clock has struck such an arbitrary hour as five. You will come in at seven or eight, after dark, and you will find the cat is not indoors, and you will begin to seethe with anger that I have left the cat outside long past its hours of exercise on the patio. But I couldn't very well kill myself with the cat in here, could I? How could I write you such a clear and eloquent missive as this, my sweet, with your beloved feline companion climbing all over my shoulders trying to lick at the blood that even now I use as ink? No, the cat had to remain outdoors, as you will see; I actually had a valid reason for having violated the rules of civilized living.
Cat or no cat, all the blood is gone and now I am using my ballpoint pen. Of course, I can't actually see whether the pen is out of ink. I remember the pen running out of ink, but it is the memory of many pens running out of ink many times, and I can't recall how recent was the most recent case of running-out-of-ink, and whether the most recent case of pen-buying was before or after it.
In fact it is the issue of memory that most troubles me. How is it that, headless, I remember anything at all? I understand that my fingers might know how to form the alphabet by reflex, but how is it that I remember how to spell these words, how has so much language survived within me, how can I cling to these thoughts long enough to write them down? Why do I have the shadowy memory of all that I am doing now, as if I had done it all before in some distant past?
I removed my head as brutally as possible, yet memory persists. This is especially ironic for, if I remember correctly, memory is what I most hoped to kill. Memory is a parasite that dwells within me, a mutant creature that has climbed up my spine and now perches atop my ragged neck, taunting me as it spins a sticky thread out of its own belly like a spider, then weaves it into shapes that harden in the air and become bone. I am being cheated; human bodies are not supposed to be able to regrow body parts that are any more complex than fingernails or hair, and here I can feel with my fingers that the bone has changed. My vertebrae are once again complete, and now the base of my skull has begun to form again.
How quickly? Too fast! And inside the bone grow softer things, the terrible small creature that once inhabited my head and refuses even now to die. This little knob at the top of my spine is a new limbic node; I recognize it, for when I squeeze it lightly with my fingers I feel strange passions, half-forgotten passions. Soon, though, such animality will be out of reach, for the tissues will swell outward to form a cerebellum, a folded gray cerebrum; and then the skull will close around it, sheathed in wrinkled flesh and scanty hair.
My undoing is undone, and far too quickly. What if my head is fully restored to my shoulders before you come home? Then you will find me in the basement with a bloody mess and no rational explanation for it. I can imagine you speaking of it to your friends. You can't leave me alone for a single hour, you poor thing, it's just a constant burden living with someone who is constantly making messes and then lying about them. Imagine, you'll say to them, a whole letter, so many pages, explaining how I killed myself -- it would be funny if it weren't so sad.
You will expose me to the scorn of your friends, but that changes nothing. Truth is truth, even when it is ridiculed. Still, why should I provide entertainment for those wretched soulless creatures who live only to laugh at one whose shoe-latchets they are not fit to unlace? If you cannot find me headless, I refuse to let you know what I have done at all. You will not read this account until some later day, after I finally succeed in dying and am embalmed. You'll find these pages taped on the bottom side of a drawer in my desk, where you will have looked, not because you hoped for some last word from me, but because you are searching for the hundred-dollar bill, which I will tape inside it.
And as for the blood and brains and bone embedded in the plasterboard, even that will not trouble you. I will scrub; I will sand; I will paint. You will come home to find the basement full of fumes and you will wear your martyr's face and take the paint away and send me to my room as if I were a child caught writing on the walls. You will have no notion of the agony I suffered in your absence, of the blood I shed solely in the hope of getting free of you. You will think this was a day like any other day. But I know that on this day, this one day like the marker between b.c. and a.d., I found the courage to carry out an abrupt and terrible plan that I did not first submit for your approval.
Or has this, too, happened before? Will I, in the maze of memory, be unable to recall which of many head-explodings was the particular one that led me to write this message to you? Will I find, when I open the drawer, that on its underside there is already a thick sheaf of papers tied there around a single hundred-dollar bill? There is nothing new under the sun, said old Solomon in Ecclesiastes. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity. Nothing like that nonsense from King Lemuel at the end of Proverbs: Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Let her own works praise her in the gates, ha! I say let her own head festoon the walls.Copyright, 1990 Orson Scott Card
"There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Even you, Doctor."
Charles Dickens, 2005
I hope that you're enjoying Torchwood.
If you've been reading the Comments thread on my entry about migrating to Linux, you probably know that I'm still enamored with Damn Small Linux. I've stuck my foot in my mouth a couple of times at the project's forum, but it hasn't changed my feelings about the product. There are a couple of things that I'd do a little differently than what's happening on the main branch of development... but the project is wide open to post-delivery modifications and that puts the onus on me to build the extended version that I will use to install on my friend's and relatives' machines.
