Chattering Magpie Past Web Log
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April 2003
Apr 29 2003
Banging my head against the wall.
Today was a complete waste of time, effort and energy. I spent the entire day reformatting and reconstructing my hard drive. Windows is so weird. The install is slightly different each time. How many times do I have to point to a file for Windows to recognize it's there?

Why a waste? Because the problem I was so desperately hoping would be solved isn't. The computer still hangs mysteriously at random times. Or maybe not so random. Disk read-writes seem to be popular, especially if it interrupts an install. Wippee.

We may have to give up and buy a new computer. I hate the idea that I might spend $1000 on a new computer when all I needed to do was replace a $2 cable. I have no freakin' idea what is going on. Can anyone recommend a good diagnostic computer tech? I have leaned on my friend Bill far too many times already.

Apr 28 2003
Taking the plunge.
Facts may be facts, but I can't figure it out. My computer is still doing the weird plunge into limbo. It's unpredictable, so I can't track down the cause. My only recourse is to reformat the hard drive and start over, fingers crossed. I've got all my software on CDs and backups of all my files on CD. It's a bit scary but I've done this before with success. My hope is that a) if it's a bad sector, reformatting will isolate it or b) if it's a software conflict it will magically go away. I rely a lot on magic when it comes to computers.

Apr 27 2003
What's new, pussycat?
MoseNow there's an award-winning face. E and I caught the tail end of the cat show this afternoon. So many cute kitties and they don't let you pet them. *Sigh*. I still think my Mose could be a first prize kitty, at least in the house pet division. She's got nice confirmation. But I don't think she'd much appreciate manhandling at the hands of the judges.

The most sociable cats at the cat show were the Siamese. They're all modern Siamese, of the sort that look like Disney cartoons from Lady and the Tramp. One look and they meow at you. Meow at them and they meow back.

One lady we talked to had a pet quality, not show quality, Japanese bob-tail kitten she would sell for $400. The kitten looked a half bubble off plumb, if you ask me. I don't see much point in paying money for cats. They're all pretty much the same size and they do pretty much the same thing, unlike dogs, which come in a wide variety of sizes and have specialized behaviors by breed.

Apr 24 2003
Or not.
spring tulipsThe transition to Movable Type won't be happening anytime soon. JByte, who thinks MT is greatest thing since sliced bread, and I both tried installing and configuring several times and came up with the same Internal Server Error when MT tried to build index pages. So I'm back to the good ol' manual method of updates. MT just automates the process.

Why did I want MT in the first place? It's not like it's that hard to do manual updates. But archiving is automatic and people (that's you, people) can leave comments. Plus I could update from any computer. Actually I could before, but I would have to ftp into my account and download this page, make changes and reupload. Then remember when I got home that the server file was newer than my hard drive file.

So ... what's been happening? Pretty tulips and endymion in bloom. I got a cushy new office chair for about 3/4 of what I spent on my original not-as-cushy-and-armless chair twenty years ago. I won an eBay auction and am now the proud owner of a brand new, virgin, untouched Pantone color guide. Oh gosh it is gorgeous. So shiny and clean. All those beautiful colors. I went back to kung fu training, including sparring class last Saturday. It was soooo FUN!! I had a blast. It feels so good to be back in training. My orthopedist said he thought it was a great idea, both for mental health and physical health. I finally posted all the photos from the last kung fu test. CHECK THIS OUT. Yeah, that's what it's all about, baby!

my new office chairApr 19 2003
Hiatus.
There won't be any updates to the weblog for a little while, as I transition to a Movable Type powered blog. I managed to successfully install Movable Type, but now I have to figure out how to customize it so it looks like the rest of Chattering Magpie.

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my nice new office chair. I got it at a garage sale for a company going out of business. It is cushy on my tushy.

Apr 15 2003
My bright idea.
Now I'm pretty certain that datamining cookies are not causing my computer to have convulsions. I've kept a tight rein on cookies and am sure that there are no nasty little crumbs in my cookie jar. Still the hanging behavior continues.

