Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

LB2TR ... another task down

Wa Hoo! I got another thing solved on LB2TR. This one is laughably simple, so of course it took me weeks. I've been unable to get LB2TR to access my Windows PC on the home network. I tried and tried, which for me consisted of hitting the button to connect, watching it not work, then hitting it again. Yesterday when I was talking with my bro, who is much wiser about these things, I realized it could be the firewall blocking the connection. So today I turned off the firewall for 5 minutes on the Windows PC and BAM, there was the network. I moved some music files over that I had missed in my first transfer, then decided to configure the Firewall to recognize LB2TR as a friend. With the help of a simple ifconfig command in Linux I got my local IP address and then went to Norton firewall and made a rule allowing connections with that address. And the weirdest thing happened. It worked! I feel like such a grown up.

Now I'm off to play Harry Potter Clue with my daughters. I feel like such a child :o)

Swimming weirdness

Can you tell I'm on a swimming kick?

Ok, so I've been struggling to get my laps up in the swimming. I figure I'll do, what, half a mile or a bit more in 30 minutes? I can swim half a mile, but not without stopping. I swim a few laps, stop for breath for 30 seconds, swim a few more, and so on. But that's going to be embarrassing when I'm doing this indoor triathlon, because there will be all these swimming geeks making all the running geeks like me look like fools. They'll be cruising along, doing gazillions of laps, breathing every 3 minutes or something, and I'll be gasping through one lap at a time, with time for a quick nap between each lap. Or that's the fear.

So up until today, the most I'd done without stopping was 6 laps, which on the pool I'm swimming in is about 1/6 of a mile. Then today, I have no idea why or how, it just clicked. I did a lap, paused for a bit, then I did, get this, 14 more. Without stopping. I know those fish out there, the swimmers, will smirk when they read that but for me that was freaking HUGE. When I started this insanity a few months back I could only do 10 laps, and I was gasping for breath after each length, forget about the laps! Then I went and did 9 more, to get to the 24 I wanted, then I rested for a minute, then I swam another 4 just because. Twenty-eight laps baby! That's 3/4 of a mile. Slowly, with terrible form, but it's still something to be able to do it. This swimming thing is starting to come together.

So I should probably start thinking about sitting on a bike and peddling, at least once, before the triathlon. Just to round it all out.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

First, let me say that I genuinely had a good time this Christmas. I saw people who love me, and none of them drove me crazy, which is a huge accomplishment.

But it was not all fun and games. There has been very minor emergency surgery, which, although minor and in no way life-threatening, was painful and has never been part of my plans for vacation. And I've also been sick with a run of the mill cold for six days, which is a big ol' chunk of my time off.

And I realize this sounds like a lot of bitching and whining, but the cold will eventually get tired and go off and bother somebody else, and the surgery, while not a long-term solution, did reduce my pain to the point where I was able to genuinely enjoy my vacation, so that's a win in my book. I also got to deal with a doctor who isn't a jerk and who didn't submit me to a giant bureaucratic nightmare of inefficiency and ineffective treatments. Instead, her office saw me (an out-of-town patient she hadn't seen in 3 years) ten minutes after I showed up on their doorstep looking sweaty and pathetic and begging for help, and I went home (well, home with my cousin and her husband) still in pain but knowing that the pain was being dealt with swiftly and kindly, which is the sort of thing that threatens to restore my faith in human nature.

Even more importantly, the larger end result of these two issues has been that I've spent a lot of my vacation on my ass. Which, frankly, I need to do deliberately someday, because if it's enjoyable when you're sick and recovering from surgery, I bet it is freakin' awesome when you're healthy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why swimming isn't popular in the Frozen North

Turns out that swimming and snow shoveling use very similar muscles. In theory, that means that digging my way out of a foot of snow on the holiday has made me a better swimmer. In reality, when I went to swim today, I was dragging two limp, heavy leaden things (otherwise known as my arms) through the water for a good half mile. It was unpleasant. This is probably why the universe made water freeze below 32 degrees. If it's cold enough to snow, you probably have to shovel, and if you have to shovel you won't be very good at swimming. Another mystery of the cosmos brought to you from the Frozen North.

