The xp repair install failed to blue screen of death.  I started it over in the evening and it worked BUT the install failed to properly set up either my wireless card or my ethernet card, so as of 8pm this evening, I had an non-updated windows box that couldn’t see the internet.  I gave up for the night and will return on Monday to try again.

Finally, something goes right

I didn’t fix the floppy drive, but I finally got my computer to see my hard drive and am ‘repairing’ WinXP now.  The munchkin is about to awake, so I’ll have to take a break until this evening.  At least I’m ending on a positive note.

and it piles on

Apparently sometime in the past WHO KNOWS HOW LONG my floppy drive broke.  So now I have to fix that before I can download the driver for the hard drive before I can reinstall windows.

Gorram Dell

Ugh.  Going round and round with help files online and with xp install disc.  Apparently the hard drive on my POS computer needs its own special driver installed from FLOPPY disc at just the right moment or Windows XP won’t recognize it.  DAMMIT.  I haven’t even begun the reinstall and it’s 2.30 already.

The cowardly way out

So I’ve decided to try and save the patient rather than reinstall.  Here are my reasons, and my new method:

Reason: Laziness — I don’t look forward to having to reinstall all the apps I like to use.  I am going to uninstall the ones I don’t instead.

Ubuntu partition: I’ve learned that Ubuntu can partition a space for itself on an existing Windows install.  Thus, I can add linux without the reinstall nightmare.

Windows Repair: I’ve also learned that XP has a “repair install” mode that reinstalls the xp files without formatting the hard drive.  Supposedly you don’t lose any data.  I’m going to give that a try rather than do a full bore install.  It might be a waste of time, but the time saved in downloading Guild Wars updates all over again will be worth it by itself.

One more backup

While I backed up all my important data to a portable hard drive I borrowed from school, I still have a case of the willies, so I’m doing a burn-to-DVD of my recent data. It will take two discs, as the photos I’ve taken in the last year (since I did a burn-to-DVD backup) take up a full DVD by themselves.

The great summer reinstall begins

Today, I’m formatting the hard drive on my home pc and reinstalling everything. I got the computer in August 2004 and the install has gotten pretty moldy. Here’s my task list:

  • Make a list of all the software I use regularly and make sure I have access to it. (Check)
  • Back up important hard drive data (Check)
  • Gather together discs for install (Check)
  • Begin the liveblog reinstall postathon
  • Download Ubuntu install package and burn to disc.
  • Format hard drive (YIKES!)
  • Install Ubuntu and leave a meaty partition for windows xp
  • Install Windows XP in the other partition
  • Install a bunch of software
  • Wrestle with the inevitable problems that will emerge

Updates to come.

Murder at Midnight

Another classic murder mystery.  This time, it’s a country-manor murder whose solution seems likely to come from the criminologist who happens to be among the guests.

Lawyer: He gave me the new will and a sealed letter.
Police detective: Letter? What did this letter say?
Lawyer: I don’t know.
Police detective: What do you mean you don’t know? He gives you a letter and you don’t know what’s in it?
Lawyer: It was sealed…

Cops in these movies always show a brilliant bone-headedness.

Worth my thirty-eight cents:
The butler, a ringer for Richard O’Brien, skulks past a portly policeman munching peanuts in the hallway. Peanut shells litter the floor and the officer’s belly. The butler returns with a crystal punch bowl and sets it on the table next to the police officer. The officer says, “Thanks, D!” and promptly drops his handful of nuts into the bowl. He then digs into his pockets and puts two or three more handfuls into the bowl. Finally, he takes a nut from the bowl, cracks it, tosses back the peanut, and drops the shells on the floor. The butler leaves in silence.

The butler  The butler from RHPS
On the left, Brandon Hurst from Murder at Midnight, on the right, Richard O’Brien, best known for being the creepy butler in Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Adventures of Guy Noir

I just finished listening to a compillation of 12 Guy Noir segments from Prairie Home Companion.  Enjoyable? Yes.  Funny? In a dry way. Garrison Keillor’s take on William Gibson’s opening line.  First, the latter:

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

And then the former…

It was one of those winter days when the sky looks like fresh poured concrete and there’s a sort of grey scrim over the city like we’re in some sort of flashback.

Every Guy Noir segment starts pretty much this way, with a funny description of what kind of day it was.  Obviously, both these texts are playing on the hardboiled genre.  As I start my big detective project I’ll have to keep in mind these little memes that pepper such texts.  The character of the books comes as much from them as from the story arcs or the narrative concerns.