Last night I was totally drop-jawed at what I found waiting for me in the DSL OS. I had spent the morning reading one of the high numbered chapters in The Official Damn Small Linux Book and I learned that it was pretty easy to install a Web (Music) Server named Edna on DSL. It intrigued me because I didn't really know what this software could do, so I walked through the steps in the book and had the Edna Server up and running in about an hour. That's about ten times longer than it takes me to set it up now, but that was my first time. Edna is an MP3 server. You get it running and tell it where your MP3 files are and then it automatically builds web pages with links on them for all the folders, MP3s and album art that it finds. After that, you can sit in bed with your very sparse little laptop and listen to music that is coming from a different machine in your house without transferring a single file from one machine to another. Very, very, very slick!
To get Edna stocked up with music, I needed to find a way to transfer files to the Music Server machine. I remembered seeing a button on the DSL Control Panel labelled SSH Server. Lucky for me, one of my projects at work this autumn got me involved in the SSH technologies and I quickly figured out how to send the files from my Windows machine to my Linux machine using Secure Copy File (scp). This 50MB operating system comes out-of-the-box with an SSH server!!! That means that I can set up a headless server (no monitor, keyboard or mouse) somewhere in my basement and control it completely from anywhere on my network! That's perfect for my edna server, my web server, my video server, my file server etc etc etc.
Oh yeah... web server... DSL ships with one of these already installed too! All I had to do was click two buttons and it was up and running. Look for me on the internet soon... I'll be hosting some of my photograph collection from my own machine using dynamic DNS routing.
How does DSL interact with the rest of my Windows network? Very nicely, thank you. There's a Samba extension that works perfectly! Although, I'm going to head over to my Windows machine and do a little reformatting and clean up using my favorite text editor (Multi-Edit) when I'm finished... all of the text that I'm writing tonight is being entered from one of my laptops in the living room directly to a shared folder on my desktop XP machine.
I hope to give back to the community before too long by building an extension that makes it easier for computer new-comers to use Damn Small Linux and then I'll start installing it at friend's and family. I remember teaching a few casual users how to get around on a computer for the first time and it's always been painful to watch them struggle moving the mouse around and trying to remember where to launch programs... imho, DSL 3.4.x had a much better layout for newcomers and people in a hurry or in tight physical places... I'm going to take up the challenge of maintaining that same experience for the people I introduce to this marvelous project.
I have incredible respect for the work that Robert Shingledecker is doing with the project and incredible awe at John Andrew's for being audacious enough to buck the trend and come up with the idea of such a small package. Remember the adage about small packages!
So now, Yvette and I have matching ancient laptops and we're both surfing the web from bed! Ah!... what a life!
About a year ago, I found myself the owner of a large and varied collection of objects my uncle accumulated over the last few years. I immediately brought the three foot long chromed truck horn (KAHOOOOOOOOOOOGA) and the 70 year old Kerosene blow torch (PFFFFFFFFFFFFT) home with me. Stuff like that, you can't find it unless you're really, really lucky. My uncle told me the blow torch belonged to my grandfather and it's an immediate piece of my family's history - now in my safe -keeping; I feel honored by this. It's super odd to hold a tool that my grandfather used to build the world he prepared for me. Very, very touching.
I now also own a drill press and dozens of metal rasps and files. 3 ladders. 6 fishing tackle boxes. 2 pairs of boots two sizes too small for me and a fur coat that's seen better days (I wonder how my colleagues will react when I show up in that ?)
My uncle has left the country to live in Greece. He was living in my mother's house before he left... and the collection of stuff he gathered in the garage, he gave to me. It's a mixed blessing, of course. I'm glad to have a sturdy mixing pond for my concrete projects, but I have no idea what I'm going to do with the 800 square feet of assorted melamine I now own.
My mother's garage has been the catching place for so much stuff during my life, that this isn't an unnatural occurrence. We grew up without a car and the notion of a garage ranges between a great place to hang out with pals to a safekeep for large items some aunt or uncle needs to hide away for a while. After my cousin crumpled his mid-70's muscle-car on the Decarie Expressway, we had a beautiful orange Duster to play with for a few years. One of my best cars lives half its life in that garage now.