Video gamers will like this...

This video is more focused on arcade/video games than the kinds of games I usually play, but most of us have a common history of Nintendo that is amply documented and satirized in the following ode. Thanks to Bill Harris, from whom I stole this (and many other) link(s). Bill writes a good blog, full of unicycles, sports games (which I don't play), and random interesting crap, which I enjoy immensely. Sometimes it's just SO interesting I can't keep my hands off it. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to all ... and to all a better year

This has been a hell of a year for me and for many people I know, and many I don't. Here is hoping all of you; friends, family, imaginary readers, and even one or two real ones; a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanza, or just a nice day and a good, good, good new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Swimming is a way to keep from drowning ... that's common sense!

Have I used that title before? Here's hoping not.

Yes, swimming training does continue. I'm up to doing 24 laps (2/3 of a mile) when I swim, but I can only do about 6 laps before having to stop and gasp for air for 30 seconds or so. This is way way up from the 10 laps I started with but far short of what I'd like before the triathlon. Running is coming back, and I've done 30 + miles the past 2 weeks and hope to do a 15 mile this weekend (assuming the blizzard doesn't keep me from leaving the house). Those fascists at the Y insist on closing for Christmas, which will interfere with my training schedule no end! Something about spend time with your family. Haven't they hear of balance? Swim/run in the morning, family in the afternoon! Well, maybe not Christmas morning, now I think of it. My daughters would probably riot if I left early Christmas morning to work out and they had to wait on presents. Ah well.

This post is dedicated to good old, dead (sadly), George Carlin, who is the author of my title. George rocked.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rothfussian coolness

I've mentioned Patrick Rothfuss before, and no doubt will again. He's the author of Name of the Wind, a very readable, very cool fantasy novel (his first) and at least as he writes a very cool individual. I put his blog in the links section to the right, in case anyone hasn't hooked up with it yet. Rothfuss seems to be a person of great energy and enthusiasms. It screams in his writings and blog, and it makes me wonder if he's that high energy in real life. Can anyone be that cool in reality? But that's not what I'm blogging about.

No, what I'm blogging about is his current fund raising effort. He's doing his second annual fund raiser for Team Heifer, a charity he is sponsoring that provides, you guessed it, livestock to folks in need (aka I assume other countries). The way he is doing it is quite cool - he has gotten loads of authors and publishing houses to donate signed copies of their work to him, which he then either auctions off, or puts in a general lottery. He's got signed stuff from, among many many others, Brian Sanderson, Neil Gaiman, Katherine Kerr, George R.R. Martin, and Sarah Monette. He has some original typed manuscripts (the ones submitted to the publisher) and drafts of published books with author edits and all that. But what really caught my attention was that he's got a team of four people (including himself) who are auctioning off a reading and critiquing of your manuscript, if you have one. So some aspiring author has a chance to have their work read by either a hugely best-selling novelist or that novelists agent or another established author, or another agent. Which, I imagine, if you're just starting out as a writer, would be absolutely huge. The auction is already over and people ended up spending between $600 and $1300 on those reviews. Lotta cash, but I bet the winners are thrilled at the chance. It makes me wish I had written a novel.

It looks like other aspects of Rothfuss's charity event are still going, so if you're interested head over and check it out. And if you're not, well, fine, don't get a chance at a signed Neil Gaiman book! See if I care!

