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Monthly Archives: February 2009

Yesterday I was talking to Blake, a fellow of my acquaintance, who had an idea for a new sort of poetry. The idea was to render your idea in under 160 characters. Not words, characters. Thus the piece can be transmitted by SMS. Some SMS systems are limited to fewer than 160 characters, so brevity is essential.

Since creativity is best induced by limitation–think of the wonders that early programmers accomplished in under 640 kilobytes of data, or of the manifold wonders found in haiku’s strictures–this seems an interesting way to convey ideas. Of course, the strict character limitation means that horrid compromises in expression get made–u instead of you, 2 instead of to, your own adventures in texting can provide more ick I’m sure. Nonetheless, here is my first attempt at this. I counted it as 127 characters using a short Applescript counter.

Lonely. Hungry.
Touch, taste, to sample and be sampled too.
Lick, kiss, caress, satiate, slake mutual endless hunger thirst.

To paraphrase Hitchens, this might rate a footnote in the annals of meh, but I’ve been suffering a little tactile hunger of late, and this provides a nice convergence of ideas. Not to mention the parade of luscious female form that’s passed my wan, lonesome eye today alone, let alone the past several days…

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I sit here in the parking lot
awaiting the connection.
Hungry for embrace,
Jonesing for your kiss,
Is the need that obvious?

No joy today,
I should simply get up
And go away.
I’ve got things to do
And so do you.
But the need is such,
To hold you, so much,
That every passing car I see
I wish would bring you to me.

Still at the gas station near the open connection. I just filled the tank and noticed some things.

One, a lot of people here on the slow side. Now I am not, how you say, quick myself, especially after two nights on beds of various comfort. But I refuse to let my jaw sit slack no matter what state I find myself in.

These people around 44th St & McDowell suffer under no such illusions, apparently. Best part was the big-haired donna with the white Mustang smoking a butt while I pumped gas nearby and well within her sight. She drove off with her gas cap open too.

As I tappity-tap this, I am not sure which symbolizes the state of things here best: The slack-jawed slouching for their 10 AM beer or the dumb bitch smoking a butt at the gas station.

I’m banking it’s the dummy watching all this and bemusedly tapping it all onto his precious little iPod Touch.

Someone had an open link so I figured I’d come on. I’ll post pix from Motel 6 and Papago Park later…

This camera does not do ths sunrise justice...

This camera does not do this sunrise justice...

The sunrise this morning was gorgeous against the mountainside, making the sharper contours glisten goldenly and subduing the lesser lines in turn.

In the absence of a specific “valentine” with whom to exchange simple paper platitudes, I send this out to the non-specific other half of this equation.

You. Yes, you. The yin to my yang. Good ol’ duality.

I need you because without you there is no me. I am diffuse, non-specific, without your delineation. I am chaos without your order, and yet only free within your structure.

And you too need me to be free, as I need you to be whole, one soul.

We are the way, the truth and the light, but only together can this be the case.

Do you understand? This is my valentine to you.

As I said in my last entry, Macintoshes are more than mere personal computers. Fifteen years ago, I believed this as a matter of course. I was a rabid fan of Macs, mainly because I was unimpressed by PCs. I started working with computers back in 1980, when Mom would bring a computer home to play with/learn on over the weekends. One of these, incidentally, was one of the original Compaqs, which were early “portable” computers similar to the old Osbornes but bigger–about the size of an inconvenient briefcase, and about 40 pounds, as I recall.

Anyway, other than forays into BASIC on various TRS-80s, I didn’t do much with computers. They didn’t click with me, though the early work with BASIC would pay me huge dividends career-wise later on. I mean HUGE.

In the interim, there was the rest of my days. I went to a couple of computer shows with Dad back in 1982 and 1983, and saw the Apple Lisa, the Macintosh’s immediate predecessor which was targeted toward corporations. I will admit that at the time I was so inured with the command line concept, it was so soaked into me, that I thought the Lisa interface was interesting, but I just didn’t get it. From a computer standpoint, it didn’t have a command line, so I couldn’t see how you could talk to it. How to program it.

Of course, this was an early example of that hackneyed expression paradigm shift. Fans of the dot-com era will remember that one fondly. At the last Macworld I went to, back in 1996, that term was flying around thick and fast. By then I was a true believer in the Mac. Windows was a hopeless rip-off of what Apple did first and so much better, and Bill Gates was a filthy thief.

Now while I still believe the latter notion, that Gates is a filthy thief, I know now that the former idea was nonsense. Apple and Microsoft both took their interface cues from Xerox, such is the stuff of history. But again, I was a true believer because everything I ever asked from the various Macs I owned and worked with at that point, they could do. Pink cloud here.

Anyway, let me introduce you to some of my old girlfriends.

Sheena 2, circa 1999. Complete with awesome trackball, 2x CD-ROM drive with cartridge feed and ZIP drive.