Amongst the treasure trove, there were 400 beautiful tin tops. I remember, my uncle took on an odd job a couple of years ago. One of many, many odd jobs... like my grand-dad, my uncle is a real entrepreneur in the true meaning of the word. So, my uncle was busy cleaning out some old lady 's garage... when he stumbled on a few thousand square feet of sheet metal, some well made dies for a hydraulic press... and these 400 colorful whistling spinning tops. If you know my uncle (or know me) you'd know this is a completely impossible thing for us to pass up. And that's how my mother found her garage suddenly filled up like Santa's workshop just exploded!
And, if you knew my uncle. you know that we heard stories for months and months... him cooking up the big ideas about how to sell off the boon! My uncle is a real good "idea man" but he's better at dreaming sometimes than getting the dreams rolling. But the stories he could tell you!... you'd pee yourself laughing before it was over.
Today. I managed to bring a half dozen dozen (that's a 1/2 gross in toy talk) tops to my office, I gave a few away to my friends and the whistling in the office could be heard every once in a while most of the day long. My uncle will be excited when he learns the news. I'll be bringing in more of the remaining 30 dozen and listing them on our company's buy'n'sell board at 2$ apiece. I think that they're going to make a lot of people smile.
I wonder if they'll get popular enough so that a couple of us might stamp out a new batch of them next summer with all that metal I own and those dies? These days, it's so hard to guess what fun lies ahead.
They look like they're a hundred years old and the "Made in Canada" stamp is a rare thing to see these days. How uber-cool, I've enjoyed a few of these already and am happy to share! I don't know why the packaging looks so old, I'm sure these were made by the old ladies husband in the last decade. I found a slip of paper in one of the cartons today with some of his notes on it. I hope she's doing alright whoever she is.
If you want me to save you a couple, let me know.
The whole world has changed again since I bought our last home printer a dozen years ago. My first shocking surprise was that the old 25-pin cable that I'd been using happily my entire computing life no longer has a place with modern equipment. My second shocker was that the retail price at the mainstream office supply store for the modern equivalent was 30$. My third shock (milder) was that neither the salespeople, nor the technical documentation clearly explained how to install the printer on my wireless network without using any cabling to get it set up.
I was ready for this challenge and enjoyed applying my limited knowledge of networking to figure out how to get the machine up and running. It was a good puzzle to figure out how to save the expense of an un-needed USB cable. In the end, the steps it takes to configure the printer from start to finish is about 15 or twenty minutes long... that includes the time it takes to install the printer on XP as well and print out a test page.
The key to accomplishing this is to buy a printer that is configured to join an ad-hoc wireless network right out of the box. If the device does this by default, then it's very easy to access it's configuration web page with your internet browser. Once there, you set its networking information (IP address, subnet mask and default gateway) to match your network's settings. Then you change its wireless settings to match your wireless network's settings and it's ready to use.
I brought home two economy printers before I made my final decision about which I'd keep. The choice we had locally was between a Lexmark Z1420 and a Hewlett-Packard DJ6980. Cosmetically, they're both very sleek and modern; the Lexmark trending to the Macintosh white box look, the HP to the same styling in smoky greys and blacks. Both very attractive machines. Functionally, the Lexmark uses top loading for paper, HP front loading. I used to prefer top loading, so I was biased at the beginning. The big differences between the two machines that made a difference to me were...
One thing that really bothered me about HP's package is that they guided me to install a 200MB suite of applications as the de facto installation for this printer. In fact, all that's needed is to select the autorun.inf driver installation file while setting the printer up as usual on a Windows computer. I'm not pessimistic by nature, but it does seem to me that HP should make it clear that it is *not necessary* to install their bundle of graphics software to be able to use their printer. Yes, after I understood how to set this up the lean way, I did find relative instructions on page 12 of the 17 page installation bookelt, but it still clearly misinforms at that step that the 200MB installation is necessary. Sure, this is their opportunity to create a wider user base for their software solutions, but they should be more polite about it and offer me the chance to decline. My system is overbloated as it is and I already have graphics tools that I prefer - I really don't want to try their product, even if it is free. Other than this sore point, I found the documentation, packaging and completeness of the delivered package to be of the highest quality (my hat goes off to HP for providing a standard ethernet cable in the box!)
So, even though it took me an extra hour to install and uninstall the suite of applications... and I couldn't set up my network reliably to use the RJ-45 to configure the printer... I'm very happy with the setup. The truth is, fidgeting with all the network settings and destroying my wireless setup in the process led to some new understanding about reserved subnet ranges for me. It also had me revisit my WiFi setup and brush up on the details there... a good experience.
Finally, if/when I have to do this again, these are the steps I will take:
Oh yeah... and that 30 dollar USB cable from the major office supply place... you can get it for 8$ at the neighborhood electronics store.
Damn fine Linux!