Small victory

Well, another milestone on LB2TR today. I got Heroes of Might and Magic 2 to run with all the sound working, including the CD opera sounds. Sound like a small deal? It is! But it's a cool one. It actually took more fooling around with DOSBOX than with Linux, but it did end up using some very basic command line work in Linux, and now has me wondering about how to write shell files so that I can automate some of the processes I just used. I'm finding the Linux experience to be interesting. It's like I know there are ways to do all of these things, but I don't know what they are. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a time warp and I'm running a DOS machine from the command line, and other times I feel like I'm running Windows XP. But no matter which mode I'm in, I'm still trying to figure out the right terms, short cuts, or whatever to make it all work. It's like trying to speak a dialect of English, but one that is just different enough that I can't quite get it down.

This is exactly what I had thought would happen, and exactly why I'm trying to do as much as I can on this machine. The only way to learn a language is to speak it, and the only way to learn a new OS is to use it. So on I go. But now with a cool game complete with cool sound to keep me company. It's the small victories that count.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cool song from Green Street Hooligans

Green Street Hooligans was an interesting movie about football hooligans in England. It wasn't great, or classic, but I absolutely fell in love with it. No really great reason for it. I think I just resonated with the idea of this kind of nerdy guy finding a family and finding his backbone and himself with his "band of brothers."

The final minutes of the movie, the climax, takes part with the song "One Blood" by Terrence Jay playing. It was pretty powerful, and a great song. So here's the song for your viewing/listening pleasure. If, by watching the video, you conclude that the movie was pretty violent, well, yeah. It was about hooligan gangs, after all. But a good movie all the same.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Naked in the locker room

I feel that every now and then a quality blog, as we aspire to produce, needs a post about naked people in the shower. It just adds a certain, I don't know, maturity to a blog. A sense of worldliness, and comfort. Kind of like an Italian leather sofa does for a living room (I assume). Right?

So here is the annual naked people in the locker room, and you're welcome. I was taking a shower after a workout the other day, and I was there, and a few other naked guys were there, and a fully clothed guy was there working on one of the shower heads. He's a maintenance guy, I guess, and I suppose it didn't occur to him to strip down before coming in to work on the shower head, but maybe it should have. Because if you're a naked guy, surrounded by other naked guys, all taking a shower, well that's one thing. You keep your eyes straight ahead, you shower, and you dry off and get dressed. But you don't feel too weird because you're all in the same boat. But if you've got a fully clothed guy there, no matter how many naked guys there are other than you, you suddenly feel weird. It's like those dreams you have where you're naked and every one else around you is clothed and you're hoping they won't notice (or am I the only one who has those dreams?). SO there's fully clothed guy, and the rest of us, and it was awkward!

So what should be done? Well one option is to send fully clothed buys in there after hours so this doesn't happen. Failing that, perhaps a moderate approach. I'm not saying that mechanics should show up with nothing but their tool and a tool belt (get it? tool? I made a funny). But maybe they should do just a bit to make the rest of us feel better. Like taking off their shoes and maybe their shirt. Ok, so they may look stupid then, but I'll feel a whole lot better. And I'm sure that's their top priority, right? Right?

Monday, December 14, 2009

At the Risk of Becoming My Mother

(I know, some of you are thinking, "too late.")

I heard this piece on NPR this morning and thought of my favorite runners. Ari Shapiro, always personable, tells Rachel Flotard that her exuberant "Hand Me Down" has dramatically improved his running time. Flotard's interview with Shapiro sounds so fresh and unrehearsed, which is one of the things I love about a really great interview. Sometimes you see so many musicians on late night tv, where their appearances are boiled down to the most mainstream of their anecdotes and the laughter seems not so much canned as frozen and then reheated. It's nice to hear actual humans laugh together--like real whipped cream on a homemade pie. Flotard's openness on the air charmed me utterly. Plus, the song has a great beat. Listen if you haven't heard it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