Sheena 2, circa 1999. Complete with awesome trackball, 2x CD-ROM drive with cartridge feed and ZIP drive.

Sheena 2 started life as a Macintosh SE. The first Sheena was a computer I used where I worked at the time. When I had the chance to buy a Mac of my own, it seemed logical to go after something like what I worked with. The original machine was purchased for $400 from a kid at Harvard. By the time this picture was taken, the only piece left of that old machine was the back plastic shell. I’d upgraded it to the vastly superior SE/30 first, given it 32 MB RAM (the maximum it could hold, if I recall correctly, though you had to install a piece of software to make it read all that RAM), then upgraded it to a faster processor and a grayscale adapter so it could show 256 shades of gray on that little screen. This was ostensibly so that, if necessary, I could assemble the Seacoast Times on this machine if the main production machine died (which it nearly did thanks to the fool who did layout for the paper before I got there). To fit all that equipment in that little box took some doing, and if I’d thought about it I would have photographed the process. It was not supposed to work. But it did. I had to throw in some tape and jury-rig things, but damn if it didn’t work!

I had a case for this beast and lugged it to and from Antrim, NH and Hampton, NH, every weekend for the time I was editor of Seacoast Times. After I was canned along with the rest of the staff, I used this old girl to get my resume together and to get on the internet for the first time via AOL 2.0.

A beauty shot of an unpretty computer. Read on to get an idea of our time together...

A beauty shot of an unpretty computer. Read on to get an idea of our time together...

Later, November, 1995, came the machine that tested my faith in the Macintosh. It was called Marlena, and was my first laptop, a Powerbook 5300cs. Look this computer up on the internet and you will read how it was and is still considered one of the worst models Apple produced. I can attest to every piece of this. The screen was an awful passive-matrix (the top-end model had an active matrix screen that would be considered somewhat acceptable now, this one did not), its chipset had no level 2 cache, meaning that it was going to be slow no matter how much RAM you had, and no matter how well the OS was written, which was another problem. Plus, the plastics that make up the case just simply broke after less than a year of  normal use. When this picture was taken the hinges and the plastics around it were all broken, making the screen hard to open. Hinges were a problem on a lot of Apple laptop models until the Powerbook G3 Pismo came out years later.

In spite of all this, this computer and I did a lot of travelling together. I hauled this computer down to Washington, DC, to use with my digital camera (upgraded to a color camera by this time) because the camera could only hold 16 little pictures and thus needed to be emptied out a lot. I created my old website on this computer, I remember working on the index page sitting in my hotel room when Modern Age Books moved to Massachusetts from Vermont in 1996. I also used this to test Connectix Virtual PC 1.0 and 2.0 to try to have a Windows presence alongside my Mac.

Out of necessity, I had to constantly open this machine to repair and replace parts. At the end, I combined the parts of two Powerbook 5300s together to make Marlena continue to work. I also upgraded the screen to a superior active-matrix screen near the end of its life. I was trying to get the machine into some workable condition to sell it, though I never did.

There was a last straw with this machine in February, 1999, when I brought this out to Arizona from Massachusetts for my grandmother’s 80th birthday. No matter what I did, how I tried, this computer would not boot up. Essentially I brought a brick with me that didn’t work well until I had it back home where my tools were.

Like Sheena, I could do so much with this that I couldn't with any PC. It restored my faith in Apple.

Serenity. Like Sheena, I could do so much with this that I couldn't with any PC. It restored my faith in Apple.

…And then there was Serenity, a much better Macintosh. Serenity’s original name was Victoria, and was a Powerbook G3 Wallstreet model. I was in a position to buy a new computer in 1999, and was going to buy a Gateway PC, since I was using PCs most of the time at work. I decided that, since I could afford a Macintosh, I would buy a new Powerbook. The G3s were big, pretty and were getting great reviews.

My first foray into MP3s was with this computer, right after I bought it, that was its main job. I also used it to edit video and watch DVDs (using the DVD kit that you had to buy separately). I nicknamed it the “World’s Biggest Rio” because I used to hook it into the tape deck of my truck to listen to music on road trips.

As I said, this was originally named Victoria until I got it signed by the adult film star Serenity. When I’d asked her to sign it, she was confused at first, but signed it beautifully, as you can see from the picture.

By April, 2002, I needed a PC much more for work, and needed a Mac less and less. I had more Windows software at that point than Mac, and needed access to Visual Studio for programming. So Serenity was supplanted by Houston, a Dell Inspiron 8200. As with Serenity, I’d gotten the computer autographed, this time by the adult star Houston.

I took Houston cross-country many times, almost had it stolen in Vegas, rebuilt its plastics (same hinge problems seen in the Apples), burned through three hard drives losing hours of video and MP3s, and went head-to-head with the worst tech support in the industry, that of Dell. THE WORST.