I started monkeying around with Sugar and XO a couple of weeks ago and I caught the Linux bug again. This happens to me every two years or so. It goes back to Mandrake 8 about a decade ago. My friend Ricky from work made me copies of that distribution and I tried unsuccessfully to become interested in the 'other' operating system. My last trot into the Linux camp was with Coyote Linux eighteen months ago... I enjoyed that, but it didn't end well as the computer caught fire one night... that has nothing to do with Linux, but it's a scary story and it is Hallowe'en! Coyote is really cool because the whole operating system fits on a single 3.5 inch floppy disk. I was using it as my dialup internet server and router before we got the wireless.
DSL is a full featured graphical operating system. It feels a lot like Windows 98. What's incredibly cool about it is that you can run it without a hard drive and it's only 50 MB and it's built to start up off of a CD or USB key and it's free!
So, what does this mean to you? Well... are you concerned about doing your internet banking or online shopping and having sensitive data left in your computer's memory somewhere? What if you booted up from the DSL liveCD and did your transactions and then shut the machine off? It runs without interacting with your hard drive, so there's nothing left anywhere when your done.
DSL comes with version 1 of the Firefox browser installed. This is a very modern web browser that you can launch with a single click. You can now visit all sorts of shifty websites and not worry that your hard drive is going to get loaded with Trojan Horses or nasty viruses.
I wish that DSL came loaded with the Macromedia Flash Player, and I'm going to figure out how to get it installed over time, but I certainly don't need it for either of the above tasks.
It's hard to believe that a fully functional 21st century OS can be packed into a 50MB file... and that it can be up and started within two minutes. I love all the toys I have installed on my Windows XP, but this package really has me tempted to convert. I'm having a lot of fun with it.
One benefit I'm enjoying with it is that I can start it up, monkey around with all sorts of stuff and then restart it fresh after I've destroyed it! :~) That's a dream come true for someone who likes to dig in and figure out the details. Also, it's small enough that it can run inside my Windows using Microsoft's Virtual PC application or VMWare's virtualization player. There's a DSL version that comes packaged with QEMU, the open source processor emulator as well... this one battles with my Norton Antivirus right now, so I can't recommend it until I've figured out how to stop that from happening.
The coolest thing I've accomplished with DSL so far has been to make it run the Windows program PuTTY using Wine... then, I used PuTTY to connect back to my Windows box using Telnet. So, one computer, two operating systems running at the same time, with the guest OS communicating to the host OS through the router... with the guest OS running an application that wasn't even made for it!
Click on the DSL logo above if you want to see what the stock DSL 3.4.4 desktop looks like. Damn Small Linux can be downloaded from here.
Spearheaded by Nicholas Negroponte, the One Laptop Per Child project is starting to tempt me. I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to take part in the upcoming public offering of "give 1 get 1"; in this initiative, 400$ US buys two of the miniature machines, one delivered to a child in another country, the other one to your home.
Technologically, it's a different caliber of portable than what we're used to. It's goal is much different from what we see coming from Dell and Toshiba. This machine is being built to handle the rough and tumble that a young kid can dish out while being lightweight, self-contained and easy to use. One of the things that sticks out is that it ships with an AC adaptor and at least one human-powered generator for keeping the batteries charged up... and a full charge on the batteries lasts about 20 hours!
I haven't read much about it yet, but know a few of the details. For instance, the machine does not have any spinning parts at all. Persistent storage is on Flash memory... there's a 1 gigabyte "hard-drive" for personal files. There is no fan... because there is no overheating hard drive. I also know that the screen, albeit small at 7-1/2 inches wide, supports 1200x900 resolution, spins and rotates on a central hinge and has a special black-and-white mode for high visibilty in high-sun conditions. The hinge allows the machine to be used as a fold-open, or as a tablet for gaming. The top section has game controller buttons! The machine is a full-time dedicated router so it can connect to any network right away.
I remember how much my world changed when I gained access to a serious computer. I'm taking it for granted now because it's there every single day of my life, but occasionally I'll sit with one of my pals and think back to how ignorant we felt in the old days. Back then it was impossible to research anything unless you lived next door to a library and had infinite time to scan all the books there. Maybe it's time that I helped out?
The way I see it right now, if I don't find myself enjoying the machine that gets delivered to my house, I'll find a way to send it back to the project and have it moved on to another kid. Or, I can see how my niece uses it and decide whether or not to use it to help her along. I haven't decided to go for this yet, but I'm very, very tempted. I think my biggest hurdle is that I can't take a machine with only 1 gigabyte storage seriously for my own pursuits... but that's not what this is all about, is it?