LB2TR update

Well, the thing is together, has been humming along all day, no problems, no crashes. I've got DOSBOX installed and am able to run HOMM2 and MOO, both favorites of mine, though HOMM2 for the moment has no music (which sucks, the music in HOMM2 is my favorite of any game I've ever played). I found a front end for DOSBOX that runs in Linux (DGBL, found here). I'm working on getting ALL my mp3's onto the hard drive, which will be nice now that I've got Amorak up and running and, even better, playing MP3s. For those who end up doing this, Amorak is not set up to run MP3s by default in Ubuntu because Ubuntu does not install the interface (codecs?) for MP3 or other proprietary formats in its default installation. You have to download those separately, and in my case I found a tip to install a second sound program that included the drivers which then allowed Amorak to do its job. So far I like the Amorak interface better than MediaMonkey (whose interface I've grown to not like) but I have not tried to work with the Sansa Clip just yet. That will be the true test, as that is where other apps have failed me.

In contrast with Xbuntu, which I ran on the smaller box, I'm finding Ubuntu to be more user friendly and Windows-like (even though that is kind of an oxymoron) but also much more resource intensive. Fortunately, this pc is in many ways the fastest rig I've got so it should be up for just about anything Ubuntu is going to need.

The current projects are going to be getting a linux-based lightscribe set up (I know, Lightscribe is purely cosmetic and maybe even worthless, but the drive I got has it and I want to use it for a project), get all my mp3's over, get DOSBOX running like clockwork, and start to try to do as much of my computing as possible on this box. That's the only way I'll get even a passing familiarity with Linux. As you can tell, I'll be giving you all ridiculously detailed updates as this progresses.

BTW, this update is brought to you by and on the insanely quiet, very cool LB2TR.

Random Factoids from the Empire

I've had Niall Ferguson's book on the British Empire on the side panel of the blog for some time, and the fact is I finished it a few weeks back but was too lazy to put in the pics of the current books (one by Krugman on depression era economics, and another fiction book by Baker set in New York during the draft riots - think "Gangs of New York" with more history). I'm a very poor historian and so don't really feel I can give you a good description or commentary on the book. It was quite readable, and I enjoyed it and certainly learned a lot. But since I am unable to give you a coherent review of it, let me instead give you a few brief factoids that caught my attention:

1. The British Empire started with pirate ventures to steal the proceeds from other empires (notably the Spanish).

2. The colonists who conducted the American Revolution were actually much better off, tax-wise and so forth, than British subjects living in Britain. The revolution was not so much about people being taxed more than they should have been (the Brits were actually quite wishy washy with their tax policies towards the colonies), but that the taxes were being levied without representation - the colonists never got a say. Of course "no taxation without representation" is the traditional recollection of the rallying cry, and this fits it, but I had always thought that the colonists were suffering under incredibly repressive and unfair taxes before the revolution. Turns out that was not the case.

3. The guy who found Dr. Livingston ("Dr. Livingston I presume") turned out to be an SOB who ended up working for leaders who were involved in the slave trade (something Livingston abhorred).

If, as you read this, you get the idea that the book had a large scope and covered just oodles of information then you've got the right idea. If you get the idea that I'm an ignorant man who didn't know all that stuff before, well, you're correct on that. If you get the idea it's time for me to update the books listed on the side-bar there, you got the hat trick!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quick Update ... LB2TR

A quick update on Linux Box 2 - The Revenge (LB2TR henceforth and for all eternity). The parts arrived, the build went well, I TOOK PICTURES (so further posts are a-coming), and I've got Linux installed and running updates as we speak. So far it's been a remarkably easy, low key build (fingers crossed, knock on wood, and so forth). It's possible I'm finally, 4 or 5 builds later, getting the hang of this stuff.

And yes, it's quiet. Not so quiet I can't tell it's on at all (that's the dream, my friends, the dream) but MUCH quieter than it's brother sitting right next to it. I've got the case open as I type this (so I can see if any sparks start flying out of it) and even with the case open and right next to my head it's much much quieter.

So I'll put some pre-post pictures up soon, including Heatsink-Zilla, the very heart of LB2TR. But I'd like to wait until I can post those from LB2TR itself (so I can also check out the USB 2.0 functionality and photo editing apps, among other things). But so far so good.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

London Underground Shower Curtain

Is it wrong that this makes me unreasonably happy? When I was furnishing my apartment I looked in vain for one of these. I love functional art, and the London Underground map is a thing of beauty.