And for as much time as we spent together, me and that computer, I have no pictures of it. No fond memories of that computer, though I had it for over five years.

Fast-forward to September, 2007. For so many reasons, I was ready for a new computer. I was never getting a Dell again, and never ever will. My short list included Toshiba and IBM for different reasons. IBM/Lenovo computers had great tech support and are really well-put together. At least the IBMs were, I can’t speak for Lenovo except that they were the actual company building the ThinkPads for IBM, so I knew what they were capable of building.

Marlena. In fifteen years of Mac use, I've never fallen in love with a computer till I saw this one.

Marlena. In fifteen years of Mac use, I've never fallen in love with a computer till I saw this one.

Then I saw the black MacBook. So tiny, so well put together. So slick! And black, which to me is the best color for a laptop. All of my laptops have been black.

This MacBook has been the easiest computer for me to work with. I’ve had it for a year and a half so far and it’s just been amazing. I was able to do the setup on it in ten minutes sitting at Beyond Bread using its free wireless.

This MacBook does everything I hoped the Inspiron could do, only this machine does it effortlessly. All the video editing I want to do I can do here. All the internet, all the wireless roaming, and all in a little light-weight package. And, I can run Windows on it. Effortlessly.

In giving this computer a name, I gave it Marlena. I love that name, and it’s a way to connect back to that troubled old 5300 I loved in spite of the pain it put me through.

So if you’ve made it to the end of this screed, I applaud you. I am no longer a computer freak. I’ve built many computers for work and personal use, repaired and rebuilt many laptops as well, both for work and for myself. I love looking at computers and technology but have absolutely no desire anymore to build the perfect beast. This MacBook does what I want it to, and makes it effortless. In the fullness of time it will likely be replaced, but I don’t foresee that anytime soon.

I am no longer a true believer in Macintoshes, having replaced childish things, but Apple makes good computers and hopefully they’ll continue to do so, as they’ve always set the bar for computers and technology.

And so goodnight.

Today I took a trip up to the Apple Store. Not the first time I’ve journeyed into this rarefied realm of the overly pretty and slightly gay, where Federal Reserve notes are looked at askance, as are their bearers. The people there are not geeks–oh no, I’d know a geek most anywhere. These are young, neat, pretty people who wouldn’t know sudo from a resource fork (hint: one is part of the UNIX core of the Mac OS and the other is a piece of history as far as Macs go), and as such are not those I would trust. Sorry, but that’s how it is.

I picked up a skin for my iPod Touch (which is truly dope in every positive and addictive sense of the word), as well as a new set of headphones–clip-ons in this case. That is the closest compromise I can make between the earbuds that come with all iPods, which actually make my ears hurt, and the folding headphones I was using for the last nine months. Those were nice but bulky as hell–inexcusably bulky.

I also picked up a car adapter for this beast because for all its awesomeness it eats battery power with a dash of salt and garnish. Not as bad as my old Nano, mind you, but then this Touch is a lot more like a PDA than a mere MP3 player, so much more is demanded of it.

Anyway, the sales guy, trying to be helpful, noticed the adapter and pointed out a slightly more expensive but more comprehensive adapter that plugged into the iPod’s socket instead of the headphone jack, thus giving better sound.

While this sounded like a great product, I told the guy that I couldn’t use it because my tape deck doesn’t have the all-important line-in jack that would make such a contraption worthwhile. Thus, I use a cassette adapter for the sound end.

I am not sure which part of that contributed to the blank expression on his face, but the combination of non-comprehension, disdain and askance in his expression says rather succinctly why I dislike the Apple Store, though I dearly love Macintoshes of all ages and sizes. Sometime I might actually write some entries about my Macs. Unlike PCs, Macs are more personal, more individual. As such, each one has a story–even if it’s a couple paragraphs.

Well, it being the weekend, I might actually do this. Hmmm…

and I’m not completely sure what happened. Not enough juice to Stupid the modem, something.

Anyway, I’m tapping this out on the iPod Touch. This rocks, tho the keyboard is bloody teeny.

Love to all…

file0003It’s a rainy-ass day. I ust got out of work early a couple hours ago (YAY), and came up here to Javalina’s because our internet connection is down. Fucking Cox. Assholes.

Anyway, I uploaded a pic of the windows next to me to see how that all works here…

I came into town this morning with a pile of old books and CDs to trade at Bookman’s. Love this place…

As I walked in, I heard the sound of hand drums. Sure enough, there ‘s some guy looking intently off in one direction while he tapped his hand on the skin of the drum. Like he’s joining a drum ensemble or planning to confer with the gods with this $10 trinket. Then he puts that down and begins tapping a pair of claves together.

Fucking asshole. I looked at one of the guys behind the counter and said, “He’s lucky I’m not hung over. Have to hammer those someplace painful.”

We really are a species of self-centered asses.