If you want to get involved, you can donate a machine at any time at www.laptop.org. Or, if you want to get one home as well, the "give 1 get 1" starts on November 12th. Prior to that, you can download and play with an emulation of the uniquely designed OS and GUI named Sugar. That'll be my next step. Maybe this will turn the tide and get me involved with Linux a little more than I've managed to do on my own so far... I am SO spoiled with Windows, it's not even funny!
Why is naming things so unbelievably difficult? You'd think it would be a whole lot of fun to have the creative license to give something you invented a really cool name!... but it's a lot more complicated than just picking any sound that tickles you and using it. If you want others to like your creation, it has to have some zing to it.
I've been working on a small utility program that takes a whole lot of grunt work out of my day-to-day life at the office. This program performs a half-dozen tedious chores for me and replaces a humongous, ill-behaved program that the company relies on for sharing common files. I love my little project and I want it to have a name that makes it shine! So I started by calling it the most geeky thing that came to mind: SQLUtils... blecchhhhhh... from day one I felt like throwing up over the ugliness of that! But it's taken me two months and fourteen alternatives to come up with a name that might stick: QuickSilver
On my way down the naming path, some of the names that were almost used were: Squirrel, Squall, squareP, Carbon, Mercury, K26, 9 and Sue. I wonder if I've made my final decision?
I had the same trouble coming up with a good name ten years ago when I wrote my first commercial offering. It was a DOS based, menu-driven program for drawing maps of guitar fingerings. You would choose a key, a chord mode (now what's the real word for that?) and ask it to map out all the touch points on the illustrated guitar neck. It worked nicely, but was born before the internet and I never sold a single copy of it. I tried to find the perfect name for it too... back in the days when DOS only allowed for eight letters in a file name... and I came up with: FretX. That's short for "Fret Examiner". Long before the X-Files... but has the letter X ever not been popular?
I wonder if the people who dream up the names for the colors of paint and lipstick have it as hard as we programmers do?
A name is a powerful thing. I sense that even more so as I struggle to come up with Category names for this journal. I can tell that the choices I make for categorizing my little essays and entries is going to have a strong bearing on helping me focus my attention to what it is I want to record on this site. Let's see where that goes in the next little while.
I've spent most of the summer collecting ideas for my journal and have gotten stuck because I want some of the entries to be more polished than I usually achieve. That's also another way of saying that I've been avoiding my site because of writer's block!
You've possibly noticed that I haven't posted anything new since we were involved in the filming of the Get Smart movie in June... very, very sorry! That's not to say that I don't have material for that time period... it's just that the more elaborate entries have created a dam to the rest.
I'm starting to open up the flood-gates now. I've finished up a couple of the older entries already and will start putting them up with current content from now on. What you'll notice over the next few weeks is a mix of content that is current and content that goes back into the past. Pay attention to the date stamps top-right on each entry if you don't want to get confused about chronology. As time passes, I will shuffle the entries from the past into their correct place on the site, but for now, they will be presented as new topics until they stop receiving comments or fall far enough down the page to deserve getting sorted out properly.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for having encouraged me to continue with this project! Your comments have helped me see different perspectives, have entertained, enlightened and accompanied me, have helped me keep touch with you over the distance and time between our visits with each other. Please continue commenting... I love the company!
With my warmest regards (and hugs),
I finally found the courage (driven by the mother of invention and a taste for adventure this morning) to do something practical with the MIG welder I bought last year. It wasn't a big job, but it was plenty enough challenge for my first time going solo!
I had to try four time before I succeeded to fuse steel with steel in a blazing fury of molten lava and electrical sparks! The first three attempts were all at low to middle power because I didn't know if my outlet, wiring and circuit-breaker could handle the load from the welding machine. I turned the power up each time I tried to melt the pieces together and the house wiring was completely fine. The breaker never tripped, the wiring never got hot and the lights never dimmed in the house... phewwww!
Now that I know I can... I expect that the welder is going to get used a lot more often. Did I ever list my welding projects?! Egad, but I've been drifting off and this journal has been neglected!
My thanks go out to friend K.D. who helped me out last year by giving me my first welding lessons... I was thinking of you the whole time buddy! I remember everything you showed me (I think).
I saw the coolest thing while doing this work. After each of my first three unsuccessful attempts, I had to grind off all the slag and junky buildup so I could restart on a fresh attempt. The parts I was working with are real small, so I lay the grinder down on the grass and while it was spinning, I rubbed each piece over the wire wheel to clean it up. While doing this, a beautiful earthworm came up out of the ground and dove back in six inches away. His body was sleek and he moved quickly... what an incredibly cool sight!