No Shiner

A heck of a bruise, but no actual black eye, thank goodness.  And my colleagues are off the hook for offering me a way out of my abusive relationship with myself.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Surfers are freaking insane

I'm not what you could call a surf fan. Although I have watched "Surf's Up" with my kids about a gazillion times. But out of curiosity I checked out this website of a big wave surfing tournament (here) and it is just incredible. These guys are gliding along, and then getting demolished by, the hugest waves you can imagine. People say runners are nuts, but if you fall down on a run, as I've said many times before, you won't drown.

It's almost all here!

Well, today the case, CPU, and sound card arrived. Yesterday I got the mobo, graphics card, hard drive, and power supply. The power supply is frigging huge, and looks like it could power a large killer robot with death rays and earthquake shoes. The video card is tiny and quaint. It's kind of fun to buy a video card that is NOT supposed to run Killer Games of High Res Death. It's small, and passively cooled, and weighs about 1/3rd of any other graphics card I've seen in the past year. And I can officially state now that the heat sink weighs more than any other component except the case (which is a battle ship) and the power supply (which is its nuclear reactor).

I'm going out of town for a few days, and I'm still waiting for a dinky little DVD drive (the only component not picked to be silent, mostly because I won't be using it much). So I'll be putting it together this weekend hopefully. And then maybe the linux can really take off. OR I just blew a whole lot of money to have a large, very quiet paper weight. Let's hope it's the former.

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

For clarity's sake, this is not Shifter. This is Katy.

I point that out, because I'm about to admit to being really clutzy, and I would hate for anyone to confuse me with the marathon-running, linux-box wrangling Shifter.

For the last six months I've been bruising with ludicrous ease. I suppose I should go and get blood tests or something, but until this month I didn't really realize it was so incredibly pronounced. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I hit my shin getting into the tub, and it blossomed into the most incredible bruise. I mean a serious bruise, the kind that when you see it on a co-worker, inspires an ethical debate in your head about whether or not you should ask her if she has somewhere safe to go. I still have it--last week it was blue and green, and this week it's a deep wine-red.

Tonight I opened my car door in a tight space, lost my footing, and smacked my eye socket into the corner of the car door. And as I twisted heavily into the driver's seat with the kind of grunt that should really only accompany championship weightlifting, my thoughts were these:
  1. Wow, that could have done some serious f***ing damage to my eye. I'm freaking lucky.
  2. Oh, yeah, that's gonna leave a mark.
I'm home, not twenty minutes later, and there's already a dark mark over my eye. I'm taking bets on whether I'll have a shiner in the morning. I'll try to let y'all know. We'll see how ethical my co-workers are, too, while we're at it.

And nobody's allowed to take any photos of me this Christmas.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

The first part arrives, and I lose another little piece of my sanity

Ok, first thing's first. The heat sink arrived. All I can say is Wow. This thing is big. Really big. I mean, you may think it's a long way to the corner to pick up a paper, but that's just peanuts to this heatsink. Listen... Whether you get the reference there or not, this sucker is huge. So it turns out that quiet and big mean the same thing in the cooling world. What really scares me though is that this was NOT described as one of the larger coolers available. It's modest size for this crap. So if I had gotten a BIG one, I imagine I'd need a second case just to hold it. I'll post a picture of the titanic that I'll be mounting in my PC case later.