I'm thinking maybe there's something wrong with the video card. Or the driver. At least something is affecting the display. If it weren't, the display would just freeze, not go black. I think. I'm going to try reinstalling the video card driver. Can't hurt.

The train has left the station. I just heard on NPR that Eva Narcissus Boyd, better known as Little Eva, the artist who invented the dance and recorded the song The Locomotion, died last Thursday. I spent numerous happy afternoons in my early teens dancing The Locomotion with my girlfriends in our living rooms.

Apr 13 2003
I've fallen and I can't get up.
The sad realities of aging: loss of memory, inability to partake in previously enjoyed activities, slower recovery from injuries. I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about my computer.

The latest palpitation-inducing behavior my computer has exhibited has been to irrevocably hang. For no reason I can discern, the screen goes black and the hard drive seems to be stuck reading ... something. The red disk activity light stays on. The computer doesn't respond to CTRL + ALT + DEL. I have to resort to the drastic step of flipping the power switch off and on. I worry about what that could be doing to my hard drive. I've already had one hard drive permanently fail due to repeated hard restarts.

This system hang seems to happen most frequently after surfing the 'net. I suspect data mining cookies. I've ramped up cookie protection to require manual acceptance. I hope this solves the problem, but data miners didn't cause this to happen before, so I don't know. Fingers are crossed.

Apr 11 2003
Anarqi.
It's all over but the looting.

Now comes the truly difficult work of reconstituting government in Iraq. If there's anything left of infrastructure after the Iraqis get through blowing off steam.

Government bashing, presidential worship aside, is popular entertainment in America. But it is our governmental institutions, limited in power by the Constitution, that make our way of life possible. Government at different levels provides much of the base infrastructure that we take for granted: fire and police services, national highway system, delivery of electricity and water, a regulated banking system, oversight for food and drug production, an independent judiciary ... I could go on (but I have to go to work some time this morning).

There's so much more to "democracy" as we understand it than voting. Setting up/imposing a democratic system of government on another country is a daunting task. It seems so easy to us, but we have had 200+ years to hone our mad democracy skilz. We have had our share of corruption in the past, but we also have a useful mythology. We have the ideal of democracy toward which to strive. We can't just slap our system smack on top of another country and expect it to work. Each country has to develop its own democratic institutions, resolving its own growing pains, in order to be effective.

Apr 10 2003
The end, the beginning, the continuation.
As expected, U.S. and British forces have defeated Iraqi forces.

Side note: a pox on those pundits and wags who question military strategy when they are not treated to victory upon victory. War is a messy business. Combatants and civilians alike get killed. That's why war is generally considered a bad thing.

I have had mixed feelings about this military action. The Middle East and Iraq will almost certainly be better off without Saddam Hussein, who is more along the lines of an Idi Amin than a Hitler or Stalin. Our politicians are far to ready to throw around the Hitler label. And yet I strongly feel that U.S. military action should be used only in defense of our nation and our allies against a direct attack, not an implied or obscure perceived threat. Yes, we do wait until we're attacked. We don't start fights, we finish them.

What are the implications of this action? The world has been put on notice that the U.S. will find reasons to invade any country it deems a threat to ... what? World peace? Regional peace? Safety and well-being of its own citizens? U.S. corporate interests? Do we really want to take on the job of protecting all the world's citizens from the brutalities of all the world's dictators?

Apr 7 2003
O where has all the time gone.
Sorry for the paucity of updates of late. I have been busy busy busy working. Not a real full-time job yet, but I've been freelancing, assisting on a complex web site redesign project. Mountains of data to be sifted through and put into order. Plus I've picked up a web site redesign job to work on in the evenings.

Right now I'm too tired even to rant about the war. Oh wait, Congress didn't declare war? What's a constitution for?

Apr 2 2003
April is the ficklest month.
A few days ago the weather was shorts and t-shirt warm. Today, thunder and hail.

E has been diligently preparing our taxes. I'm not looking forward to this. I have to pay taxes on all my freelance work from last year and I didn't file quarterlies. I have to get on the IRS web site and educate myself about my responsibilities. I'm particuarly concerned about paying my self-employment tax, as well.