On a related note, if you haven’t read Jonathan Lethem’s Gun with Occasional Music, it’s worth a look.  The book is a science-fiction hardboiled detective novel spun from a line in the Maltese Falcon.  Hammett describes one of the thugs by saying he “stands out like a kangaroo in a dinner jacket.”  Lethem uses this line to imagine a world of enhanced-intelligence animals who work as everything from service-industry wage slaves to mafioso toughs.  The main character, as you can guess, encounters a kangaroo in a dinner jacket at one point.

Don’t Think Twice

How many different versions of the same song do you have?

Don't Think Twice
I have four versions of this Dylan song. Five if you count both recordings (from different albums) of Jack Elliott’s version. I don’t count those as separate, though.

Seven Random Things Meme

I’ve been tagged.

  1. When I pick “favorite things” lists, I avoid things that are too popular to avoid seeming uncool.  When you make a list of your favorite old rock songs, the Forrest Gump soundtrack is a good guide of things to leave off.
  2. I like Macaroni and Cheese more than an adult man should.
  3. Like Roger, I too have a passing fear of deep water.  Mine stems from a fear of sharks coming up to eat me.  I distinctly remember floating in a lake, waiting to be picked up after I fell off my water skis, and rationalizing that there was nothing to fear from sharks below me even as my gut clenched in terror of what lurked below.
  4. Black AdderMy handle in online games is DrWombat.  Because Wombats own.  My current avatar on my counter-strike clan’s forum is to the right.  If you don’t know what it is, you make me sad.
  5. My tastes often put me in a demographic 30 years my senior.  Examples: Neil Diamond, Murder, She Wrote, Leo Kottke, PBS’ Mystery!

  6. In college, I was so enamored of M*A*S*H (the Altman film, not the TV show) that I worked Hawkeye’s distinctive whistle into my vocabulary.  I’m currently working on “Fooey!” from Nero Wolfe.
  7. I wish I were a better photographer.

If you’re reading this and you blog and you found it somewhat amusing and you feel like it, consider yourself tagged.

C&W photos

Geoff Sirc's Keynote talk

I just uploaded a whole boatload of pics to Flickr. Enjoy.

Update: It looks like a few other folks also used cw2007 as their tag for C&W photos.

A little Tom Waits to make your day

From “Missing My Son”

…How, how is that possible? I’ve only got a little tuna fish and, uh, some skim milk and, uh, mustard and, uh, loaf of bread…

TW has a sandwhich in his future.

City of Falling Angels

Bit from the cover of City of Falling Angelsby John Berendt

1. The criticism about this book was that it didn’t hold up to comparison with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. While I agree, I think City of Falling Angels has its own charm. I enjoy Berendt’s meaty descriptions and skillful method for telling stories. In particular, he’s very good at telling both sides of dramatic events, often shaping his tale to make the reader oscillate between one side and another. For example, his story of the death of a popular Venician poet involved strongarm tactics, shady publishers, shady maybe-hustlers, and a hanging-or-murder. At the beginning I found myself, duped by Berendt’s careful style, siding wholeheartedly with one man, a much-harrangued friend of the deceased poet. As the story emerges, however, we come to wonder about his motives, and the character of the poet twists and turns. By the end, we side with the friendly grocer, hardly remembering the accusations of hustling and blackmail slung earlier in the story.

It would be worth photocopying a chapter or two of this book for a course in creative non-fiction. Berendt is a master of real-life characters and their stories.

2. As I listened, I couldn’t help but imagine John Cusak roaming the streets of Venice, not this guy:


On the other hand, I guess Cusak wasn’t terrible casting 10 years ago when Midnight was written:

berendt 1994 cusak
And I just noticed, Berendt is wearing an open-collar white shirt in both photos. I think it’s the same shirt.

3. Second audiobook in a row to mention oak park:

Berendt on Oak Park

Listened to in audiobook form.

I shouldn’t even be doing this

by Bob Newhart

I thoroughly enjoyed this performance (not really an audiobook since there was no book to begin with). It’s a clever memoir that was extremely fun to listen to. Newhart’s distinctive cadence and pacing works very well here.

When I moved to the Chicago area, I moved to Oak Park, a village immediately to the west of the city. When Jenny and I bought our house two years later, we bought in Forest Park, one suburb further out. Strangely enough, Oak Park gets mentioned all the time. Here’s Bob’s take on it:

Bob Newhart on Oak Park

Pretty funny.