Ok, next thing's next. One of the things I hate hate HATE about my job is IRM. You know, the people whose JOB it is to help me do MY job by managing informational technology like, say, computers. So 3 months ago, no kidding, I ordered a new wide screen monitor. Because of where I work, I couldn't just call IRM and say "I need a wider screen monitor - I'm working with data from up to 10 different programs, pdfs, and word files all at once and need to be able to have them displayed on a larger screen." No, that would never work. Instead I had to use some money left over from a grant to order my own monitor. Which I did. 3 months ago. I had to nag, I had to wheedle, I had to harass to get the money, which is supposed to be used at my discretion, spent on time according to my discretion. 3 months ago. Then came a series of every other week emails and phone calls to make sure the thing was actually going to arrive. So finally, FINALLY, the sucker arrives. I know it arrives because some guy shows up at my office door with a huge box. "Did you order this?" "Why yes." "Why?" "To go on my pc." "Ok, sign here." "Are you going to hook it up?" "No, you have to put a work order in for that." And off he goes.

So I spend the last 30 minutes of my day uninstalling the old monitor, assembling the new monitor, and hooking it up to the machine. Mind you, I am a rather expensive person, salary/hour wise, to be crawling around hooking up computer hardware, but if that's how the system wants me to spend my time, who am I to argue. I get it all hooked up, but of course can't install the driver for the monitor because I have no admin privileges. No problem, right? I just call IRM and put in a work order. Which I did.

So today I get a phone call. "HI this is July from IRM. Did you put in a work order to install a monitor?" "Just the driver to the monitor." "Why did you get a new monitor?" "I purchased a new monitor with research funds so I can work with multiple applications and documents simultaneously." "Oh, well you can't switch monitors with leased pc's. Your pc is leased. It has to stay with the same monitor. So we can't install drivers for a new monitor." "But I bought the monitor, it's sitting right here on my desk." "Well, I can try to get you a wide screen monitor that is leased." "But I have this new monitor, bought and paid for, sitting on my desk. If you do that I've bought this new monitor for nothing." "Yes." At this point, my head is in my hands and I'm feeling like a dog who has been kicked about 100 times too many.

SO I say, in a strangled whisper, "Well, I would really appreciate it if you could get me a wide screen monitor." "Ok, I'll put in a work order." "While you're at it, could you put in a work order to install the codec I need to view the video files for this research project in Windows Media Player?" "I don't know if we support that application." "Really, you don't support Media Player?" "But you said we had to install a codec." "Yes, the codec is the information media player uses to decode a new video file format." "Oh, I guess we can do that."

At this point I can barely speak. I say thanks and hang up.

I was going to try to elucidate the things wrong with this exchange. I was going to start with the wastefulness of one part of an organization buying a monitor for me and another part refusing to let me use it, then ask again whey they want a PhD program manager using his time to do basic IT work, then discuss the whole work orders upon work orders thing, then perhaps rhapsodize about having to justify why I'm doing things to two different, seemingly and alarmingly equally incompetent people, and then ask how it is someone in an IRM job does not know what a codec is. I was going to start there and then just keep going, but as I started to write that I started to get more, and more, and more depressed so I think I'll just leave it at this simple description:


That's been my catchword for the entire episode, and no doubt will continue to be so every time this crap turns up.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

End Of The Year Charities

I'm not sure it's really a charitable contribution if you feel like the organization is on a mission to save your brain and your soul, but fortunately the IRS doesn't get that granular about it. This week saw two pledge drives on my radio on Thursday--my local public radio station and a plea from Ira Glass to support the podcast of This American Life.

I admit, I missed the local NPR pledge day. I would feel guilty if I weren't already supporting two other public radio stations (I make monthly contributions to stations in two cities where I used to live, including to WNYC, which produces a lot of the programming that I listen to on my local station). I listen to WNYC whenever I can, and I really almost never listen to the local station--now that I have the squeezebox I'll probably listen to the local station even less.

I did, however, remember to contribute to support This American Life. I really love the show, and I rarely miss it. Now that I have the internet radio, I suppose I could get it without the podcast, but I love the flexibility of listening to it on my own schedule, especially at the gym. If I can stay on gym equipment for the entire hour of a TAL podcast, I'm doing pretty well. And I'm a sucker for Ira's pledge drive spots. So this year I made that my third monthly contribution to public radio--I'll try to get the local radio station the next time they have a drive.

The other contribution I made (a one-time contribution from which I hope to benefit enormously) is a contribution to the Moth in New York, which produces shows composed entirely of people getting on stage in front of a mike to tell true stories without notes. Again, I listen to the Moth's podcast faithfully, and I really love it--it's a great way to learn about the real world that people live in, and to remind me of how complicated and special people are, which I really need right now. And members allegedly get the opportunity to buy tickets early, which is the only way I can get into any of their events--even if I get out of work 45 minutes early to get myself to the city, the odds are good that I would still have to stand in line for over and hour and find out that no more tickets were available. I hope it works out so I can attend a few shows.

If not, both contributions are tax deductible, and that's always nice come April.

If you haven't listened to either podcast, I encourage you to try them:
This American Life Podcast
The Moth Podcast

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mmmmm, Internet Radio

Imaginary readers, I ask your indulgence. I have done a terrible, terrible thing.

It was cyber Monday. I was browsing for a gift for my parents (which, for the record, I did find and purchase--we'll see how they like it). CNET had a gift guide, and it told me about a hot deal on an internet radio. So I bought one.

I've been looking at them for a long time. I miss my WNYC (I can get it at work, barely, but by the time I get home, it's hopeless). I miss BBC World Service when it's not 4 a.m. GMT. I am often curious about what's on my college radio station. God help me, sometimes I wonder what ever happened to Gene and Julie. Also, I can't wait until CD's are a thing of the past, like in Star Trek, TNG (although if my Squeezebox fails to interface with me via Majel Barrett's voice, I'm okay with that). The possibilities of an internet radio were tantalizing.

I had been looking at the Grace Wireless, mostly because the Squeezebox was way out of my price range. Well, on cyber Monday it fell briefly into my price range, and I was working a friggin' 14.5 hour day at work, and I thought, what the hell, I'm single and I can buy myself a hugely expensive radio if I want one. And yes, I know that represents a reprehensible and unhealthy coping mechanism. But I have a new toy and I'm excited and I don't care.

So far it is very sexy. Setup took about 4 minutes (20 if you include loading all my favorite radio stations, my podcasts, my entire music library, and my purty screen saver, plus setting my music settings and my alarm). There are things I'm still not sure about--can I sleep to one thing and wake to something else? Will I find an easy way to listen to my audiobooks using it? Will I listen to more music than I do now? I'm looking forward to finding out.

And I am really looking forward to hearing Soterios Johnson's voice tomorrow morning, for the first time since I left Brooklyn. Everyone on morning radio is more chipper than I am, but somehow Soterios managed to make me just a little more chipper myself...and that's not easy at 5:30 in the morning.

It's in the mail!

Well, I ordered it last night. All the parts for my new wonderful Linux Box O' Joy. Except the hard drive and dvd drive - those are cheap enough at Best Buy for me to run down the road to pick them up. Here's an interesting fact. Newegg has free shipping on just about everything worth buying. So after I ordered a BIG computer case, a power supply, a motherboard, a video card, a CPU, and 2 sticks of RAM from them I was charged a total of $9 for shipping. does not have free shipping. So once I ordered a small heat sink from them I paid $10 in shipping. I'm sure that says something profound, but I'm just not quite sure what.

Stuff should be arriving in the next 2-3 days and my study will quickly look like a post office with loads o' boxes and packing materials. And when things finally slow down at work in a few weeks I'll start putting it all together. Fingers crossed for no DOA components. Nothing screws up a build like a defective component you'll have to wait 2 weeks to replace.

One last comment though. I just can't tell you how happy it makes me to be building a system and NOT worrying about paying $200 for the damn operating system plus whatever the office software costs. And to know that I can upgrade this new box as many times and in as many ways as I damn well want with NO concerns about the dreaded "reactivation" process. Yes, that alone makes Linux a very good thing